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Title: Madame Roland, Makers of History
Author: Abbott, John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot), 1805-1877
Language: English
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 Makers of History

 Madame Roland

 BY

 JOHN S. C. ABBOTT

 WITH ENGRAVINGS

 NEW YORK AND LONDON

 HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS

 1904



 Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand
 eight hundred and fifty, by

 HARPER & BROTHERS,

 in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District
 of New York.

 Copyright, 1878, by JANE W. ABBOTT.



[Illustration: MADAME ROLAND.]



PREFACE.


The history of Madame Roland embraces the most interesting events of
the French Revolution, that most instructive tragedy which time has
yet enacted. There is, perhaps, contained in the memoirs of no other
woman so much to invigorate the mind with the desire for high
intellectual culture, and so much to animate the spirit heroically to
meet all the ills of this eventful life. Notwithstanding her
experience of the heaviest temporal calamities, she found, in the
opulence of her own intellectual treasures, an unfailing resource.
These inward joys peopled her solitude with society, and dispelled
even from the dungeon its gloom. I know not where to look for a career
more full of suggestive thought.



CONTENTS.


 Chapter                                                    Page

    I. CHILDHOOD                                             13

   II. YOUTH                                                 33

  III. MAIDENHOOD                                            57

   IV. MARRIAGE                                              80

    V. THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY                                105

   VI. THE MINISTRY OF M. ROLAND                            130

  VII. MADAME ROLAND AND THE JACOBINS                       155

 VIII. LAST STRUGGLE OF THE GIRONDISTS                      178

   IX. ARREST OF MADAME ROLAND                              201

    X. FATE OF THE GIRONDISTS                               224

   XI. PRISON LIFE                                          252

  XII. TRIAL AND EXECUTION OF MADAME ROLAND                 277



ENGRAVINGS.


                                                            Page

 MADAME ROLAND                                   _Frontispiece._

 THE VISIT                                                   40

 LA PLATIÈRE                                                 97

 ROBESPIERRE                                                116

 THE LIBRARY                                                145

 EXECUTION OF THE GIRONDISTS                                247

 MADAME ROLAND IN PRISON                                    259

 EXECUTION OF MADAME ROLAND                                 301



MADAME ROLAND



CHAPTER I.

CHILDHOOD.

1754-1767

Characters developed by the French Revolution.--Madame Roland.--Gratien
Phlippon.--His repinings at his lot.--Views of Phlippon.--His hostility
to the Church.--Origin of the French Revolution.--Character of Madame
Phlippon.--Birth of Jane Maria.--Adored by her parents.--Discontent
of Phlippon.--His complainings to his child.--Early traits of
character.--Love of books.--Jane's thirst for reading.--Her
love of flowers.--Jane's personal appearance.--Thirst for
knowledge.--Intellectual gifts.--A walk on the Boulevards.--Phlippon's
talk to his child.--Youthful dreams.--Influence of Jane's parents
over her.--Education in convents.--Jane sent to a convent.--Parting
with her mother.--Madame Roland's account of her first night in
the convent.--Jane's books of study.--Her proficiency in music and
drawing.--Scenes in the convent.--Impressions made by them.--Poetic
enthusiasms.--Taking the veil.--Taking the black veil.--Effect upon
Jane.--Lofty aspirations.--Remark of Napoleon.--Jane's contempt of
ease and luxury.--Her self-denial.


Many characters of unusual grandeur were developed by the French
Revolution. Among them all, there are few more illustrious, or more
worthy of notice, than that of Madame Roland. The eventful story of
her life contains much to inspire the mind with admiration and with
enthusiasm, and to stimulate one to live worthily of those
capabilities with which every human heart is endowed. No person can
read the record of her lofty spirit and of her heroic acts without a
higher appreciation of woman's power, and of the mighty influence one
may wield, who combines the charms of a noble and highly-cultivated
mind with the fascinations of female delicacy and loveliness. To
understand the secret of the almost miraculous influence she exerted,
it is necessary to trace her career, with some degree of minuteness,
from the cradle to the hour of her sublime and heroic death.

In the year 1754, there was living, in an obscure workshop in Paris,
on the crowded Quai des Orfevres, an engraver by the name of Gratien
Phlippon. He had married a very beautiful woman, whose placid
temperament and cheerful content contrasted strikingly with the
restlessness and ceaseless repinings of her husband. The comfortable
yet humble apartments of the engraver were over the shop where he
plied his daily toil. He was much dissatisfied with his lowly
condition in life, and that his family, in the enjoyment of frugal
competence alone, were debarred from those luxuries which were so
profusely showered upon others. Bitterly and unceasingly he murmured
that his lot had been cast in the ranks of obscurity and of unsparing
labor, while others, by a more fortunate, although no better merited
destiny, were born to ease and affluence, and honor and luxury. This
thought of the unjust inequality in man's condition, which soon broke
forth with all the volcanic energy of the French Revolution, already
began to ferment in the bosoms of the laboring classes, and no one
pondered these wide diversities with a more restless spirit, or
murmured more loudly and more incessantly than Phlippon. When the
day's toil was ended, he loved to gather around him associates whose
feelings harmonized with his own, and to descant upon their own
grievous oppression and upon the arrogance of aristocratic greatness.
With an eloquence which often deeply moved his sympathizing auditory,
and fanned to greater intensity the fires which were consuming his own
heart, he contrasted their doom of sleepless labor and of comparative
penury with the brilliance of the courtly throng, living in idle
luxury, and squandering millions in the amusements at Versailles, and
sweeping in charioted splendor through the Champs Elysée.

Phlippon was a philosopher, not a Christian. Submission was a virtue
he had never learned, and never wished to learn. Christianity, as he
saw it developed before him only in the powerful enginery of the Roman
Catholic Church, was, in his view, but a formidable barrier against
the liberty and the elevation of the people--a bulwark, bristling with
superstition and bayonets, behind which nobles and kings were securely
intrenched. He consequently became as hostile to the doctrines of the
Church as he was to the institutions of the state. The monarch was,
in his eye, a tyrant, and God a delusion. The enfranchisement of the
people, in his judgment, required the overthrow of both the earthly
and the celestial monarch. In these ideas, agitating the heart of
Phlippon, behold the origin of the French Revolution. They were
diffused in pamphlets and daily papers in theaters and _cafés_. They
were urged by workmen in their shops, by students in their closets.
They became the inspiring spirit of science in encyclopedias and
reviews, and formed the chorus in all the songs of revelry and
libertinism. These sentiments spread from heart to heart, through
Paris, through the provinces, till France rose like a demon in its
wrath, and the very globe trembled beneath its gigantic and indignant
tread.

Madame Phlippon was just the reverse of her husband. She was a woman
in whom faith, and trust, and submission predominated. She surrendered
her will, without questioning, to all the teachings of the Church of
Rome. She was placid, contented, and cheerful, and, though uninquiring
in her devotion, undoubtedly sincere in her piety. In every event of
life she recognized the overruling hand of Providence, and feeling
that the comparatively humble lot assigned her was in accordance with
the will of God, she indulged in no repinings, and envied not the more
brilliant destiny of lords and ladies. An industrious housewife, she
hummed the hymns of contentment and peace from morning till evening.
In the cheerful performance of her daily toil, she was ever pouring
the balm of her peaceful spirit upon the restless heart of her spouse.
Phlippon loved his wife, and often felt the superiority of her
Christian temperament.

Of eight children born to these parents, one only, Jeanne Manon, or
_Jane Mary_, survived the hour of birth. Her father first received her
to his arms in 1754, and she became the object of his painful and most
passionate adoration. Her mother pressed the coveted treasure to her
bosom with maternal love, more calm, and deep, and enduring. And now
Jane became the central star in this domestic system. Both parents
lived in her and for her. She was their earthly all. The mother wished
to train her for the Church and for heaven, that she might become an
angel and dwell by the throne of God. These bright hopes gilded a
prayerful mother's hours of toil and care. The father bitterly
repined. Why should his bright and beautiful child--who even in these
her infantile years was giving indication of the most brilliant
intellect--why should she be doomed to a life of obscurity and toil,
while the garden of the Tuileries and the Elysian Fields were thronged
with children, neither so beautiful nor so intelligent, who were
reveling in boundless wealth, and living in a world of luxury and
splendor which, to Phlippon's imagination, seemed more alluring than
any idea he could form of heaven? These thoughts were a consuming
fire in the bosom of the ambitious father. They burned with
inextinguishable flame.

The fond parent made the sprightly and fascinating child his daily
companion. He led her by the hand, and confided to her infantile
spirit all his thoughts, his illusions, his day-dreams. To her
listening ear he told the story of the arrogance of nobles, of the
pride of kings, and of the oppression by which he deemed himself
unjustly doomed to a life of penury and toil. The light-hearted child
was often weary of these complainings, and turned for relief to the
placidity and cheerfulness of her mother's mind. Here she found
repose--a soothing, calm, and holy submission. Still the gloom of her
father's spirit cast a pensive shade over her own feelings, and
infused a tone of melancholy and an air of unnatural reflection into
her character. By nature, Jane was endowed with a soul of unusual
delicacy. From early childhood, all that is beautiful or sublime in
nature, in literature, in character, had charms to rivet her entranced
attention. She loved to sit alone at her chamber window in the evening
of a summer's day, to gaze upon the gorgeous hues of sunset. As her
imagination roved through those portals of a brighter world, which
seemed thus, through far-reaching vistas of glory, to be opened to
her, she peopled the sun-lit expanse with the creations of her own
fancy, and often wept in uncontrollable emotion through the influence
of these gathering thoughts. Books of impassioned poetry, and
descriptions of heroic character and achievements, were her especial
delight. Plutarch's Lives, that book which, more than any other,
appears to be the incentive of early genius, was hid beneath her
pillow, and read and re-read with tireless avidity. Those illustrious
heroes of antiquity became the companions of her solitude and of her
hourly thoughts. She adored them and loved them as her own most
intimate personal friends. Her character became insensibly molded to
their forms, and she was inspired with restless enthusiasm to imitate
their deeds. When but twelve years of age, her father found her, one
day, weeping that she was not born a Roman maiden. Little did she then
imagine that, by talent, by suffering, and by heroism, she was to
display a character the history of which would eclipse the proudest
narratives in Greek or Roman story.

Jane appears never to have known the frivolity and thoughtlessness of
childhood. Before she had entered the fourth year of her age she knew
how to read. From that time her thirst for reading was so great, that
her parents found no little difficulty in furnishing her with a
sufficient supply. She not only read with eagerness every book which
met her eye, but pursued this uninterrupted miscellaneous reading to
singular advantage, treasuring up all important facts in her retentive
memory. So entirely absorbed was she in her books, that the only
successful mode of withdrawing her from them was by offering her
flowers, of which she was passionately fond. Books and flowers
continued, through all the vicissitudes of her life, even till the
hour of her death, to afford her the most exquisite pleasure. She had
no playmates, and thought no more of play than did her father and
mother, who were her only and her constant companions. From infancy
she was accustomed to the thoughts and the emotions of mature minds.
In personal appearance she was, in earliest childhood and through
life, peculiarly interesting rather than beautiful. As mature years
perfected her features and her form, there was in the contour of her
graceful figure, and her intellectual countenance, that air of
thoughtfulness, of pensiveness, of glowing tenderness and delicacy,
which gave her a power of fascination over all hearts. She sought not
this power; she thought not of it; but an almost resistless attraction
and persuasion accompanied all her words and actions.

It was, perhaps, the absence of playmates, and the habitual converse
with mature minds, which, at so early an age, inspired Jane with that
insatiate thirst for knowledge which she ever manifested. Books were
her only resource in every unoccupied hour. From her walks with her
father, and her domestic employments with her mother, she turned to
her little library and to her chamber window, and lost herself in the
limitless realms of thought. It is often imagined that character is
the result of accident--that there is a native and inherent tendency,
which triumphs over circumstances, and works out its own results.
Without denying that there may be different intellectual gifts with
which the soul may be endowed as it comes from the hand of the
Creator, it surely is not difficult to perceive that the peculiar
training through which the childhood of Jane was conducted was
calculated to form the peculiar character which she developed.

In a bright summer's afternoon she might be seen sauntering along the
Boulevards, led by her father's hand, gazing upon that scene of gayety
with which the eye is never wearied. A gilded coach, drawn by the most
beautiful horses in the richest trappings, sweeps along the streets--a
gorgeous vision. Servants in showy livery, and out-riders proudly
mounted, invest the spectacle with a degree of grandeur, beneath which
the imagination of a child sinks exhausted. Phlippon takes his little
daughter in his arms to show her the sight, and, as she gazes in
infantile wonder and delight, the discontented father says, "Look at
that lord, and lady, and child, lolling so voluptuously in their
coach. They have no right there. Why must I and my child walk on this
hot pavement, while they repose on velvet cushions and revel in all
luxury? Oppressive laws compel me to pay a portion of my hard earnings
to support them in their pride and indolence. But a time will come
when the people will awake to the consciousness of their wrongs, and
their tyrants will tremble before them." He continues his walk in
moody silence, brooding over his sense of injustice. They return to
their home. Jane wishes that her father kept a carriage, and liveried
servants and out-riders. She thinks of politics, and of the tyranny of
kings and nobles, and of the unjust inequalities of man. She retires
to the solitude of her loved chamber window, and reads of Aristides
the Just, of Themistocles with his Spartan virtues, of Brutus, and of
the mother of the Gracchi. Greece and Rome rise before her in all
their ancient renown. She despises the frivolity of Paris, the
effeminacy of the moderns, and her youthful bosom throbs with the
desire of being noble in spirit and of achieving great exploits. Thus,
when other children of her age were playing with their dolls, she was
dreaming of the prostration of nobles and of the overthrow of
thrones--of liberty, and fraternity, and equality among mankind.
Strange dreams for a child, but still more strange in their
fulfillment.

The infidelity of her father and the piety of her mother contended,
like counter currents of the ocean, in her bosom. Her active intellect
and love of freedom sympathized with the speculations of the so-called
philosopher. Her amiable and affectionate disposition and her pensive
meditations led her to seek repose in the sublime conceptions and in
the soul-soothing consolations of the Christian. Her parents were
deeply interested in her education, and were desirous of giving her
every advantage for securing the highest attainments. The education of
young ladies, at that time, in France, was conducted almost
exclusively by nuns in convents. The idea of the silence and solitude
of the cloister inspired the highly-imaginative girl with a blaze of
enthusiasm. Fondly as she loved her home, she was impatient for the
hour to arrive when, with heroic self-sacrifice, she could withdraw
from the world and its pleasures, and devote her whole soul to
devotion, to meditation, and to study. Her mother's spirit of religion
was exerting a powerful influence over her, and one evening she fell
at her feet, and, bursting into tears, besought that she might be
sent to a convent to prepare to receive her first Christian communion
in a suitable frame of mind.

The convent of the sisterhood of the Congregation in Paris was
selected for Jane. In the review of her life which she subsequently
wrote while immured in the dungeons of the Conciergerie, she says, in
relation to this event, "While pressing my dear mother in my arms, at
the moment of parting with her for the first time in my life, I
thought my heart would have broken; but I was acting in obedience to
the voice of God, and I passed the threshold of the cloister,
tearfully offering up to him the greatest sacrifice I was capable of
making. This was on the 7th of May, 1765, when I was eleven years and
two months old. In the gloom of a prison, in the midst of political
storms which ravage my country, and sweep away all that is dear to me,
how shall I recall to my mind, and how describe the rapture and
tranquillity I enjoyed at this period of my life? What lively colors
can express the soft emotions of a young heart endued with tenderness
and sensibility, greedy of happiness, beginning to be alive to the
beauties of nature, and perceiving the Deity alone? The first night I
spent in the convent was a night of agitation. I was no longer under
the paternal roof. I was at a distance from that kind mother, who was
doubtless thinking of me with affectionate emotion. A dim light
diffused itself through the room in which I had been put to bed with
four children of my own age. I stole softly from my couch, and drew
near the window, the light of the moon enabling me to distinguish the
garden, which it overlooked. The deepest silence prevailed around, and
I listened to it, if I may use the expression, with a sort of respect.
Lofty trees cast their gigantic shadows along the ground, and promised
a secure asylum to peaceful meditation. I lifted up my eyes to the
heavens; they were unclouded and serene. I imagined that I felt the
presence of the Deity smiling upon my sacrifice, and already offering
me a reward in the consolatory hope of a celestial abode. Tears of
delight flowed down my cheeks. I repeated my vows with holy ecstasy,
and went to bed again to taste the slumber of God's chosen children."

Her thirst for knowledge was insatiate, and with untiring assiduity
she pursued her studies. Every hour of the day had its appropriate
employment, and time flew upon its swiftest wings. Every book which
fell in her way she eagerly perused, and treasured its knowledge or
its literary beauties in her memory. Heraldry and books of romance,
lives of the saints and fairy legends, biography, travels, history,
political philosophy, poetry, and treatises upon morals, were all read
and meditated upon by this young child. She had no taste for any
childish amusements; and in the hours of recreation, when the mirthful
girls around her were forgetting study and care in those games
appropriate to their years, she would walk alone in the garden,
admiring the flowers, and gazing upon the fleecy clouds in the sky. In
all the beauties of nature her eye ever recognized the hand of God,
and she ever took pleasure in those sublime thoughts of infinity and
eternity which must engross every noble mind. Her teachers had but
little to do. Whatever study she engaged in was pursued with such
spontaneous zeal, that success had crowned her efforts before others
had hardly made a beginning.

In music and drawing she made great proficiency. She was even more
fond of all that is beautiful and graceful in the accomplishments of a
highly-cultivated mind, than in those more solid studies which she
nevertheless pursued with so much energy and interest.

The scenes which she witnessed in the convent were peculiarly
calculated to produce an indelible impression upon a mind so
imaginative. The chapel for prayer, with its somber twilight and its
dimly-burning tapers; the dirges which the organ breathed upon the
trembling ear; the imposing pageant of prayer and praise, with the
blended costumes of monks and hooded nuns; the knell which tolled the
requiem of a departed sister, as, in the gloom of night and by the
light of torches, she was conveyed to her burial--all these
concomitants of that system of pageantry, arranged so skillfully to
impress the senses of the young and the imaginative, fanned to the
highest elevation the flames of that poetic temperament she so
eminently possessed.

God thus became in Jane's mind a vision of poetic beauty. Religion was
the inspiration of enthusiasm and of sentiment. The worship of the
Deity was blended with all that was ennobling and beautiful. Moved by
these glowing fancies, her susceptible spirit, in these tender years,
turned away from atheism, from infidelity, from irreligion, as from
that which was unrefined, revolting, vulgar. The consciousness of the
presence of God, the adoration of his being, became a passion of her
soul. This state of mind was poetry, not religion. It involved no
sense of the spirituality of the Divine Law, no consciousness of
unworthiness, no need of a Savior. It was an emotion sublime and
beautiful, yet merely such an emotion as any one of susceptible
temperament might feel when standing in the Vale of Chamouni at
midnight, or when listening to the crash of thunder as the tempest
wrecks the sky, or when one gazes entranced upon the fair face of
nature in a mild and lovely morning of June, when no cloud appears in
the blue canopy above us, and no breeze ruffles the leaves of the
grove or the glassy surface of the lake, and the songs of birds and
the perfume of flowers fill the air. Many mistake the highly poetic
enthusiasm which such scenes excite for the spirit of piety.

While Jane was an inmate of the convent, a very interesting young
lady, from some disappointment weary of the world, took the veil. When
one enters a convent with the intention of becoming a nun, she first
takes the white veil, which is an expression of her intention, and
thus enters the grade of a novice. During the period of her novitiate,
which continues for several months, she is exposed to the severest
discipline of vigils, and fastings, and solitude, and prayer, that
she may distinctly understand the life of weariness and self-denial
upon which she has entered. If, unintimidated by these hardships, she
still persists in her determination, she then takes the black veil,
and utters her solemn and irrevocable vows to bury herself in the
gloom of the cloister, never again to emerge. From this step there is
no return. The throbbing heart, which neither cowls nor veils can
still, finds in the taper-lighted cell its living tomb, till it sleeps
in death. No one with even an ordinary share of sensibility can
witness a ceremony involving such consequences without the deepest
emotion. The scene produced an effect upon the spirit of Jane which
was never effaced. The wreath of flowers which crowned the beautiful
victim; the veil enveloping her person; the solemn and dirge-like
chant, the requiem of her burial to all the pleasures of sense and
time; the pall which overspread her, emblematic of her consignment to
a living tomb, all so deeply affected the impassioned child, that,
burying her face in her hands, she wept with uncontrollable emotion.

The thought of the magnitude of the sacrifice which the young novice
was making appealed irresistibly to her admiration of the morally
sublime. There was in that relinquishment of all the joys of earth a
self-surrender to a passionless life of mortification, and penance,
and prayer, an apparent heroism, which reminded Jane of her
much-admired Roman maidens and matrons. She aspired with most romantic
ardor to do, herself, something great and noble. While her sound
judgment could not but condemn this abandonment of life, she was
inspired with the loftiest enthusiasm to enter, in some worthy way,
upon a life of endurance, of sacrifice, and of martyrdom. She felt
that she was born for the performance of some great deeds, and she
looked down with contempt upon all the ordinary vocations of every-day
life. These were the dreams of a romantic girl. They were not,
however, the fleeting visions of a sickly and sentimental mind, but
the deep, soul-moving aspirations of one of the strongest intellects
over which imagination has ever swayed its scepter. One is reminded by
these early developments of character of the remark of Napoleon, when
some one said, in his presence, "It is nothing but imagination."
"Nothing but imagination!" replied this sagacious observer;
"_imagination rules the world!_"

These dim visions of greatness, these lofty aspirations, not for
renown, but for the inward consciousness of intellectual elevation, of
moral sublimity, of heroism, had no influence, as is ordinarily the
case with day-dreams, to give Jane a distaste for life's energetic
duties. They did not enervate her character, or convert her into a
mere visionary; on the contrary, they but roused and invigorated her
to alacrity in the discharge of every duty. They led her to despise
ease and luxury, to rejoice in self-denial, and to cultivate, to the
highest possible degree, all her faculties of body and of mind, that
she might be prepared for any possible destiny. Wild as, at times, her
imaginings might have been, her most vivid fancy never could have
pictured a career so extraordinary as that to which reality introduced
her; and in all the annals of ancient story, she could find no record
of sufferings and privations more severe than those which she was
called upon to endure. And neither heroine nor hero of any age has
shed greater luster upon human nature by the cheerful fortitude with
which adversity has been braved.



CHAPTER II.

YOUTH.

Convent life.--Its influence upon Jane.--Jane leaves the convent.--Her
attachment to one of the nuns.--Jane partakes of the Lord's
Supper.--Preparations for the solemnity.--Jane's delight in
meditation.--Departure from the convent.--Jane goes to live with her
grandmother.--Character of the latter.--Jane's intellectual
progress.--Her father's delight.--Jane learns to engrave.--Her mother
impatient for her return.--The visit to Madame De Boismorel.--Remarks
of servants.--Appearance of Madame De Boismorel.--Her reception of the
visitors.--Madame De Boismorel's volubility.--Jane's dignified
rejoinders.--Jane's indignation.--She visits Versailles.--Jane's
disgust at palace life.--She resorts to the gardens.--Characteristic
remark.--Jane's meditations.--Jane returns home.--Her manner of
reading.--Jane devotes herself to domestic duties.--She goes to
market.--Jane's aptitude for domestic duties.--From the study to the
kitchen.--Domestic education.--Dissolute lives of the Catholic
clergy.--New emotions.--Insolence of the aristocracy.--Jane's
indignation.--New acquaintances.--Jane's contempt for their ignorance
and pride.--A noble but illiterate lady.--Deference paid to her.--Habits
of reflection.


The influence of those intense emotions which were excited in the
bosom of Jane by the scenes which she witnessed in her childhood in
the nunnery were never effaced from her imaginative mind. Nothing can
be conceived more strongly calculated to impress the feelings of a
romantic girl, than the poetic attractions which are thrown around the
Roman Catholic religion by nuns, and cloisters, and dimly-lighted
chapels, and faintly-burning tapers, and matins, and vespers, and
midnight dirges. Jane had just the spirit to be most deeply captivated
by such enchantments. She reveled in those imaginings which clustered
in the dim shades of the cloister, in an ecstasy of luxurious
enjoyment. The ordinary motives which influence young girls of her age
seem to have had no control over her. Her joys were most highly
intellectual and spiritual, and her aspirations were far above the
usual conceptions of childhood. She, for a time, became entirely
fascinated by the novel scenes around her, and surrendered her whole
soul to the dominion of the associations with which she was engrossed.
In subsequent years, by the energies of a vigorous philosophy, she
disenfranchised her intellect from these illusions, and, proceeding to
another extreme, wandered in the midst of the cheerless mazes of
unbelief; but her fancy retained the traces of these early impressions
until the hour of her death. Christianity, even when most heavily
encumbered with earthly corruption, is infinitely preferable to no
religion at all. Even papacy has never swayed so bloody a scepter as
infidelity.

Jane remained in the convent one year, and then, with deep regret,
left the nuns, to whom she had become extremely attached. With one of
the sisters, who was allied to the nobility, she formed a strong
friendship, which continued through life. For many years she kept up a
constant correspondence with this friend, and to this correspondence
she attributes, in a great degree, that facility in writing which
contributed so much to her subsequent celebrity. This letter-writing
is one of the best schools of composition, and the parent who is
emulous of the improvement of his children in that respect, will do
all in his power to encourage the constant use of the pen in these
familiar epistles. Thus the most important study, the study of the
power of expression, is converted into a pleasure, and is pursued with
an avidity which will infallibly secure success. It is a sad mistake
to frown upon such efforts as a waste of time.

While in the convent, she, for the first time, partook of the
sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Her spirit was most deeply impressed
and overawed by the sacredness of the ceremony. During several weeks
previous to her reception of this solemn ordinance, by solitude,
self-examination, and prayer, she endeavored to prepare herself for
that sacred engagement, which she deemed the pledge of her union to
God, and of her eternal felicity. When the hour arrived, her feelings
were so intensely excited that she wept convulsively, and she was
entirely incapable of walking to the altar. She was borne in the arms
of two of the nuns. This depth of emotion was entirely unaffected, and
secured for her the peculiar reverence of the sacred sisters.

That spirit of pensive reverie, so dangerous and yet so fascinating,
to which she loved to surrender herself, was peculiarly in harmony
with all the influences with which she was surrounded in the convent,
and constituted the very soul of the piety of its inmates. She was
encouraged by the commendations of all the sisters to deliver her mind
up to the dominion of these day-dreams, with whose intoxicating power
every heart is more or less familiar. She loved to retire to the
solitude of the cloisters, when the twilight was deepening into
darkness, and alone, with measured steps, to pace to and fro,
listening to the monotonous echoes of her own footfall, which alone
disturbed the solemn silence. At the tomb of a departed sister she
would often linger, and, indulging in those melancholy meditations
which had for her so many charms, long for her own departure to the
bosom of her heavenly Father, where she might enjoy that perfect
happiness for which, at times, her spirit glowed with such intense
aspirations.

At the close of the year Jane left the peaceful retreat where she had
enjoyed so much, and where she had received so many impressions never
to be effaced. Her parents, engrossed with care, were unable to pay
that attention to their child which her expanding mind required, and
she was sent to pass her thirteenth year with her paternal grandmother
and her aunt Angelieu. Her grandmother was a dignified lady of much
refinement of mind and gracefulness of demeanor, who laid great stress
upon all the courtesies of life and the elegances of manners and
address. Her aunt was gentle and warm-hearted, and her spirit was
deeply imbued with that humble and docile piety, which has so often
shone out with pure luster even through all the encumbrances of the
Roman Catholic Church. With them she spent a year, in a seclusion from
the world almost as entire as that which she found in the solitude of
the convent. An occasional visit to her parents, and to her old
friends the nuns, was all that interrupted the quiet routine of daily
duties. Books continued still her employment and her delight. Her
habits of reverie continued unbroken. Her lofty dreams gained a daily
increasing ascendency over her character.

She thus continued to dwell in the boundless regions of the intellect
and the affections. Even the most commonplace duties of life were
rendered attractive to her by investing them with a mysterious
connection with her own limitless being. Absorbed in her own thoughts,
ever communing with herself, with nature, with the Deity, as the
object of her highest sentiment and aspirations, though she did not
despise those of a more humble mental organization, she gave them not
a thought. The evening twilight of every fine day still found her at
her chamber window, admiring the glories of the setting sun, and
feeding her impassioned spirit with those visions of future splendor
and happiness which the scene appeared to reveal. She fancied she
could almost see the wings of angels gleaming in the purple sunlight.
Through those gorgeous avenues, where clouds were piled on golden
clouds, she imagined, far away, the mansions of the blessed. These
emotions glowing within her, gave themselves utterance in prayers
earnest and ardent, while the tears of irrepressible feeling filled
her eyes as she thought of that exalted Being, so worthy of her pure
and intensest homage.

The father of Jane was delighted with all these indications of a
marked and elevated character, and did all in his power to stimulate
her to greater zeal in her lofty studies and meditations. Jane became
his idol, and the more her imaginative mind became imbued with the
spirit of romantic aspirations, the better was he pleased. The ardor
of her zeal enabled her to succeed in every thing which she undertook.
Invincible industry and energy were united with these dreams. She was
ambitious of knowing every thing; and when her father placed in her
hands the _burin_, wishing to teach her to engrave, she immediately
acquired such skill as to astonish both of her parents. And she
afterward passed many pleasant hours in engraving, on highly-polished
plates of brass, beautiful emblems of flowers as tokens of affection
for her friends.

The mother of Jane, with far better judgment, endeavored to call back
her daughter from that unreal world in which she loved to dwell, and
to interest her in the practical duties of life. She began to be
impatient for her return home, that she might introduce her to those
household employments, the knowledge of which is of such unspeakable
importance to every lady. In this she was far from being unsuccessful;
for while Jane continued to dream in accordance with the encouragement
of her father, she also cordially recognized the good sense of her
mother's counsels, and held herself ever in readiness to co-operate
with her in all her plans.

[Illustration: THE VISIT.]

A little incident which took place at this time strikingly illustrates
the reflective maturity which her character had already acquired.
Before the French Revolution, the haughty demeanor of the nobility of
France assumed such an aspect as an American, at the present day, can
but feebly conceive. One morning, the grandmother of Jane, a woman of
dignity and cultivated mind, took her to the house of Madame De
Boismorel, a lady of noble rank, whose children she had partly
educated. It was a great event, and Jane was dressed with the utmost
care to visit the aristocratic mansion. The aspiring girl, with no
disposition to come down to the level of those beneath her, and with
still less willingness to do homage to those above her, was entirely
unconscious of the mortifying condescension with which she was to be
received. The porter at the door saluted Madame Phlippon with
politeness, and all the servants whom she met in the hall addressed
her with civility. She replied to each with courtesy and with dignity.
The grandmother was proud of her grand-daughter, and the servants paid
the young lady many compliments. The instinctive pride of Jane took
instant alarm. She felt that _servants_ had no right to presume to pay
_her_ compliments--that they were thus assuming that she was upon
their level. Alas! for poor human nature. All love to ascend. Few
are willing to favor equality by stepping down. A tall footman
announced them at the door of the magnificent saloon. All the
furnishing and arrangements of this aristocratic apartment were
calculated to dazzle the eye and bewilder the mind of one unaccustomed
to such splendor. Madame De Boismorel, dressed with the most
ostentatious display of wealth, was seated upon an ottoman, in stately
dignity, employing her fingers with fancy needle-work. Her face was
thickly covered with rouge, and, as her guests were announced, she
raised her eyes from her embroidery, and fixing a cold and unfeeling
glance upon them, without rising to receive them, or even making the
slightest inclination of her body, in a very patronizing and
condescending tone said to the grandmother,

"Ah! _Miss_ Phlippon, good morning to you!"

Jane, who was far from pleased with her reception in the hall, was
exceedingly displeased with her reception in the saloon. The pride of
the Roman maiden rose in her bosom, and indignantly she exclaimed to
herself, "So my grandmother is called _Miss_ in this house!"

"I am very glad to see you," continued Madame De Boismorel; "and who
is this fine girl? your grand-daughter, I suppose? She will make a
very pretty woman. Come here, my dear. Ah! I see she is a little
bashful. How old is your grand-daughter, Miss Phlippon? Her complexion
is rather brown, to be sure, but her skin is clear, and will grow
fairer in a few years. She is quite a woman already."

Thus she rattled on for some time, waiting for no answers. At length,
turning again to Jane, who had hardly ventured to raise her eyes from
the floor, she said, "What a beautiful hand you have got. That hand
must be a lucky one. Did you ever venture in a lottery my dear?"

"Never, madam," replied Jane, promptly. "I am not fond of gaming."

"What an admirable voice!" exclaimed the lady. "So sweet and yet so
full-toned! But how grave she is! Pray, my dear, are you not a little
of a devotee?"

"I know my duty to God," replied Jane, "and I endeavor to fulfill it."

"That's a good girl," the noble lady rejoined. "You wish to take the
veil, do you not?"

"I do not know what may be my destination, neither am I at present
anxious to conjecture it."

"How very sententious!" Madame De Boismorel replied. "Your
grand-daughter reads a great deal, does she not, Miss Phlippon?"

"Yes, madam, reading is her greatest delight."

"Ay, ay," rejoined the lady; "I see how it is. But have a care that
she does not turn author. That would be a pity indeed."

During this conversation the cheeks of Jane were flushed with wounded
pride, and her heart throbbed most violently. She felt indignant and
degraded, and was exceedingly impatient to escape from the humiliating
visit. Conscious that she was, in spirit, in no respect inferior to
the maidens of Greece and Rome who had so engrossed her admiration,
she as instinctively recoiled from the arrogance of the haughty
occupant of the parlor as she had repelled the affected equality of
the servants in the hall.

A short time after this she was taken to pass a week at the luxurious
abodes of Maria Antoinette. Versailles was in itself a city of palaces
and of courtiers, where all that could dazzle the eye in regal pomp
and princely voluptuousness was concentered. Most girls of her age
would have been enchanted and bewildered by this display of royal
grandeur. Jane was permitted to witness, and partially to share, all
the pomp of luxuriously-spread tables, and presentations, and court
balls, and illuminations, and the gilded equipages of embassadors and
princes. But this maiden, just emerging from the period of childhood
and the seclusion of the cloister, undazzled by all this brilliance,
looked sadly on the scene with the condemning eye of a philosopher.
The servility of the courtiers excited her contempt. She contrasted
the boundless profusion and extravagance which filled these palaces
with the absence of comfort in the dwellings of the over-taxed poor,
and pondered deeply the value of that regal despotism, which starved
the millions to pander to the dissolute indulgence of the few. Her
personal pride was also severely stung by perceiving that her own
attractions, mental and physical, were entirely overlooked by the
crowds which were bowing before the shrines of rank and power. She
soon became weary of the painful spectacle. Disgusted with the
frivolity of the living, she sought solace for her wounded feelings in
companionship with the illustrious dead. She chose the gardens for her
resort, and, lingering around the statues which embellished these
scenes of almost fairy enchantment, surrendered herself to the luxury
of those oft-indulged dreams, which lured her thoughts away from the
trivialities around her to heroic character and brilliant exploits.

