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Title: The French Revolution of 1789 - As Viewed in the Light of Republican Institutions
Author: Abbott, John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot)
Language: English
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[Illustration: MARIE ANTOINETTE.]


As Viewed in the Light of Republican Institutions.



With One Hundred Engravings.

New York:
Harper & Brothers, Publishers,
Franklin Square.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight
hundred and fifty-nine, by
Harper & Brothers,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of
New York.


For some years the author of this work has been collecting materials
for writing the history of the French Revolution. With this object in
view he has visited Paris, wishing also to become familiar with the
localities rendered immortal by the varied acts of this drama--the
most memorable tragedy, perhaps, which has as yet been enacted upon
the theatre of time. In addition to the aids which he has thus derived
from a brief sojourn in Paris, he has also found the library of Bowdoin
College peculiarly rich in all those works of religious and political
philosophizings which preceded and ushered in these events, and in the
narratives of those contemporary historians who recorded the scenes as
they occurred, or which they themselves witnessed. Governor Bowdoin,
whose library was the nucleus of the present college library, seems to
have taken a special interest in collecting all the writings of the
French philosophers and all the works of contemporary authors bearing
upon the French Revolution, including--the most important of all--full
files of the Moniteur.

The writer would not take up his pen merely to repeat the story
which has so often and so graphically been told before. But it is
expecting too much of human nature to imagine that the struggles of an
oppressed people to emancipate themselves from feudal despotism can
be impartially narrated in the castles of nobles or in the courts of
kings. It is inevitable that the judgment which is pronounced upon the
events which such a struggle involves will be biased by the political
principles of the observer. Precisely the same transaction will by one
be condemned and by another applauded. He who believes in the divine
right of kings to reign and in the divine obligation of the people
unquestioning to obey, must condemn a people who endeavor to break
the shackles of despotic power, and must applaud kings and nobles
who, with all the energies of bomb-shells, sabres, and iron hoofs,
endeavor to crush the spirit of democratic freedom. On the contrary, he
who accepts the doctrine that sovereignty resides in the people must
commend the efforts of an inthralled nation to sever the chains of
servitude, and must condemn the efforts of kings and nobles to rivet
those chains anew. Thus precisely the same facts will be regarded with
a very different judgment according as the historian is influenced by
political principles in favor of equality of rights or of aristocratic
privilege. The author of this work views the scenes of the French
Revolution from a republican stand-point. His sympathies are strongly
with an oppressed people struggling for political and religious
liberty. All writers, all men profess to love liberty.

"Despots," says De Tocqueville, "acknowledge that liberty is an
excellent thing. But they want it all for themselves, and maintain that
the rest of the world is unworthy of it. Thus there is no difference of
opinion in reference to liberty. We differ only in our appreciation of

To commence the history of the French Revolution with the opening of
the States-General in 1789 is as unphilosophical as to commence the
history of the American Revolution with the battle of Lexington. No man
can comprehend this fearful drama who does not contemplate it in the
light of those ages of oppression which ushered it in. It is in the
horrible despotism of the old monarchy of France that one is to see the
efficient cause of the subsequent frantic struggles of the people.

"The Revolution," says De Tocqueville, "will ever remain in darkness to
those who do not look beyond it. Without a clear view of society in the
olden time, of its laws, its faults, its prejudices, its sufferings,
its greatness, it is impossible to understand the conduct of the French
during the sixty years which have followed its fall."[2]

There is often an impression that the Revolution was a sudden outbreak
of blind unthinking passion--a tempest bursting from a serene sky; or
like a battle in the night--masses rushing blindly in all directions,
and friends and foes in confusion and phrensy smiting each other. But,
on the contrary, the Revolution was of slow growth, a storm which had
been for centuries accumulating. The gathering of the clouds, the
gleam of its embosomed fires, and the roar of its approaching thunders
arrested the attention of the observing long before the storm in all
its fury burst upon France. A careful historic narrative evolves order
from the apparent chaos, and exhibits, running through the tumultuous
scene of terror and of blood, the operation of causes almost as
resistless as the operation of physical laws.

The writer has freely expressed his judgment of the transactions which
he has narrated. "The impartiality of history," says Lamartine, "is
not that of a mirror which merely reflects objects; it should be that
of a judge who sees, listens, and decides."[3] The reader will not be
surprised to find that some occurrences which historians caressed in
regal courts and baronial halls have denounced as insolent and vulgar
are here represented as heroic and noble.