"How do you enjoy your visit, my daughter?" inquired her mother.

"I shall be glad when it is ended," was the characteristic reply,
"else, in a few more days, I shall so detest all the persons I see
that I shall not know what to do with my hatred."

"Why, what harm have these persons done you, my child?"

"They make me feel injustice and look upon absurdity," replied this
philosopher of thirteen.

Thus early did she commence her political meditations, and here were
planted the germs of that enthusiasm which subsequently nerved her to
such exertions for the disenthralment of the people, and the
establishment of republican power upon the ruin of the throne of the
Bourbons. She thought of the ancient republics, encircled by a halo of
visionary glory, and of the heroes and heroines who had been the
martyrs of liberty; or, to use her own energetic language, "I sighed
at the recollection of Athens, where I could have enjoyed the fine
arts without being annoyed at the sight of despotism. I was out of
all patience at being a French-woman. Enchanted with the golden period
of the Grecian republic, I passed over the storms by which it had been
agitated. I forgot the exile of Aristides, the death of Socrates, and
the condemnation of Phocion. I little thought that Heaven reserved me
to be a witness of similar errors, to profess the same principles, and
to participate in the glory of the same persecutions."

Soon after Jane had entered her fourteenth year, she left her
grandmother's and returned to her parental home. Her father, though
far from opulence, was equally removed from poverty, and, without
difficulty, provided his family with a frugal competence. Jane now
pursued her studies and her limitless reading with unabated ardor. Her
mind, demanding reality and truth as basis for thought, in the
developments of character as revealed in biography, in the rise and
fall of empires as portrayed in history, in the facts of science, and
in the principles of mental and physical philosophy, found its
congenial aliment. She accustomed herself to read with her pen in her
hand, taking copious abstracts of facts and sentiments which
particularly interested her. Not having a large library of her own,
many of the books which she read were borrowed, and she carefully
extracted from them and treasured in her commonplace book those
passages which particularly interested her, that she might read them
again and again. With these abstracts and extracts there were freely
intermingled her own reflections, and thus all that she read was
carefully stored up in her own mind and became a portion of her own
intellectual being.

Jane's mother, conscious of the importance to her child of a knowledge
of domestic duties, took her to the market to obtain meat and
vegetables, and occasionally placed upon her the responsibility of
most of the family purchases; and yet the unaffected, queenly dignity
with which the imaginative girl yielded herself to these most useful
yet prosaic avocations was such, that when she entered the market, the
fruit-women hastened to serve her before the other customers. The
first comers, instead of being offended by this neglect, stepped
aside, struck by those indescribable indications of superiority which
ever gave her such a resistless influence over other minds. It is
quite remarkable that Jane, apparently, never turned with repugnance
from these humble avocations of domestic life. It speaks most highly
in behalf of the intelligence and sound judgment of her mother, that
she was enabled thus successfully to allure her daughter from her
proud imaginings and her realms of romance to those unattractive
practical duties which our daily necessities demand. At one hour, this
ardent and impassioned maiden might have been seen in her little
chamber absorbed in studies of deepest research. The highest themes
which can elevate or engross the mind of man claimed her profound and
delighted reveries. The next hour she might be seen in the kitchen,
under the guidance of her placid and pious mother, receiving from her
judicious lips lessons upon frugality, and industry, and economy. The
white apron was bound around her waist, and her hands, which, but a
few moments before, were busy with the circles of the celestial globe,
were now occupied in preparing vegetables for dinner. There was thus
united in the character of Jane the appreciation of all that is
beautiful, chivalric, and sublime in the world of fact and the world
of imagination, and also domestic skill and practical common sense.
She was thus prepared to fascinate by the graces and elegances of a
refined and polished mind, and to create for herself, in the midst of
all the vicissitudes of life, a region of loveliness in which her
spirit could ever dwell; and, at the same time, she possessed that
sagacity and tact, and those habits of usefulness, which prepared her
to meet calmly all the changes of fortune, and over them all to
triumph. With that self-appreciation, the expression of which, with
her, was frankness rather than vanity, she subsequently writes, "This
mixture of serious studies, agreeable relaxations, and domestic cares,
was rendered pleasant by my mother's good management, and fitted me
for every thing. It seemed to forebode the vicissitudes of future
life, and enabled me to bear them. In every place I am at home. I can
prepare my own dinner with as much address as Philopoemen cut wood;
but no one seeing me thus engaged would think it an office in which I
ought to be employed."

Jane was thus prepared by Providence for that career which she
rendered so illustrious through her talents and her sufferings. At
this early period there were struggling in her bosom those very
emotions which soon after agitated every mind in France, and which
overthrew in chaotic ruin both the altar and the throne. The
dissolute lives of many of the Catholic clergy, and their indolence
and luxury, began to alarm her faith. The unceasing denunciations of
her father gave additional impulse to every such suggestion. She could
not but see that the pride and power of the state were sustained by
the superstitious terrors wielded by the Church. She could not be
blind to the trickery by which money was wrested from tortured
consciences, and from ignorance, imbecility, and dotage. She could not
but admire her mother's placid piety, neither could she conceal from
herself that her faith was feeling, her principles sentiments. Deeply
as her own feelings had been impressed in the convent, and much as she
loved the gentle sisters there, she sought in vain for a foundation
for the gigantic fabric of spiritual dominion towering above her. She
looked upon the gorgeous pomp of papal worship, with its gormandizing
pastors and its starving flocks, with its pageants to excite the sense
and to paralyze the mind, with its friars and monks loitering in sloth
and uselessness, and often in the grossest dissipation, and her reason
gradually began to condemn it as a gigantic superstition for the
enthrallment of mankind. Still, the influence of Christian sentiments,
like a guardian angel, ever hovered around her, and when her
bewildered mind was groping amid the labyrinths of unbelief, her
_heart_ still clung to all that is pure in Christian morals, and to
all that is consolatory in the hopes of immortality; and even when
benighted in the most painful atheistic doubts, _conscience_ became
her deity; its voice she most reverently obeyed.

She turned from the Church to the state. She saw the sons and the
daughters of aristocratic pride, glittering in gilded chariots, and
surrounded by insolent menials, sweep by her, through the Elysian
Fields, while she trod the dusty pathway. Her proud spirit revolted,
more and more, at the apparent injustice. She had studied the
organization of society. She was familiar with the modes of popular
oppression. She understood the operation of that system of taxes, so
ingeniously devised to sink the mass of the people in poverty and
degradation, that princes and nobles might revel in voluptuous
splendor. Indignation nerved her spirit as she reflected upon the
usurpation thus ostentatiously displayed. The seclusion in which she
lived encouraged deep musings upon these vast inequalities of life.
Piety had not taught her submission. Philosophy had not yet taught her
the impossibility of adjusting these allotments of our earthly state,
so as to distribute the gifts of fortune in accordance with merit.
Little, however, did the proud grandees imagine, as in courtly
splendor they swept by the plebeian maiden, enveloping her in the dust
of their chariots, that her voice would yet aid to upheave their
castles from their foundations, and whelm the monarchy and the
aristocracy of France in one common ruin.

At this time circumstances brought her in contact with several ladies
connected with noble families. The ignorance of these ladies, their
pride, their arrogance, excited in Jane's mind deep contempt. She
could not but feel her own immeasurable superiority over them, and yet
she perceived with indignation that the accident of birth invested
them with a factitious dignity, which enabled them to look down upon
her with condescension. A lady of noble birth, who had lost fortune
and friends through the fraud and dissipation of those connected with
her, came to board for a short time in her father's family. This lady
was forty years of age, insufferably proud of her pedigree, and in her
manners stiff and repulsive. She was exceedingly illiterate and
uninformed, being unable to write a line with correctness, and having
no knowledge beyond that which may be picked up in the ball-room and
the theater. There was nothing in her character to win esteem. She was
trying, by a law-suit, to recover a portion of her lost fortune. Jane
wrote petitions for her, and letters, and sometimes went with her to
make interest with persons whose influence would be important. She
perceived that, notwithstanding her deficiency in every personal
quality to inspire esteem or love, she was treated, in consequence of
her birth, with the most marked deference. Whenever she mentioned the
names of her high-born ancestry--and those names were ever upon her
lips--she was listened to with the greatest respect. Jane contrasted
the reception which this illiterate descendant of nobility enjoyed
with the reception which her grandmother encountered in the visit to
Madame De Boismorel, and it appeared to her that the world was
exceedingly unjust, and that the institutions of society were highly
absurd. Thus was her mind training for activity in the arena of
revolution. She was pondering deeply all the abuses of society. She
had become enamored of the republican liberty of antiquity. She was
ready to embrace with enthusiasm any hopes of change. All the games
and amusements of girlhood appeared to her frivolous, as, day after
day, her whole mental powers were engrossed by these profound
contemplations, and by aspirations for the elevation of herself and of
mankind.



CHAPTER III.

MAIDENHOOD.

1770-1775

First emotions of love.--A youthful artist.--Maiden timidity.--Number
of suitors.--Jane as a letter writer.--Her sentiments adopted by
the French ministry.--A rich meat merchant proposes for Jane's
hand.--Conversation between Jane and her father about
matrimony.--Views of Jane in regard to marriage.--Jane's objections
to a tradesman.--She is immovable.--The young physician as a
lover.--Curious interview.--The physician taken on trial.--The
connection broken off.--Illness of Jane's mother.--The jeweler.--Jane's
views of congeniality between man and wife.--Her mother's death.--Jane's
father becomes dissipated.--Meekness of her mother.--Excursion to
the country.--Delusive hopes.--Death of Madame Phlippon.--Effects
upon Jane.--Recovery of Jane.--Character of her mother.--Jane's
melancholy.--She resorts to writing.--Development of character.--Letter
from M. Boismorel.--Reply to M. De Boismorel.--Translation.--Character
of M. De Boismorel.--Jane introduced to the nobility.--Jane's contempt
for the aristocracy.--Her good taste.--M. Phlippon's progress
in dissipation.--Jane's painful situation.--Jane secures a small
income.--Consolations of literature.


A soul so active, so imaginative, and so full of feeling as that of
Jane, could not long slumber unconscious of the emotion of love. In
the unaffected and touching narrative which she gives of her own
character, in the Journal which she subsequently wrote in the gloom of
a prison, she alludes to the first rising of that mysterious passion
in her bosom. With that frankness which ever marked her character, she
describes the strange fluttering of her heart, the embarrassment, the
attraction, and the instinctive diffidence she experienced when in the
presence of a young man who had, all unconsciously, interested her
affections. It seems that there was a youthful painter named Taboral,
of pale, and pensive, and intellectual countenance--an artist with
soul-inspired enthusiasm beaming from his eye--who occasionally called
upon her father. Jane had just been reading the Heloise of Rousseau,
that gushing fountain of sentimentality. Her young heart took fire.
His features mingled insensibly in her dreamings and her visions, and
dwelt, a welcome guest, in her castles in the air. The diffident young
man, with all the sensitiveness of genius, could not speak to the
daughter, of whose accomplishments the father was so justly proud,
without blushing like a girl. When Jane heard him in the shop, she
always contrived to make some errand to go in. There was a pencil or
something else to be sought for. But the moment she was in the
presence of Taboral, instinctive embarrassment drove her away, and she
retired more rapidly than she entered, and with a palpitating heart
ran to hide herself in her little chamber.

This emotion, however, was fleeting and transient, and soon forgotten.
Indeed, highly imaginative as was Jane, her imagination was vigorous
and intellectual, and her tastes led her far away from those
enervating love-dreams in which a weaker mind would have indulged. A
young lady so fascinating in mind and person could not but attract
much attention. Many suitors began to appear, one after another, but
she manifested no interest in any of them. The customs of society in
France were such at that time, that it was difficult for any one who
sought the hand of Jane to obtain an introduction to her.
Consequently, the expedient was usually adopted of writing first to
her parents. These letters were always immediately shown to Jane. She
judged of the character of the writer by the character of the
epistles. Her father, knowing her intellectual superiority, looked to
her as his secretary to reply to all these letters. She consequently
wrote the answers, which her father carefully copied, and sent in his
own name. She was often amused with the gravity with which she, as the
father of herself, with parental prudence discussed her own interests.
In subsequent years she wrote to kings and to cabinets in the name of
her husband; and the sentiments which flowed from her pen, adopted by
the ministry of France as their own, guided the councils of nations.

Her father, regarding commerce as the source of wealth, and wealth as
the source of power and dignity, was very anxious that his daughter
should accept some of the lucrative offers she was receiving from
young men of the family acquaintance who were engaged in trade. But
Jane had no such thought. Her proud spirit revolted from such a
connection. From her sublimated position among the ancient heroes,
and her ambitious aspirings to dwell in the loftiest regions of
intellect, she could not think of allying her soul with those whose
energies were expended in buying and selling; and she declared that
she would have no husband but one with whom she could cherish
congenial sympathies.

At one time a rich meat merchant of the neighborhood solicited her
hand. Her father, allured by his wealth, was very anxious that his
daughter should accept the offer. In reply to his urgency Jane firmly
replied,

"I can not, dear father, descend from my noble imaginings. What I want
in a husband is a _soul_, not a _fortune_. I will die single rather
than prostitute my own mind in a union with a being with whom I have
no sympathies. Brought up from my infancy in connection with the great
men of all ages--familiar with lofty ideas and illustrious
examples--have I lived with Plato, with all the philosophers, all the
poets, all the politicians of antiquity, merely to unite myself with a
shop-keeper, who will neither appreciate nor feel any thing as I do?
Why have you suffered me, father, to contract these intellectual
habits and tastes, if you wish me to form such an alliance? I know not
whom I may marry; but it must be one who can share my thoughts and
sympathize with my pursuits."

"But, my daughter, there are many men of business who have extensive
information and polished manners."

"That may be," Jane answered, "but they do not possess the kind of
information, and the character of mind, and the intellectual tastes
which I wish any one who is my husband to possess."

"Do you not suppose," rejoined her father, "that Mr. ---- and his wife
are happy? He has just retired from business with an ample fortune.
They have a beautiful house, and receive the best of company."

"I am no judge," was the reply, "of other people's happiness. But my
own heart is not fixed on riches. I conceive that the strictest union
of affection is requisite to conjugal felicity. I can not connect
myself with any man whose tastes and sympathies are not in accordance
with my own. My husband must be my superior. Since both nature and the
laws give him the pre-eminence, I should be ashamed if he did not
really deserve it."

"I suppose, then, you want a counselor for your husband. But ladies
are seldom happy with these learned gentlemen. They have a great deal
of pride, and very little money."

"Father," Jane earnestly replied, "I care not about the profession. I
wish only to marry a man whom I can love."

"But you persist in thinking such a man will never be found in trade.
You will find it, however, a very pleasant thing to sit at ease in
your own parlor while your husband is accumulating a fortune. Now
there is Madame Dargens: she understands diamonds as well as her
husband. She can make good bargains in his absence, and could carry on
all his business perfectly well if she were left a widow. You are
intelligent. You perfectly understand that branch of business since
you studied the treatise on precious stones. You might do whatever you
please. You would have led a very happy life if you could but have
fancied Delorme, Dabrieul, or--"

"Father," earnestly exclaimed Jane, "I have discovered that the only
way to make a fortune in trade is by selling dear that which has been
bought cheap; by overcharging the customer, and beating down the poor
workman. I could never descend to such practices; nor could I respect
a man who made them his occupation from morning till night."

"Do you then suppose that there are no honest tradesmen?"

"I presume that there are," was the reply; "but the number is not
large; and among them I am not likely to find a husband who will
sympathize with me."

"And what will you do if you do not find the idol of your
imagination?"

"I will live single."

"Perhaps you will not find that as pleasant as you imagine. You may
think that there is time enough yet. But weariness will come at last.
The crowd of lovers will soon pass away and you know the fable."

"Well, then, by meriting happiness, I will take revenge upon the
injustice which would deprive me of it."

"Oh! now you are in the clouds again, my child. It is very pleasant to
soar to such a height, but it is not easy to keep the elevation."

The judicious mother of Jane, anxious to see her daughter settled in
life, endeavored to form a match for her with a young physician. Much
maneuvering was necessary to bring about the desired result. The young
practitioner was nothing loth to lend his aid. The pecuniary
arrangements were all made, and the bargain completed, before Jane
knew any thing of the matter. The mother and daughter went out one
morning to make a call upon a friend, at whose house the prospective
husband of Jane, by previous appointment, was accidentally to be. It
was a curious interview. The friends so overacted their part, that
Jane immediately saw through the plot. Her mother was pensive and
anxious. Her friends were voluble, and prodigal of sly intimations.
The young gentleman was very lavish of his powers of pleasing, loaded
Jane with flippant compliments, devoured confectionary with high
relish, and chattered most flippantly in the most approved style of
fashionable inanition. The high-spirited girl had no idea of being
thus disposed of in the matrimonial bazaar. The profession of the
doctor was pleasing to her, as it promised an enlightened mind, and
she was willing to consent to make his acquaintance. Her mother urged
her to decide at once.

"What, mother!" she exclaimed, "would you have me take one for my
husband upon the strength of a single interview?"

"It is not exactly so," she replied. "This young gentleman's intimacy
with our friends enables us to judge of his conduct and way of life.
We know his disposition. These are the main points. You have attained
the proper age to be settled in the world. You have refused many
offers from tradesmen, and it is from that class alone that you are
likely to receive addresses. You seem fully resolved never to marry a
man in business. You may never have another such offer. The present
match is very eligible in every external point of view. Beware how you
reject it too lightly."

Jane, thus urged, consented to see the young physician at her father's
house, that she might become acquainted with him. She, however,
determined that no earthly power should induce her to marry him,
unless she found in him a congenial spirit. Fortunately, she was saved
all further trouble in the matter by a dispute which arose between her
lover and her father respecting the pecuniary arrangements, and which
broke off all further connection between the parties.

Her mother's health now began rapidly to decline. A stroke of palsy
deprived her of her accustomed elasticity of spirits, and, secluding
herself from society, she became silent and sad. In view of
approaching death, she often lamented that she could not see her
daughter well married before she left the world. An offer which Jane
received from a very honest, industrious, and thrifty jeweler, aroused
anew a mother's maternal solicitude.

"Why," she exclaimed, with melancholy earnestness, "will you reject
this young man? He has an amiable disposition, and high reputation for
integrity and sobriety. He is already in easy circumstances, and is in
a fair way of soon acquiring a brilliant fortune. He knows that you
have a superior mind. He professes great esteem for you, and will be
proud of following your advice. You might lead him in any way you
like."

"But, my dear mother, I do not want a husband who is to be led. He
would be too cumbersome a child for me to take care of."

"Do you know that you are a very whimsical girl, my child? And how do
you think you would like a husband who was your master and tyrant?"

"I certainly," Jane replied, "should not like a man who assumed airs
of authority, for that would only provoke me to resist. But I am sure
that I could never love a husband whom it was necessary for me to
govern. I should be ashamed of my own power."

"I understand you, Jane. You would like to have a man _think_ himself
the master, while he obeyed you in every particular."

"No, mother, it is not that either. I hate servitude; but empire would
only embarrass me. I wish to gain the affections of a man who would
make his happiness consist in contributing to mine, as his good sense
and regard for me should dictate."

"But, my daughter, there would be hardly such a thing in the world as
a happy couple, if happiness could not exist without that perfect
congeniality of taste and opinions which you imagine to be so
necessary."

"I do not know, mother, of a single person whose happiness I envy."

"Very well; but among those matches which you do not envy, there may
be some far preferable to remaining always single. I may be called out
of the world sooner than you imagine. Your father is still young. I
can not tell you all the disagreeable things my fondness for you makes
me fear. I should be indeed happy, could I see you united to some
worthy man before I die."

This was the first time that the idea of her mother's death ever
seriously entered the mind of Jane. With an eager gaze, she fixed her
eye upon her pale and wasted cheek and her emaciate frame, and the
dreadful truth, with the suddenness of a revelation, burst upon her.
Her whole frame shook with emotion, and she burst into a flood of
tears. Her mother, much moved, tried to console her.

"Do not be alarmed, my dear child," said she, tenderly. "I am not
dangerously ill. But in forming our plans, we should take into
consideration all chances. A worthy man offers you his hand. You have
now attained your twentieth year. You can not expect as many suitors
as you have had for the last five years. I may be suddenly taken from
you. Do not, then, reject a husband who, it is true, has not all the
refinement you could desire, but who will love you, and with whom you
can be happy."

"Yes, my dear mother," exclaimed Jane, with a deep and impassioned
sigh, "as happy as _you_ have been."

The expression escaped her in the excitement of the moment. Never
before had she ventured in the remotest way to allude to the total
want of congeniality which she could not but perceive existed between
her father and her mother. Indeed, her mother's character for patience
and placid submission was so remarkable, that Jane did not know how
deeply she had suffered, nor what a life of martyrdom she was leading.
The effect of Jane's unpremeditated remark opened her eyes to the sad
reality. Her mother was greatly disconcerted. Her cheek changed color.
Her lip trembled. She made no reply. She never again opened her lips
upon the subject of the marriage of her child.

The father of Jane, with no religious belief to control his passions
or guide his conduct, was gradually falling into those habits of
dissipation to which he was peculiarly exposed by the character of the
times. He neglected his business. He formed disreputable
acquaintances. He became irritable and domineering over his wife, and
was often absent from home, with convivial clubs, until a late hour of
the night. Neither mother nor daughter ever uttered one word to each
other in reference to the failings of the husband and father. Jane,
however, had so powerful an influence over him, that she often, by her
persuasive skill, averted the storm which was about to descend upon
her meek and unresisting parent.

The poor mother, in silence and sorrow, was sinking to the tomb far
more rapidly than Jane imagined. One summer's day, the father, mother,
and daughter took a short excursion into the country. The day was warm
and beautiful. In a little boat they glided over the pleasant waters
of the Seine, feasting their eyes with the beauties of nature and art
which fringed the shores. The pale cheek of the dying wife became
flushed with animation as she once again breathed the invigorating air
of the country, and the daughter beguiled her fears with the delusive
hope that it was the flush of returning health. When they reached
their home, Madame Phlippon, fatigued with the excursion, retired to
her chamber for rest. Jane, accompanied by her maid, went to the
convent to call upon her old friends the nuns. She made a very short
call.

"Why are you in such haste?" inquired Sister Agatha.

"I am anxious to return to my mother."

"But you told me that she was better."

"She is much better than usual. But I have a strange feeling of
solicitude about her. I shall not feel easy until I see her again."

She hurried home, and was met at the door by a little girl, who
informed her that her mother was very dangerously ill. She flew to the
room, and found her almost lifeless. Another stroke of paralysis had
done its work, and she was dying. She raised her languid eyes to her
child, but her palsied tongue could speak no word of tenderness. One
arm only obeyed the impulse of her will. She raised it, and
affectionately patted the cheek of her beloved daughter, and wiped the
tears which were flowing down her cheeks. The priest came to
administer the last consolations of religion. Jane, with her eyes
riveted upon her dying parent, endeavored to hold the light.
Overpowered with anguish, the light suddenly dropped from her hand,
and she fell senseless upon the floor. When she recovered from this
swoon her mother was dead.

Jane was entirely overwhelmed with uncontrollable and delirious
sorrow. For many days it was apprehended that her own life would fall
a sacrifice to the blow which her affections had received. Instead of
being a support to the family in this hour of trial, she added to the
burden and the care. The Abbé Legrand, who stood by her bedside as her
whole frame was shaken by convulsions, very sensibly remarked, "It is
a good thing to possess sensibility. It is very unfortunate to have so
much of it." Gradually Jane regained composure, but life, to her, was
darkened. She now began to realize all those evils which her fond
mother had apprehended. Speaking of her departed parent, she says,
"The world never contained a better or a more amiable woman. There was
nothing brilliant in her character, but she possessed every quality to
endear her to all by whom she was known. Naturally endowed with the
sweetest disposition, virtue seemed never to cost her any effort. Her
pure and tranquil spirit pursued its even course like the docile
stream that bathes with equal gentleness, the foot of the rock which
holds it captive, and the valley which it at once enriches and adorns.
With her death was concluded the tranquillity of my youth, which till
then was passed in the enjoyment of blissful affections and beloved
occupations."

Jane soon found her parental home, indeed, a melancholy abode. She was
truly alone in the world. Her father now began to advance with more
rapid footsteps in the career of dissipation. A victim to that
infidelity which presents no obstacle to crime, he yielded himself a
willing captive to the dominion of passion, and disorder reigned
through the desolated household. Jane had the mortification of seeing
a woman received into the family to take her mother's place, in a
union unsanctified by the laws of God. A deep melancholy settled down
upon the mind of the wounded girl, and she felt that she was desolate
and an alien in her own home. She shut herself up in her chamber with
her thoughts and her books. All the chords of her sensitive nature now
vibrated only responsive to those melancholy tones which are the
dirges of the broken heart. As there never was genius untinged by
melancholy, so may it be doubted whether there ever was greatness of
character which had not been nurtured in the school of great
affliction. Her heart now began to feel irrepressible longings for the
sympathy of some congenial friend, upon whose supporting bosom she
could lean her aching head. In lonely musings she solaced herself, and
nurtured her own thoughts by writing. Her pen became her friend, and
the resource of every weary hour. She freely gave utterance in her
diary to all her feelings and all her emotions. Her manuscripts of
abstracts, and extracts, and original thoughts, became quite
voluminous. In this way she was daily cultivating that power of
expression and that force of eloquence which so often, in subsequent
life, astonished and charmed her friends.

In every development of character in her most eventful future career,
one can distinctly trace the influence of these vicissitudes of early
life, and of these impressions thus powerfully stamped upon her
nature. Philosophy, romance, and religious sentiment, an impassioned
mind and a glowing heart, admiration of heroism, and emulation of
martyrdom in some noble cause, all conspired to give her sovereignty
over the affections of others, and to enable her to sway human wills
almost at pleasure.

M. Boismorel, husband of the aristocratic lady to whom Jane once paid
so disagreeable a visit, called one day at the shop of M. Phlippon,
and the proud father could not refrain from showing him some of the
writings of Jane. The nobleman had sense enough to be very much
pleased with the talent which they displayed, and wrote her a very
flattering letter, offering her the free use of his very valuable
library, and urging her to devote her life to literary pursuits, and
at once to commence authorship. Jane was highly gratified by this
commendation, and most eagerly availed herself of his most valuable
offer. In reply to his suggestion respecting authorship, she inclosed
the following lines:

     "Aux hommes ouvrant la carrière
       Des grands et des nobles talents,
     Ils n'ont mis aucune barrière
       A leurs plus sublimes èlans.

     "De mon sexe foible et sensible,
       Ils ne veulent que des vertus;
     Nous pouvons imiter Titus,
       Mais dans un sentier moins penible.

     "Joussiez du bien d'être admis
       A toutes ces sortes de glorie
     Pour nous le temple de mémoire
       Est dans le coeurs de nos amis."

These lines have been thus vigorously translated in the interesting
sketch given by Mrs. Child of Madame Roland:

      "To man's aspiring sex 'tis given
        To climb the highest hill of fame;
      To tread the shortest road to heaven,
        And gain by death a deathless name.

      "Of well-fought fields and trophies won
        The memory lives while ages pass;
      Graven on everlasting stone,
        Or written on retentive brass.

      "But to poor feeble womankind
        The meed of glory is denied;
      Within a narrow sphere confined.
        The lowly virtues are their pride.

      "Yet not deciduous is their fame,
        Ending where frail existence ends;
      A sacred temple holds their name--
        The heart of their surviving friends."

A friendly correspondence ensued between Jane and M. De Boismorel,
which continued through his life. He was a very worthy and intelligent
man, and became so much interested in his young friend, that he wished
to connect her in marriage with his son. This young man was indolent
and irresolute in character, and his father thought that he would be
greatly benefited by a wife of decision and judgment. Jane, however,
was no more disposed to fall in love with rank than with wealth, and
took no fancy whatever to the characterless young nobleman. The
judicious father saw that it would be utterly unavailing to urge the
suit, and the matter was dropped.

Through the friendship of M. De Boismorel, she was often introduced to
the great world of lords and ladies. Even his formal and haughty wife
became much interested in the fascinating young lady, and her
brilliant talents and accomplishments secured her invitations to many
social interviews to which she would not have been entitled by her
birth. This slight acquaintance with the nobility of France did not,
however, elevate them in her esteem. She found the conversation of
the old marquises and antiquated dowagers who frequented the salons of
Madame De Boismorel more insipid and illiterate than that of the
tradespeople who visited her father's shop, and upon whom those nobles
looked down with such contempt. Jane was also disgusted with the many
indications she saw, not only of indolence and voluptuousness, but of
dissipation and utter want of principle. Her good sense enabled her to
move among these people as a studious observer of this aspect of human
nature, neither adopting their costume nor imitating their manners.
She was very unostentatious and simple in her style of dress, and
never, in the slightest degree, affected the mannerism of mindless and
heartless fashion.

Madame De Boismorel, at one time eulogizing her taste in these
respects, remarked,

"You do not love feathers, do you, Miss Phlippon? How very different
you are from the giddy-headed girls around us!"

"I never wear feathers," Jane replied, "because I do not think that
they would correspond with the condition in life of an artist's
daughter who is going about on foot."

"But, were you in a different situation in life, would you then wear
feathers?"

"I do not know what I should do in that case. I attach very slight
importance to such trifles. I merely consider what is suitable for
myself, and should be very sorry to judge of others by the superficial
information afforded by their dress."

M. Phlippon now began to advance more rapidly in the career of
dissipation. Jane did every thing in her power to lure him to love his
home. All her efforts were entirely unavailing. Night after night he
was absent until the latest hours at convivial clubs and card-parties.
He formed acquaintance with those with whom Jane could not only have
no congeniality of taste, but who must have excited in her emotions of
the deepest repugnance. These companions were often at his house; and
the comfortable property which M. Phlippon possessed, under this
course of dissipation was fast melting away. Jane's situation was now
painful in the extreme. Her mother, who had been the guardian angel of
her life, was sleeping in the grave. Her father was advancing with the
most rapid strides in the road to ruin. Jane was in danger of soon
being left an orphan and utterly penniless. Her father was daily
becoming more neglectful and unkind to his daughter, as he became more
dissatisfied with himself and with the world. Under these
circumstances, Jane, by the advice of friends, had resort to a legal
process, by which there was secured to her, from the wreck of her
mother's fortune, an annual income of about one hundred dollars.

In these gloomy hours which clouded the morning of life's tempestuous
day, Jane found an unfailing resource and solace in her love of
literature. With pen in hand, extracting beautiful passages and
expanding suggested thoughts, she forgot her griefs and beguiled many
hours, which would otherwise have been burdened with intolerable
wretchedness. Maria Antoinette, woe-worn and weary, in tones of
despair uttered the exclamation, "Oh! what a resource, amid the
casualties of life, must there be in a highly-cultivated mind." The
plebeian maiden could utter the same exclamation in accents of
joyfulness.



CHAPTER IV.

MARRIAGE.

1776-1785

Sophia Cannet.--Roland de la Platière.--M. Roland.--His personal
appearance.--Character of M. Roland.--First impressions.--Jane's
appreciation of M. Roland.--Minds and hearts.--Journal of M.
Roland.--His notes on Italy.--The light in which Jane and M. Roland
regard each other.--M. Roland professes his attachment.--Feelings
of Jane.--M. Roland writes to Jane's father.--Insulting letter of
M. Phlippon.--Jane retires to a convent.--Her mode of life
there.--Correspondence with M. Roland.--He returns to Paris.--M.
Roland renews his offers to Jane.--They are married.--First year
of married life.--Madame Roland's devotion to her husband.--Birth
of a daughter.--Literary pursuits.--Application for letters-patent
of nobility.--Visit to England.--Removal to Lyons.--La Platière
and its inmates.--Death of M. Roland's mother.--Situation of La
Platière.--Description of La Platière.--Surrounding scenery.--Years
of happiness.--Mode of life.--Eudora.--Domestic duties.--Literary
employments.--Pleasant rambles.--Distinguished guests.--Rural
pleasures.--Knowledge of medicine.--Kindness to the
peasantry.--Gratitude of the peasantry.--Popular rights.


When Jane was in the convent, she became acquainted with a young lady
from Amiens, Sophia Cannet. They formed for each other a strong
attachment, and commenced a correspondence which continued for many
years. There was a gentleman in Amiens by the name of Roland de la
Platière, born of an opulent family, and holding the quite important
office of inspector of manufactures. His time was mainly occupied in
traveling and study. Being deeply interested in all subjects relating
to political economy, he had devoted much attention to that noble
science, and had written several treatises upon commerce, mechanics,
and agriculture, which had given him, in the literary and scientific
world, no little celebrity. He frequently visited the father of
Sophia. She often spoke to him of her friend Jane, showed him her
portrait, and read to him extracts from her glowing letters. The calm
philosopher became very much interested in the enthusiastic maiden,
and entreated Sophia to give him a letter of introduction to her,
upon one of his annual visits to Paris. Sophia had also often written
to Jane of her father's friend, whom she regarded with so much
reverence.

One day Jane was sitting alone in her desolate home, absorbed in
pensive musings, when M. Roland entered, bearing a letter of
introduction to her from Sophia. "You will receive this letter," her
friend wrote, "by the hand of the philosopher of whom I have so often
written to you. M. Roland is an enlightened man, of antique manners,
without reproach, except for his passion for the ancients, his
contempt for the moderns, and his too high estimation of his own
virtue."

The gentleman thus introduced to her was about forty years old. He was
tall, slender, and well formed, with a little stoop in his gait, and
manifested in his manners that self-possession which is the result of
conscious worth and intellectual power, while, at the same time, he
exhibited that slight and not displeasing awkwardness which one
unavoidably acquires in hours devoted to silence and study. Still,
Madame Roland says, in her description of his person, that he was
courteous and winning; and though his manners did not possess all the
easy elegance of the man of fashion, they united the politeness of the
well-bred man with the unostentatious gravity of the philosopher. He
was thin, with a complexion much tanned. His broad and intellectual
brow, covered with but few hairs, added to the imposing attractiveness
of his features. When listening, his countenance had an expression of
deep thoughtfulness, and almost of sadness; but when excited in
speaking, a smile of great cheerfulness spread over his animated
features. His voice was rich and sonorous; his mode of speech brief
and sententious; his conversation full of information, and rich in
suggestive thought.

Jane, the enthusiastic, romantic Jane, saw in the serene philosopher
one of the sages of antiquity, and almost literally bowed and
worshiped. All the sentiments of M. Roland were in accordance with the
most cherished emotions which glowed in her own mind. She found what
she had ever been seeking, but had never found before, a truly
sympathetic soul. She thought not of love. She looked up to M. Roland
as to a superior being--to an oracle, by whose decisions she could
judge whether her own opinions were right or wrong. It is true that
M. Roland, cool and unimpassioned in all his mental operations, never
entered those airy realms of beauty and those visionary regions of
romance where Jane loved, at times, to revel. And perhaps Jane
venerated him still more for his more stern and unimaginative
philosophy. But his meditative wisdom, his abstraction from the
frivolous pursuits of life, his high ambition, his elevated pleasures,
his consciousness of superiority over the mass of his fellow-men, and
his sleepless desire to be a benefactor of humanity, were all traits
of character which resistlessly attracted the admiration of Jane. She
adored him as a disciple adores his master. She listened eagerly to
all his words, and loved communion with his thoughts. M. Roland was by
no means insensible to this homage, and though he looked upon her with
none of the emotions of a lover, he was charmed with her society
because she was so delighted with his own conversation. By the faculty
of attentively listening to what others had to say, Madame Roland
affirms that she made more friends than by any remarks she ever made
of her own. The two _minds_, not _hearts_, were at once united; but
this platonic union soon led to one more tender.

M. Roland had recently been traveling in Germany, and had written a
copious journal of his tour. As he was about to depart from Paris for
Italy, he left this journal, with other manuscripts, in the hands of
Jane. "These manuscripts," she writes, "made me better acquainted with
him, during the eighteen months he passed in Italy, than frequent
visits could have done. They consisted of travels, reflections, plans
of literary works, and personal anecdotes. A strong mind, strict
principles, and personal taste, were evident in every page." He also
introduced Jane to his brother, a Benedictine monk. During the
eighteen months of his absence from Paris, he was traveling in Italy,
Switzerland, Sicily, and Malta, and writing notes upon those
countries, which he afterward published. These notes he communicated
to his brother the monk, and he transmitted them to Jane. She read
them with intense interest. At length he returned again to Paris, and
their acquaintance was renewed. M. Roland submitted to her his
literary projects, and was much gratified in finding that she approved
of all that he did and all that he contemplated. She found in him an
invaluable friend. His gravity, his intellectual life, his almost
stoical philosophy impressed her imagination and captivated her
understanding. Two or three years passed away ere either of them
seemed to have thought of the other in the light of a lover. She
regarded him as a guide and friend. There was no ardor of youthful
love warming her heart. There were no impassioned affections glowing
in her bosom and impelling her to his side. Intellectual enthusiasm
alone animated her in welcoming an intellectual union with a noble
mind. M. Roland, on the other hand, looked with placid and paternal
admiration upon the brilliant girl. He was captivated by her genius
and the charms of her conversation, and, above all, by her profound
admiration of himself. They were mutually happy in each other's
society, and were glad to meet and loth to part. They conversed upon
literary projects, upon political reforms, upon speculations in
philosophy and science. M. Roland was naturally self-confident,
opinionated, and domineering. Jane regarded him with so much reverence
that she received his opinions for law. Thus he was flattered and she
was happy.

M. Roland returned to his official post at Amiens, and engaged in
preparing his work on Italy for the press. They carried on a
voluminous and regular correspondence. He forwarded to her, in
manuscript, all the sheets of his proposed publication, and she
returned them with the accompanying thoughts which their perusal
elicited. Now and then an expression of decorous endearment would
escape from each pen in the midst of philosophic discussions and
political speculations. It was several years after their acquaintance
commenced before M. Roland made an avowal of his attachment. Jane knew
very well the pride of the Roland family, and that her worldly
circumstances were such that, in their estimation, the connection
would not seem an advantageous one. She also was too proud to enter
into a family who might feel dishonored by the alliance. She therefore
frankly told him that she felt much honored by his addresses, and that
she esteemed him more highly than any other man she had ever met. She
assured him that she should be most happy to make him a full return
for his affection, but that her father was a ruined man, and that, by
his increasing debts and his errors of character, still deeper
disgrace might be entailed upon all connected with him; and she
therefore could not think of allowing M. Roland to make his generosity
to her a source of future mortification to himself.

This was not the spirit most likely to repel the philosophic lover.
The more she manifested this elevation of soul, in which Jane was
perfectly sincere, the more earnestly did M. Roland persist in his
plea. At last Jane, influenced by his entreaties, consented that he
should make proposals to her father. He wrote to M. Phlippon. In
reply, he received an insulting letter, containing a blunt refusal. M.
Phlippon declared that he had no idea of having for a son-in-law a man
of such rigid principles, who would ever be reproaching him for all
his little errors. He also told his daughter that she would find in a
man of such austere virtue, not a companion and an equal, but a censor
and a tyrant. Jane laid this refusal of her father deeply to heart,
and, resolving that if she could not marry the man of her choice, she
would marry no one else, she wrote to M. Roland, requesting him to
abandon his design, and not to expose himself to any further affronts.
She then requested permission of her father to retire to a convent.

Her reception at the convent, where she was already held in such high
esteem, was cordial in the extreme. The scanty income she had saved
from her mother's property rendered it necessary for her to live with
the utmost frugality. She determined to regulate her expenses in
accordance with this small sum. Potatoes, rice, and beans, with a
little salt, and occasionally the luxury of a little butter, were her
only food. She allowed herself to leave the convent but twice a week:
once, to call, for an hour, upon a relative, and once to visit her
father, and look over his linen. She had a little room under the roof,
in the attic, where the pattering of the rain upon the tiles soothed
to pensive thought, and lulled her to sleep by night. She carefully
secluded herself from association with the other inmates of the
convent, receiving only a visit of an hour each evening from the
much-loved Sister Agatha. Her time she devoted, with unremitting
diligence, to those literary avocations in which she found so much
delight. The quiet and seclusion of this life had many charms for
Jane. Indeed, a person with such resources for enjoyment within
herself could never be very weary. The votaries of fashion and gayety
are they to whom existence grows languid and life a burden. Several
months thus glided away in tranquillity. She occasionally walked in
the garden, at hours when no one else was there. The spirit of
resignation, which she had so long cultivated; the peaceful
conscience she enjoyed, in view of duty performed; the elevation of
spirit, which enabled her to rise superior to misfortune; the
methodical arrangement of time, which assigned to each hour its
appropriate duty; the habit of close application, which riveted her
attention to her studies; the highly-cultivated taste and
buoyantly-winged imagination, which opened before her all the fairy
realms of fancy, were treasures which gilded her cell and enriched her
heart. She passed, it is true, some melancholy hours; but even that
melancholy had its charms, and was more rich in enjoyment than the
most mirthful moments through which the unreflecting flutter. M.
Roland continued a very constant and kind correspondence with Jane,
but she was not a little wounded by the philosophic resignation with
which he submitted to her father's stern refusal. In the course of
five or six months he again visited Paris, and called at the convent
to see Jane. He saw her pale and pensive face behind a grating, and
the sight of one who had suffered so much from her faithful love for
him, and the sound of her voice, which ever possessed a peculiar
charm, revived in his mind those impressions which had been somewhat
fading away. He again renewed his offer, and entreated her to allow
the marriage ceremony at once to be performed by his brother the
prior. Jane was in much perplexity. She did not feel that her father
was in a situation longer to control her, and she was a little
mortified by the want of ardor which her philosophical lover had
displayed. The illusion of romantic love was entirely dispelled from
her mind, and, at the same time, she felt flattered by his
perseverance, by the evidence that his most mature judgment approved
of his choice, and by his readiness to encounter all the unpleasant
circumstances in which he might be involved by his alliance with her.
Jane, without much delay, yielded to his appeals. They were married in
the winter of 1780. Jane was then twenty-five years of age. Her
husband was twenty years her senior.

The first year of their marriage life they passed in Paris. It was to
Madame Roland a year of great enjoyment. Her husband was publishing a
work upon the arts, and she, with all the energy of her enthusiastic
mind, entered into all his literary enterprises. With great care and
accuracy, she prepared his manuscripts for the press, and corrected
the proofs. She lived in the study with him, became the companion of
all his thoughts, and his assistant in all his labors. The only
recreations in which she indulged, during the winter, were to attend a
course of lectures upon natural history and botany. M. Roland had
hired ready-furnished lodgings. She, well instructed by her mother in
domestic duties, observing that all kinds of cooking did not agree
with him, took pleasure in preparing his food with her own hands. Her
husband engrossed her whole time, and, being naturally rather austere
and imperious, he wished so to seclude her from the society of others
as to monopolize all her capabilities of friendly feeling. She
submitted to the exaction without a murmur, though there were hours in
which she felt that she had made, indeed, a serious sacrifice of her
youthful and buoyant affections. Madame Roland devoted herself so
entirely to the studies in which her husband was engaged that her
health was seriously impaired. Accustomed as she was to share in all
his pursuits, he began to think that he could not do without her at
any time or on any occasion.

At the close of the year M. Roland returned to Amiens with his wife.
She soon gave birth to a daughter, her only child, whom she nurtured
with the most assiduous care. Her literary labors were, however,
unremitted, and, though a mother and a nurse, she still lived in the
study with her books and her pen. M. Roland was writing several
articles for an encyclopedia. She aided most efficiently in collecting
the materials and arranging the matter. Indeed, she wielded a far more
vigorous pen than he did. Her copiousness of language, her facility of
expression, and the play of her fancy, gave her the command of a very
fascinating style; and M. Roland obtained the credit for many passages
rich in diction and beautiful in imagery for which he was indebted to
the glowing imagination of his wife. Frequent sickness of her husband
alarmed her for his life. The tenderness with which she watched over
him strengthened the tie which united them. He could not but love a
young and beautiful wife so devoted to him. She could not but love one
upon whom she was conferring such rich blessings. They remained in
Amiens for four years. Their little daughter Eudora was a source of
great delight to the fond parents, and Madame Roland took the deepest
interest in the developments of her infantile mind. The office of M.
Roland was highly lucrative, and his literary projects successful;
and their position in society was that of an opulent family of
illustrious descent--for the ancestors of M. Roland had been nobles.
He now, with his accumulated wealth, was desirous of being reinstated
in that ancestral rank which the family had lost with the loss of
fortune. Neither must we blame our republican heroine too much that,
under this change of circumstances, she was not unwilling that he
should resume that exalted social position to which she believed him
to be so richly entitled. It could hardly be unpleasant to her to be
addressed as _Lady_ Roland. It is the infirmity of our frail nature
that it is more agreeable to ascend to the heights of those who are
above us, than to aid those below to reach the level we have attained.
Encountering some embarrassments in their application for
letters-patent of nobility, the subject was set aside for the time,
and was never after renewed. The attempt, however, subsequently
exposed them to great ridicule from their democratic opponents.

About this time they visited England. They were received with much
attention, and Madame Roland admired exceedingly the comparatively
free institutions of that country. She felt that the English, as a
nation, were immeasurably superior to the French, and returned to her
own home more than ever dissatisfied with the despotic monarchy by
which the people of France were oppressed.

From Amiens, M. Roland removed to the city of Lyons, his native place,
in which wider sphere he continued the duties of his office as
Inspector General of Commerce and Manufactures. In the winter they
resided in the city. During the summer they retired to M. Roland's
paternal estate, La Platière, a very beautiful rural retreat but a few
miles from Lyons. The mother of M. Roland and an elder brother resided
on the same estate. They constituted the ingredient of bitterness in
their cup of joy. It seems that in this life it must ever be that each
pleasure shall have its pain. No happiness can come unalloyed. La
Platière possessed for Madame Roland all the essentials of an earthly
paradise; but those trials which are the unvarying lot of fallen
humanity obtained entrance there. Her mother-in-law was proud,
imperious, ignorant, petulant, and disagreeable in every development
of character. There are few greater annoyances of life than an
irritable woman, rendered doubly morose by the infirmities of years.
The brother was coarse and arrogant, without any delicacy of feeling
himself, and apparently unconscious that others could be troubled by
any such sensitiveness. The disciplined spirit of Madame Roland
triumphed over even these annoyances, and she gradually infused
through the discordant household, by her own cheerful spirit, a great
improvement in harmony and peace. It is not, however, possible that
Madame Roland should have shed many tears when, on one bright autumnal
day, this hasty tongue and turbulent spirit were hushed in that repose
from which there is no awaking. Immediately after this event,
attracted by the quiet of this secluded retreat, they took up their
abode there for both summer and winter.

[Illustration: LA PLATIÈRE.]

La Platière, the paternal inheritance of M. Roland, was an estate
situated at the base of the mountains of Beaujolais, in the valley of
the Saône. It is a region solitary and wild, with rivulets, meandering
down from the mountains, fringed with willows and poplars, and
threading their way through narrow, yet smooth and fertile meadows,
luxuriant with vineyards. A large, square stone house, with regular
windows, and a roof, nearly flat, of red tiles, constituted the
comfortable, spacious, and substantial mansion. The eaves projected
quite a distance beyond the walls, to protect the windows from the
summer's sun and the winter's rain and snow. The external walls,
straight, and entirely unornamented, were covered with white plaster,
which, in many places, the storms of years had cracked and peeled off.
The house stood elevated from the ground, and the front door was
entered by ascending five massive stone steps, which were surmounted
by a rusty iron balustrade. Barns, wine-presses, dove-cotes and
sheep-pens were clustered about, so that the farm-house, with its
out-buildings, almost presented the aspect of a little village. A
vegetable garden; a flower garden, with serpentine walks and arbors
embowered in odoriferous and flowering shrubs; an orchard, casting the
shade of a great variety of fruit-trees over the closely-mown
greensward, and a vineyard, with long lines of low-trimmed grape
vines, gave a finish to this most rural and attractive picture. In the
distance was seen the rugged range of the mountains of Beaujolais,
while still further in the distance rose towering above them the
snow-capped summits of the Alps. Here, in this social solitude, in
this harmony of silence, in this wide expanse of nature, Madame
Roland passed five of the happiest years of her life--five such years
as few mortals enjoy on earth. She, whose spirit had been so often
exhilarated by the view of the tree tops and the few square yards of
blue sky which were visible from the window of her city home, was
enchanted with the exuberance of the prospect of mountain and meadow,
water and sky, so lavishly spread out before her. The expanse,
apparently so limitless, open to her view, invited her fancy to a
range equally boundless. Nature and imagination were her friends, and
in their realms she found her home. Enjoying an ample income, engaged
constantly in the most ennobling literary pursuits, rejoicing in the
society of her husband and her little Eudora, and superintending her
domestic concerns with an ease and skill which made that
superintendence a pleasure, time flew upon its swiftest wings.

Her mode of life during these five calm and sunny years which
intervened between the cloudy morning and the tempestuous evening of
her days, must have been exceedingly attractive. She rose with the
sun, devoted sundry attentions to her husband and child, and
personally superintended the arrangements for breakfast, taking an
affectionate pleasure in preparing very nicely her husband's frugal
food with her own hands. That social meal, ever, in a loving family,
the most joyous interview of the day, being passed, M. Roland entered
the library for his intellectual toil, taking with him, for his silent
companion, the idolized little Eudora. She amused herself with her
pencil, or reading, or other studies, which her father and mother
superintended. Madame Roland, in the mean time, devoted herself, with
most systematic energy, to her domestic concerns. She was a perfect
housekeeper, and each morning all the interests of her family, from
the cellar to the garret, passed under her eye. She superintended the
preservation of the fruit, the storage of the wine, the sorting of the
linen, and those other details of domestic life which engross the
attention of a good housewife. The systematic division of time, which
seemed to be an instinctive principle of her nature, enabled her to
accomplish all this in two hours. She had faithful and devoted
servants to do the work. The superintendence was all that was
required. This genius to superintend and be the head, while others
contribute the hands, is not the most common of human endowments.
Madame Roland, having thus attended to her domestic concerns, laid
aside those cares for the remainder of the day, and entered the study
to join her husband in his labors there. These intellectual
employments ever possessed for her peculiar attractions. The
scientific celebrity of M. Roland, and his political position,
attracted many visitors to La Platière; consequently, they had, almost
invariably, company to dine. At the close of the literary labors of
the morning, Madame Roland dressed for dinner, and, with all that
fascination of mind and manners so peculiarly her own, met her guests
at the dinner-table. The labor of the day was then over. The repast
was prolonged with social converse. After dinner, they walked in the
garden, sauntered through the vineyard, and looked at the innumerable
objects of interest which are ever to be found in the yard of a
spacious farm. Madame Roland frequently retired to the library, to
write letters to her friends, or to superintend the lessons of Eudora.
Occasionally, of a fine day, leaning upon her husband's arm, she would
walk for several miles, calling at the cottages of the peasantry, whom
she greatly endeared to her by her unvarying kindness. In the evening,
after tea, they again resorted to the library. Guests of
distinguished name and influence were frequently with them, and the
hours glided swiftly, cheered by the brilliance of philosophy and
genius. The journals of the day were read, Madame Roland being usually
called upon as reader. When not thus reading, she usually sat at her
work-table, employing her fingers with her needle, while she took a
quiet and unobtrusive part in the conversation. "This kind of life,"
says Madame Roland, "would be very austere, were not my husband a man
of great merit, whom I love with my whole heart. Tender friendship and
unbounded confidence mark every moment of existence, and stamp a value
upon all things, which nothing without them would have. It is the life
most favorable to virtue and happiness. I appreciate its worth. I
congratulate myself on enjoying it; and I exert my best endeavors to
make it last." Again she draws the captivating picture of rural
pleasures. "I am preserving pears, which will be delicious. We are
drying raisins and prunes. We make our breakfast upon wine; overlook
the servants busy in the vineyard; repose in the shady groves, and on
the green meadows; gather walnuts from the trees; and, having
collected our stock of fruit for the winter, spread it in the garret
to dry. After breakfast this morning, we are all going in a body to
gather almonds. Throw off, then, dear friend, your fetters for a
while, and come and join us in our retreat. You will find here true
friendship and real simplicity of heart."

Madame Roland, among her other innumerable accomplishments, had
acquired no little skill in the science of medicine. Situated in a
region where the poor peasants had no access to physicians, she was
not only liberal in distributing among them many little comforts, but,
with the most self-denying assiduity, she visited them in sickness,
and prescribed for their maladies. She was often sent for, to go a
distance of ten or twelve miles to visit the sick. From such appeals
she never turned away. On Sundays, her court-yard was filled with
peasants, who had assembled from all the region round, some as
invalids, to seek relief, and others who came with such little tokens
of their gratitude as their poverty enabled them to bring. Here
appears a little rosy-cheeked boy with a basket of chestnuts; or a
care-worn mother, pale and thin, but with a grateful eye presenting to
her benefactrice a few small, fragrant cheeses, made of goat's milk;
and there is an old man, hobbling upon crutches, with a basket of
apples from his orchard. She was delighted with these indications of
gratitude and sensibility on the part of the unenlightened and lowly
peasantry. Her republican notions, which she had cherished so fondly
in her early years, but from which she had somewhat swerved when
seeking a patent of nobility for her husband, began now to revive in
her bosom with new ardor. She was regarded as peculiarly the friend of
the poor and the humble; and at all the hearth-fires in the cottages
of that retired valley, her name was pronounced in tones almost of
adoration. More and more Madame Roland and her husband began to
identify their interests with those of the poor around them, and to
plead with tongue and pen for popular rights. Her intercourse with the
poor led her to feel more deeply the oppression of laws, framed to
indulge the few in luxury, while the many were consigned to penury and
hopeless ignorance. She acquired boundless faith in the virtue of the
people, and thought that their disenthralment would usher in a
millennium of unalloyed happiness. She now saw the ocean of human
passions reposing in its perfect calm. She afterward saw that same
ocean when lashed by the tempest.



CHAPTER V.

THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.

1791-1792

Portentous mutterings.--Welcomed as blessings.--Enthusiasm of Madame
Roland.--Louis XVI.--Maria Antoinette.--Character of Maria
Antoinette.--Character of Louis.--M. Roland elected to the
Assembly.--Ardor of his wife.--Popularity of the Rolands.--They
go to Paris.--Reception of the Rolands at Paris.--Sittings of
the Assembly.--Tastes and principles.--Conflict for power.--The
Girondists.--The Jacobins.--Meetings at Madame Roland's.--Appearance
of Robespierre.--His character.--Remains of the court party.--Influence
of Madame Roland.--Madame Roland's mode of action.--Her
delicacy.--Robespierre at Madame Roland's.--Horrors of the
Revolution.--Fears of the Girondists.--Violence of the
Jacobins.--Resolution of the Girondists.--Warning of Madame
Roland.--Danger of Robespierre.--He is concealed by Madame
Roland.--Baseness of Robespierre.--The Assembly dissolved.--The
Rolands again at La Platière.--They return to Paris.--Plots
and counterplots.--Political maneuvering.--Massacres and
conflagrations.--The king insulted and a prisoner.--The king
surrenders.--M. Roland Minister of the Interior.--Madame Roland in
a palace.--M. Roland's first appearance at court.--Horror of the
courtiers.--M. Roland's opinion of the king.--Madame Roland's
advice.--Her opinion of kings and courtiers.


Madame Roland was thus living at La Platière, in the enjoyment of all
that this world can give of peace and happiness, when the first
portentous mutterings of that terrible moral tempest, the French
Revolution, fell upon her ears. She eagerly caught the sounds, and,
believing them the precursor of the most signal political and social
blessings, rejoiced in the assurance that the hour was approaching
when long-oppressed humanity would reassert its rights and achieve its
triumph. Little did she dream of the woes which in surging billows
were to roll over her country, and which were to ingulf her, and all
whom she loved, in their resistless tide. She dreamed--a very
pardonable dream for a philanthropic lady--that an ignorant and
enslaved people could be led from Egyptian bondage to the promised
land without the weary sufferings of the wilderness and the desert.
Her faith in the regenerative capabilities of human nature was so
strong, that she could foresee no obstacles and no dangers in the way
of immediate and universal disfranchisement from every custom, and
from all laws and usages which her judgment disapproved. Her whole
soul was aroused, and she devoted all her affections and every energy
of her mind to the welfare of the human race. It is hardly to be
supposed, human nature being such as it is, but that the
mortifications she met in early life from the arrogance of those above
her, and the difficulties she encountered in obtaining letters-patent
of nobility, exerted some influence in animating her zeal. Her
enthusiastic devotion stimulated the ardor of her less excitable
spouse; and all her friends, by her fascinating powers of eloquence
both of voice and pen, were gradually inspired by the same intense
emotions which had absorbed her whole being.

Louis XVI. and Maria Antoinette had but recently inherited the throne
of the Bourbons. Louis was benevolent, but destitute of the decision
of character requisite to hold the reins of government in so stormy a
period. Maria Antoinette had neither culture of mind nor knowledge of
the world. She was an amiable but spoiled child, with great native
nobleness of character, but with those defects which are the natural
and inevitable consequence of the frivolous education she had
received. She thought never of duty and responsibility; always and
only of pleasure. It was her misfortune rather than her fault, that
the idea never entered her mind that kings and queens had aught else
to do than to indulge in luxury. It would be hardly possible to
conceive of two characters less qualified to occupy the throne in
stormy times than were Louis and Maria. The people were slowly, but
with resistless power, rising against the abuses, enormous and hoary
with age, of the aristocracy and the monarchy. Louis, a man of
unblemished kindness, integrity, and purity, was made the scape-goat
for the sins of haughty, oppressive, profligate princes, who for
centuries had trodden, with iron hoofs, upon the necks of their
subjects. The accumulated hate of ages was poured upon his devoted
head. The irresolute monarch had no conception of his position.

The king, in pursuance of his system of conciliation, as the clamors
of discontent swelled louder and longer from all parts of France,
convened the National Assembly. This body consisted of the nobility,
the higher clergy, and representatives, chosen by the people from all
parts of France. M. Roland, who was quite an idol with the populace of
Lyons and its vicinity, and who now was beginning to lose caste with
the aristocracy, was chosen, by a very strong vote, as the
representative to the Assembly from the city of Lyons. In that busy
city the revolutionary movement had commenced with great power, and
the name of Roland was the rallying point of the people now struggling
to escape from ages of oppression. M. Roland spent some time in his
city residence, drawn thither by the intense interest of the times,
and in the saloon of Madame Roland meetings were every evening held by
the most influential gentlemen of the revolutionary party. Her ardor
stimulated their zeal, and her well-stored mind and fascinating
conversational eloquence guided their councils. The impetuous young
men of the city gathered around this impassioned woman, from whose
lips words of liberty fell so enchantingly upon their ears, and with
chivalric devotion surrendered themselves to the guidance of her mind.

In this rising conflict between plebeian and patrician, between
democrat and aristocrat, the position in which M. Roland and wife were
placed, as most conspicuous and influential members of the
revolutionary party, arrayed against them, with daily increasing
animosity, all the aristocratic community of Lyons. Each day their
names were pronounced by the advocates of reform with more enthusiasm,
and by their opponents with deepening hostility. The applause and the
censure alike invigorated Madame Roland, and her whole soul became
absorbed in the one idea of popular liberty. This object became her
passion, and she devoted herself to it with the concentration of every
energy of mind and heart.

On the 20th of February, 1791, Madame Roland accompanied her husband
to Paris, as he took his seat, with a name already prominent, in the
National Assembly. Five years before, she had left the metropolis in
obscurity and depression. She now returned with wealth, with elevated
rank, with brilliant reputation, and exulting in conscious power. Her
persuasive influence was dictating those measures which were driving
the ancient nobility of France from their chateaux, and her vigorous
mind was guiding those blows before which the throne of the Bourbons
trembled. The unblemished and incorruptible integrity of M. Roland,
his simplicity of manners and acknowledged ability, invested him
immediately with much authority among his associates. The brilliance
of his wife, and her most fascinating colloquial powers, also
reflected much luster upon his name. Madame Roland, with her glowing
zeal, had just written a pamphlet upon the new order of things, in
language so powerful and impressive that more than sixty thousand
copies had been sold--an enormous number, considering the comparative
fewness of readers at that time. She, of course, was received with the
most flattering attention, and great deference was paid to her
opinions. She attended daily the sittings of the Assembly, and
listened with the deepest interest to the debates. The king and queen
had already been torn from their palaces at Versailles, and were
virtually prisoners in the Tuileries. Many of the nobles had fled from
the perils which seemed to be gathering around them, and had joined
the army of emigrants at Coblentz. A few, however, of the nobility,
and many of the higher clergy, remained heroically at their posts,
and, as members of the Assembly, made valiant but unavailing efforts
to defend the ancient prerogatives of the crown and of the Church.
Madame Roland witnessed with mortification, which she could neither
repress nor conceal, the decided superiority of the court party in
dignity, and polish of manners, and in general intellectual culture,
over those of plebeian origin, who were struggling, with the energy of
an infant Hercules, for the overthrow of despotic power. All her
_tastes_ were with the ancient nobility and their defenders. All her
_principles_ were with the people. And as she contrasted the unrefined
exterior and clumsy speech of the democratic leaders with the courtly
bearing and elegant diction of those who rallied around the throne,
she was aroused to a more vehement desire for the social and
intellectual elevation of those with whom she had cast in her lot. The
conflict with the nobles was of short continuance. The energy of
rising democracy soon vanquished them. Violence took the place of law.
And now the conflict for power arose between those of the Republicans
who were _more_ and those who were _less_ radical in their plans of
reform. The most moderate party, consisting of those who would sustain
the throne, but limit its powers by a free constitution, retaining
many of the institutions and customs which antiquity had rendered
venerable, was called the _Girondist party_. It was so called because
their most prominent leaders were from the department of the Gironde.
They would deprive the king of many of his prerogatives, but not of
his crown. They would take from him his despotic power, but not his
life. They would raise the mass of the people to the enjoyment of
liberty, but to liberty controlled by vigorous law. Opposed to them
were the Jacobins--far more radical in their views of reform. They
would overthrow both throne and altar, break down all privileged
orders, confiscate the property of the nobles, and place prince and
beggar on the footing of equality. These were the two great parties
into which revolutionary France was divided and the conflict between
them was the most fierce and implacable earth has ever witnessed.

M. Roland and wife, occupying a residence in Paris, which was a
convenient place of rendezvous, by their attractions gathered around
them every evening many of the most influential members of the
Assembly. They attached themselves, with all their zeal and energy, to
the Girondists. Four evenings of every week, the leaders of this party
met in the saloon of Madame Roland, to deliberate respecting their
measures. Among them there was a young lawyer from the country, with
a stupid expression of countenance, sallow complexion, and ungainly
gestures, who had made himself excessively unpopular by the prosy
speeches with which he was ever wearying the Assembly. He had often
been floored by argument and coughed down by contempt, but he seemed
alike insensible to sarcasm and to insult. Alone in the Assembly,
without a friend, he attacked all parties alike, and was by all
disregarded. But he possessed an indomitable energy, and unwavering
fixedness of purpose, a profound contempt for luxury and wealth, and a
stoical indifference to reputation and to personal indulgence, which
secured to him more and more of an ascendency, until, at the name of
Robespierre, all France trembled. This young man, silent and moody,
appeared with others in the saloon of Madame Roland. She was struck
with his singularity, and impressed with an instinctive consciousness
of his peculiar genius. He was captivated by those charms of
conversation in which Madame Roland was unrivaled. Silently--for he
had no conversational powers--he lingered around her chair, treasured
up her spontaneous tropes and metaphors, and absorbed her sentiments.
He had a clear perception of the state of the times, was perhaps a
sincere patriot, and had no ties of friendship, no scruples of
conscience, no instincts of mercy, to turn him aside from any measures
of blood or woe which might accomplish his plans.

[Illustration: ROBESPIERRE.]

Though the Girondists and the Jacobins were the two great parties now
contending in the tumultuous arena of French revolution, there still
remained the enfeebled and broken remains of the court party, with
their insulted and humiliated king at their head, and also numerous
cliques and minor divisions of those struggling for power. At the
political evening reunions in the saloon of Madame Roland, she was
invariably present, not as a prominent actor in the scenes, taking a
conspicuous part in the social debates, but as a quiet and modest
lady, of well-known intellectual supremacy, whose active mind took the
liveliest interest in the agitations of the hour. The influence she
exerted was the polished, refined, attractive influence of an
accomplished woman, who moved in her own appropriate sphere. She made
no Amazonian speeches. She mingled not with men in the clamor of
debate. With an invisible hand she gently and winningly touched the
springs of action in other hearts. With feminine conversational
eloquence, she threw out sagacious suggestions, which others eagerly
adopted, and advocated, and carried into vigorous execution. She did
no violence to that delicacy of perception which is woman's tower and
strength. She moved not from that sphere where woman reigns so
resistlessly, and dreamed not of laying aside the graceful and
polished weapons of her own sex, to grasp the heavier and coarser
armor of man, which no woman can wield. By such an endeavor, one does
but excite the repugnance of all except the unfortunate few, who can
see no peculiar sacredness in woman's person, mind, or heart.

As the gentlemen assembled in the retired parlor, or rather library
and study, appropriated to these confidential interviews, Madame
Roland took her seat at a little work-table, aside from the circle
where her husband and his friends were discussing their political
measures. Busy with her needle or with her pen, she listened to every
word that was uttered, and often bit her lips to check the almost
irrepressible desire to speak out in condemnation of some feeble
proposal or to urge some bolder action. At the close of the evening,
when frank and social converse ensued, her voice was heard in low,
but sweet and winning tones, as one after another of the members were
attracted to her side. Robespierre, at such times silent and
thoughtful, was ever bending over her chair. He studied Madame Roland
with even more of stoical apathy than another man would study a book
which he admires. The next day his companions would smile at the
effrontery with which Robespierre would give utterance, in the
Assembly, not only to the sentiments, but even to the very words and
phrases which he had so carefully garnered from the exuberant diction
of his eloquent instructress. Occasionally, every eye would be riveted
upon him, and every ear attentive, as he gave utterance to some lofty
sentiment, in impassioned language, which had been heard before, in
sweeter tones, from more persuasive lips.

But the Revolution, like a spirit of destruction, was now careering
onward with resistless power. Liberty was becoming lawlessness. Mobs
rioted through the streets, burned chateaux, demolished convents,
hunted, even to death, priests and nobles, sacked the palaces of the
king, and defiled the altars of religion. The Girondists, illustrious,
eloquent, patriotic men, sincerely desirous of breaking the arm of
despotism and of introducing a well-regulated liberty, now began to
tremble. They saw that a spirit was evoked which might trample every
thing sacred in the dust. Their opponents, the Jacobins, rallying the
populace around them with the cry, "Kill, burn, destroy," were for
rushing onward in this career of demolition, till every vestige of
gradations of rank and every restraint of religion should be swept
from the land. The Girondists paused in deep embarrassment. They could
not retrace their steps and try to re-establish the throne. The
endeavor would not only be utterly unavailing, but would, with
certainty, involve them in speedy and retrieveless ruin. They could
not unite with the Jacobins in their reckless onset upon every thing
which time had rendered venerable, and substitute for decency, and
law, and order, the capricious volitions of an insolent, ignorant, and
degraded mob. The only hope that remained for them was to struggle to
continue firm in the position which they had already assumed. It was
the only hope for France. The restoration of the monarchy was
impossible. The triumph of the Jacobins was ruin. Which of these two
parties in the Assembly shall array around its banners the millions of
the populace of France, now aroused to the full consciousness of
their power? Which can bid highest for the popular vote? Which can
pander most successfully to the popular palate? The Girondists had
talent, and integrity, and incorruptible patriotism. They foresaw
their peril, but they resolved to meet it, and, if they must perish,
to perish with their armor on. No one discerned this danger at an
earlier period than Madame Roland. She warned her friends of its
approach, even before they were conscious of the gulf to which they
were tending. She urged the adoption of precautionary measures, by
which a retreat might be effected when their post should be no longer
tenable. "I once thought," said Madame Roland, "that there were no
evils worse than regal despotism. I now see that there are other
calamities vastly more to be dreaded."

Robespierre, who had associated with the Girondists with rather a
sullen and Ishmaelitish spirit, holding himself in readiness to go
here or there, as events might indicate to be politic, began now to
incline toward the more popular party, of which he subsequently became
the inspiring demon. Though he was daily attracting more attention, he
had not yet risen to popularity. On one occasion, being accused of
advocating some unpopular measure, the clamors of the multitude were
raised against him, and vows of vengeance were uttered, loud and deep,
through the streets of Paris. His enemies in the Assembly took
advantage of this to bring an act of accusation against him, which
would relieve them of his presence by the decisive energy of the ax of
the guillotine. Robespierre's danger was most imminent, and he was
obliged to conceal himself. Madame Roland, inspired by those
courageous impulses which ever ennobled her, went at midnight,
accompanied by her husband, to his retreat, to invite him to a more
secure asylum in their own house. Madame Roland then hastened to a
very influential friend, M. Busot, allowing no weariness to interrupt
her philanthropy, and entreated him to hasten immediately and endeavor
to exculpate Robespierre, before an act of accusation should be issued
against him. M. Busot hesitated, but, unable to resist the earnest
appeal of Madame Roland, 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 will defend
him." Thus was the life of Robespierre saved. He lived to reward his
benefactors by consigning them all to prison and to death. Says
Lamartine sublimely, "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 upon his
heart than the ax of the headsman."

The powerful influence which Madame Roland was thus exerting could not
be concealed. Her husband became more illustrious through that
brilliance she was ever anxious to reflect upon him. She appeared to
have no ambition for personal renown. She sought only to elevate the
position and expand the celebrity of her companion. It was whispered
from ear to ear, and now and then openly asserted in the Assembly,
that the bold and decisive measures of the Girondists received their
impulse from the youthful and lovely wife of M. Roland.

In September, 1791, the Assembly was dissolved, and M. and Madame
Roland returned to the rural quiet of La Platière. But in pruning the
vines, and feeding the poultry, and cultivating the flowers which so
peacefully bloomed in their garden, they could not forget the exciting
scenes through which they had passed, and the still more exciting
scenes which they foresaw were to come. She kept up a constant
correspondence with Robespierre and Busot, and furnished many very
able articles for a widely-circulated journal, established by the
Girondists for the advocacy of their political views. The question now
arose between herself and her husband whether they should relinquish
the agitations and the perils of a political life in these stormy
times, and cloister themselves in rural seclusion, in the calm luxury
of literary and scientific enterprise, or launch forth again upon the
storm-swept ocean of revolution and anarchy. Few who understand the
human heart will doubt of the decision to which they came. The
chickens were left in the yard, the rabbits in the warren, and the
flowers were abandoned to bloom in solitude; and before the snows of
December had whitened the hills, they were again installed in
tumultuous Paris. A new Assembly had just been convened, from which
all the members of the one but recently dissolved were by law
excluded. Their friends were rapidly assembling in Paris from their
summer retreats, and influential men, from all parts of the empire,
were gathering in the metropolis, to watch the progress of affairs.
Clubs were formed to discuss the great questions of the day, to mold
public opinion, and to overawe the Assembly. It was a period of
darkness and of gloom; but there is something so intoxicating in the
draughts of homage and power, that those who have once quaffed them
find all milder stimulants stale and insipid. No sooner were M. and
Madame Roland established in their city residence, than they were
involved in all the plots and the counterplots of the Revolution. M.
Roland was grave, taciturn, oracular. He had no brilliance of talent
to excite envy. He displayed no ostentation in dress, or equipage, or
manners, to provoke the desire in others to humble him. His reputation
for stoical virtue gave a wide sweep to his influence. His very
silence invested him with a mysterious wisdom. Consequently, no one
feared him as a rival, and he was freely thrust forward as the
unobjectionable head of a party by all who hoped through him to
promote their own interests. He was what we call in America an
_available_ candidate. Madame Roland, on the contrary, was animated
and brilliant. Her genius was universally admired. Her bold
suggestions, her shrewd counsel, her lively repartee, her capability
of cutting sarcasm, rarely exercised, her deep and impassioned
benevolence, her unvarying cheerfulness, the sincerity and enthusiasm
of her philanthropy, and the unrivaled brilliance of her
conversational powers, made her the center of a system around which
the brightest intellects were revolving. Vergniaud, Pétion, Brissot,
and others, whose names were then comparatively unknown, but whose
fame has since resounded through the civilized world, loved to do her
homage.

The spirit of the Revolution was still advancing with gigantic
strides, and the already shattered throne was reeling beneath the
redoubled blows of the insurgent people. Massacres were rife all over
the kingdom. The sky was nightly illumined by conflagrations. The
nobles were abandoning their estates, and escaping from perils and
death to take refuge in the bosom of the little army of emigrants at
Coblentz. The king, insulted and a prisoner, reigned but in name.
Under these circumstances, Louis was compelled to dismiss his ministry
and to call in another more acceptable to the people. The king hoped,
by the appointment of a Republican ministry, to pacify the democratic
spirit. There was no other resource left him but abdication. It was a
bitter cup for him to drink. His proud and spirited queen declared
that she would rather die than throw herself into the arms of
_Republicans_ for protection. He yielded to the pressure, dismissed
his ministers, and surrendered himself to the Girondists for the
appointment of a new ministry. The Girondists called upon M. Roland to
take the important post of Minister of the Interior. It was a perilous
position to fill, but what danger will not ambition face? In the
present posture of affairs, the Minister of the Interior was the
monarch of France. M. Roland, whose quiet and hidden ambition had been
feeding upon its success, smiled nervously at the power which, thus
unsolicited, was passing into his hands. Madame Roland, whose
all-absorbing passion it now was to elevate her husband to the highest
summits of greatness, was gratified in view of the honor and agitated
in view of the peril; but, to her exalted spirit, the greater the
danger, the more heroic the act. "The burden is heavy," she said; "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."

In March, 1792, he entered upon his arduous and exalted office. The
palace formerly occupied by the Controller General of Finance, most
gorgeously furnished by Madame Necker in the days of her glory, was
appropriated to their use. Madame Roland entered this splendid
establishment, and, elevated in social eminence above the most exalted
nobles of France, fulfilled all the complicated duties of her station
with a grace and dignity which have never been surpassed. Thus had
Jane risen from that humble position in which the daughter of the
engraver, in solitude, communed with her books, to be the mistress of
a palace of aristocratic grandeur, and the associate of statesmen and
princes.

When M. Roland made his first appearance at court as the minister of
his royal master, instead of arraying himself in the court-dress which
the customs of the times required, he affected, in his costume, the
simplicity of his principles. He wished to appear in his exalted
station still the man of the people. He had not forgotten the
impression produced in France by Franklin, as in the most republican
simplicity of dress he moved among the glittering throng at
Versailles. He accordingly presented himself at the Tuileries in a
plain black coat, with a round hat, and dusty shoes fastened with
ribbons instead of buckles. The courtiers were indignant. The king was
highly displeased at what he considered an act of disrespect. The
master of ceremonies was in consternation, and exclaimed with a look
of horror to General Damuriez, "My dear sir, he has not even buckles
in his shoes!" "Mercy upon us!" exclaimed the old general, with the
most laughable expression of affected gravity, "we shall then all go
to ruin together!"

The king, however, soon forgot the neglect of etiquette in the
momentous questions which were pressing upon his attention. He felt
the importance of securing the confidence and good will of his
ministers, and he approached them with the utmost affability and
conciliation. M. Roland returned from his first interview with the
monarch quite enchanted with his excellent disposition and his
patriotic spirit. He assured his wife that the community had formed a
totally erroneous estimate of the king; that he was sincerely a friend
to the reforms which were taking place, and was a hearty supporter of
the Constitution which had been apparently forced upon him. The prompt
reply of Madame Roland displayed even more than her characteristic
sagacity. "If Louis is sincerely a friend of the Constitution, he must
be virtuous beyond the common race of mortals. Mistrust your own
virtue, M. Roland. You are only an honest countryman wandering amid a
crowd of courtiers--virtue in danger amid a myriad of vices. They
speak our language; we do not know theirs. No! Louis _can not_ love
the chains that fetter him. He may feign to caress them. He thinks
only of how he can spurn them. Fallen greatness loves not its
decadence. No man likes his humiliation. Trust in human nature; that
never deceives. Distrust courts. Your virtue is too elevated to see
the snares which courtiers spread beneath your feet."



CHAPTER VI.

THE MINISTRY OF M. ROLAND.

1792

Parlor of Madame Roland.--Vacillation of Louis.--Measures of the
Girondists.--Their perilous position.--Rumors of invasion.--The
rabble.--Danger of the Girondists.--Their demand of the king.--Letter
to the king.--Its character.--Refusal of the king.--Dismissal of M.
Roland.--The letter read to the Assembly.--Its celebrity.--Increasing
influence of the Rolands.--Barbaroux.--Project of a republic.--Seconded
by Madame Roland.--Barbaroux's opinion of the Rolands.--The Girondists
desert the king.--Madame Roland's influence over the Girondists.--Buzot
adores her.--Madame Roland's opinion of Buzot.--Effect of her
death.--Danton at Madame Roland's.--New scenes of violence.--Outrages
of the mob.--Recall of M. Roland.--Perilous situation of M. Roland.--His
wife's mode of living.--Library of Madame Roland.--Meetings
there.--Striking contrast.--Labors of Madame Roland.--French
artists at Rome.--Letter to the pope.--Anecdote.--Reverses of
fortune.--Increasing anarchy.--Baseness of the Jacobins.--The throne
demolished.--Cry for a republic.--The Republic.--Waning of M. Roland's
power.--Madame Roland's disgust at the horrors of the Revolution.


From all the spacious apartments of the magnificent mansion allotted
as the residence of the Minister of the Interior, Madame Roland
selected a small and retired parlor, which she had furnished with
every attraction as a library and a study. This was her much-loved
retreat, and here M. Roland, in the presence of his wife, was
accustomed to see his friends in all their confidential intercourse.
Thus she was not only made acquainted with all the important
occurrences of the times, but she formed an intimate personal
acquaintance with the leading actors in these eventful movements.
Louis, adopting a vacillating policy, in his endeavors to conciliate
each party was losing the confidence and the support of all. The
Girondists, foreseeing the danger which threatened the king and all
the institutions of government, were anxious that he should be
persuaded to abandon these mistaken measures, and firmly and openly
advocate the reforms which had already taken place. They felt that if
he would energetically take his stand in the position which the
Girondists had assumed, there was still safety for himself and the
nation. The Girondists, at this time, wished to sustain the throne,
but they wished to limit its power and surround it by the institutions
of republican liberty. The king, animated by his far more
strong-minded, energetic, and ambitious queen, was slowly and
reluctantly surrendering point by point as the pressure of the
multitude compelled, while he was continually hoping that some change
in affairs would enable him to regain his lost power.

The position of the Girondists began to be more and more perilous. The
army of emigrant nobles at Coblentz, within the dominions of the King
of Prussia, was rapidly increasing in numbers. Frederic was
threatening, in alliance with all the most powerful crowns of Europe,
to march with a resistless army to Paris, reinstate the king in his
lost authority, and take signal vengeance upon the leaders of the
Revolution. There were hundreds of thousands in France, the most
illustrious in rank and opulence, who would join such an army. The
Roman Catholic priesthood, to a man, would lend to it the influence
of all its spiritual authority. Paris was every hour agitated by
rumors of the approach of the armies of invasion. The people all
believed that Louis wished to escape from Paris and head that army.
The king was spiritless, undecided, and ever vacillating in his plans.
Maria Antoinette would have gone through fire and blood to have
rallied those hosts around her banner. Such was the position of the
Girondists in reference to the Royalists. They were ready to adopt the
most energetic measures to repel the interference of this armed
confederacy.

On the other hand, they saw another party, noisy, turbulent,
sanguinary, rising beneath them, and threatening with destruction all
connected in any way with the execrated throne. This new party, now
emerging from the lowest strata of society, upheaving all its
superincumbent masses, consisted of the wan, the starving, the
haggard, the reckless. All of the abandoned and the dissolute rallied
beneath its banners. They called themselves the people. Amazonian
fish-women; overgrown boys, with the faces and the hearts of demons;
men and girls, who had no homes but the kennels of Paris, in countless
thousands swelled its demonstrations of power, whenever it pleased
its leaders to call them out. This was the Jacobin party.

The Girondists trembled before this mysterious apparition now looming
up before them, and clamoring for the overthrow of all human
distinctions. The crown had been struck from the head of the king, and
was snatched at by the most menial and degraded of his subjects. The
Girondists, through Madame Roland, urged the Minister of the Interior
that he should demand of the king an immediate proclamation of war
against the emigrants and their supporters, and that he should also
issue a decree against the Catholic clergy who would not support the
measures of the Revolution. It was, indeed, a bitter draught for the
king to drink. Louis declared that he would rather die than sign such
a decree. The pressure of the populace was so tremendous, displayed in
mobs, and conflagrations, and massacres, that these decisive measures
seemed absolutely indispensable for the preservation of the Girondist
party and the safety of the king. M. Roland was urged to present to
the throne a most earnest letter of expostulation and advice. Madame
Roland sat down at her desk and wrote the letter for her husband. It
was expressed in that glowing and impassioned style so eminently at
her command. Its fervid eloquence was inspired by the foresight she
had of impending perils. M. Roland, impressed by its eloquence, yet
almost trembling in view of its boldness and its truths, presented the
letter to the king. Its last paragraphs will give one some idea of its
character.

    "Love, serve the Revolution, and the people will love it and serve
    it in you. Deposed priests agitate the provinces. Ratify the
    measures to extirpate their fanaticism. Paris trembles in view of
    its danger. Surround its walls with an army of defense. Delay
    longer, and you will be deemed a conspirator and an accomplice.
    Just Heaven! hast thou stricken kings with blindness? I know that
    truth is rarely welcomed at the foot of thrones. I know, too, that
    the withholding of truth from kings renders revolutions so often
    necessary. As a citizen, a minister, I owe truth to the king, and
    nothing shall prevent me from making it reach his ear."

The advice contained in this letter was most unpalatable to the
enfeebled monarch. The adoption of the course it recommended was
apparently his only chance of refuge from certain destruction. We must
respect the magnanimity of the king in refusing to sign the decree
against the firmest friends of his throne, and we must also respect
those who were struggling against despotic power for the establishment
of civil and religious freedom. When we think of the king and his
suffering family, our sympathies are so enlisted in behalf of their
woes that we condemn the letter as harsh and unfeeling. When we think
for how many ages the people of France had been crushed into poverty
and debasement, we rejoice to hear stern and uncompromising truth fall
upon the ear of royalty. And yet Madame Roland's letter rather excites
our admiration for her wonderful abilities than allures us to her by
developments of female loveliness. This celebrated letter was
presented to the king on the 11th of June, 1792. On the same day M.
Roland received a letter from the king informing him that he was
dismissed from office. It is impossible to refrain from applauding the
king for this manifestation of spirit and self-respect. Had he
exhibited more of this energy, he might at least have had the honor of
dying more gloriously; but, as the intrepid wife of the minister
dictated the letter to the king, we can not doubt that it was the
imperious wife of the king who dictated the dismissal in reply. Maria
Antoinette and Madame Roland met as Greek meets Greek.

"Here am I, dismissed from office," was M. Roland's exclamation to his
wife on his return home.

"Present your letter to the Assembly, that the nation may see for what
counsel you have been dismissed," replied the undaunted wife.

M. Roland did so. He was received as a martyr to patriotism. The
letter was read amid the loudest applauses. It was ordered to be
printed, and circulated by tens of thousands through the eighty-three
departments of the kingdom; and from all those departments there came
rolling back upon the metropolis the echo of the most tumultuous
indignation and applause. The famous letter was read by all
France--nay, more, by all Europe. Roland was a hero. The plaudits of
the million fell upon the ear of the defeated minister, while the
execrations of the million rose more loudly and ominously around the
tottering throne. This blow, struck by Madame Roland, was by far the
heaviest the throne of France had yet received. She who so loved to
play the part of a heroine was not at all dismayed by defeat, when it
came with such an aggrandizement of power. Upon this wave of
enthusiastic popularity Madame Roland and her husband retired from the
magnificent palace where they had dwelt for so short a time, and, with
a little pardonable ostentation, selected for their retreat very
humble apartments in an apparently obscure street of the agitated
metropolis. It was the retirement of a philosopher proud of the gloom
of his garret. But M. Roland and wife were more powerful now than ever
before. The famous letter had placed them in the front ranks of the
friends of reform, and enshrined them in the hearts of the ever fickle
populace. Even the Jacobins were compelled to swell the universal
voice of commendation. M. Roland's apartments were ever thronged. All
important plans were discussed and shaped by him and his wife before
they were presented in the Assembly.

There was a young statesman then in Paris named Barbaroux, of
remarkable beauty of person, and of the richest mental endowments. The
elegance of his stature and the pensive melancholy of his classic
features invested him with a peculiar power of fascination. Between
him and Madame Roland there existed the most pure, though the
strongest friendship. One day he was sitting with M. Roland and wife,
in social conference upon the desperate troubles of the times, when
the dismissed minister said to him, "What is to be done to save
France? There is no army upon which we can rely to resist invasion.
Unless we can circumvent the plots of the court, all we have gained is
lost. In six weeks the Austrians will be at Paris. Have we, then,
labored at the most glorious of revolutions for so many years, to see
it overthrown in a single day? If liberty dies in France, it is lost
forever to mankind. All the hopes of philosophy are deceived.
Prejudice and tyranny will again grasp the world. Let us prevent this
misfortune. If the armies of despotism overrun the north of France,
let us retire to the southern provinces, and there establish a
_republic_ of freemen."

The tears glistened in the eyes of his wife as she listened to this
bold proposal, so heroic in its conception, so full of hazard, and
demanding such miracles of self-sacrifice and devotion. Madame Roland,
who perhaps originally suggested the idea to her husband, urged it
with all her impassioned energy. Barbaroux was just the man to have
his whole soul inflamed by an enterprise of such grandeur. He drew a
rapid sketch of the resources and hopes of liberty in the south, and,
taking a map, traced the limits of the republic, from the Doubs, the
Aire, and the Rhone, to La Dordogne; and from the inaccessible
mountains of Auvergne, to Durance and the sea. A serene joy passed
over the features of the three, thus quietly originating a plan which
was, with an earthquake's power, to make every throne in Europe
totter, and to convulse Christendom to its very center. Barbaroux left
them deeply impressed with a sense of the grandeur and the perils of
the enterprise, and remarked to a friend, "Of all the men of modern
times, Roland seems to me most to resemble Cato; but it must be owned
that it is to his wife that his courage and talents are due." Previous
to this hour the Girondists had wished to sustain the throne, and
merely to surround it with free institutions. They had taken the
government of England for their model. From this day the Girondists,
freed from all obligations to the king, conspired secretly in Madame
Roland's chamber, and publicly in the tribune, for the entire
overthrow of the monarchy, and the establishment of a republic like
that of the United States. They rivaled the Jacobins in the endeavor
to see who could strike the heaviest blows against the throne. It was
now a struggle between life and death. The triumph of the invading
army would be the utter destruction of all connected with the
revolutionary movement. And thus did Madame Roland exert an influence
more powerful, perhaps, than that of any other one mind in the
demolition of the Bourbon despotism.

Her influence over the Girondist party was such as no _man_ ever can
exert. Her conduct, frank and open-hearted, was irreproachable, ever
above even the slightest suspicion of indiscretion. She could not be
insensible to the homage, the admiration of those she gathered around
her. Buzot adored Madame Roland as the inspiration of his mind, as the
idol of his worship. She had involuntarily gained that entire
ascendency over his whole being which made her the world to him. The
secret of this resistless enchantment was concealed until her death;
it was then disclosed, and revealed the mystery of a spiritual
conflict such as few can comprehend. She writes of Buzot, "Sensible,
ardent, melancholy, he seems born to give and share happiness. This
man would forget the universe in the sweetness of private virtues.
Capable of sublime impulses and unvarying affections, the vulgar, who
like to depreciate what it can not equal, accuse him of being a
dreamer. Of sweet countenance, elegant figure, there is always in his
attire that care, neatness, and propriety which announce the respect
of self as well as of others. While the dregs of the nation elevate
the flatterers and corrupters of the people to station--while
cut-throats swear, drink, and clothe themselves in rags, in order to
fraternize with the populace, Buzot possesses the morality of
Socrates, and maintains the decorum of Scipio. So they pull down his
house, and banish him as they did Aristides. I am astonished that they
have not issued a decree that his name should be forgotten."

These words Madame Roland wrote in her dungeon the night before her
execution. Buzot was then an exile, pursued by unrelenting fury, and
concealed in the caves of St. Emilion. When the tidings reached him of
the death of Madame Roland, he fell to the ground as if struck by
lightning. For many days he was in a state of phrensy, and was never
again restored to cheerfulness.

Danton now appeared in the saloon of Madame Roland, with his gigantic
stature, and shaggy hair, and voice of thunder, and crouched at the
feet of this mistress of hearts, whom his sagacity perceived was soon
again to be the dispenser of power. She comprehended at a glance his
herculean abilities, and the important aid he could render the
Republican cause. She wished to win his co-operation, and at first
tried to conciliate him, "as a woman would pat a lion;" but soon,
convinced of his heartlessness and utter want of principle, she
spurned him with abhorrence. He subsequently endeavored, again and
again, to reinstate himself in her favor, but in vain. Every hour
scenes of new violence were being enacted in Paris and throughout all
France. Roland was the idol of the nation. The famous letter was the
subject of universal admiration. The outcry against his dismission was
falling in thunder tones on the ear of the king. This act had fanned
to increased intensity those flames of revolutionary phrensy which
were now glaring with portentous flashes in every part of France. The
people, intoxicated and maddened by the discovery of their power, were
now arrayed, with irresistible thirstings for destruction and blood,
against the king, the court, and the nobility. The royal family,
imprisoned in the Tuileries, were each day drinking of the cup of
humiliation to its lowest dregs. Austria and Prussia, united with the
emigrants at Coblentz, prepared to march to Paris to reinstate the
king upon his throne. Excitement, consternation, phrensy, pervaded all
hearts. A vast assemblage of countless thousands of women, and boys,
and wan and starving men, gathered in the streets of Paris. Harangues
against the king and the aristocrats rendered them delirious with
rage. They crowded all the avenues to the Tuileries, burst through the
gates and over the walls, dashed down the doors and stove in the
windows, and, with obscene ribaldry, rioted through all the apartments
sacred to royalty. They thrust the dirty red cap of Jacobinism upon
the head of the King. They poured into the ear of the humiliated queen
the most revolting and loathsome execrations. There was no hope for
Louis but in the recall of M. Roland. The court party could give him
no protection. The Jacobins were upon him in locust legions. M. Roland
alone could bring the Girondists, as a shield, between the throne and
the mob. He was recalled, and again moved, in calm triumph, from his
obscure chambers to the regal palace of the minister. If Madame
Roland's letter dismissed him from office, her letter also restored
him again with an enormous accumulation of power.

[Illustration: THE LIBRARY.]

His situation was not an enviable one. Elevated as it was in dignity
and influence, it was full of perplexity, toil, and peril. The spirit
of revolution was now rampant, and no earthly power could stay it. It
was inevitable that those who would not recklessly ride upon its
billows must be overwhelmed by its resistless surges. Madame Roland
was far more conscious of the peril than her husband. With intense
emotion, but calmly and firmly, she looked upon the gathering storm.
The peculiarity of her character, and her great moral courage, was
illustrated by the mode of life she vigorously adopted. Raised from
obscurity to a position so commanding, with rank and wealth bowing
obsequiously around her, she was entirely undazzled, and resolved
that, consecrating all her energies to the demands of the tempestuous
times, she would waste no time in fashionable parties and heartless
visits. "My love of study," she said, "is as great as my detestation
of cards, and the society of silly people affords me no amusement."
Twice a week she gave a dinner to the members of the ministry, and
other influential men in the political world, with whom her husband
wished to converse. The palace was furnished to their hands by its
former occupants with Oriental luxury. Selecting for her own use, as
before, one of the smallest parlors, she furnished it as her library.
Here she lived, engrossed in study, busy with her pen, and taking an
unostentatious and unseen, but most active part, in all those measures
which were literally agitating the whole civilized world. Her little
library was the sanctuary for all confidential conversation upon
matters of state. Here her husband met his political friends to mature
their measures. The gentlemen gathered, evening after evening, around
the table in the center of the room, M. Roland, with his serene,
reflective brow, presiding at their head, while Madame Roland, at her
work-table by the fireside, employed herself with her needle or her
pen. Her mind, however, was absorbed by the conversation which was
passing. M. Roland, in fact, in giving his own views, was but
recapitulating those sentiments with which his mind was imbued from
previous conference with his companion.

It is not possible that one endowed with the ardent and glowing
imagination of Madame Roland should not, at times, feel inwardly the
spirit of exultation in the consciousness of this vast power. From the
windows of her palace she looked down upon the shop of the mechanic
where her infancy was cradled, and upon those dusty streets where she
had walked an obscure child, while proud aristocracy swept by her in
splendor--that very aristocracy looking now imploringly to her for a
smile. She possessed that peculiar tact, which enabled her often to
guide the course of political measures without appearing to do so. She
was only anxious to promote the glory of her husband, and was never
more happy than when he was receiving plaudits for works which she had
performed. She wrote many of his proclamations, his letters, his state
papers, and with all the glowing fervor of an enthusiastic woman.
"Without me," she writes, "my husband would have been quite as good a
minister, for his knowledge, his activity, his integrity were all his
own; but with me he attracted more attention, because I infused into
his writings that mixture of spirit and gentleness, of authoritative
reason and seducing sentiment, which is, perhaps, only to be found in
the language of a woman who has a clear head and a feeling heart."
This frank avowal of just self-appreciation is not vanity. A _vain_
woman could not have won the love and homage of so many of the noblest
men of France.

A curious circumstance occurred at this time, which forcibly and even
ludicrously struck Madame Roland's mind, as she reflected upon the
wonderful changes of life, and the peculiar position which she now
occupied. Some French artists had been imprisoned by the pope at Rome.
The Executive Council of France wished to remonstrate and demand their
release. Madame Roland sat down to write the letter, severe and
authoritative, to his holiness, threatening him with the severest
vengeance if he refused to comply with the request. As in her little
library she prepared this communication to the head of the Papal
States and of the Catholic Church, she paused, with her pen in her
hand, and reflected upon her situation but a few years before as the
humble daughter of an engraver. She recalled to mind the emotions of
superstitious awe and adoration with which, in the nunnery, she had
regarded his holiness as next to the Deity, and almost his equal. She
read over some of the imperious passages which she had now addressed
to the pope in the unaffected dignity of conscious power, and the
contrast was so striking, and struck her as so ludicrous, that she
burst into an uncontrollable paroxysm of laughter.

When Jane was a diffident maiden of seventeen, she went once with her
aunt to the residence of a nobleman of exalted rank and vast wealth,
and had there been invited to dine _with the servants_. The proud
spirit of Jane was touched to the quick. With a burning brow she sat
down in the servants' hall, with stewards, and butlers, and cooks, and
footmen, and _valet de chambres_, and ladies' maids of every degree,
all dressed in tawdry finery, and assuming the most disgusting airs of
self-importance. She went home despising in her heart both lords and
menials, and dreaming, with new aspirations, of her Roman republic.
One day, when Madame Roland was in power, she had just passed from her
splendid dining-room, where she had been entertaining the most
distinguished men of the empire, into her drawing-room, when a
gray-headed gentleman entered, and bowing profoundly and most
obsequiously before her, entreated the honor of an introduction to the
Minister of the Interior. This gentleman was M. Haudry, with whose
servants she had been invited to dine. This once proud aristocrat,
who, in the wreck of the Revolution, had lost both wealth and rank,
now saw Madame Roland elevated as far above him as he had formerly
been exalted above her. She remembered the many scenes in which her
spirit had been humiliated by haughty assumptions. She could not but
feel the triumph to which circumstances had borne her, though
magnanimity restrained its manifestation.

Anarchy now reigned throughout France. The king and the royal family
were imprisoned in the Temple. The Girondists in the Legislative
Assembly, which had now assumed the name of the National Convention,
and M. Roland at the head of the ministry, were struggling, with
herculean exertions, to restore the dominion of law, and, if possible,
to save the life of the king. The Jacobins, who, unable to resist the
boundless popularity of M. Roland, had, for a time, co-operated with
the Girondists, now began to separate themselves again more and more
widely from them. They flattered the mob. They encouraged every
possible demonstration of lawless violence. They pandered to the
passions of the multitude by affecting grossness and vulgarity in
person, and language, and manners; by clamoring for the division of
property, and for the death of the king. In tones daily increasing in
boldness and efficiency, they declared the Girondists to be the
friends of the monarch, and the enemies of popular liberty. Upon this
tumultuous wave of polluted democracy, now rising with resistless and
crested billow, Danton and Robespierre were riding into their terrific
power. Humanity shut its eyes in view of the hideous apparition of wan
and haggard beggary and crime. The deep mutterings of this rising
storm, which no earthly hand might stay, rolled heavily upon the ear
of Europe. Christendom looked astounded upon the spectacle of a
barbarian invasion bursting forth from the cellars and garrets of
Paris. Oppressed and degraded humanity was about to take vengeance for
its ages of accumulated wrongs. The throne was demolished. The
insulted royal family, in rags and almost in starvation, were in a
dungeon. The universal cry from the masses of the people was now for a
republic. Jacobins and Girondists united in this cry; but the Jacobins
accused the Girondists of being insincere, and of secretly plotting
for the restoration of the king.

Madame Roland, in the name of her husband, drew up for the Convention
the plan of a republic as a substitute for the throne. From childhood
she had yearned for a republic, with its liberty and purity,
fascinated by the ideal of Roman virtue, from which her lively
imagination had banished all human corruption. But now that the throne
and hereditary rank were virtually abolished, and all France clamoring
for a republic, and the pen in her hand to present to the National
Assembly a Constitution of popular liberty, her heart misgave her. Her
husband was nominally Minister of the Interior, but his power was
gone. The mob of Paris had usurped the place of king, and
Constitution, and law. The Jacobins were attaining the decided
ascendency. The guillotine was daily crimsoned with the blood of the
noblest citizens of France. The streets and the prisons were polluted
with the massacre of the innocent. The soul of Madame Roland recoiled
with horror at the scenes she daily witnessed. The Girondists
struggled in vain to resist the torrent, but they were swept before
it. The time had been when the proclamation of a republic would have
filled her soul with inexpressible joy. Now she could see no gleam of
hope for her country. The restoration of the monarchy was impossible.
The substitution of a republic was inevitable. No earthly power could
prevent it. In that republic she saw only the precursor of her own
ruin, the ruin of all dear to her, and general anarchy. With a
dejected spirit she wrote to a friend, "We are under the knife of
Robespierre and Marat. You know my enthusiasm for the Revolution. I am
ashamed of it now. It has been sullied by monsters. It is hideous."



CHAPTER VII.

MADAME ROLAND AND THE JACOBINS.

1792

Advance of the allies.--Hopes of the king's friends.--Consternation
at Paris.--Speech of Danton.--Despotic measures.--Domiciliary
visits.--Opening of the catacombs.--Terror of the people.--Scenes of
terror.--Vain attempts at concealment.--Numbers arrested.--The
priests.--A human fiend.--Butchery of the priests.--Arrival at the
prison.--Prison tribunal.--Massacre in the prisons.--Fiendish
orgies.--Female spectators.--Character of the victims.--The
Bicetre.--Numbers massacred.--Girls sent to the guillotine.--Their
heroism.--The assassins rewarded.--They threaten their
instigators.--Ascendency of the mob.--Peril of the Girondists.--The
Assembly surrounded.--Adroitness of the Jacobins.--Advance of the
allies.--Robespierre and Danton.--Bold measures proposed by Madame
Roland.--Decisive stand taken by MM. Roland and Vergniaud.--The
Girondists defeated.--Resignation of M. Roland.--Attacks upon Madame
Roland.--How received in the Assembly.--Letter from M. Roland.--Its
lofty tone.--Danton seeks a reconciliation.--His failure.--Plans of
the Jacobins.--Fearlessness of Madame Roland.


The Prussians were now advancing on their march to Paris. One after
another of the frontier cities of France were capitulating to the
invaders as the storm of bomb-shells, from the batteries of the allied
army, was rained down upon their roofs. The French were retreating
before their triumphant adversaries. Sanguine hopes sprung up in the
bosoms of the friends of the monarchy that the artillery of the
Prussians would soon demolish the iron doors of the Temple, where the
king and the royal family were imprisoned, and reinstate the captive
monarch upon his throne. The Revolutionists were almost frantic in
view of their peril. They knew that there were tens of thousands in
Paris, of the most wealthy and the most influential, and hundreds of
thousands in France, who would, at the slightest prospect of success,
welcome the Prussians as their deliverers. Should the king thus prove
victorious, the leaders in the revolutionary movement had sinned too
deeply to hope for pardon. Death was their inevitable doom.
Consternation pervaded the metropolis. The magnitude of this peril
united all the revolutionary parties for their common defense. Even
Vergniaud, the most eloquent leader of the Girondists, proposed a
decree of death against every citizen of a besieged city who should
speak of surrender.

It was midnight in the Assembly. The most extraordinary and despotic
measures were adopted by acclamation to meet the fearful emergency.
"We must rouse the whole populace of France," exclaimed Danton, in
those tones which now began to thrill so portentously upon the ear of
Europe, "and hurl them, _en masse_, upon our invaders. There are
traitors in Paris, ready to join our foes. We must arrest them all,
however numerous they may be. The peril is imminent. The precautions
adopted must be correspondingly prompt and decisive. With the morning
sun we must visit every dwelling in Paris, and imprison those whom we
have reason to fear will join the enemies of the nation, even though
they be thirty thousand in number."

The decree passed without hesitation. The gates of Paris were to be
locked, that none might escape. Carriages were to be excluded from
the streets. All citizens were ordered to be at home. The sections,
the tribunals, the clubs were to suspend their sittings, that the
public attention might not be distracted. All houses were to be
brilliantly lighted in the evening, that the search might be more
effectually conducted. Commissaries, accompanied by armed soldiers,
were, in the name of the law, to enter every dwelling. Each citizen
should show what arms he had. If any thing excited suspicion, the
individual and his premises were to be searched with the utmost
vigilance. If the slightest deception had been practiced, in denying
or in not fully confessing any suspicious appearances, the person was
to be arrested and imprisoned. If a person were found in any dwelling
but his own, he was to be imprisoned as under suspicion. Guards were
to be placed in all unoccupied houses. A double cordon of soldiers
were stationed around the walls, to arrest all who should attempt to
escape. Armed boats floated upon the Seine, at the two extremities of
Paris, that every possible passage of escape might be closed. Gardens,
groves, promenades, all were to be searched.

With so much energy was this work conducted, that that very night a
body of workmen were sent, with torches and suitable tools, to open an
access to the subterranean burial-grounds extending under a portion of
Paris, that a speedy disposal might be made of the anticipated
multitude of dead bodies. The decree, conveying terror to ten thousand
bosoms, spread with the rapidity of lightning through the streets and
the dwellings of Paris. Every one who had expressed a sentiment of
loyalty; every one who had a friend who was an emigrant or a loyalist;
every one who had uttered a word of censure in reference to the
sanguinary atrocities of the Revolution; every one who inherited an
illustrious name, or who had an unfriendly neighbor or an inimical
servant, trembled at the swift approach of the impending doom.

Bands of men, armed with pikes, brought into power from the dregs of
society, insolent, merciless, and resistless, accompanied by martial
music, traversed the streets in all directions. As the commissaries
knocked at a door, the family within were pale and paralyzed with
terror. The brutal inquisitors appeared to delight in the anguish
which their stern office extorted, and the more refined the family in
culture or the more elevated in rank, the more severely did vulgarity
in power trample them in the dust of humiliation. They took with them
workmen acquainted with all possible modes of concealment. They broke
locks, burst in panels, cut open beds and mattresses, tore up floors,
sounded wells, explored garrets and cellars for secret doors and
vaults, and could they find in any house an individual whom affection
or hospitality had sheltered, a rusty gun, an old picture of any
member of the royal family, a button with the royal arms, a letter
from a suspected person, or containing a sentiment against the "Reign
of Terror," the father was instantly and rudely torn from his home,
his wife, his children, and hurried with ignominious violence, as a
traitor unfit to live, through the streets, to the prison. It was a
night of woe in Paris.

The friends of the monarchy soon found all efforts at concealment
unavailing. They had at first crept into chimneys, from which they
were soon smoked out. They had concealed themselves behind tapestry.
But pikes and bayonets were with derision thrust through their bodies.
They had burrowed in holes in the cellars, and endeavored to blind the
eye of pursuit by coverings of barrels, or lumber, or wood, or coal.
But the stratagems of affection were equally matched by the sagacity
of revolutionary phrensy, and the doomed were dragged to light. Many
of the Royalists had fled to the hospitals, where, in the wards of
infection, they shared the beds of the dead and the dying. But even
there they were followed and arrested. The domiciliary visits were
continued for three days. "The whole city was like a prisoner, whose
limbs are held while he is searched and fettered." Ten thousand
suspected persons were seized and committed to the prisons. Many were
massacred in their dwellings or in the streets. Some were subsequently
liberated, as having been unjustly arrested.

Thirty priests were dragged into a room at the Hotel de Ville. Five
coaches, each containing six of the obnoxious prisoners, started to
convey them to the prison of the Abbayé. A countless mob gathered
around them as an alarm-gun gave the signal for the coaches to proceed
on their way. The windows were open that the populace might see those
whom they deemed traitors to their country, and whom they believed to
be ready to join the army of invasion, now so triumphantly
approaching. Every moment the mob increased in density, and with
difficulty the coaches wormed their way through the tumultuous
gatherings. Oaths and execrations rose on every side. Gestures and
threats of violence were fearfully increasing, when a vast multitude
of men, and women, and boys came roaring down a cross-street, and so
completely blocked up the way that a peaceful passage was impossible.
The carriages stopped. A man with his shirt-sleeves rolled up to the
elbows, and a glittering saber in his hand, forced his way through the
escort, and, deliberately standing upon the steps of one of the
coaches, clinging with one hand to the door, plunged again, and again,
and again his saber into the bodies of the priests, wherever chance
might direct it. He drew it out reeking with blood, and waved it
before the people. A hideous yell of applause rose from the multitude,
and again he plunged his saber into the carriage. The assassin then
passed to the next coach, and again enacted the same act of horrid
butchery upon the struggling priests crowded into the carriages, with
no shield and with no escape. Thus he went, from one to the other,
through the whole line of coaches, while the armed escort looked on
with derisive laughter, and shouts of fiendish exultation rose from
the phrensied multitude. The mounted troops slowly forced open a
passage for the carriages, and they moved along, marking their passage
by the streams of blood which dripped, from their dead and dying
inmates, upon the pavements. When they arrived at the prison, eight
dead bodies were dragged from the floor of the vehicles, and many of
those not dead were horridly mutilated and clotted with gore. The
wretched victims precipitated themselves with the utmost consternation
into the prison, as a retreat from the billows of rage surging and
roaring around them.

But the scene within was still more terrible than that without. In the
spacious hall opening into the court-yard of the prison there was a
table, around which sat twelve men. Their brawny limbs, and coarse and
brutal countenances, proclaimed them familiar with debauch and blood.
Their attire was that of the lowest class in society, with woolen caps
on their heads, shirt sleeves rolled up, unembarrassed by either vest
or coat, and butchers' aprons bound around them. At the head of the
table sat Maillard, at that time the idol of the blood-thirsty mob of
Paris. These men composed a self-constituted tribunal to award life or
instant death to those brought before them. First appeared one
hundred and fifty Swiss officers and soldiers who had been in the
employ of the king. They were brought _en masse_ before the tribunal.
"You have assassinated the people," said Maillard, "and they demand
vengeance." The door was open. The assassins in the court-yard, with
weapons reeking with blood, were howling for their prey. The soldiers
were driven into the yard, and they fell beneath the blows of
bayonets, sabers, and clubs, and their gory bodies were piled up, a
hideous mound, in the corners of the court. The priests, without
delay, met with the same fate. A moment sufficed for trial, and
verdict, and execution. Night came. Brandy and excitement had roused
the demon in the human heart. Life was a plaything, murder a pastime.
Torches were lighted, refreshments introduced, songs of mirth and
joviality rose upon the night air, and still the horrid carnage
continued unabated. Now and then, from caprice, one was liberated; but
the innocent and the guilty fell alike. Suspicion was crime. An
illustrious name was guilt. There was no time for defense. A frown
from the judge was followed by a blow from the assassin. A similar
scene was transpiring in all the prisons of Paris. Carts were
continually arriving to remove the dead bodies, which accumulated much
faster than they could be borne away. The court-yards became wet and
slippery with blood. Straw was brought in and strewn thickly over the
stones, and benches were placed against the walls to accommodate those
women who wished to gaze upon the butchery. The benches were
immediately filled with females, exulting in the death of all whom
they deemed tainted with aristocracy, and rejoicing to see the exalted
and the refined falling beneath the clubs of the ragged and the
degraded. The murderers made use of the bodies of the dead for seats,
upon which they drank their brandy mingled with gunpowder, and smoked
their pipes. In the nine prisons of Paris these horrors continued
unabated till they were emptied of their victims. Men most illustrious
in philanthropy, rank, and virtue, were brained with clubs by
overgrown boys, who accompanied their blows with fiendish laughter.
Ladies of the highest accomplishments, of exalted beauty and of
spotless purity, were hacked in pieces by the lowest wretches who had
crawled from the dens of pollution, and their dismembered limbs were
borne on the points of pikes in derision through the streets of the
metropolis. Children, even, were involved in this blind slaughter.
They were called the cubs of aristocracy.

We can not enter more minutely into the details of these sickening
scenes, for the soul turns from them weary of life; and yet thus far
we must go, for it is important that all eyes should read this
dreadful yet instructive lesson--that all may _know_ that there is no
despotism so dreadful as the despotism of anarchy--that there are no
laws more to be abhorred than the absence of all law.

In the prison of the Bicetre there were three thousand five hundred
captives. The ruffians forced the gates, drove in the dungeon doors
with cannon, and for five days and five nights continued the
slaughter. The phrensy of the intoxicated mob increased each day, and
hordes came pouring out from all the foul dens of pollution greedy for
carnage. The fevered thirst for blood was inextinguishable. No tongue
can now tell the number of the victims. The mangled bodies were
hurried to the catacombs, and thrown into an indiscriminate heap of
corruption. By many it is estimated that more than ten thousand fell
during these massacres. The tidings of these outrages spread through
all the provinces of France, and stimulated to similar atrocities the
mob in every city. At Orleans the houses of merchants were sacked, the
merchants and others of wealth or high standing massacred, while some
who had offered resistance were burned at slow fires.

In one town, in the vicinity of the Prussian army, some Loyalist
gentlemen, sanguine in view of the success of their friends, got up an
entertainment in honor of their victories. At this entertainment their
daughters danced. The young ladies were all arrested, fourteen in
number, and taken in a cart to the guillotine. These young and
beautiful girls, all between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, and
from the most refined and opulent families, were beheaded. The group
of youth and innocence stood clustered at the foot of the scaffold,
while, one by one, their companions ascended, were bound to the plank,
the ax fell, and their heads dropped into the basket. It seems that
there must have been some supernatural power of support to have
sustained children under so awful an ordeal. There were no faintings,
no loud lamentations, no shrieks of despair. With the serenity of
martyrs they met their fate, each one emulous of showing to her
companions how much like a heroine she could die.

These scenes were enacted at the instigation of the Jacobins. Danton
and Marat urged on these merciless measures of lawless violence. "We
must," said they, "strike _terror_ into the hearts of our foes. It is
our only safety." They sent agents into the most degraded quarters of
the city to rouse and direct the mob. They voted abundant supplies to
the wretched assassins who had broken into the prisons, and involved
youth and age, and innocence and guilt, in indiscriminate carnage. The
murderers, reeking in intoxication and besmeared with blood, came in
crowds to the door of the municipality to claim their reward. "Do you
think," said a brawny, gigantic wretch, with tucked-up sleeves, in the
garb of a butcher, and with his whole person bespattered with blood
and brains, "do you think that I have earned but twenty-four francs
to-day? I have killed forty aristocrats with my own hands!" The money
was soon exhausted, and still the crowd of assassins thronged the
committee. Indignant that their claims were not instantly discharged,
they presented their bloody weapons at the throats of their
instigators, and threatened them with immediate death if the money
were not furnished. Thus urged, the committee succeeded in paying one
half the sum, and gave bonds for the rest.

M. Roland was almost frantic in view of these horrors, which he had no
power to quell. The mob, headed by the Jacobins, had now the complete
ascendency, and he was minister but in name. He urged upon the
Assembly the adoption of immediate and energetic measures to arrest
these execrable deeds of lawless violence. Many of the Girondists in
the Assembly gave vehement but unavailing utterance to their
execration of the massacres. Others were intimidated by the weapon
which the Jacobins were now so effectually wielding; for they knew
that it might not be very difficult so to direct the fury of the mob
as to turn those sharp blades, now dripping with blood, from the
prisons into the hall of Assembly, and upon the throats of all
obnoxious to Jacobin power. The Girondists trembled in view of their
danger. They had aided in opening the sluice-ways of a torrent which
was now sweeping every thing before it. Madame Roland distinctly saw
and deeply felt the peril to which she and her friends were exposed.
She knew, and they all knew, that defeat was death. The great struggle
now in the Assembly was for the popular voice. The Girondists hoped,
though almost in despair, that it was not yet too late to show the
people the horrors of anarchy, and to rally around themselves the
multitude to sustain a well-established and law-revering republic. The
Jacobins determined to send their opponents to the scaffold, and by
the aid of the terrors of the mob, now enlisted on their side,
resistlessly to carry all their measures. A hint from the Jacobin
leaders surrounded the Assembly with the hideous howlings of a haggard
concourse of beings just as merciless and demoniac as lost spirits.
They exhibited these allies to the Girondists as a bull-dog shows his
teeth.

In speeches, and placards, and proclamations they declared the
Girondists to be, in heart, the enemies of the Republic. They accused
them of hating the Revolution in consequence of its necessary
severity, and of plotting in secret for the restoration of the king.
With great adroitness, they introduced measures which the Girondists
must either support, and thus aid the Jacobins, or oppose, and
increase the suspicion of the populace, and rouse their rage against
them. The allied army, with seven thousand French emigrants and over a
hundred thousand highly-disciplined troops, under the most able and
experienced generals, was slowly but surely advancing toward Paris, to
release the king, replace him on the throne, and avenge the insults to
royalty. The booming of their artillery was heard reverberating among
the hills of France, ever drawing nearer and nearer to the insurgent
metropolis, and sending consternation into all hearts. Under these
circumstances, the Jacobins, having massacred those deemed the friends
of the aristocrats, now gathered their strength to sweep before them
all their adversaries. They passed a decree ordering every man in
Paris, capable of bearing arms, to shoulder his musket and march to
the frontiers to meet the invaders. If money was wanted, it was only
necessary to send to the guillotine the aristocrat who possessed it,
and to confiscate his estate.

Robespierre and Danton had now broken off all intimacy with Madame
Roland and her friends. They no longer appeared in the little library
where the Girondist leaders so often met, but, placing themselves at
the head of the unorganized and tumultuous party now so rapidly
gaining the ascendency, they were swept before it as the crest is
borne by the billow. Madame Roland urged most strenuously upon her
friends that those persons in the Assembly, the leaders of the Jacobin
party, who had instigated the massacres in the prisons, should be
accused, and brought to trial and punishment. It required peculiar
boldness, at that hour, to accuse Robespierre and Danton of crime.
Though thousands in France were horror-stricken at these outrages, the
mob, who now ruled Paris, would rally instantaneously at the sound of
the tocsin for the protection of their idols.

Madame Roland was one evening urging Vergniaud to take that heroic and
desperate stand. "The only hope for France," said she "is in the
sacredness of law. This atrocious carnage causes thousands of bosoms
to thrill with horror, and all the wise and the good in France and in
the world will rise to sustain those who expose their own hearts as a
barrier to arrest such enormities."

"Of what avail," was the reply, in tones of sadness, "can such
exertions be? The assassins are supported by all the power of the
street. Such a conflict must necessarily terminate in a street fight.
The cannon are with our foes. The most prominent of the friends of
order are massacred. Terror will restrain the rest. We shall only
provoke our own destruction."

"Of what use is life," rejoins the intrepid woman, "if we must live in
this base subjection to a degraded mob? Let us contend for the right,
and if we must die, let us rejoice to die with dignity and with
heroism."

Though despairing of success, and apprehensive that their own doom was
already sealed, M. Roland and Vergniaud, roused to action by this
ruling spirit, the next day made their appearance in the Assembly with
the heroic resolve to throw themselves before the torrent now rushing
so wildly. They stood there, however, but the representatives of
Madame Roland, inspired by her energies, and giving utterance to those
eloquent sentiments which had burst from her lips.

The Assembly listened in silence as M. Roland, in an energetic
discourse, proclaimed the true principles of law and order, and called
upon the Assembly to defend its own dignity against popular violence,
and to raise an armed force consecrated to the security of liberty and
justice. Encouraged by these appearances of returning moderation,
others of the Girondists rose, and, with great boldness and vehemence,
urged decisive action. "It requires some courage," said Kersaint, "to
rise up here against assassins, but it is time to erect scaffolds for
those who provoke assassination." The strife continued for two or
three days, with that intense excitement which a conflict for life or
death must necessarily engender. The question between the Girondist
and the Jacobin was, "Who shall lie down on the guillotine?" For some
time the issue of the struggle was uncertain. The Jacobins summoned
their allies, the mob. They surrounded the doors and the windows of
the Assembly, and with their howlings sustained their friends. "I have
just passed through the crowd," said a member, "and have witnessed its
excitement. If the act of accusation is carried, many a head will lie
low before another morning dawns." The Girondists found themselves, at
the close of the struggle, defeated, yet not so decidedly but that
they still clung to hope.

M. Roland, who had not yet entirely lost, with the people, that
popularity which swept him, on so triumphant a billow, again into the
office of Minister of the Interior, now, conscious of his utter
impotency, presented to the Assembly his resignation of power which
was merely nominal. Great efforts had for some time been made, by his
adversaries, to turn the tide of popular hatred against him, and
especially against his wife, whom Danton and Robespierre recognized
and proclaimed as the animating and inspiring soul of the Girondist
party.

The friends of Roland urged, with high encomiums upon his character,
that he should be invited to retain his post. The sentiment of the
Assembly was wavering in his favor. Danton, excessively annoyed, arose
and said, with a sneer, "I oppose the invitation. Nobody appreciates
M. Roland more justly than myself. But if you give him this
invitation, you must give his wife one also. Every one knows that M.
Roland is not alone in his department. As for myself, in my department
I am alone. I have no wife to help me."

These indecorous and malicious allusions were received with shouts of
derisive laughter from the Jacobin benches. The majority, however,
frowned upon Danton with deep reproaches for such an attack upon a
lady. One of the Girondists immediately ascended the tribune. "What
signifies it to the country," said he, "whether Roland possesses an
intelligent wife, who inspires him with her additional energy, or
whether he acts from his own resolution alone?" The defense was
received with much applause.

The next day, Roland, as Minister of the Interior, presented a letter
to the Convention, expressing his determination to continue in office.
It was written by Madame Roland in strains of most glowing eloquence,
and in the spirit of the loftiest heroism and the most dignified
defiance. "The Convention is wise," said this letter, "in not giving a
solemn invitation to a man to remain in the ministry. It would attach
too great importance to a name. But the _deliberation_ honors me, and
clearly pronounces the desire of the Convention. That wish satisfies
me. It opens to me the career. I espouse it with courage. I remain in
the ministry. I remain because there are perils to face. I am not
blind to them, but I brave them fearlessly. The salvation of my
country is the object in view. To that I devote myself, even to death.
I am accused of wanting courage. Is no courage requisite in these
times in denouncing the protectors of assassins?"

Thus Madame Roland, sheltered in the seclusion of her library, met, in
spirit, in the fierce struggle of the tribune, Robespierre, Danton,
and Marat. They knew from whose shafts these keen arrows were shot.
The Girondists knew to whom they were indebted for many of the most
skillful parries and retaliatory blows. The one party looked to her
almost with adoration; the other, with implacable hate. Never before,
probably, in the history of the world, has a woman occupied such a
position, and never by a woman will such a position be occupied again.
Danton began to recoil from the gulf opening before him, and wished to
return to alliance with the Girondists. He expressed the most profound
admiration for the talents, energy, and sagacity of Madame Roland. "We
must act together," said he, "or the wave of the Revolution will
overwhelm us all. United, we can stem it. Disunited, it will overpower
us." Again he appeared in the library of Madame Roland, in a last
interview with the Girondists. He desired a coalition. They could not
agree. Danton insisted that they must overlook the massacres, and give
at least an implied assent to their necessity. "We will agree to all,"
said the Girondists, "except impunity to murderers and their
accomplices." The conference was broken up. Danton, irritated,
withdrew, and placed himself by the side of Robespierre. Again the
Jacobins and the Girondists prepared for the renewal of their
struggle. It was not a struggle for power merely, but for life. The
Girondists, knowing that the fury of the Revolution would soon sweep
over every thing, unless they could bring back the people to a sense
of justice--would punish with the scaffold those who had incited the
massacre of thousands of uncondemned citizens. The Jacobins would rid
themselves of their adversaries by overwhelming them in the same
carnage to which they had consigned the Loyalists. Madame Roland might
have fled from these perils, and have retired with her husband to
regions of tranquillity and of safety but she urged M. Roland to
remain at his post and resolved to remain herself and meet her
destiny, whatever it might be. Never did a mortal face danger, with a
full appreciation of its magnitude, with more stoicism than was
exhibited by this most ardent and enthusiastic of women.



CHAPTER VIII.

LAST STRUGGLES OF THE GIRONDISTS.

1792-1793

The Jacobins resolve to bring the king to trial.--Famine in
Paris.--Suspicions against the Girondists.--Baseness of the
Jacobins.--Peril of the Girondists.--Anxious deliberations.--Vile
intrigue of the Jacobins.--Madame Roland accused.--Madame Roland
before the Assembly.--Her dignified demeanor.--Madame Roland's defense
of herself.--She is acquitted by acclamation.--Madame Roland's
triumph.--Chagrin of her enemies.--Festival of the Girondists.--Toast
of Vergniaud.--Classical allusion.--Clamors for the king's death.--The
king brought before the Convention.--Dismal day.--Menaces of the
mob.--Danton, Marat, and Robespierre.--Trial of the king.--Proposition
of Robespierre.--Vote of Vergniaud.--Vote of the Girondists.--Indignation
at the king's death.--The Revolutionary Tribunal.--Unlimited powers of
the Revolutionary Tribunal.--Atrocious cruelties.--Embarrassments of
M. Roland.--He sends in his resignation.--Attempts to assassinate the
Rolands.--Entreaties of friends.--Firmness of Madame Roland.--Roland's
influence in the departments.--Plots against the Girondists.--Meetings
at Madame Roland's.--Insurrections in favor of the monarchy.--Jacobin
insurrection.--Portentous mutterings.--Precautions of the
Girondists.--Intrepidity of Vergniaud.--Power of prayer.--"Horrible
hope."--The power of the Girondists gone.


The Jacobins now resolved to bring the king to trial. By placards
posted in the streets, by inflammatory speeches in the Convention, in
public gatherings, and in the clubs, by false assertions and slanders
of every conceivable nature, they had roused the ignorant populace to
the full conviction that the king was the author of every calamity now
impending. The storm of the Revolution had swept desolation through
all the walks of peaceful industry. Starvation, gaunt and terrible,
began to stare the population of Paris directly in the face. The
infuriated mob hung the bakers upon the lamp-posts before their own
doors for refusing to supply them with bread. The peasant dared not
carry provisions into the city, for he was sure of being robbed by the
sovereign people, who had attained the freedom of committing all
crimes with impunity. The multitude fully believed that there was a
conspiracy formed by the king in his prison, and by the friends of
royalty, to starve the people into subjection. Portentous murmurs were
now also borne on every breeze, uttered by a thousand unseen voices,
that the Girondists were accomplices in this conspiracy; that they
hated the Revolution; that they wished to save the life of the king;
that they would welcome the army of invasion, as affording them an
opportunity to reinstate Louis upon the throne. The Jacobins, it was
declared, were the only true friends of the people. The Girondists
were accused of being in league with the aristocrats. These suspicions
rose and floated over Paris like the mist of the ocean. They were
every where encountered, and yet presented no resistance to be
assailed. They were intimated in the Jacobin journals; they were
suggested, with daily increasing distinctness, at the _tribune_. And
in those multitudinous gatherings, where Marat stood in filth and rags
to harangue the miserable, and the vicious, and the starving, they
were proclaimed loudly, and with execrations. The Jacobins rejoiced
that they had now, by the force of circumstances, crowded their
adversaries into a position from which they could not easily extricate
themselves. Should the Girondists vote for the death of the king, they
would thus support the Jacobins in those sanguinary measures, so
popular with the mob, which had now become the right arm of Jacobin
power. The glory would also all redound to the Jacobins, for it would
not be difficult to convince the multitude that the Girondists merely
submitted to a measure which they were unable to resist. Should the
Girondists, on the other hand, true to their instinctive abhorrence of
these deeds of blood, dare to vote against the death of the king, they
would be ruined irretrievably. They would then stand unmasked before
the people as traitors to the Republic and the friends of royalty.
Like noxious beasts, they would be hunted through the streets and
massacred at their own firesides. The Girondists perceived distinctly
the vortex of destruction toward which they were so rapidly circling.
Many and anxious were their deliberations, night after night, in the
library of Madame Roland. In the midst of the fearful peril, it was
not easy to decide what either duty or apparent policy required.

The Jacobins now made a direct and infamous attempt to turn the rage
of the populace against Madame Roland. Achille Viard, one of those
unprincipled adventurers with which the stormy times had filled the
metropolis, was employed, as a spy, to feign attachment to the
Girondist party, and to seek the acquaintance, and insinuate himself
into the confidence of Madame Roland. By perversions and exaggerations
of her language, he was to fabricate an accusation against her which
would bring her head to the scaffold. Madame Roland instantly
penetrated his character, and he was repulsed from her presence by the
most contemptuous neglect. He, however, appeared before the Assembly
as her accuser, and charged her with carrying on a secret
correspondence with persons of influence at home and abroad, to
protect the king. She was summoned to present herself before the
Convention, to confront her accuser, and defend herself from the
scaffold. Her gentle yet imperial spirit was undaunted by the
magnitude of the peril. Her name had often been mentioned in the
Assembly as the inspiring genius of the most influential and eloquent
party which had risen up amid the storms of the Revolution. Her
talents, her accomplishments, her fascinating conversational
eloquence, had spread her renown widely through Europe. A large number
of the most illustrious men in that legislative hall, both ardent
young men and those venerable with age, regarded her with the most
profound admiration--almost with religious homage. Others, conscious
of her power, and often foiled by her sagacity, hated her with
implacable hatred, and determined, either by the ax of the guillotine
or by the poniard of the assassin, to remove her from their way.

The aspect of a young and beautiful woman, combining in her person and
mind all the attractions of nature and genius, with her cheek glowing
with heroic resolution, and her demeanor exhibiting the most perfect
feminine loveliness and modesty, entering this vast assembly of
irritated men to speak in defense of her life, at once hushed the
clamor of hoarse voices, and subdued the rage of angry disputants.
Silence the most respectful instantly filled the hall. Every eye was
fixed upon her. The hearts of her friends throbbed with sympathy and
with love. Her enemies were more than half disarmed, and wished that
they, also, were honored as her friends. She stood before the bar.

"What is your name?" inquired the president.

She paused for a moment, and then, fixing her eye calmly upon her
interrogator, in those clear and liquid tones which left their
vibration upon the ear long after her voice was hushed in death,
answered,

"Roland! a name of which I am proud, for it is that of a good and an
honorable man."

"Do you know Achille Viard?" the president inquired.

"I have once, and but once, seen him."

"What has passed between you?"

"Twice he has written to me, soliciting an interview. Once I saw him.
After a short conversation, I perceived that he was a spy, and
dismissed him with the contempt he deserved."

The calm dignity of her replies, the ingenuous frankness of her
manners, and the manifest malice and falsehood of Viard's accusation,
made even her enemies ashamed of their unchivalrous prosecution.
Briefly, in tremulous tones of voice, but with a spirit of firmness
which no terrors could daunt, she entered upon her defense. It was the
first time that a female voice had been heard in the midst of the
clamor of these enraged combatants. The Assembly, unused to such a
scene, were fascinated by her attractive eloquence. Viard, convicted
of meanness, and treachery, and falsehood, dared not open his lips.
Madame Roland was acquitted by acclamation. Upon the spot the
president proposed that the marked respect of the Convention be
conferred upon Madame Roland. With enthusiasm the resolution was
carried. As she retired from the hall, her bosom glowing with the
excitement of the perfect triumph she had won, her ear was greeted
with the enthusiastic applause of the whole assembly. The eyes of all
France had been attracted to her as she thus defended herself and her
friends, and confounded her enemies. Marat gnashed his teeth with
rage. Danton was gloomy and silent. Robespierre, vanquished by charms
which had so often before enthralled him, expressed his contempt for
the conspiracy, and, for the last time, smiled upon his early friend,
whom he soon, with the most stoical indifference, dragged to the
scaffold.

The evening after the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment
of the Republic, when there was still some faint hope that there might
yet be found intelligence and virtue in the people to sustain the
Constitution, the Girondists met at Madame Roland's, and celebrated,
with trembling exultation, the birth of popular liberty. The
Constitution of the United States was the _beau ideal_ of the
Girondists, and, vainly dreaming that the institutions which
Washington and his compatriots had established in Christian America
were now firmly planted in infidel France, they endeavored to cast the
veil of oblivion over the past, and to spread over the future the
illusions of hope. The men here assembled were the most illustrious of
the nation. Noble sentiments passed from mind to mind. Madame Roland,
pale with emotion, conscious of the perils which were so portentously
rising around them, shone with a preternatural brilliance in the
solemn rejoicing of that evening. The aged Roland gazed with tears of
fond affection and of gratified pride upon his lovely wife, as if in
spirit asking her if all the loftiest aspirations of their souls were
not now answered. The victorious Republicans hardly knew whether to
sing triumphant songs or funeral dirges. Vergniaud, the renowned
orator of the party, was prominent above them all. With a pale cheek,
and a serene and pensive smile, he sat in silence, his mind evidently
wandering among the rising apparitions of the future. At the close of
the supper he filled his glass, and rising, proposed to drink to the
eternity of the Republic. Madame Roland, whose mind was ever filled
with classic recollections, scattered from a bouquet which she held in
her hand, some rose leaves on the wine in his glass. Vergniaud drank
the wine, and then said, in a low voice, "We should quaff cypress
leaves, not rose leaves, in our wine to-night. In drinking to a
republic, stained, at its birth, with the blood of massacre, who knows
but that we drink to our own death. But no matter. Were this wine my
own blood, I would drain it to liberty and equality." All the guests,
with enthusiasm, responded, "_Vive la Republique!_" After dinner,
Roland read to the company a paper drawn up by himself and wife in
reference to the state of the Republic, which views were to be
presented the next day to the Convention.

The royal family were still in the dungeons of the Temple, lingering
through the dreary hours of the most desolate imprisonment. Phrensied
mobs, rioting through the streets of Paris, and overawing all law,
demanded, with loudest execrations, the death of the king. A man
having ventured to say that he thought that the Republic might be
established without shedding the blood of Louis, was immediately
stabbed to the heart, and his mutilated remains were dragged through
the streets of Paris in fiendish revelry. A poor vendor of pamphlets
and newspapers, coming out of a reading-room, was accused of selling
books favorable to royalty. The suspicion was crime, and he fell,
pierced by thirty daggers. Such warnings as these were significant and
impressive, and few dared utter a word in favor of the king.

It was the month of January, 1793, when the imprisoned monarch was
brought into the hall of the Convention for his trial. It was a gloomy
day for France, and all external nature seemed shrouded in darkness
and sorrow. Clouds of mist were sweeping through the chill air, and a
few feeble lamps glimmered along the narrow avenues and gloomy
passages, which were darkened by the approach of a winter's night.
Armed soldiers surrounded the building. Heavy pieces of artillery
faced every approach. Cannoneers, with lighted matches, stood at their
side, ready to scatter a storm of grape-shot upon every foe. A mob of
countless thousands were surging to and fro through all the
neighboring streets. The deep, dull murmurings of the multitude
swelled in unison with the sighings of the storm rising upon the
somber night. It was with no little difficulty that the deputies could
force their way through the ocean of human beings surrounding the
Assembly. The coarse garb, the angry features, the harsh voices, the
fierce and significant gestures, proclaimed too clearly that the mob
had determined to have the life of the king, and that, unless the
deputies should vote his death, both king and deputies should perish
together. As each deputy threaded his way through the thronging
masses, he heard, in threatening tones, muttered into his ear deep and
emphatic, "_His death or thine!_"

Persons who were familiar with the faces of all the members were
stationed at particular points, and called out aloud to the multitude
the names of the deputies as they elbowed their way through the
surging multitudes. At the names of Danton, Marat, Robespierre, the
ranks opened to make way for these idols of the populace, and shouts
of the most enthusiastic greeting fell upon their ears. When the names
of Vergniaud, Brissot, and others of the leading Girondists were
mentioned, clinched fists, brandished daggers, and angry menaces
declared that those who refused to obey the wishes of the people
should encounter dire revenge. The very sentinels placed to guard the
deputies encouraged the mob to insult and violence. The lobbies were
filled with the most sanguinary ruffians of Paris. The interior of the
hall was dimly lighted. A chandelier, suspended from the center of
the ceiling, illuminated certain portions of the room, while the more
distant parts remained in deep obscurity. That all might act under the
full sense of their responsibility to the mob, Robespierre had
proposed and carried the vote that the silent form of ballot should be
rejected, and that each deputy, in his turn, should ascend the
tribune, and, with a distinct voice, announce his sentence. For some
time after the voting commenced it was quite uncertain how the
decision would turn. In the alternate record of the vote, _death_ and
_exile_ appeared to be equally balanced. All now depended upon the
course which the Girondists should pursue. If they should vote for
death, the doom of the king was sealed. Vergniaud was the first of
that party to be called to record his sentence. It was well known that
he looked with repugnance and horror upon the sanguinary scenes with
which the Revolution had been deformed, and that he had often avowed
his sympathy for the hard fate of a prince whose greatest crime was
weakness. His vote would unquestionably be the index of that of the
whole party, and thus the life or death of the king appeared to be
suspended from his lips. It was known that the very evening before,
while supping with a lady who expressed much commiseration for the
captives in the Temple, he had declared that he would save the life of
the king. The courage of Vergniaud was above suspicion, and his
integrity above reproach. Difficult as it was to judge impartially,
with the cannon and the pikes of the mob leveled at his breast, it was
not doubted that he would vote conscientiously.

As the name of Vergniaud was called, all conversation instantly
ceased. Perfect silence pervaded the hall, and every eye was riveted
upon him. Slowly he ascended the steps of the tribune. His brow was
calm, but his mouth closely compressed, as if to sustain some firm
resolve. He paused for a moment, and the Assembly was breathless with
suspense. He contracted his eyebrows, as if again reflecting upon his
decision, and then, in a low, solemn, firm voice, uttered the word
"_Death_."

The most profound silence reigned for a moment, and then again the low
murmur of suppressed conversation filled the hall. Vergniaud descended
from the tribune and disappeared in the crowd. All hope for the king
was now gone. The rest of the Girondists also voted for death, and
Louis was condemned to the scaffold.

This united vote upon the death of the king for a short time mingled
together again the Girondists and the Jacobins. But the dominant
party, elated by the victory which they had gained over their
adversaries, were encouraged to fresh extortions. Perils increased.
Europe was rising in arms against the blood-stained Republic. The
execution of the king aroused emotions of unconquerable detestation in
the bosoms of thousands who had previously looked upon the Revolution
with favor. Those who had any opulence to forfeit, or any position in
society to maintain, were ready to welcome as deliverers the allied
army of invasion. It was then, to meet this emergency, that that
terrible Revolutionary Tribunal was organized, which raised the ax of
the guillotine as the one all-potent instrument of government, and
which shed such oceans of innocent blood. "Two hundred and sixty
thousand heads," said Marat, "must fall before France will be safe
from internal foes." Danton, Marat, and Robespierre were now in the
ascendency, riding with resistless power upon the billows of mob
violence. Whenever they wished to carry any measure, they sent forth
their agents to the dens and lurking-places of degradation and crime,
and surrounded and filled the hall of the Assembly with blood-thirsty
assassins. "Those who call themselves _respectable_," said Marat,
"wish to give laws to those whom they call the _rabble_. We will teach
them that the time is come in which the _rabble_ is to reign."

This Revolutionary Tribunal, consisting of five judges, a jury, and a
public accuser, all appointed by the Convention, was proposed and
decreed on the same evening. It possessed unlimited powers to
confiscate property and take life. The Girondists dared not vote
against this tribunal. The public voice would pronounce them the worst
of traitors. France was now a charnel-house. Blood flowed in streams
which were never dry. Innocence had no protection. Virtue was
suspicion, suspicion a crime, the guillotine the penalty, and the
confiscated estate the bribe to accusation. Thus there was erected, in
the name of liberty and popular rights, over the ruins of the French
monarchy, a system of despotism the most atrocious and merciless under
which humanity has ever groaned.

Again and again had the Jacobins called the mob into the Assembly, and
compelled the members to vote with the poniards of assassins at their
breasts. Madame Roland now despaired of liberty. Calumny, instead of
gratitude, was unsparingly heaped upon herself and her husband. This
requital, so unexpected, was more dreadful to her than the scaffold.
All the promised fruits of the Revolution had disappeared, and
desolation and crime alone were realized. The Girondists still met in
Madame Roland's library to deliberate concerning measures for averting
the impending ruin. All was unavailing.

The most distressing embarrassments now surrounded M. Roland. He could
not abandon power without abandoning himself and his supporters in the
Assembly to the guillotine; and while continuing in power, he was
compelled to witness deeds of atrocity from which not only his soul
revolted, but to which it was necessary for him apparently to give his
sanction. His cheek grew pale and wan with care. He could neither eat
nor sleep. The Republic had proved an utter failure, and France was
but a tempest-tossed ocean of anarchy.

Thus situated, M. Roland, with the most melancholy forebodings, sent
in his final resignation. He retired to humble lodgings in one of the
obscure streets of Paris. Here, anxiously watching the progress of
events, he began to make preparations to leave the mob-enthralled
metropolis, and seek a retreat, in the calm seclusion of La Platière,
from these storms which no human power could allay. Still, the
influence of Roland and his wife was feared by those who were
directing the terrible enginery of lawless violence. It was well known
by them both that assassins had been employed to silence them with the
poniard. Madame Roland seemed, however, perfectly insensible to
personal fear. She thought only of her husband and her child.
Desperate men were seen lurking about the house, and their friends
urged them to remove as speedily as possible from the perils by which
they were surrounded. Neither the sacredness of law nor the weapons of
their friends could longer afford them any protection. The danger
became so imminent that the friends of Madame Roland brought her the
dress of a peasant girl, and entreated her to put it on, as a
disguise, and escape by night, that her husband might follow after
her, unencumbered by his family; but she proudly repelled that which
she deemed a cowardly artifice. She threw the dress aside, exclaiming,
"I am ashamed to resort to any such expedient. I will neither disguise
myself, nor make any attempt at secret escape. My enemies may find me
always in my place. If I am assassinated, it shall be in my own home.
I owe my country an example of firmness, and I will give it."

She, however, was so fully aware of her peril, and each night was
burdened with such atrocities, that she placed loaded pistols under
her pillow, to defend herself from those outrages, worse than death,
of which the Revolution afforded so many examples. While the influence
of the Girondists was entirely overborne by the clamors of the mob in
Paris, in the more virtuous rural districts, far removed from the
corruption of the capital, their influence was on the increase. The
name of M. Roland, uttered with execrations in the metropolis by the
vagabonds swarming from all parts of Europe, was spoken in tones of
veneration in the departments, where husbandmen tilled the soil, and
loved the reign of law and peace. Hence the Jacobins had serious cause
to fear a reaction, and determined to silence their voices by the
slide of the guillotine. The most desperate measures were now adopted
for the destruction of the Girondists. One conspiracy was formed to
collect the mob, ever ready to obey a signal from Marat, around the
Assembly, to incite them to burst in at the doors and the windows, and
fill the hall with confusion, while picked men were to poniard the
Girondists in their seats. The conspiracy was detected and exposed but
a few hours before its appointed execution. The Jacobin leaders,
protected by their savage allies, were raised above the power of law,
and set all punishment at defiance.

A night was again designated, in which bands of armed men were to
surround the dwelling of each Girondist, and assassinate these foes of
Jacobin domination in their beds. This plot also was revealed to the
Girondists but a few hours before its destined catastrophe, and it was
with the utmost difficulty that the doomed victims obtained
extrication from the toils which had been wound around them.
Disastrous news was now daily arriving from the frontiers. The most
alarming tidings came of insurrections in La Vendee, and other
important portions of France, in favor of the restoration of the
monarchy. These gathering perils threw terror into the hearts of the
Jacobins, and roused them to deeds of desperation. Though Madame
Roland was now in comparative obscurity, night after night the most
illustrious men of France, battling for liberty and for life in the
Convention, ascended the dark staircase to her secluded room, hidden
in the depth of a court of the Rue de la Harpe, and there talked over
the scenes of the day, and deliberated respecting the morrow.

The Jacobins now planned one of those horrible insurrections which
sent a thrill of terror into every bosom in Paris. Assembling the
multitudinous throng of demoniac men and women which the troubled
times had collected from every portion of Christendom, they gathered
them around the hall of the Assembly to enforce their demands. It was
three o'clock in the morning of the 31st of May, 1793, when the dismal
sounds of the alarm bells, spreading from belfry to belfry, and the
deep booming of the insurrection gun, reverberating through the
streets, aroused the citizens from their slumbers, producing universal
excitement and consternation. A cold and freezing wind swept clouds of
mist through the gloomy air, and the moaning storm seemed the
appropriate requiem of a sorrow-stricken world. The Hotel de Ville was
the appointed place of rendezvous for the swarming multitudes. The
affrighted citizens, knowing but too well to what scenes of violence
and blood these demonstrations were the precursors, threw up their
windows, and looked out with fainting hearts upon the dusky forms
crowding by like apparitions of darkness. The rumbling of the wheels
of heavy artillery, the flash of powder, with the frequent report of
firearms, and the uproar and the clamor of countless voices, were
fearful omens of a day to dawn in blacker darkness than the night. The
Girondists had recently been called in the journals and inflammatory
speeches of their adversaries the Rolandists. The name was given them
in recognition of the prominent position of Madame Roland in the
party, and with the endeavor to cast reproach upon her and her
husband. Through all the portentous mutterings of this rising storm
could be heard deep and significant execrations and menaces, coupled
with the names of leading members of the Girondist party. "Down with
the aristocrats, the traitors, the Rolandists!" shouted incessantly
hoarse voices and shrill voices, of drunken men, of reckless boys, of
fiendish women.

The Girondists, apprehensive of some movement of this kind, had
generally taken the precaution not to sleep that night in their own
dwellings. The intrepid Vergniaud alone refused to adopt any measure
of safety. "What signifies life to me now?" said he; "my blood may be
more eloquent than my words in awakening and saving my country. I am
ready for the sacrifice." One of the Girondists, M. Rabout, a man of
deep, reflective piety, hearing these noises, rose from his bed,
listened a moment at his window to the tumult swelling up from every
street of the vast metropolis, and calmly exclaiming, "Illa suprema
dies," _it is our last day_, prostrated himself at the foot of his
bed, and invoked aloud the Divine protection upon his companions, his
country, and himself. Many of his friends were with him, friends who
knew not the power of prayer. But there are hours in which every soul
instinctively craves the mercy of its Creator. They all bowed
reverently, and were profoundly affected by the supplications of their
Christian friend. Fortified and tranquilized by the potency of prayer,
and determining to die, if die they must, at the post of duty, at six
o'clock they descended into the street, with pistols and daggers
concealed beneath their clothes. They succeeded, unrecognized, in
reaching the Convention in safety.

One or two of the Jacobin party were assembled there at that early
hour, and Danton, pale with the excitement of a sleepless night,
walking to and fro in nervous agitation, greeted his old friends with
a wan and melancholy smile. "Do you see," said Louvet to Gaudet, "what
horrible hope shines upon that hideous face?" The members rapidly
collected. The hall was soon filled. The Girondists were now helpless,
their sinews of power were cut, and the struggle was virtually over.
All that remained for them was to meet their fate heroically and with
an unvanquished spirit.



CHAPTER IX.

ARREST OF MADAME ROLAND.

1793

The Convention, the mob, the Jacobins.--Robespierre, Danton,
Marat.--Aspect of the mob.--The Jacobins' sword of justice.--The
Convention invaded.--Triumph of the mob.--Fraternizing with the
mob.--Paris illuminated.--Arrest of the Girondists.--Suspense of the
Rolands.--Arrest of M. Roland.--Prompt action of Madame Roland.--Madame
Roland in the petitioners' hall.--Uproar in the Assembly.--Madame
Roland's letter.--The messenger--Interview with Vergniaud.--Hope
vanishes.--Escape of M. Roland.--Scene at the Tuileries.--The deputies
embraced by the mob.--Anecdote.--Madame Roland returns home.--A
mother's tears.--Arrest of Madame Roland.--Her composure.--Insults of
the mob.--Conversation with officers.--The Abbayé.--Kindness of the
jailer's wife.--Madame Roland enters her cell.--Her first night
there.--Embarrassment of M. Roland.--His escape from Paris.--The
re-arrest and escape.--Cheerful philosophy of Madame Roland.--The cell
made a study.--Delight of the jailer and his wife.--Prison
regulations.--Coarse fare.--Prison employment.--Madame Roland's serenity
of spirit.--Intellectual pastime.--Visit from commissioners.--Madame
Roland's heroism accounted a crime.


France was now governed by the Convention. The Convention was governed
by the mob of Paris. The Jacobins were the head of this mob. They
roused its rage, and guided its fury, when and where they listed. The
friendship of the mob was secured and retained by ever pandering to
their passions. The Jacobins claimed to be exclusively the friends of
the people, and advocated all those measures which tended to crush the
elevated and flatter the degraded. Robespierre, Danton, Marat, were
now the idols of the populace.

On the morning of the 30th of May, 1793, the streets of Paris were
darkened with a dismal storm of low, scudding clouds, and chilling
winds, and sleet and rain. Pools of water stood in the miry streets,
and every aspect of nature was cheerless and desolate. But there was
another storm raging in those streets, more terrible than any
elemental warfare. In locust legions, the deformed, the haggard, the
brutalized in form, in features, in mind, in heart--demoniac men,
satanic women, boys burly, sensual, blood-thirsty, like imps of
darkness rioted along toward the Convention, an interminable multitude
whom no one could count. Their hideous howlings thrilled upon the ear,
and sent panic to the heart. There was no power to resist them. There
was no protection from their violence. And thousands wished that they
might call up even the most despotic king who ever sat upon the throne
of France, from his grave, to drive back that most terrible of all
earthly despotisms, the despotism of a mob. This was the power with
which the Jacobins backed their arguments. This was the gory blade
which they waved before their adversaries, and called the sword of
justice.

The Assembly consisted of about eight hundred members. There were
twenty-two illustrious men who were considered the leaders of the
Girondist party. The Jacobins had resolved that they should be accused
of treason, arrested, and condemned. The Convention had refused to
submit to the arbitrary and bloody demand. The mob were now assembled
to coerce submission. The melancholy tocsin, and the thunders of the
alarm gun, resounded through the air, as the countless throng came
pouring along like ocean billows, with a resistlessness which no power
could stay. They surrounded the Assembly on every side, forced their
way into the hall, filled every vacant space, clambered upon the
benches, crowded the speaker in his chair, brandished their daggers,
and mingled their oaths and imprecations with the fierce debate. Even
the Jacobins were terrified by the frightful spirits whom they had
evoked. "Down with the Girondists!" "Death to the traitors!" the
assassins shouted. The clamor of the mob silenced the Girondists, and
they hardly made an attempt to speak in their defense. They sat upon
their benches, pale with the emotions which the fearful scenes
excited, yet firm and unwavering. As Couthon, a Jacobin orator, was
uttering deep denunciations, he became breathless with the vehemence
of his passionate speech. He turned to a waiter for a glass of water.
"Take to Couthon a glass of blood," said Vergniaud; "he is thirsting
for it."

The decree of accusation was proposed, and carried, without debate,
beneath the poniards of uncounted thousands of assassins. The mob was
triumphant. By acclamation it was then voted that all Paris should be
joyfully illuminated, in celebration of the triumph of the people over
those who would arrest the onward career of the Revolution; and every
citizen of Paris well knew the doom which awaited him if brilliant
lights were not burning at his windows. It was then voted, and with
enthusiasm, that the Convention should go out and fraternize with the
multitude. Who would have the temerity, in such an hour, to oppose the
affectionate demonstration? The degraded Assembly obeyed the mandate
of the mob, and marched into the streets, where they were hugged in
the unclean arms and pressed to the foul bosoms of beggary, and
infamy, and pollution. Louis was avenged. The hours of the day had now
passed; night had come; but it was noonday light in the
brilliantly-illuminated streets of the metropolis. The Convention,
surrounded by torch-bearers, and an innumerable concourse of drunken
men and women, rioting in hideous orgies, traversed, in compulsory
procession, the principal streets of the city. The Girondists were led
as captives to grace the triumph. "Which do you prefer," said a
Jacobin to Vergniaud, "this ovation or the scaffold?" "It is all the
same to me," replied Vergniaud, with stoical indifference. "There is
no choice between this walk and the guillotine. It conducts us to it."
The twenty-two Girondists were arrested and committed to prison.

During this dreadful day, while these scenes were passing in the
Assembly, Madame Roland and her husband were in their solitary room,
oppressed with the most painful suspense. The cry and the uproar of
the insurgent city, the tolling of bells and thundering of cannon,
were borne upon the wailings of the gloomy storm, and sent
consternation even to the stoutest hearts. There was now no room for
escape, for the barriers were closed and carefully watched. Madame
Roland knew perfectly well that if her friends fell she must fall with
them. She had shared their principles; she had guided their measures,
and she wished to participate in their doom. It was this honorable
feeling which led her to refuse to provide for her own safety, and
which induced her to abide, in the midst of ever increasing danger,
with her associates. No person obnoxious to suspicion could enter the
street without fearful peril, though, through the lingering hours of
the day, friends brought them tidings of the current of events.
Nothing remained to be done but to await, as patiently as possible,
the blow that was inevitably to fall.

The twilight was darkening into night, when six armed men ascended the
stairs and burst into Roland's apartment. The philosopher looked
calmly upon them as, in the name of the Convention, they informed him
of his arrest. "I do not recognize the authority of your warrant,"
said M. Roland, "and shall not voluntarily follow you. I can only
oppose the resistance of my gray hairs, but I will protest against it
with my last breath."

The leader of the party replied, "I have no orders to use violence. I
will go and report your answer to the council, leaving, in the mean
time, a guard to secure your person."

This was an hour to rouse all the energy and heroic resolution of
Madame Roland. She immediately sat down, and, with that rapidity of
action which her highly-disciplined mind had attained, wrote, in a few
moments, a letter to the Convention. Leaving a friend who was in the
house with her husband, she ordered a hackney coach, and drove as fast
as possible to the Tuileries, where the Assembly was in session. The
garden of the Tuileries was filled with the tumultuary concourse. She
forced her way through the crowd till she arrived at the doors of the
outer halls. Sentinels were stationed at all the passages, who would
not allow her to enter.

"Citizens," said she, at last adroitly adopting the vernacular of the
Jacobins, "in this day of salvation for our country, in the midst of
those traitors who threaten us, you know not the importance of some
notes which I have to transmit to the president."

These words were a talisman. The doors were thrown open, and she
entered the petitioners' hall. "I wish to see one of the messengers of
the House," she said to one of the inner sentinels.

"Wait till one comes out," was the gruff reply.

She waited for a quarter of an hour in burning impatience. Her ear was
almost stunned with the deafening clamor of debate, of applause, of
execrations, which now in dying murmurs, and again in thundering
reverberations, awakening responsive echoes along the thronged
streets, swelled upon the night air. Of all human sounds, the uproar
of a countless multitude of maddened human voices is the most awful.

At last she caught a glimpse of the messenger who had summoned her to
appear before the bar of the Assembly in reply to the accusations of
Viard, informed him of their peril, and implored him to hand her
letter to the president. The messenger, M. Rôze, took the paper, and,
elbowing his way through the throng, disappeared. An hour elapsed,
which seemed an age. The tumult within continued unabated. At length
M. Rôze reappeared.

"Well!" said Madame Roland, eagerly, "what has been done with my
letter?"

"I have given it to the president," was the reply, "but nothing has
been done with it as yet. Indescribable confusion prevails. The mob
demand the accusation of the Girondists. I have just assisted one to
escape by a private way. Others are endeavoring, concealed by the
tumult, to effect their escape. There is no knowing what is to
happen."

"Alas!" Madame Roland replied, "my letter will not be read. Do send
some deputy to me, with whom I can speak a few words."

"Whom shall I send?"

"Indeed I have but little acquaintance with any, and but little esteem
for any, except those who are proscribed. Tell Vergniaud that I am
inquiring for him."

Vergniaud, notwithstanding the terrific agitations of the hour,
immediately attended the summons of Madame Roland. She implored him to
try to get her admission to the bar, that she might speak in defense
of her husband and her friends.

"In the present state of the Assembly," said Vergniaud, "it would be
impossible, and if possible, of no avail. The Convention has lost all
power. It has become but the weapon of the rabble. Your words can do
no good."

"They may do much good," replied Madame Roland. "I can venture to say
that which you could not say without exposing yourself to accusation.
I fear nothing. If I can not save Roland, I will utter with energy
truths which may be useful to the Republic. An example of courage may
shame the nation."

"Think how unavailing the attempt," replied Vergniaud. "Your letter
can not possibly be read for two or three hours. A crowd of
petitioners throng the bar. Noise, and confusion, and violence fill
the House."

Madame Roland paused for a moment, and replied, "I must then hasten
home, and ascertain what has become of my husband. I will immediately
return. Tell our friends so."

Vergniaud sadly pressed her hand, as if for a last farewell, and
returned, invigorated by her courage, to encounter the storm which was
hailed upon him in the Assembly. She hastened to her dwelling, and
found that her husband had succeeded in eluding the surveillance of
his guards, and, escaping by a back passage, had taken refuge in the
house of a friend. After a short search she found him in his asylum,
and, too deeply moved to weep, threw herself into his arms, informed
him of what she had done, rejoiced at his safety, and heroically
returned to the Convention, resolved, if possible, to obtain admission
there. It was now near midnight. The streets were brilliant with
illuminations; but Madame Roland knew not of which party these
illuminations celebrated the triumph.

On her arrival at the court of the Tuileries, which had so recently
been thronged by a mob of forty thousand men, she found it silent and
deserted. The sitting was ended. The members, accompanied by the
populace with whom they had fraternized, were traversing the streets.
A few sentinels stood shivering in the cold and drizzling rain around
the doors of the national palace. A group of rough-looking men were
gathered before a cannon. Madame Roland approached them.

"Citizens," inquired she, "has every thing gone well to-night?"

"Oh! wonderfully well," was the reply. "The deputies and the people
embraced, and sung the Marseilles Hymn, there, under the tree of
liberty."

"And what has become of the twenty-two Girondists?"

"They are all to be arrested."

Madame Roland was almost stunned by the blow. Hastily crossing the
court, she arrived at her hackney-coach. A very pretty dog, which had
lost its master, followed her. "Is the poor little creature yours?"
inquired the coachman. The tones of kindness with which he spoke
called up the first tears which had moistened the eyes of Madame
Roland that eventful night.

"I should like him for my little boy," said the coachman.

Madame Roland, gratified to have, at such an hour, for a driver, a
father and a man of feeling, said, "Put him into the coach, and I will
take care of him for you. Drive immediately to the galleries of the
Louvre." Madame Roland caressed the affectionate animal, and, weary
of the passions of man, longed for retirement from the world, and to
seclude herself with those animals who would repay kindness with
gratitude. She sank back in her seat, exclaiming, "O that we could
escape from France, and find a home in the law-governed republic of
America."

Alighting at the Louvre, she called upon a friend, with whom she
wished to consult upon the means of effecting M. Roland's escape from
the city. He had just gone to bed, but arose, conversed about various
plans, and made an appointment to meet her at seven o'clock the next
morning. Entirely unmindful of herself, she thought only of the rescue
of her friends. Exhausted with excitement and toil, she returned to
her desolated home, bent over the sleeping form of her child, and gave
vent to a mother's gushing love in a flood of tears. Recovering her
fortitude, she sat down and wrote to M. Roland a minute account of all
her proceedings. It would have periled his safety had she attempted to
share his asylum. The gray of a dull and somber morning was just
beginning to appear as Madame Roland threw herself upon a bed for a
few moments of repose. Overwhelmed by sorrow and fatigue, she had just
fallen asleep, when a band of armed men rudely broke into her house,
and demanded to be conducted to her apartment. She knew too well the
object of the summons. The order for her arrest was presented her. She
calmly read it, and requested permission to write to a friend. The
request was granted. When the note was finished, the officer informed
her that it would be necessary for him to be made acquainted with its
contents. She quietly tore it into fragments, and cast it into the
fire. Then, imprinting her last kiss upon the cheek of her unconscious
child, with the composure which such a catastrophe would naturally
produce in so heroic a mind, she left her home for the prison. Blood
had been flowing too freely in Paris, the guillotine had been too
active in its operations, for Madame Roland to entertain any doubts
whither the path she now trod was tending.

It was early in the morning of a bleak and dismal day as Madame Roland
accompanied the officers through the hall of her dwelling, where she
had been the object of such enthusiastic admiration and affection. The
servants gathered around her, and filled the house with their
lamentations. Even the hardened soldiers were moved by the scene, and
one of them exclaimed, "How much you _are beloved_!" Madame Roland,
who alone was tranquil in this hour of trial, calmly replied,
"_Because I love._" As she was led from the house by the gens d'armes,
a vast crowd collected around the door, who, believing her to be a
traitor to her country, and in league with their enemies, shouted, "_A
la guillotine!_" Unmoved by their cries, she looked calmly and
compassionately upon the populace, without gesture or reply. One of
the officers, to relieve her from the insults to which she was
exposed, asked her if she wished to have the windows of the carriage
closed.

"No!" she replied; "oppressed innocence should not assume the attitude
of crime and shame. I do not fear the looks of honest men, and I brave
those of my enemies."

"You have very great resolution," was the reply, "thus calmly to await
justice."

"Justice!" she exclaimed; "were justice done I should not be here. But
I shall go to the scaffold as fearlessly as I now proceed to the
prison."

"Roland's flight," said one of the officers, brutally, "is a proof of
his guilt."

She indignantly replied, "It is so atrocious to persecute a man who
has rendered such services to the cause of liberty. His conduct has
been so open and his accounts so clear, that he is perfectly
justifiable in avoiding the last outrages of envy and malice. Just as
Aristides and inflexible as Cato, he is indebted to his virtues for
his enemies. Let them satiate their fury upon me. I defy their power,
and devote myself to death. _He_ ought to save himself for the sake of
his country, to which he may yet do good."

When they arrived at the prison of the Abbayé, Madame Roland was first
conducted into a large, dark, gloomy room, which was occupied by a
number of men, who, in attitudes of the deepest melancholy, were
either pacing the floor or reclining upon some miserable pallets. From
this room she ascended a narrow and dirty staircase to the jailer's
apartment. The jailer's wife was a kind woman, and immediately felt
the power of the attractions of her fascinating prisoner. As no cell
was yet provided for her, she permitted her to remain in her room for
the rest of the day. The commissioners who had brought her to the
prison gave orders that she should receive no indulgence, but be
treated with the utmost rigor. The instructions, however, being merely
verbal, were but little regarded. She was furnished with comfortable
refreshment instead of the repulsive prison fare, and, after
breakfast, was permitted to write a letter to the National Assembly
upon her illegal arrest. Thus passed the day.

At ten o'clock in the evening, her cell being prepared, she entered it
for the first time. It was a cold, bare room, with walls blackened by
the dust and damp of ages. There was a small fire-place in the room,
and a narrow window, with a double iron grating, which admitted but a
dim twilight even at noon day. In one corner there was a pallet of
straw. The chill night air crept in at the unglazed window, and the
dismal tolling of the tocsin proclaimed that the metropolis was still
the scene of tumult and of violence. Madame Roland threw herself upon
her humble bed, and was so overpowered by fatigue and exhaustion that
she woke not from her dreamless slumber until twelve o'clock of the
next day.

Eudora, who had been left by her mother in the care of weeping
domestics, was taken by a friend, and watched over and protected with
maternal care. Though Madame Roland never saw her idolized child
again, her heart was comforted in the prison by the assurance that she
had found a home with those who, for her mother's sake, would love
and cherish her.

The tidings of the arrest and imprisonment of Madame Roland soon
reached the ears of her unfortunate husband in his retreat. His
embarrassment was most agonizing. To remain and participate in her
doom, whatever that doom might be, would only diminish her chances of
escape and magnify her peril; and yet it seemed not magnanimous to
abandon his noble wife to encounter her merciless foes alone. The
triumphant Jacobins were now, with the eagerness of blood-hounds,
searching every nook and corner in Paris, to drag the fallen minister
from his concealment. It soon became evident that no dark hiding-place
in the metropolis could long conceal him from the vigilant search
which was commenced, and that he must seek safety in precipitate
flight. His friends obtained for him the tattered garb of a peasant.
In a dark night, alone and trembling, he stole from his retreat, and
commenced a journey on foot, by a circuitous and unfrequented route,
to gain the frontiers of Switzerland. He hoped to find a temporary
refuge by burying himself among the lonely passes of the Alps. A man
can _face_ his foes with a spirit undaunted and unyielding, but he
can not _fly from them_ without trembling as he looks behind. For two
or three days, with blistered feet, and a heart agitated even beyond
all his powers of stoical endurance, he toiled painfully along his
dreary journey. As he was entering Moulines, his marked features were
recognized. He was arrested, taken back to Paris, and cast into
prison, where he languished for some time. He subsequently again made
his escape, and was concealed by some friends in the vicinity of
Rouen, where he remained in a state of indescribable suspense and
anguish until the death of his wife.

When Madame Roland awoke from her long sleep, instead of yielding to
despair and surrendering herself to useless repinings, she immediately
began to arrange her cell as comfortably as possible, and to look
around for such sources of comfort and enjoyment as might yet be
obtained. The course she pursued most beautifully illustrates the
power of a contented and cheerful spirit not only to alleviate the
pangs of severest affliction, but to gild with comfort even the
darkest of earthly sorrows. With those smiles of unaffected affability
which won to her all hearts, she obtained the favor of a small table,
and then of a neat white spread to cover it. This she placed near the
window to serve for her writing-desk. To keep this table, which she
prized so highly, unsoiled, she smilingly told her keeper that she
should make a dining-table of her stove. A rusty dining-table indeed
it was. Two hair-pins, which she drew from her own clustering
ringlets, she drove into a shelf for pegs to hang her clothes upon.
These arrangements she made as cheerfully as when superintending the
disposition of the gorgeous furniture in the palace over which she had
presided with so much elegance and grace. Having thus provided her
study, her next care was to obtain a few books. She happened to have
Thomson's Seasons, a favorite volume of hers, in her pocket. Through
the jailer's wife she succeeded in obtaining Plutarch's Lives and
Sheridan's Dictionary.

The jailer and his wife were both charmed with their prisoner, and
invited her to dine with them that day. In the solitude of her cell
she could distinctly hear the rolling of drums, the tolling of bells,
and all those sounds of tumult which announced that the storm of
popular insurrection was still sweeping through the streets. One of
her faithful servants called to see her, and, on beholding her
mistress in such a situation, the poor girl burst into tears. Madame
Roland was, for a moment, overcome by this sensibility; she, however,
soon again regained her self-command. She endeavored to banish from
her mind all painful thoughts of her husband and her child, and to
accommodate herself as heroically as possible to her situation. The
prison regulations were very severe. The government allowed twenty
pence per day for the support of each prisoner. Ten pence was to be
paid to the jailer for the furniture he put into the cell; ten pence
only remained for food. The prisoners were, however, allowed to
purchase such food as they pleased from their own purse. Madame
Roland, with that stoicism which enabled her to triumph over all
ordinary ills, resolved to conform to the prison allowance. She took
bread and water alone for breakfast. The dinner was coarse meat and
vegetables. The money she saved by this great frugality she
distributed among the poorer prisoners. The only indulgence she
allowed herself was in the purchase of books and flowers. In reading
and with her pen she beguiled the weary days of her imprisonment. And
though at times her spirit was overwhelmed with anguish in view of her
desolate home and blighted hopes, she still found great solace in the
warm affections which sprang up around her, even in the uncongenial
atmosphere of a prison.

Though she had been compelled to abandon all the enthusiastic dreams
of her youth, she still retained confidence in her faith that these
dark storms would ere long disappear from the political horizon, and
that a brighter day would soon dawn upon the nations. No misfortunes
could disturb the serenity of her soul, and no accumulating perils
could daunt her courage. She immediately made a methodical arrangement
of her time, so as to appropriate stated employment to every hour. She
cheered herself with the reflection that her husband was safe in his
retreat, with kind friends ready to minister to all his wants. She
felt assured that her daughter was received with maternal love by one
who would ever watch over her with the tenderest care. The agitation
of the terrible conflict was over. She submitted with calmness and
quietude to her lot. After having been so long tossed by storms, she
seemed to find a peaceful harbor in her prison cell, and her spirit
wandered back to those days, so serene and happy, which she spent with
her books in the little chamber beneath her father's roof. She
however, made every effort in her power to regain her freedom. She
wrote to the Assembly, protesting against her illegal arrest. She
found all these efforts unavailing. Still, she gave way to no
despondency, and uttered no murmurs. Most of her time she employed in
writing historic notices of the scenes through which she had passed.
These papers she intrusted, for preservation, to a friend, who
occasionally gained access to her. These articles, written with great
eloquence and feeling, were subsequently published with her memoirs.
Having such resources in her own highly-cultivated mind, even the
hours of imprisonment glided rapidly and happily along. Time had no
tardy flight, and there probably might have been found many a lady in
Europe lolling in a sumptuous carriage, or reclining upon a silken
couch, who had far fewer hours of enjoyment.

One day some commissioners called at her cell, hoping to extort from
her the secret of her husband's retreat. She looked them calmly in the
face, and said, "Gentlemen, I know perfectly well where my husband is.
I scorn to tell you a lie. I know also my own strength. And I assure
you that there is no earthly power which can induce me to betray him."
The commissioners withdrew, admiring her heroism, and convinced that
she was still able to wield an influence which might yet bring the
guillotine upon their own necks. Her doom was sealed. Her heroism was
her crime. She was too illustrious to live.



CHAPTER X.

FATE OF THE GIRONDISTS.

1793

Fate of the Girondists.--Their heroic courage.--The Girondists in
the Conciergerie.--Their miserable condition.--Youthful hopes cut
short.--State of Paris.--Books and friends.--Anecdote of
Vergniaud.--Sentiments of the Girondists inscribed on the prison
walls.--La Source and Sillery.--Their evening dirge.--The day
of trial.--The misnamed Halls of Justice.--Precautions of
the Jacobins.--Demeanor of the prisoners.--The trial and
condemnation.--Death of Valazé.--Various emotions.--Return to the
Conciergerie.--The Girondists exultingly sing the Marseillaise
Hymn.--The Girondists prepare for the last scene.--Brutal
decree.--Last feast of the Girondists.--Strange scene.--The
Abbé Lambert.--His memoranda.--Vergniaud presides at the
feast.--Unnatural gayety.--Last thoughts.--Religion, philosophy, and
infidelity.--Eloquence of Vergniaud.--Argument for immortality.--Last
preparations.--Arrival of the executioners.--Souvenirs to friends.--The
carts of the condemned.--Enthusiasm of the Girondists.--The last
embrace.--The execution.--Fortitude of Vergniaud.--Burial of the
bodies.--Errors of the Girondists.--Escape of Gaudet and others.--The
Jacobins clamor for more blood.--More Girondists executed.--Fate of
Pétion and Buzot.--Mystery attending the death of Pétion and Buzot.


As the fate of the Girondist party, of which Madame Roland was the
soul, is so intimately connected with her history, we must leave her
in the prison, while we turn aside to contemplate the doom of her
companions. The portentous thunders of the approaching storm had given
such warning to the Girondists, that many had effected their escape
from Paris, and in various disguises, in friendlessness and poverty,
were wandering over Europe. Others, however, were too proud to fly.
Conscious of the most elevated patriotic sentiments, and with no
criminations of conscience, except for sacrificing too much in love
for their country, they resolved to remain firm at their post, and to
face their foes. Calmly and sternly they awaited the onset. This
heroic courage did but arouse and invigorate their foes. Mercy had
long since died in France.

Immediately after the tumult of that dreadful night in which the
Convention was inundated with assassins clamoring for blood,
twenty-one of the Girondists were arrested and thrown into the
dungeons of the Conciergerie. Imprisoned together, and fully conscious
that their trial would be but a mockery, and that their doom was
already sealed, they fortified one another with all the consolations
which philosophy and the pride of magnanimity could administer. In
those gloomy cells, beneath the level of the street, into whose deep
and grated windows the rays of the noonday sun could but feebly
penetrate, their faces soon grew wan, and wasted, and haggard, from
confinement, the foul prison air, and woe.

There is no sight more deplorable than that of an accomplished man of
intellectual tastes, accustomed to all the refinements of polished
life, plunged into those depths of misery from which the decencies
even of our social being are excluded. These illustrious statesmen and
eloquent orators, whose words had vibrated upon the ear of Europe,
were transformed into the most revolting aspect of beggared and
haggard misery. Their clothes, ruined by the humid filth of their
dungeons, moldered to decay. Unwashed, unshorn, in the loss almost of
the aspect of humanity, they became repulsive to each other.
Unsupported by any of those consolations which religion affords, many
hours of the blackest gloom must have enveloped them.

Not a few of the deputies were young men, in the morning of their
energetic being, their bosoms glowing with all the passions of this
tumultuous world, buoyant with hope, stimulated by love, invigorated
by perfect health. And they found themselves thus suddenly plunged
from the heights of honor and power to the dismal darkness of the
dungeon, from whence they could emerge only to be led to the scaffold.
All the bright hopes of life had gone down amid the gloom of midnight
darkness. Several months lingered slowly away while these men were
awaiting their trial. Day after day they heard the tolling of the
tocsin, the reverberations of the alarm gun, and the beating of the
insurrection drum, as the demon of lawless violence rioted through the
streets of the blood-stained metropolis. The execrations of the mob,
loud and fiend-like, accompanied the cart of the condemned, as it
rumbled upon the pavements above their heads, bearing the victims of
popular fury to the guillotine; and still, most stoically, they
struggled to nerve their souls with fortitude to meet their fate.

From these massive stone walls, guarded by triple doors of iron and
watched by numerous sentinels, answerable for the safe custody of
their prisoners with their lives, there was no possibility of escape.
The rigor of their imprisonment was, consequently, somewhat softened
as weeks passed on, and they were occasionally permitted to see their
friends through the iron wicket. Books, also, aided to relieve the
tedium of confinement. The brother-in-law of Vergniaud came to visit
him, and brought with him his son, a child ten years of age. The
features of the fair boy reminded Vergniaud of his beloved sister, and
awoke mournfully in his heart the remembrance of departed joys. When
the child saw his uncle imprisoned like a malefactor, his cheeks
haggard and sunken, his matted hair straggling over his forehead, his
long beard disfiguring his face, and his clothes hanging in tatters,
he clung to his father, affrighted by the sad sight, and burst into
tears.

"My child," said Vergniaud, kindly, taking him in his arms, "look well
at me. When you are a man, you can say that you saw Vergniaud, the
founder of the Republic, at the most glorious period, and in the most
splendid costume he ever wore--that in which he suffered unmerited
persecution, and in which he prepared to die for liberty." These words
produced a deep impression upon the mind of the child. He remembered
them to repeat them after the lapse of half a century.

The cells in which they were imprisoned still remain as they were left
on the morning in which these illustrious men were led to their
execution. On the dingy walls of stone are still recorded those
sentiments which they had inscribed there, and which indicate the
nature of those emotions which animated and sustained them. These
proverbial maxims and heroic expressions, gleaned from French
tragedies or the classic page, were written with the blood which they
had drawn from their own veins. In one place is carefully written,

     "Quand il n'a pu sauver la liberté de Rome,
     Caton est libre encore et suit mourir en homme."

     "_When he no longer had power to preserve the liberty of Rome
     Cato still was free, and knew how to die for man._"

Again,

     "Cui virtus non deest
     Ille nunquam omnino miser."

     _"He who retains his integrity
     Can never be wholly miserable."_

In another place,

     "La vraie liberté est celle de l'ame."

     _"True liberty is that of the soul."_

On a beam was written,

"Dignum certe Deo spectaculum fortem virum cum calamitate
colluctantem."

_"Even God may look with pleasure upon a brave man struggling against
adversity."_

Again,

     "Quels solides appui dans le malheur suprême!
     J'ai pour moi ma vertu, l'équité, Dieu même."

     _"How substantial the consolation in the greatest calamity
     I have for mine, my virtue, justice, God himself."_

Beneath this was written,

     "Le jour n'est pas plus pur que le fond de mon coeur."

     _"The day is not more pure than the depths of my heart."_

In large letters of blood there was inscribed, in the hand-writing of
Vergniaud,

     "Potius mori quam foedari."

     _"Death is preferable to dishonor."_

But one sentence is recorded there which could be considered strictly
of a religious character. It was taken from the "Imitation of Christ."

"Remember that you are not called to a life of indulgence and
pleasure, but to toil and to suffer."

La Source and Sillery, two very devoted friends, occupied a cell
together. La Source was a devoted Christian, and found, in the
consolations of piety, an unfailing support. Sillery possessed a
feeling heart, and was soothed and comforted by the devotion of his
friend. La Source composed a beautiful hymn, adapted to a sweet and
solemn air, which they called their evening service. Night after night
this mournful dirge was heard gently issuing from the darkness of
their cell, in tones so melodious and plaintive that they never died
away from the memory of those who heard them. It is difficult to
conceive of any thing more affecting than this knell, so softly
uttered at midnight in those dark and dismal dungeons.

     "Calm all the tumults that invade
     Our souls, and lend thy powerful aid.
     Oh! source of mercy! soothe our pains,
     And break, O break our cruel chains!
     To Thee the captive pours his cry,
     To Thee the mourner loves to fly.
     The incense of our tears receive--
     'Tis all the incense we can give.

     "Eternal Power! our cause defend,
     O God! of innocence the friend.
     Near Thee forever she resides,
     In Thee forever she confides.
     Thou know'st the secrets of the breast:
     Thou know'st the oppressor and the oppress'd.
     Do thou our wrongs with pity see,
     Avert a doom offending thee.

     "But should the murderer's arm prevail;
     Should tyranny our lives assail;
     Unmoved, triumphant, scorning death,
     We'll bless Thee with our latest breath.
     The hour, the glorious hour will come,
     That consecrates the patriots' tomb;
     And with the pang our memory claims,
     Our country will avenge our names."

Summer had come and gone while these distinguished prisoners were
awaiting their doom. World-weary and sick at heart, they still
struggled to sustain each other, and to meet their dreadful fate with
heroic constancy. The day for their trial at length arrived. It was
the 20th of October, 1793. They had long been held up before the mob,
by placards and impassioned harangues, as traitors to their country,
and the populace of Paris were clamorous for their consignment to the
guillotine. They were led from the dungeons of the Conciergerie to the
misnamed Halls of Justice. A vast concourse of angry men surrounded
the tribunal, and filled the air with execrations. Paris that day
presented the aspect of a camp. The Jacobins, conscious that there
were still thousands of the most influential of the citizens who
regarded the Girondists with veneration as incorruptible patriots,
determined to prevent the possibility of a rescue. They had some cause
to apprehend a counter revolution. They therefore gathered around the
scene of trial all that imposing military array which they had at
their disposal. Cavalry, with plumes, and helmets, and naked sabers,
were sweeping the streets, that no accumulations of the multitude
might gather force. The pavements trembled beneath the rumbling wheels
of heavy artillery, ready to belch forth their storm of grape-shot
upon any opposing foe. Long lines of infantry, with loaded muskets and
glittering bayonets, guarded all the avenues to the tribunal, where
rancorous passion sat enthroned in mockery upon the seat of justice.

The prisoners had nerved themselves sternly to meet this crisis of
their doom. Two by two, in solemn procession, they marched to the bar
of judgment, and took their seat upon benches surrounded by gens
d'armes and a frowning populace, and arraigned before judges already
determined upon their doom. The eyes of the world were, however, upon
them. The accused were illustrious in integrity, in rank, in talent.
In the distant provinces there were thousands who were their friends.
It was necessary to go through the formality of a trial. A few of the
accused still clung to the hope of life. They vainly dreamed it
possible that, by silence, and the abandonment of themselves to the
resistless power by which they were crushed, some mercy might be
elicited. It was a weakness unworthy of these great men. But there are
few minds which can remain firm while immured for months in the
wasting misery of a dungeon. In those glooms the sinews of mental
energy wither with dying hope. The trial continued for a week. On the
30th of October, at eleven o'clock at night, the verdict was brought
in. They were all declared guilty of having conspired against the
Republic, and were condemned to death. With the light of the next
morning's sun they were to be led to the guillotine.

As the sentence was pronounced, one of the accused, M. Valazé, made a
motion with his hand, as if to tear his garment, and fell from his
seat upon the floor. "What, Valazé," said Brissot, striving to support
him, "are you losing your courage?" "No," replied Valazé, faintly, "I
am dying;" and he expired, with his hand still grasping the hilt of
the dagger with which he had pierced his heart. For a moment it was a
scene of unutterable horror. The condemned gathered sadly around the
remains of their lifeless companion. Some, who had confidently
expected acquittal, overcome by the near approach of death, yielded to
momentary weakness, and gave utterance to reproaches and lamentations.
Others, pale and stupefied, gazed around in moody silence. One, in the
delirium of enthusiasm, throwing his arms above his head, shouted,
"This is the most glorious day of my life!" Vergniaud, seated upon the
highest bench, with the composure of philosophy and piety combined,
looked upon the scene, exulting in the victory his own spirit had
achieved over peril and death.

The weakness which a few displayed was but momentary. They rallied
their energies boldly to meet their inevitable doom. They gathered for
a moment around the corpse of their lifeless companion, and were then
formed in procession, to march back to their cells. It was midnight as
the condemned Girondists were led from the bar of the Palace of
Justice back to the dungeons of the Conciergerie, there to wait till
the swift-winged hours should bring the dawn which was to guide their
steps to the guillotine. Their presence of mind had now returned, and
their bosoms glowed with the loftiest enthusiasm. In fulfillment of a
promise they had made their fellow-prisoners, to inform them of their
fate by the echoes of their voices, they burst into the Marseillaise
Hymn. The vaults of the Conciergerie rang with the song as they
shouted, in tones of exultant energy,

     "Allons, enfans de la patrie,
       Le jour de glorie est arrivé,
     Contre nous de la tyrannie
       L'étendard sanglant est levé.

     "Come! children of your country, come!
       The day of glory dawns on high,
     And tyranny has wide unfurl'd
       Her blood-stain'd banner in the sky."

It was their death-knell. As they were slowly led along through the
gloomy corridors of their prison to the cells, these dirge-like
wailings of a triumphant song penetrated the remotest dungeons of that
dismal abode, and roused every wretched head from its pallet. The arms
of the guard clattered along the stone floor of the subterranean
caverns, and the unhappy victims of the Revolution, roused from the
temporary oblivion of sleep, or from dreams of the homes of refinement
and luxury from which they had been torn, glared through the iron
gratings upon the melancholy procession, and uttered last words of
adieu to those whose fate they almost envied. The acquittal of the
Girondists would have given them some little hope that they also might
find mercy. Now they sunk back upon their pillows in despair, and
lamentations and wailings filled the prison.

The condemned, now that their fate was sealed, had laid aside all
weakness, and, mutually encouraging one another, prepared as martyrs
to encounter the last stern trial. They were all placed in one large
room opening into several cells, and the lifeless body of their
companion was deposited in one of the corners. By a decree of the
tribunal, the still warm and bleeding remains of Valazé were to be
carried back to the cell, and to be conveyed the next morning, in the
same cart with the prisoners, to the guillotine. The ax was to sever
the head from the lifeless body, and all the headless trunks were to
be interred together.

A wealthy friend, who had escaped proscription, and was concealed in
Paris, had agreed to send them a sumptuous banquet the night after
their trial, which banquet was to prove to them a funeral repast or a
triumphant feast, according to the verdict of acquittal or
condemnation. Their friend kept his word. Soon after the prisoners
were remanded to their cell, a table was spread, and preparations were
made for their last supper. There was a large oaken table in the
prison, where those awaiting their trial, and those awaiting their
execution, met for their coarse prison fare. A rich cloth was spread
upon that table. Servants entered, bearing brilliant lamps, which
illuminated the dismal vault with an unnatural luster, and spread the
glare of noonday light upon the miserable pallets of straw, the rusty
iron gratings and chains, and the stone walls weeping with moisture,
which no ray of the sun or warmth of fire ever dried away. It was a
strange scene, that brilliant festival, in the midst of the glooms of
the most dismal dungeon, with one dead body lying upon the floor, and
those for whom the feast was prepared waiting only for the early dawn
to light them to their death and burial. The richest viands of meats
and wines were brought in and placed before the condemned. Vases of
flowers diffused their fragrance and expanded their beauty where
flowers were never seen to bloom before. Wan and haggard faces,
unwashed and unshorn, gazed upon the unwonted spectacle, as dazzling
flambeaux, and rich table furniture, and bouquets, and costly dishes
appeared, one after another, until the board was covered with luxury
and splendor.

In silence the condemned took their places at the table. They were men
of brilliant intellects, of enthusiastic eloquence, thrown suddenly
from the heights of power to the foot of the scaffold. A priest, the
Abbé Lambert, the intimate personal friend of several of the most
eminent of the Girondists, had obtained admittance into the prison to
accompany his friends to the guillotine, and to administer to them the
last consolations of religion. He stood in the corridor, looking
through the open door upon those assembled around the table, and, with
his pencil in his hand, noted down their words, their gestures, their
sighs--their weakness and their strength. It is to him that we are
indebted for all knowledge of the sublime scenes enacted at the last
supper of the Girondists. The repast was prolonged until the dawn of
morning began to steal faintly in at the grated windows of the prison
and the gathering tumult without announced the preparations to conduct
them to their execution.

Vergniaud, the most prominent and the most eloquent of their number,
presided at the feast. He had little, save the love of glory, to bind
him to life, for he had neither father nor mother, wife nor child; and
he doubted not that posterity would do him justice, and that his death
would be the most glorious act of his life. No one could imagine, from
the calm and subdued conversation, and the quiet appetite with which
these distinguished men partook of the entertainment, that this was
their last repast, and but the prelude to a violent death. But when
the cloth was removed, and the fruits, the wines, and the flowers
alone remained, the conversation became animated, gay, and at times
rose to hilarity. Several of the youngest men of the party, in sallies
of wit and outbursts of laughter, endeavored to repel the gloom which
darkened their spirits in view of death on the morrow. It was
unnatural gayety, unreal, unworthy of the men. Death is not a jest,
and no one can honor himself by trying to make it so. A spirit truly
noble can encounter this king of terrors with fortitude, but never
with levity. Still, now and then, shouts of laughter and songs of
merriment burst from the lips of these young men, as they endeavored,
with a kind of hysterical energy, to nerve themselves to show to their
enemies their contempt of life and of death. Others were more
thoughtful, serene, and truly brave.

"What shall we be doing to-morrow at this time?" said Ducos.

All paused. Religion had its hopes, philosophy its dreams, infidelity
its dreary blank. Each answered according to his faith. "We shall
sleep after the fatigues of the day," said some, "to wake no more."
Atheism had darkened their minds. "Death is an eternal sleep," had
become their gloomy creed. They looked forward to the slide of the
guillotine as ending all thought, and consigning them back to that
non-existence from which they had emerged at their creation. "No!"
replied Fauchet, Carru, and others, "annihilation is not our destiny.
We are immortal. These bodies may perish. These living thoughts, these
boundless aspirations, can never die. To-morrow, far away in other
worlds, we shall think, and feel, and act and solve the problems of
the immaterial destiny of the human mind." Immortality was the theme.
The song was hushed upon these dying lips. The forced laughter fainted
away. Standing upon the brink of that dread abyss from whence no one
has returned with tidings, every soul felt a longing for immortality.
They turned to Vergniaud, whose brilliant intellect, whose
soul-moving eloquence, whose spotless life commanded their reverence,
and appealed to him for light, and truth, and consolation. His words
are lost. The effect of his discourse alone is described. "Never,"
said the abbé "had his look, his gesture, his language, and his voice
more profoundly affected his hearers." In the conclusion of a
discourse which is described as one of almost superhuman eloquence,
during which some were aroused to the most exalted enthusiasm, all
were deeply moved, and many wept, Vergniaud exclaimed,

"Death is but the greatest act of life, since it gives birth to a
higher state of existence. Were it not thus there would be something
greater than God. It would be the just man immolating himself
uselessly and hopelessly for his country. This supposition is a folly
of blasphemy, and I repel it with contempt and horror. No! Vergniaud
is not greater than God, but God is more just than Vergniaud; and He
will not to-morrow suffer him to ascend a scaffold but to justify and
avenge him in future ages."

And now the light of day began to stream in at the windows. "Let us go
to bed," said one, "and sleep until we are called to go forth to our
last sleep. Life is a thing so trifling that it is not worth the hour
of sleep we lose in regretting it."

"Let us rather watch," said another, "during the few moments which
remain to us. Eternity is so certain and so terrible that a thousand
lives would not suffice to prepare for it."

They rose from the table, and most of them retired to their cells and
threw themselves upon their beds for a few moments of bodily repose
and meditation. Thirteen, however, remained in the larger apartment,
finding a certain kind of support in society. In a low tone of voice
they conversed with each other. They were worn out with excitement,
fatigue, and want of sleep. Some wept. Sleep kindly came to some, and
lulled their spirits into momentary oblivion.

At ten o'clock the iron doors grated on their hinges, and the tramp of
the gens d'armes, with the clattering of their sabers, was heard
reverberating through the gloomy corridors and vaults of their
dungeon, as they came, with the executioners, to lead the condemned to
the scaffold. Their long hair was cut from their necks, that the ax,
with unobstructed edge, might do its work. Each one left some simple
and affecting souvenir to friends. Gensonné picked up a lock of his
black hair, and gave it to the Abbé Lambert to give to his wife. "Tell
her," said he, "that it is the only memorial of my love which I can
transmit to her, and that my last thoughts in death were hers."
Vergniaud drew from his pocket his watch, and, with his knife,
scratched upon the case a few lines of tender remembrance, and sent
the token to a young lady to whom he was devotedly attached, and to
whom he was ere long to have been married. Each gave to the abbé some
legacy of affection to be conveyed to loved ones who were to be left
behind. Few emotions are stronger in the hour of death than the desire
to be embalmed in the affections of those who are dear to us.

All being ready, the gens d'armes marched the condemned, in a column,
into the prison-yard, where five rude carts were awaiting them, to
convey them to the scaffold. The countless thousands of Paris were
swarming around the prison, filling the court, and rolling, like ocean
tides, into every adjacent avenue. Each cart contained five persons,
with the exception of the last, into which the dead body of Valazé had
been cast with four of his living companions.

And now came to the Girondists their hour of triumph. Heroism rose
exultant over all ills. The brilliant sun and the elastic air of an
October morning invigorated their bodies, and the scene of sublimity
through which they were passing stimulated their spirits to the
highest pitch of enthusiasm. As the carts moved from the court-yard,
with one simultaneous voice, clear and sonorous, the Girondists burst
into the Marseillaise Hymn. The crowd gazed in silence as this
funereal chant, not like the wailings of a dirge, but like the strains
of an exultant song, swelled and died away upon the air. Here and
there some friendly voice among the populace ventured to swell the
volume of sound as the significant words were uttered,

     "Contre nous de la tyrannie
       L'étendard sanglant est levé."

     "And tyranny has wide unfurl'd
       Her blood-stain'd banner in the sky."

At the end of each verse their voices sank for a moment into silence.
The strain was then again renewed, loud and sonorous. On arriving at
the scaffold, they all embraced in one long, last adieu. It was a
token of their communion in death as in life. They then, in concert,
loudly and firmly resumed their funereal chant. One ascended the
scaffold, continuing the song with his companions. He was bound to the
plank. Still his voice was heard full and strong. The plank slowly
fell. Still his voice, without a tremor, joined in the triumphant
chorus. The glittering ax glided like lightning down the groove. His
head fell into the basket, and one voice was hushed forever. Another
ascended, and another, and another, each with the song bursting loudly
from his lips, till death ended the strain. There was no weakness. No
step trembled, no cheek paled, no voice faltered. But each succeeding
moment the song grew more faint as head after head fell, and the
bleeding bodies were piled side by side. At last one voice alone
continued the song. It was that of Vergniaud, the most illustrious of
them all. Long confinement had spread deathly pallor over his
intellectual features, but firm and dauntless, and with a voice of
surpassing richness, he continued the solo into which the chorus had
now died away. Without the tremor of a nerve, he mounted the scaffold.
For a moment he stood in silence, as he looked down upon the lifeless
bodies of his friends, and around upon the overawed multitude gazing
in silent admiration upon this heroic enthusiasm. As he then
surrendered himself to the executioner, he commenced anew the strain,

     "Allons! enfans de la patrie,
       Le jour de glorie est arrivé."

     "Come! children of your country, come!
       The day of glory dawns on high."

In the midst of the exultant tones, the ax glided on its bloody
mission, and those lips, which had guided the storm of revolution, and
whose patriotic appeals had thrilled upon the ear of France, were
silent in death. Thus perished the Girondists, the founders of the
Republic and its victims. Their votes consigned Louis and Maria to the
guillotine, and they were the first to follow them. One cart conveyed
the twenty-one bodies away, and they were thrown into one pit, by the
side of the grave of Louis XVI.

[Illustration: EXECUTION OF THE GIRONDISTS.]

They committed many errors. Few minds could discern distinctly the
path of truth and duty through the clouds and vapors of those stormy
times. But they were most sincerely devoted to the liberties of
France. They overthrew the monarchy, and established the Republic.
They died because they refused to open those sluice-ways of blood
which the people demanded. A few of the Girondists had made their
escape. Pétion, Buzot, Barbaroux, and Gaudet wandered in disguise,
and hid themselves in the caves of wild and unfrequented mountains. La
Fayette, who was one of the most noble and illustrious apostles of
this creed, was saved from the guillotine by weary years of
imprisonment in the dungeons of Olmutz. Madame Roland lingered in her
cell, striving to maintain serenity, while her soul was tortured with
the tidings of carnage and woe which every morning's dawn brought to
her ears.

The Jacobins were now more and more clamorous for blood. They strove
to tear La Fayette from his dungeon, that they might triumph in his
death. They pursued, with implacable vigilance, the Girondists who had
escaped from their fury. They trained blood-hounds to scent them out
in their wild retreats, where they were suffering, from cold and
starvation, all that human nature can possibly endure. For a time,
five of them lived together in a cavern, thirty feet in depth. This
cavern had a secret communication with the cellar of a house. Their
generous hostess, periling her own life for them, daily supplied them
with food. She could furnish them only with the most scanty fare, lest
she should be betrayed by the purchase of provisions necessary for so
many mouths. It was mid-winter. No fire warmed them in their damp and
gloomy vault, and this living burial must have been worse than death.
The search became so rigid that it was necessary for them to disperse.
One directed his steps toward the Pyrenees. He was arrested and
executed. Three toiled along by night, through cold, and snow, and
rain, the keen wind piercing their tattered garments, till their
sufferings made them reckless of life. They were arrested, and found,
in the blade of the guillotine, a refuge from their woes. At last all
were taken and executed but Pétion and Buzot. Their fate is involved
in mystery. None can tell what their sufferings were during the days
and the nights of their weary wanderings, when no eye but that of God
could see them. Some peasants found among the mountains, where they
had taken refuge, human remains rent in pieces by the wolves. The
tattered garments were scattered around where the teeth of the
ferocious animals had left them. They were all that was left of the
noble Pétion and Buzot. But how did they die? Worn out by suffering
and abandoned to despair, did they fall by their own hands? Did they
perish from exposure to hunger and exhaustion, and the freezing blasts
of winter? Or, in their weakness, were they attacked by the famished
wolves of the mountains? The dying scene of Pétion and Buzot is
involved in impenetrable obscurity. Its tragic accompaniments can only
be revealed when all mysteries shall be unfolded.



CHAPTER XI.

PRISON LIFE.

1793

Liberation of Madame Roland.--She is re-arrested.--Infamous cruelty
of the Jacobins.--Anguish of Madame Roland.--Madame Roland recovers
her composure.--Intellectual enjoyments.--More comfortable
apartments.--Kindness of the jailer's wife.--Madame Roland entreated
to escape.--Rigorous treatment.--Visit of an English lady.--Kindness
of the jailers.--Cheerful aspect of Madame Roland's cell.--Henriette
Cannet.--Vain entreaties.--Robespierre in the zenith of his
power.--Madame Roland's letter to Robespierre.--Supports of
philosophy.--Influence of the Roman Catholic religion.--Energy of
Madame Roland.--She prepares for voluntary death.--Madame Roland's
prayer.--Notes to her husband and child.--Apostrophe to
friends.--Farewell to Nature.--Maternal love triumphs.--The struggle
ended.--Descriptions of Tacitus.--Madame Roland writes her memoirs.--The
spirit wanders among happier scenes.--Striking contrasts.--Madame Roland
conveyed to the Conciergerie.--Dismal cell.--Description of the
Conciergerie.--Narrow courts.--Quadrangular tower.--The daughter of the
Cæsars.--The daughter of the artisan.


Madame Roland remained for four months in the Abbayé prison. On the
24th day of her imprisonment, to her inexpressible astonishment, an
officer entered her cell, and informed her that she was liberated, as
no charge could be found against her. Hardly crediting her
senses--fearing that she should wake up and find her freedom but the
blissful delirium of a dream--she took a coach and hastened to her own
door. Her eyes were full of tears of joy, and her heart almost
bursting with the throbbings of delight, in the anticipation of again
pressing her idolized child to her bosom. Her hand was upon the door
latch--she had not yet passed the threshold--when two men, who had
watched at the door of her dwelling, again seized her in the name of
the law. In spite of her tears and supplications, they conveyed her to
the prison of St. Pélagié. This loathsome receptacle of crime was
filled with the abandoned females who had been swept, in impurity and
degradation, from the streets of Paris. It was, apparently, a studied
humiliation, to compel their victim to associate with beings from whom
her soul shrunk with loathing. She had resigned herself to die, but
not to the society of infamy and pollution.

The Jacobins, conscious of the illegality of her first arrest, and
dreading her power, were anxious to secure her upon a more legal
footing. They adopted, therefore, this measure of liberating her and
arresting her a second time. Even her firm and resigned spirit was for
a moment vanquished by this cruel blow. Her blissful dream of
happiness was so instantaneously converted into the blackness of
despair, that she buried her face in her hands, and, in the anguish of
a bruised and broken heart, wept aloud. The struggle, though short,
was very violent ere she regained her wonted composure. She soon,
however, won the compassionate sympathy of her jailers, and was
removed from this degrading companionship to a narrow cell, where she
could enjoy the luxury of being alone. An humble bed was spread for
her in one corner, and a small table was placed near the few rays of
light which stole feebly in through the iron grating of the
inaccessible window. Summoning all her fortitude to her aid, she
again resumed her usual occupations, allotting to each hour of the day
its regular employment. She engaged vigorously in the study of the
English language, and passed some hours every day in drawing, of which
accomplishment she was very fond. She had no patterns to copy; but her
imagination wandered through the green fields and by the murmuring
brooks of her rural home. Now she roved with free footsteps through
the vineyards which sprang up beneath her creative pencil. Now she
floated upon the placid lake, reclining upon the bosom of her husband
and caressing her child, beneath the tranquil sublimity of the evening
sky. Again she sat down at the humble fireside of the peasant,
ministering to the wants of the needy, and receiving the recompense of
grateful hearts. Thus, on the free wing of imagination, she penetrated
all scenes of beauty, and spread them out in vivid reality before her
eye. At times she almost forgot that she was a captive. Well might she
have exclaimed, in the language of Maria Antoinette, "What a resource,
amid the calamities of life, is a highly-cultivated mind!"

A few devoted friends periled their own lives by gaining occasional
access to her. During the dark hours of that reign of terror and of
blood, no crime was more unpardonable than the manifestation of
sympathy for the accused. These friends, calling as often as prudence
would allow, brought to her presents of fruit and of flowers. At last
the jailer's wife, unable to resist the pleadings of her own heart for
one whom she could not but love and admire, ventured to remove her to
a more comfortable apartment, where the daylight shone brightly in
through the iron bars of the window. Here she could see the clouds and
the birds soaring in the free air. She was even allowed, through her
friends, to procure a piano-forte, which afforded her many hours of
recreation. Music, drawing, and flowers were the embellishments of her
life. Madame Bouchaud, the wife of the jailer, conceived for her
prisoner the kindest affection, and daily visited her, doing every
thing in her power to alleviate the bitterness of her imprisonment. At
last her sympathies were so aroused, that, regardless of all
prudential considerations, she offered to aid her in making her
escape. Madame Roland was deeply moved by this proof of devotion, and,
though she was fully aware that she must soon place her head upon the
scaffold, she firmly refused all entreaties to escape in any way
which might endanger her friend. Others united with Madame Bouchaud in
entreating her to accept of her generous offer. Their efforts were
entirely unavailing. She preferred to die herself rather than to incur
the possibility of exposing those who loved her to the guillotine. The
kindness with which Madame Roland was treated was soon spied out by
those in power. The jailer was severely reprimanded, and ordered
immediately to remove the piano-forte from the room, and to confine
Madame Roland rigorously in her cell. This change did not disturb the
equanimity of her spirit. She had studied so deeply and admired so
profoundly all that was noble in the most illustrious characters of
antiquity, that her mind instinctively assumed the same model. She
found elevated enjoyment in triumphing over every earthly ill.

An English lady, then residing in France, who had often visited her in
the days of her power, when her home presented all that earth could
give of splendor, and when wealth and rank were bowing obsequiously
around her, thus describes a visit which she paid to her cell in these
dark days of adversity.

"I visited her in the prison of Sainte Pélagié, where her soul,
superior to circumstances, retained its accustomed serenity, and she
conversed with the same animated cheerfulness in her cheerless dudgeon
as she used to do in the hotel of the minister. She had provided
herself with a few books, and I found her reading Plutarch. She told
me that she expected to die, and the look of placid resignation with
which she said it convinced me that she was prepared to meet death
with a firmness worthy of her exalted character. When I inquired after
her daughter, an only child of thirteen years of age, she burst into
tears; and, at the overwhelming recollection of her husband and child,
the courage of the victim of liberty was lost in the feelings of the
wife and the mother."

The merciless commissioners had ordered her to be incarcerated in a
cell which no beam of light could penetrate. But her compassionate
keepers ventured to misunderstand the orders, and to place her in a
room where a few rays of the morning sun could struggle through the
grated windows, and where the light of day, though seen but dimly,
might still, in some degree, cheer those eyes so soon to be closed
forever. The soul, instinctively appreciative of beauty, will under
the most adverse circumstances, evoke congenial visions. Her friends
brought her flowers, of which from childhood she had been most
passionately fond. These cherished plants seemed to comprehend and
requite unaffected love. At the iron window of her prison they
appeared to grow with the joy and luxuriance of gratitude. With
intertwining leaf and blossom, they concealed the rusty bars, till
they changed the aspect of the grated cell into a garden bower, where
birds might nestle and sing, and poets might love to linger.

[Illustration: MADAME ROLAND IN PRISON.]

When in the convent, she had formed a strong attachment for one of her
companions, which the lapse of time had not diminished. Through all
the vicissitudes of their lives they had kept up a constant
correspondence. This friend, Henriette Cannet, one day obtained access
to her prison, and, in the exercise of that romantic friendship of
which this world can present but few parallels, urged Madame Roland to
exchange garments with her, and thus escape from prison and the
scaffold. "If you remain," said Henriette, "your death is inevitable.
If I remain in your place, they will not take my life, but, after a
short imprisonment, I shall be liberated. None fear me, and I am too
obscure to attract attention in these troubled times. I," she
continued, "am a widow, and childless. There are no responsibilities
which claim my time. You have a husband, advanced in years, and a
lovely little child, both needing your utmost care." Thus she pleaded
with her to exchange attire, and endeavor to escape. But neither
prayers nor tears availed. "They would kill thee, my good Henriette!"
exclaimed Madame Roland, embracing her friend with tears of emotion.
"Thy blood would ever rest on me. Sooner would I suffer a thousand
deaths than reproach myself with thine." Henriette, finding all her
entreaties in vain, sadly bade her adieu, and was never permitted to
see her more.

Robespierre was now in the zenith of his power. He was the arbiter of
life and death. One word from him would restore Madame Roland to
liberty. But he had steeled his heart against every sentiment of
humanity, and was not willing to deprive the guillotine of a single
victim. One day Madame Roland was lying sick in the infirmary of the
prison. A physician attended her, who styled himself the friend of
Robespierre. The mention of his name recalled to her remembrance their
early friendship, and her own exertions to save his life when it was
in imminent peril. This suggested to her the idea of writing to him.
She obeyed the impulse, and wrote as follows:

     "Robespierre! I am about to put you to the proof, and to repeat
     to you what I said respecting your character to the friend who
     has undertaken to deliver this letter. You may be very sure that
     it is no suppliant who addresses you. I never asked a favor yet
     of any human being, and it is not from the depths of a prison I
     would supplicate him who could, if he pleased, restore me to
     liberty. No! prayers and entreaties belong to the guilty or to
     slaves. Neither would murmurs or complaints accord with my
     nature. I know how to bear all. I also well know that at the
     beginning of every republic the revolutions which effected them
     have invariably selected the principal actors in the change as
     their victims. It is their fate to experience this, as it becomes
     the task of the historian to avenge their memories. Still I am at
     a loss to imagine how I, a mere woman, should be exposed to the
     fury of a storm, ordinarily suffered to expend itself upon the
     great leaders of a revolution. You, Robespierre, were well
     acquainted with my husband, and I defy you to say that you ever
     thought him other than an honorable man. He had all the roughness
     of virtue, even as Cato possessed its asperity. Disgusted with
     business, irritated by persecution, weary of the world, and worn
     out with years and exertions, he desired only to bury himself and
     his troubles in some unknown spot, and to conceal himself there
     to save the age he lived in from the commission of a crime.

     "My pretended confederacy would be amusing, were it not too
     serious a matter for a jest. Whence, then, arises that degree of
     animosity manifested toward me? I never injured a creature in my
     life, and can not find it in my heart to wish evil even to those
     who injure and oppress me. Brought up in solitude, my mind
     directed to serious studies, of simple tastes, an enthusiastic
     admirer of the Revolution--excluded, by my sex, from
     participating in public affairs, yet taking delight in conversing
     of them--I despised the first calumnies circulated respecting me,
     attributing them to the envy felt by the ignorant and low-minded
     at what they were pleased to style my elevated position, but to
     which I infinitely preferred the peaceful obscurity in which I
     had passed so many happy days.

     "Yet I have now been for five months the inhabitant of a prison,
     torn from my beloved child, whose innocent head may never more
     be pillowed upon a mother's breast; far from all I hold dear; the
     mark for the invectives of a mistaken people; constrained to hear
     the very sentinels, as they keep watch beneath my windows,
     discussing the subject of my approaching execution, and outraged
     by reading the violent and disgusting diatribes poured forth
     against me by hirelings of the press, who have never once beheld
     me. I have wearied no one with requests, petitions, or demands.
     On the contrary, I feel proudly equal to battle with my own ill
     fortune, and it may be to trample it under my feet.

     "Robespierre! I send not this softened picture of my condition to
     excite your pity. No! such a sentiment, expressed by you, would
     not only offend me, but be rejected as it deserves. I write for
     your edification. Fortune is fickle--popular favor equally so.
     Look at the fate of those who led on the revolutions of former
     ages--the idols of the people, and afterward their
     governors--from Vitellius to Cæsar, or from Hippo, the orator of
     Syracuse, down to our Parisian speakers. Scylla and Marius
     proscribed thousands of knights and senators, besides a vast
     number of other unfortunate beings; but were they enabled to
     prevent history from handing down their names to the just
     execration of posterity, and did they themselves enjoy happiness?
     Whatever may be the fate awarded to me, I shall know how to
     submit to it in a manner worthy of myself, or to anticipate it
     should I deem it advisable. After receiving the honors of
     persecution, am I to expect the still greater one of martyrdom?
     Speak! It is something to know your fate, and a spirit such as
     mine can boldly face it, be it as it may. Should you bestow upon
     my letter a fair and impartial perusal, it will neither be
     useless to you nor to my country. But, under any circumstances,
     this I say, Robespierre--and you can not deny the truth of my
     assertion--none who have ever known me can persecute me without a
     feeling of remorse."

Madame Roland preferred to die rather than to owe her life to the
_compassion_ of her enemies. Could she obtain a triumphant acquittal,
through the force of her own integrity, she would greatly exult. But
her imperial spirit would not stoop to the acceptance of a pardon from
those who deserved the execrations of mankind; such a pardon she would
have torn in fragments, and have stepped resolutely upon the
scaffold.

There is something cold and chilling in the supports which pride and
philosophy alone can afford under the calamities of life. Madame
Roland had met with Christianity only as it appeared in the pomp and
parade of the Catholic Church, and in the openly-dissolute lives of
its ignorant or voluptuous priesthood. While her poetic temperament
was moved by the sublime conception of a God ruling over the world of
matter and the world of mind, revealed religion, as her spirit
encountered it, consisted only in gorgeous pageants, and ridiculous
dogmas, and puerile traditions. The spirit of piety and pure devotion
she could admire. Her natural temperament was serious, reflective, and
prayerful. Her mind, so far as religion was concerned, was very much
in the state of that of any intellectual, high-minded, uncorruptible
Roman, who renounced, without opposing, the idolatry of the benighted
multitude; who groped painfully for some revelation of God and of
truth; who at times believed fully in a superintending providence, and
again had fears whether there were any God or any immortality. In the
processions, the relics, the grotesque garb, and the spiritual
terrors wielded by the Roman Catholic priesthood, she could behold but
barefaced deception. The papal system appeared to her but as a
colossal monster, oppressing the people with hideous superstition, and
sustaining, with its superhuman energies, the corruption of the nobles
and of the throne. In rejecting this system, she had no friend to
conduct her to the warm, sheltered, and congenial retreats of
evangelical piety. She was led almost inevitably, by the philosophy of
the times, to those chilling, barren, storm-swept heights, where the
soul can find no shelter but in its own indomitable energies of
endurance. These energies Madame Roland displayed in such a degree as
to give her a name among the very first of those in any age who by
_heroism_ have shed luster upon human nature.

Under the influence of these feelings, she came to the conclusion that
it would be more honorable for her to die by her own hand than to be
dragged to the guillotine by her foes. She obtained some poison, and
sat down calmly to write her last thoughts, and her last messages of
love, before she should plunge into the deep mystery of the unknown.
There is something exceedingly affecting in the vague and shadowy
prayer which she offered on this occasion. It betrays a painful
uncertainty whether there were any superintending Deity to hear her
cry, and yet it was the soul's instinctive breathing for a support
higher and holier than could be found within itself.

"Divinity! Supreme Being! Spirit of the Universe! great principle of
all that I feel great, or good, or immortal within myself--whose
existence I believe in, because I must have emanated from something
superior to that by which I am surrounded--I am about to reunite
myself to thy essence." In her farewell note to her husband, she
writes, "Forgive me, my esteemed and justly-honored husband, for
taking upon myself to dispose of a life I had consecrated to you.
Believe me, I could have loved life and you better for your
misfortunes, had I been permitted to share them with you. At present,
by my death, you are only freed from a useless object of unavailing
anguish."

All the fountains of a mother's love gush forth as she writes to her
idolized Eudora: "Pardon me, my beloved child, my sweet daughter,
whose gentle image dwells within my heart, and whose very remembrance
shakes my sternest resolution. Never would your fond mother have left
you helpless in the world, could she but have remained to guide and
guard you."

Then, apostrophizing her friends, she exclaims, "And you, my cherished
friends, transfer to my motherless child the affection you have ever
manifested for me. Grieve not at a resolution which ends my many and
severe trials. You know me too well to believe that weakness or terror
have instigated the step I am about to take."

She made her will, bequeathing such trifling souvenirs of affection as
still remained in her possession to her daughter, her friends, and her
servants. She then reverted to all she had loved and admired of the
beauties of nature, and which she was now to leave forever.
"Farewell!" she wrote, "farewell, glorious sun! that never failed to
gild my windows with thy golden rays, ere thou hiddest thy brightness
in the heavens. Adieu, ye lonely banks of the Saône, whose wild beauty
could fill my heart with such deep delight. And you too, poor but
honest people of Thizy, whose labors I lightened, whose distress I
relieved, and whose sick beds I tended--farewell! Adieu, oh! peaceful
chambers of my childhood, where I learned to love virtue and
truth--where my imagination found in books and study the food to
delight it, and where I learned in silence to command my passions and
to despise my vanity. Again farewell, my child! Remember your mother.
Doubtless your fate will be less severe than hers. Adieu, beloved
child! whom I nourished at my breast, and earnestly desired to imbue
with every feeling and opinion I myself entertained."

The cup of poison was in her hand. In her heart there was no
consciousness that she should violate the command of any higher power
by drinking it. But love for her child triumphed. The smile of Eudora
rose before her, and for her sake she clung to life. She threw away
the poison, resolved never again to think of a voluntary withdrawal
from the cares and sorrows of her earthly lot, but with unwavering
fortitude to surrender herself to those influences over which she
could no longer exert any control. This brief conflict ended, she
resumed her wonted composure and cheerfulness.

Tacitus was now her favorite author. Hours and days she passed in
studying his glowing descriptions of heroic character and deeds.
Heroism became her religion; magnanimity and fortitude the idols of
her soul. With a glistening eye and a bosom throbbing with lofty
emotion, she meditated upon his graphic paintings of the martyrdom of
patriots and philosophers, where the soul, by its inherent energies,
triumphed over obloquy, and pain, and death. Anticipating that each
day might conduct her to the scaffold, she led her spirit through all
the possible particulars of the tragic drama, that she might become
familiar with terror, and look upon the block and the ax with an
undaunted eye.

Many hours of every day she beguiled in writing the memoirs of her own
life. It was an eloquent and a touching narrative, written with the
expectation that each sentence might be interrupted by the entrance of
the executioners to conduct her to trial and to the guillotine. In
this unveiling of the heart to the world, one sees a noble nature,
generous and strong, animated to benevolence by native generosity, and
nerved to resignation by fatalism. The consciousness of spiritual
elevation constituted her only religion and her only solace. The
anticipation of a lofty reputation after death was her only heaven.
The Christian must pity while he must admire. No one can read the
thoughts she penned but with the deepest emotion.

Now her mind wanders to the hours of her precocious and dreamy
childhood, and lingers in her little chamber, gazing upon the golden
sunset, and her eye is bathed in tears as she reflects upon her early
home, desolated by death, and still more desolated by that unhonored
union which the infidelity of the times tolerated, when one took the
position of the wife unblessed by the sanction of Heaven. Again her
spirit wings its flight through the gloomy bars of the prison to the
beautiful rural home to which her bridal introduced her, where she
spent her happiest years, and she forgets the iron, and the stone, and
the dungeon-glooms which surround her, as in imagination she walks
again among her flowers and through the green fields, and, at the
vintage, eats the rich, ripe clusters of the grape. Her pleasant
household cares, her dairy, the domestic fowls recognizing her voice,
and fed from her own hand; her library and her congenial intellectual
pursuits rise before her, an entrancing vision, and she mourns, like
Eve, the loss of Eden. The days of celebrity and of power engross her
thoughts. Her husband is again minister of the king. The most
influential statesmen and brilliant orators are gathered around her
chair. Her mind is guiding the surging billows of the Revolution, and
influencing the decisions of the proudest thrones of Europe.

The slightest movement dispels the illusion. From dreams she awakes to
reality. She is a prisoner in a gloomy cell of stone and iron, from
which there is no possible extrication. A bloody death awaits her. Her
husband is a fugitive, pursued by human blood-hounds more merciless
than the brute. Her daughter, the object of her most idolatrous love,
is left fatherless and motherless in this cold world. The guillotine
has already consigned many of those whom she loved best to the grave.
But a few more days of sorrow can dimly struggle through her prison
windows ere she must be conducted to the scaffold. Woman's nature
triumphs over philosophic fortitude, and she finds momentary relief in
a flood of tears.

The Girondists were led from their dungeons in the Conciergerie to
their execution on the 31st of October, 1793. Upon that very day
Madame Roland was conveyed from the prison of St. Pélagié to the same
gloomy cells vacated by the death of her friends. She was cast into a
bare and miserable dungeon, in that subterranean receptacle of woe,
where there was not even a bed. Another prisoner, moved with
compassion, drew his own pallet into her cell, that she might not be
compelled to throw herself for repose upon the cold, wet stones. The
chill air of winter had now come, and yet no covering was allowed her.
Through the long night she shivered with the cold.

The prison of the Conciergerie consists of a series of dark and damp
subterranean vaults situated beneath the floor of the Palace of
Justice. Imagination can conceive of nothing more dismal than these
somber caverns, with long and winding galleries opening into cells as
dark as the tomb. You descend by a flight of massive stone steps into
this sepulchral abode, and, passing through double doors, whose iron
strength time has deformed but not weakened, you enter upon the vast
labyrinthine prison, where the imagination wanders affrighted through
intricate mazes of halls, and arches, and vaults, and dungeons,
rendered only more appalling by the dim light which struggles through
those grated orifices which pierced the massive walls. The Seine flows
by upon one side, separated only by the high way of the quays. The bed
of the Seine is above the floor of the prison. The surrounding earth
was consequently saturated with water, and the oozing moisture
diffused over the walls and the floors the humidity of the sepulcher.
The plash of the river; the rumbling of carts upon the pavements
overhead; the heavy tramp of countless footfalls, as the multitude
poured into and out of the halls of justice, mingled with the moaning
of the prisoners in those solitary cells. There were one or two narrow
courts scattered in this vast structure, where the prisoners could
look up the precipitous walls, as of a well, towering high above them,
and see a few square yards of sky. The gigantic quadrangular tower,
reared above these firm foundations, was formerly the imperial palace
from which issued all power and law. Here the French kings reveled in
voluptuousness, with their prisoners groaning beneath their feet. This
strong-hold of feudalism had now become the tomb of the monarchy. In
one of the most loathsome of these cells, Maria Antoinette, the
daughter of the Cæsars, had languished in misery as profound as
mortals can suffer, till, in the endurance of every conceivable
insult, she was dragged to the guillotine.

It was into a cell adjoining that which the hapless queen had occupied
that Madame Roland was cast. Here the proud daughter of the emperors
of Austria and the humble child of the artisan, each, after a career
of unexampled vicissitudes, found their paths to meet but a few steps
from the scaffold. The victim of the monarchy and the victim of the
Revolution were conducted to the same dungeons and perished on the
same block. They met as antagonists in the stormy arena of the French
Revolution. They were nearly of equal age. The one possessed the
prestige of wealth, and rank, and ancestral power; the other, the
energy of a vigorous and cultivated mind. Both were endowed with
unusual attractions of person, spirits invigorated by enthusiasm,
and the loftiest heroism. From the antagonism of life they met in
death.



CHAPTER XII

TRIAL AND EXECUTION OF MADAME ROLAND.

1793

Examination of Madame Roland.--Her esteem for the Girondists.--Eloquent
defence of Madame Roland.--Madame Roland's reasons for not
escaping.--Madame Roland's opinion of the Girondists.--Madame Roland's
opinion of the Revolution.--Madame Roland's estimate of her
husband.--Madame Roland's correspondence with Duperret.--Effects of
prejudices and violent animosities.--Madame Roland avows her
opinions.--Madame Roland's apostrophe to Liberty.--Repeated
examinations.--Madame Roland's self-possession.--Madame Roland's
enthusiasm.--Her influence upon the prisoners.--Madame Roland's
addresses to the prisoners.--Effects of her eloquence.--Madame Roland's
musical voice.--Her friendship for the Girondists.--Charming character
of Madame Roland.--She is loved and esteemed.--Madame Roland's
advocate.--Her appearance at the tribunal.--Demand of the
president.--Madame Roland's refusal.--The sentence.--Madame Roland's
dignity and calmness.--She returns to her cell.--Madame Roland's
requiem.--She attires herself for the bridal of death.--The passage to
the guillotine.--Horrible pastime.--Madame Roland's appearance in the
cart.--She addresses the mob.--Powerful emotions of Madame Roland.--Work
of the executioners.--Scene at the scaffold.--Execution of the old
man.--Situation of the guillotine.--Death of Madame Roland.--Wonderful
attachment.--Grief of M. Roland.--Death of M. Roland.--Subsequent life
of Eudora.


The day after Madame Roland was placed in the Conciergerie, she was
visited by one of the notorious officers of the revolutionary party,
and very closely questioned concerning the friendship she had
entertained for the Girondists. She frankly avowed the elevated
affection and esteem with which she cherished their memory, but she
declared that she and they were the cordial friends of republican
liberty; that they wished to preserve, not to destroy, the
Constitution. The examination was vexatious and intolerant in the
extreme. It lasted for three hours, and consisted in an incessant
torrent of criminations, to which she was hardly permitted to offer
one word in reply. This examination taught her the nature of the
accusations which would be brought against her. She sat down in her
cell that very night, and, with a rapid pen, sketched that defense
which has been pronounced one of the most eloquent and touching
monuments of the Revolution. It so beautifully illustrates the heroism
of her character, the serenity of her spirit, and the beauty and
energy of her mental operations, that it will ever be read with the
liveliest interest.

     "I am accused," she writes, "of being the accomplice of men
     called conspirators. My intimacy with a few of these gentlemen is
     of much older date than the occurrences in consequence of which
     they are now deemed rebels. Our correspondence, since they left
     Paris, has been entirely foreign to public affairs. Properly
     speaking, I have been engaged in no political correspondence
     whatever, and in that respect I might confine myself to a simple
     denial. I certainly can not be called upon to give an account of
     my particular affections. I have, however, the right to be proud
     of these friendships. I glory in them. I wish to conceal nothing.
     I acknowledge that, with expressions of regret at my confinement,
     I received an intimation that Duperret had two letters for me,
     whether written by one or by two of my friends, before or after
     their leaving Paris, I can not say. Duperret had delivered them
     into other hands, and they never came to mine. Another time I
     received a pressing invitation to break my chains, and an offer
     of services, to assist me in effecting my escape in any way I
     might think proper, and to convey me whithersoever I might
     afterward wish to go. I was dissuaded from listening to such
     proposals by duty and by honor: by duty, that I might not
     endanger the safety of those to whose care I was confided; and by
     honor, because I preferred the risk of an unjust trial to
     exposing myself to the suspicion of guilt by a flight unworthy of
     me. When I consented to my arrest, it was not with the intention
     of afterward making my escape. Without doubt, if all means of
     communication had not been cut off, or if I had not been
     prevented by confinement, I should have endeavored to learn what
     had become of my friends. I know of no law by which my doing so
     is forbidden. In what age or in what nation was it ever
     considered a crime to be faithful to those sentiments of esteem
     and brotherly affection which bind man to man?

     "I do not pretend to judge of the measures of those who have been
     proscribed, but I will never believe in the evil intentions of
     men of whose probity and patriotism I am thoroughly convinced. If
     they erred, it was unintentionally. They fall without being
     abased, and I regard them as being unfortunate without being
     liable to blame. I am perfectly easy as to their glory, and
     willingly consent to participate in the honor of being oppressed
     by their enemies. They are accused of having conspired against
     their country, but I know that they were firm friends of the
     Republic. They were, however, humane men, and were persuaded that
     good laws were necessary to procure the Republic the good will of
     persons who doubted whether the Republic could be maintained. It
     is more difficult to conciliate than to kill. The history of
     every age proves that it requires great talents to lead men to
     virtue by wise institutions, while force suffices to oppress them
     by terror, or to annihilate them by death. I have often heard
     them assert that abundance, as well as happiness, can only
     proceed from an equitable, protecting, and beneficent government.
     The omnipotence of the bayonet may produce fear, but not bread. I
     have seen them animated by the most lively enthusiasm for the
     good of the people, disdaining to flatter them, and resolved
     rather to fall victims to their delusion than to be the means of
     keeping it up. I confess that these principles and this conduct
     appeared to me totally different from the sentiments and
     proceedings of tyrants, or ambitious men, who seek to please the
     people to effect their subjugation. It inspired me with the
     highest esteem for those generous men. This error, if an error it
     be, will accompany me to the grave, whither I shall be proud of
     following those whom I was not permitted to accompany.

     "My defense is more important for those who wish for the truth
     than it is for myself. Calm and contented in the consciousness of
     having done my duty, I look forward to futurity with perfect
     peace of mind. My serious turn and studious habits have preserved
     me alike from the follies of dissipation and from the bustle of
     intrigue. A friend to liberty, on which reflection had taught me
     to set a just value, I beheld the Revolution with delight,
     persuaded it was destined to put an end to the arbitrary power I
     detested, and to the abuses I had so often lamented, when
     reflecting with pity upon the indigent classes of society. I took
     an interest in the progress of the Revolution, and spoke with
     warmth of public affairs, but I did not pass the bounds
     prescribed by my sex. Some small talents, a considerable share of
     philosophy, a degree of courage more uncommon, and which did not
     permit me to weaken my husband's energy in dangerous times--such,
     perhaps, are the qualities which those who know me may have
     indiscreetly extolled, and which may have made me enemies among
     those to whom I am unknown. M. Roland sometimes employed me as a
     secretary, and the famous letter to the king, for instance, is
     copied entirely in my hand-writing. This would be an excellent
     item to add to my indictment, if the _Austrians_ were trying me,
     and if they should have thought fit to extend a minister's
     responsibility to his wife. But M. Roland long ago manifested his
     knowledge of, and his attachment to, the great principles of
     political economy. The proof is to be found in his numerous works
     published during the last fifteen years. His learning and his
     probity are all his own. He stood in no need of a wife to make
     him an able minister. Never were secret councils held at his
     house. His colleagues and a few friends met once a week at his
     table, and there conversed, in a public manner, on matters in
     which every body was concerned. His writings, which breathe
     throughout a love of order and peace, and which enforce the best
     principles of public prosperity and morals, will forever attest
     his wisdom. His accounts prove his integrity.

     "As to the offense imputed to me, I observe that I never was
     intimate with Duperret. I saw him occasionally at the time of M.
     Roland's administration. He never came to our house during the
     six months that my husband was no longer in office. The same
     remark will apply to other members, our friends, which surely
     does not accord with the plots and conspiracies laid to our
     charge. It is evident, by my first letter to Duperret, I only
     wrote to him because I knew not to whom else to address myself,
     and because I imagined he would readily consent to oblige me. My
     correspondence with him could not, then, be concerted. It could
     not be the consequence of any previous intimacy, and could have
     only one object in view. It gave me afterward an opportunity of
     receiving accounts from those who had just absented themselves,
     and with whom I was connected by the ties of friendship,
     independently of all political considerations. The latter were
     totally out of the question in the kind of correspondence I kept
     up with them during the early part of their absence. No written
     memorial bears witness against me in that respect. Those adduced
     only lead to the belief that I partook of the opinions and
     sentiments of the persons called conspirators. This deduction is
     well founded. I confess it without reserve. I am proud of the
     conformity. But I never manifested my opinion in a way which can
     be construed into a crime, or which tended to occasion any
     disturbance. Now, to become an accomplice in any plan whatever,
     it is necessary to give advice, or to furnish means of execution.
     I have done neither. There is no law to condemn me.

     "I know that, in revolutions, law as well as justice is often
     forgotten, and the proof of it is that I am here. I owe my trial
     to nothing but the prejudices and violent animosities which arise
     in times of great agitation, and which are generally directed
     against those who have been placed in conspicuous situations, or
     are known to possess any energy or spirit. It would have been
     easy for my courage to put me out of the reach of the sentence
     which I foresaw would be pronounced against me. But I thought it
     rather became me to undergo that sentence. I thought that I owed
     the example to my country. I thought that if I were to be
     condemned, it must be right to leave to tyranny all the odium of
     sacrificing a woman, whose crime is that of possessing some
     small talent, which she never misapplied, a zealous desire to
     promote the welfare of mankind, and courage enough to acknowledge
     her friends when in misfortune, and to do homage to virtue at the
     risk of life. Minds which have any claim to greatness are capable
     of divesting themselves of selfish considerations. They feel that
     they belong to the whole human race. Their views are directed to
     posterity. I am the wife of a virtuous man exposed to
     persecution. I was the friend of men who have been proscribed and
     immolated by delusion, and the hatred of jealous mediocrity. It
     is necessary that I should perish in my turn, because it is a
     rule with tyranny to sacrifice those whom it has grievously
     oppressed, and to annihilate the very witnesses of its misdeeds.
     I have this double claim to death at your hands, and I expect it.
     When innocence walks to the scaffold at the command of error and
     perversity, every step she takes is an advance toward glory. May
     I be the last victim sacrificed to the furious spirit of party. I
     shall leave with joy this unfortunate earth, which swallows up
     the friends of virtue and drinks the blood of the just.

     "Truth! friendship! my country! sacred objects, sentiments dear
     to my heart, accept my last sacrifice. My life was devoted to
     you, and you will render my death easy and glorious.

     "Just Heaven! enlighten this unfortunate people for whom I
     desired liberty. Liberty! it is for noble minds, who despise
     death, and who know how, upon occasion, to give it to themselves.
     It is not for weak beings, who enter into a composition with
     guilt, and cover selfishness and cowardice with the name of
     prudence. It is not for corrupt wretches, who rise from the bed
     of debauchery, or from the mire of indigence, to feast their eyes
     upon the blood that streams from the scaffold. It is the portion
     of a people who delight in humanity, practice justice, despise
     their flatterers, and respect the truth. While you are not such a
     people, O my fellow-citizens! you will talk in vain of liberty.
     Instead of liberty you will have licentiousness, to which you
     will all fall victims in your turn. You will ask for bread; dead
     bodies will be given you, and you at last will bow down your own
     necks to the yoke.

     "I have neither concealed my sentiments nor my opinions. I know
     that a Roman lady was sent to the scaffold for lamenting the
     death of her son. I know that, in times of delusion and party
     rage, he who dares avow himself the friend of the condemned or
     of the proscribed exposes himself to their fate. But I have no
     fear of death. I never feared any thing but guilt, and I will not
     purchase life at the expense of a base subterfuge. Woe to the
     times! woe to the people among whom doing homage to disregarded
     truth can be attended with danger; and happy is he who, in such
     circumstances, is bold enough to brave it.

     "It is now your part to see whether it answer your purpose to
     condemn me without proof upon mere matter of opinion, and without
     the support or justification of any law."

Having concluded this magnanimous defense, which she wrote in one
evening with the rapidity which characterized all her mental
operations, she retired to rest, and slept with the serenity of a
child. She was called upon several times by committees sent from the
revolutionary tribunal for examination. They were resolved to take her
life, but were anxious to do it, if possible, under the forms of law.
She passed through all their examinations with the most perfect
composure and the most dignified self-possession. Her enemies could
not withhold their expressions of admiration as they saw her in her
sepulchral cell of stone and of iron, cheerful, fascinating, and
perfectly at ease. She knew that she was to be led from that cell to a
violent death, and yet no faltering of soul could be detected. Her
spirit had apparently achieved a perfect victory over all earthly
ills.

The upper part of the door of her cell was an iron grating. The
surrounding cells were filled with the most illustrious ladies and
gentlemen of France. As the hour of death drew near, her courage and
animation seemed to increase. Her features glowed with enthusiasm; her
thoughts and expressions were refulgent with sublimity, and her whole
aspect assumed the impress of one appointed to fill some great and
lofty destiny. She remained but a few days in the Conciergerie before
she was led to the scaffold. During those few days, by her example and
her encouraging words, she spread among the numerous prisoners there
an enthusiasm and a spirit of heroism which elevated, above the fear
of the scaffold, even the most timid and depressed. This glow of
feeling and exhilaration gave a new impress of sweetness and
fascination to her beauty. The length of her captivity, the calmness
with which she contemplated the certain approach of death, gave to her
voice that depth of tone and slight tremulousness of utterance which
sent her eloquent words home with thrilling power to every heart.
Those who were walking in the corridor, or who were the occupants of
adjoining cells, often called for her to speak to them words of
encouragement and consolation.

Standing upon a stool at the door of her own cell, she grasped with
her hands the iron grating which separated her from her audience. This
was her tribune. The melodious accents of her voice floated along the
labyrinthine avenues of those dismal dungeons, penetrating cell after
cell, and arousing energy in hearts which had been abandoned to
despair. It was, indeed, a strange scene which was thus witnessed in
these sepulchral caverns. The silence, as of the grave, reigned there,
while the clear and musical tones of Madame Roland, as of an angel of
consolation, vibrated through the rusty bars, and along the dark, damp
cloisters. One who was at that time an inmate of the prison, and
survived those dreadful scenes, has described, in glowing terms, the
almost miraculous effects of her soul-moving eloquence. She was
already past the prime of life, but she was still fascinating.
Combined with the most wonderful power of expression, she possessed a
voice so exquisitely musical, that, long after her lips were silenced
in death, its tones vibrated in lingering strains in the souls of
those by whom they had ever been heard. The prisoners listened with
the most profound attention to her glowing words, and regarded her
almost as a celestial spirit, who had come to animate them to heroic
deeds. She often spoke of the Girondists who had already perished upon
the guillotine. With perfect fearlessness she avowed her friendship
for them, and ever spoke of them as _our friends_. She, however, was
careful never to utter a word which would bring tears into the eye.
She wished to avoid herself all the weakness of tender emotions, and
to lure the thoughts of her companions away from every contemplation
which could enervate their energies.

Occasionally, in the solitude of her cell, as the image of her husband
and of her child rose before her, and her imagination dwelt upon her
desolated home and her blighted hopes--her husband denounced and
pursued by lawless violence, and her child soon to be an
orphan--woman's tenderness would triumph over the heroine's stoicism.
Burying, for a moment, her face in her hands, she would burst into a
flood of tears. Immediately struggling to regain composure, she would
brush her tears away, and dress her countenance in its accustomed
smiles. She remained in the Conciergerie but one week, and during that
time so endeared herself to all as to become the prominent object of
attention and love. Her case is one of the most extraordinary the
history of the world has presented, in which the very highest degree
of heroism is combined with the most resistless charms of feminine
loveliness. An unfeminine woman can never be _loved_ by men. She may
be respected for her talents, she may be honored for her philanthropy,
but she can not win the warmer emotions of the heart. But Madame
Roland, with an energy of will, an infallibility of purpose, a
firmness of stoical endurance which no mortal man has ever exceeded,
combined that gentleness, and tenderness, and affection--that
instinctive sense of the proprieties of her sex--which gathered around
her a love as pure and as enthusiastic as woman ever excited. And
while her friends, many of whom were the most illustrious men in
France, had enthroned her as an idol in their hearts, the breath of
slander never ventured to intimate that she was guilty even of an
impropriety.

The day before her trial, her advocate, Chauveau de la Garde, visited
her to consult respecting her defense. She, well aware that no one
could speak a word in her favor but at the peril of his own life, and
also fully conscious that her doom was already sealed, drew a ring
from her finger, and said to him,

"To-morrow I shall be no more. I know the fate which awaits me. Your
kind assistance can not avail aught for me, and would but endanger
you. I pray you, therefore, not to come to the tribunal, but to accept
of this last testimony of my regard."

The next day she was led to her trial. She attired herself in a white
robe, as a symbol of her innocence, and her long dark hair fell in
thick curls on her neck and shoulders. She emerged from her dungeon a
vision of unusual loveliness. The prisoners who were walking in the
corridors gathered around her, and with smiles and words of
encouragement she infused energy into their hearts. Calm and
invincible she met her judges. She was accused of the crimes of being
the wife of M. Roland and the friend of his friends. Proudly she
acknowledged herself guilty of both those charges. Whenever she
attempted to utter a word in her defense, she was brow-beaten by the
judges, and silenced by the clamors of the mob which filled the
tribunal. The mob now ruled with undisputed sway in both legislative
and executive halls. The serenity of her eye was untroubled, and the
composure of her disciplined spirit unmoved, save by the exaltation of
enthusiasm, as she noted the progress of the trial, which was bearing
her rapidly and resistlessly to the scaffold. It was, however,
difficult to bring any accusation against her by which, under the form
of law, she could be condemned. France, even in its darkest hour, was
rather ashamed to behead a woman, upon whom the eyes of all Europe
were fixed, simply for being the _wife of her husband and the friend
of his friends_. At last the president demanded of her that she should
reveal her husband's asylum. She proudly replied,

"I do not know of any law by which I can be obliged to violate the
strongest feelings of nature." This was sufficient, and she was
immediately condemned. Her sentence was thus expressed:

     "The public accuser has drawn up the present indictment against
     Jane Mary Phlippon, the wife of Roland, late Minister of the
     Interior for having wickedly and designedly aided and assisted
     in the conspiracy which existed against the unity and
     indivisibility of the Republic, against the liberty and safety of
     the French people, by assembling, at her house, in secret
     council, the principal chiefs of that conspiracy, and by keeping
     up a correspondence tending to facilitate their treasonable
     designs. The tribunal, having heard the public accuser deliver
     his reasons concerning the application of the law, condemns Jane
     Mary Phlippon, wife of Roland, to the punishment of death."

She listened calmly to her sentence, and then, rising, bowed with
dignity to her judges, and, smiling, said,

"I thank you, gentlemen, for thinking me worthy of sharing the fate of
the great men whom you have assassinated. I shall endeavor to imitate
their firmness on the scaffold."

With the buoyant step of a child, and with a rapidity which almost
betokened joy, she passed beneath the narrow portal, and descended to
her cell, from which she was to be led, with the morning light, to a
bloody death. The prisoners had assembled to greet her on her return,
and anxiously gathered around her. She looked upon them with a smile
of perfect tranquillity, and, drawing her hand across her neck, made
a sign expressive of her doom. But a few hours elapsed between her
sentence and her execution. She retired to her cell, wrote a few words
of parting to her friends, played, upon a harp which had found its way
into the prison, her requiem, in tones so wild and mournful, that,
floating, in the dark hours of the night, through those sepulchral
caverns, they fell like unearthly music upon the despairing souls
there incarcerated.

The morning of the 10th of November, 1793, dawned gloomily upon Paris.
It was one of the darkest days of that reign of terror which, for so
long a period, enveloped France in its somber shades. The ponderous
gates of the court-yard of the Conciergerie opened that morning to a
long procession of carts loaded with victims for the guillotine.
Madame Roland had contemplated her fate too long, and had disciplined
her spirit too severely, to fail of fortitude in this last hour of
trial. She came from her cell scrupulously attired for the bridal of
death. A serene smile was upon her cheek, and the glow of joyous
animation lighted up her features as she waved an adieu to the weeping
prisoners who gathered around her. The last cart was assigned to
Madame Roland. She entered it with a step as light and elastic as if
it were a carriage for a pleasant morning's drive. By her side stood
an infirm old man, M. La Marche. He was pale and trembling, and his
fainting heart, in view of the approaching terror, almost ceased to
beat. She sustained him by her arm, and addressed to him words of
consolation and encouragement, in cheerful accents and with a
benignant smile. The poor old man felt that God had sent an angel to
strengthen him in the dark hour of death. As the cart heavily rumbled
along the pavement, drawing nearer and nearer to the guillotine, two
or three times, by her cheerful words, she even caused a smile faintly
to play upon his pallid lips.

The guillotine was now the principal instrument of amusement for the
populace of Paris. It was so elevated that all could have a good view
of the spectacle it presented. To witness the conduct of nobles and of
ladies, of boys and of girls, while passing through the horrors of a
sanguinary death, was far more exciting than the unreal and bombastic
tragedies of the theater, or the conflicts of the cock-pit and the
bear garden. A countless throng flooded the streets, men, women, and
children, shouting, laughing, execrating. The celebrity of Madame
Roland, her extraordinary grace and beauty, and her aspect, not only
of heroic fearlessness, but of joyous exhilaration, made her the
prominent object of the public gaze. A white robe gracefully enveloped
her perfect form, and her black and glossy hair, which for some reason
the executioners had neglected to cut, fell in rich profusion to her
waist. A keen November blast swept the streets, under the influence of
which, and the excitement of the scene, her animated countenance
glowed with all the ruddy bloom of youth. She stood firmly in the
cart, looking with a serene eye upon the crowds which lined the
streets, and listening with unruffled serenity to the clamor which
filled the air. A large crowd surrounded the cart in which Madame
Roland stood, shouting, "To the guillotine! to the guillotine!" She
looked kindly upon them, and, bending over the railing of the cart,
said to them, in tones as placid as if she were addressing her own
child, "My friends, I _am_ going to the guillotine. In a few moments I
shall be there. They who send me thither will ere long follow me. I go
innocent. They will come stained with blood. You who now applaud our
execution will then applaud theirs with equal zeal."

Madame Roland had continued writing her memoirs until the hour in
which she left her cell for the scaffold. When the cart had almost
arrived at the foot of the guillotine, her spirit was so deeply moved
by the tragic scene--such emotions came rushing in upon her soul from
departing time and opening eternity, that she could not repress the
desire to pen down her glowing thoughts. She entreated an officer to
furnish her for a moment with pen and paper. The request was refused.
It is much to be regretted that we are thus deprived of that unwritten
chapter of her life. It can not be doubted that the words she would
then have written would have long vibrated upon the ear of a listening
world. Soul-utterances will force their way over mountains, and
valleys, and oceans. Despotism can not arrest them. Time can not
enfeeble them.

The long procession arrived at the guillotine, and the bloody work
commenced. The victims were dragged from the carts, and the ax rose
and fell with unceasing rapidity. Head after head fell into the
basket, and the pile of bleeding trunks rapidly increased in size. The
executioners approached the cart where Madame Roland stood by the side
of her fainting companion. With an animated countenance and a
cheerful smile, she was all engrossed in endeavoring to infuse
fortitude into his soul. The executioner grasped her by the arm.
"Stay," said she, slightly resisting his grasp; "I have one favor to
ask, and that is not for myself. I beseech you grant it me." Then
turning to the old man, she said, "Do you precede me to the scaffold.
To see my blood flow would make you suffer the bitterness of death
twice over. I must spare you the pain of witnessing my execution." The
stern officer gave a surly refusal, replying, "My orders are to take
you first." With that winning smile and that fascinating grace which
were almost resistless, she rejoined, "You can not, surely, refuse a
woman her last request." The hard-hearted executor of the law was
brought within the influence of her enchantment. He paused, looked at
her for a moment in slight bewilderment, and yielded. The poor old
man, more dead than alive, was conducted upon the scaffold and placed
beneath the fatal ax. Madame Roland, without the slightest change of
color, or the apparent tremor of a nerve, saw the ponderous
instrument, with its glittering edge, glide upon its deadly mission,
and the decapitated trunk of her friend was thrown aside to give
place for her. With a placid countenance and a buoyant step, she
ascended the platform. The guillotine was erected upon the vacant spot
between the gardens of the Tuileries and the Elysian Fields, then
known as the Place de la Revolution. This spot is now called the Place
de la Concorde. It is unsurpassed by any other place in Europe. Two
marble fountains now embellish the spot. The blood-stained guillotine,
from which crimson rivulets were ever flowing, then occupied the space
upon which one of these fountains has been erected; and a clay statue
to Liberty reared its hypocritical front where the Egyptian obelisk
now rises. Madame Roland stood for a moment upon the elevated
platform, looked calmly around upon the vast concourse, and then
bowing before the colossal statue, exclaimed, "O Liberty! Liberty! how
many crimes are committed in thy name." She surrendered herself to the
executioner, and was bound to the plank. The plank fell to its
horizontal position, bringing her head under the fatal ax. The
glittering steel glided through the groove, and the head of Madame
Roland was severed from her body.

[Illustration: EXECUTION OF MADAME ROLAND.]

Thus died Madame Roland, in the thirty-ninth year of her age. Her
death oppressed all who had known her with the deepest grief. Her
intimate friend Buzot, who was then a fugitive, on hearing the
tidings, was thrown into a state of perfect delirium, from which he
did not recover for many days. Her faithful female servant was so
overwhelmed with grief, that she presented herself before the
tribunal, and implored them to let her die upon the same scaffold
where her beloved mistress had perished. The tribunal, amazed at such
transports of attachment, declared that she was mad, and ordered her
to be removed from their presence. A man-servant made the same
application, and was sent to the guillotine.

The grief of M. Roland, when apprised of the event, was unbounded. For
a time he entirely lost his senses. Life to him was no longer
endurable. He knew not of any consolations of religion. Philosophy
could only nerve him to stoicism. Privately he left, by night, the
kind friends who had hospitably concealed him for six months, and
wandered to such a distance from his asylum as to secure his
protectors from any danger on his account. Through the long hours of
the winter's night he continued his dreary walk, till the first gray
of the morning appeared in the east. Drawing a long stiletto from the
inside of his walking-stick, he placed the head of it against the
trunk of a tree, and threw himself upon the sharp weapon. The point
pierced his heart, and he fell lifeless upon the frozen ground. Some
peasants passing by discovered his body. A piece of paper was pinned
to the breast of his coat, upon which there were written these words:
"Whoever thou art that findest these remains, respect them as those of
a virtuous man. After hearing of my wife's death, I would not stay
another day in a world so stained with crime."

The daughter of Madame Roland succeeded in escaping the fury of the
tyrants of the Revolution. She lived surrounded by kind protectors,
and in subsequent years was married to M. Champeneaux, the son of one
of her mother's intimate friends.

Such was the wonderful career of Madame Roland. It is a history full
of instruction, and ever reminds us that truth is stranger than
fiction.

                         THE END.



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTES:

1. Minor changes have been made to correct typesetters' errors, and to
ensure consistent spelling and punctuation in this etext; otherwise,
every effort has been made to remain true to the original book.

2. The sidenotes used in this text were originally published as
banners in the page headers, and have been collected at the beginning
of each chapter for the reader's convenience.





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