Every generous heart will respond to the sentiment uttered, in this
connection, by Thiers. "I have endeavored to stifle," he says, "within
my own bosom every feeling of animosity. I alternately figured to
myself that, born in a cottage, animated with a just ambition, I was
resolved to acquire what the pride of the higher classes had unjustly
refused me; or that, bred in palaces, the heir to ancient privileges,
it was painful to me to renounce a possession which I regarded as
a legitimate property. Thenceforth I could no longer harbor enmity
against either party. I pitied the combatants, and I indemnified myself
by admiring generous deeds wherever I found them."[4]

One simple moral this whole awful tragedy teaches. It is, that the laws
must be so just as to command the assent of every enlightened Christian
mind, and the masses of the people must be trained to such intelligence
and virtue as to be able to appreciate good laws and to have the
disposition to maintain them. Here lies the only hope of our republic.

The illustrations which embellish these pages are from the artistic
pencil of Mr. C.E. Doepler, who went to Paris that he might with more
historical accuracy delineate both costumes and localities. To the
kindness of Messrs. Goupil & Co. we are indebted for the privilege
of copying the exquisite engraving of Marie Antoinette at the
Revolutionary tribunal, which forms the Frontispiece.

 John S. C. Abbott.

  Brunswick, Maine, Nov., 1858.


[Footnote 1: The Old Régime and the Revolution, by Alexis de
Tocqueville, Introduction, p. xi.]

[Footnote 2: Ib., p. 253.]

[Footnote 3: Lamartine, History of the Girondists, i., 10]

[Footnote 4: Thiers, French Revolution, Introduction.]




  Extent of France.--Character of its early Inhabitants.--Conquest of
  Gaul.--Barbarian Invasion.--The  Franks.--Pharamond.--Clovis.
  --Introduction of Christianity.--Clotilda.--Merovingian
  Dynasty.--Fields of March.--Anecdote of Clovis.--The Parisii.--Strife
  with the Nobles.--Moorish  Invasion.--Charles Martel.--Pepin.--Fields
  of May.--Charlemagne.--His Policy.--Feudal  System.--The Church.--Rolls.
  --Louis V.--Hugh Capet.--Parliament established  by Philip the Fair
                                                                    Page 17



  The House of Valois.--Luxury of the Court and the Nobles.--Insurrection.
  --Jaques Bonhomme.--Henry III.--Henry IV., of Navarre.--Cardinal
  Richelieu.--French Academy.--Regency of Anne of Austria.--Palaces of
  France.--The Noble and the Ennobled.--Persecution of the Protestants.
  --Edict of Nantes.--Its Revocation.--Distress of the Protestants.--Death
  of Louis XIV.                                                          25



  State of France.--The Regency.--Financial Embarrassment.--Crimes of
  the Rulers.--Recoining the Currency.--Renewed Persecution of the
  Protestants.--Bishop Dubois.--Philosophy of Voltaire.--Anecdote of
  Franklin.--The King's Favorites.--Mademoiselle Poisson.--Her Ascendency.
  --_Parc aux Cerfs._--Illustrative Anecdote.--Letter to the King.
  --Testimony of Chesterfield.--Anecdote of La Fayette.--Death of
  Pompadour.--Mademoiselle Lange.--Power of Du Barry.--Death of
  Louis XV.                                                               34



  Assumptions of the Aristocracy.--Molière.--Decay of the Nobility.
  --Decline of the Feudal System.--Difference between France and the
  United States.--Mortification of Men of Letters.--Voltaire,
  Montesquieu, Rousseau.--Corruption of the Church.--Diderot.
  --The Encyclopedists.--Testimony of De Tocqueville.--Frederic II. of
  Prussia.--Two Classes of Opponents of Christianity.--Enormity of
  Taxation.--Misery of the People.--"Good old Times of the Monarchy!"    45



  Absolute Power of the King.--_Lettres de Cachet._--The Bastille.
  --Cardinal Balue.--Harancourt.--Charles of Armanac.--Constant de
  Renville.--Duke of Nemours.--Dungeons of the Bastille.--_Oubliettes._
  --Dessault.--M. Massat.--M. Catalan.--Latude.--The Student.--Apostrophe
  of Michelet                                                            53



  Death of Louis XV.--Education of Louis XVI.--Maurepas, Prime Minister.
  --Turgot; his Expulsion from Office.--Necker.--Franklin.--Sympathy with
  the Americans.--La Fayette.--Views of the Court.--Treaty with America.
  --Popularity of Voltaire.--Embarrassment of Necker.--_Compte Rendu au
  Roi._--Necker driven into Exile.--Enslavement of France.--New
  Extravagance.--Calonne                                                 57



  Measures of Brienne.--The Bed of Justice.--Remonstrance of Parliament.
  --Parliament Exiled.--Submission of Parliament.--Duke of Orleans.
  --Treasonable Plans of the Duke of Orleans.--Anxiety of the Queen.
  --The Diamond Necklace.--Monsieur, the King's Brother.--Bagatelle.
  --Desperation of Brienne.--Edict for abolishing the Parliaments.
  --Energy of the Court.--Arrest of D'Espréménil and Goislard.--Tumults
  in Grenoble.--Terrific Hail-storm                                      67



  Recall of Necker.--Reassembling the Notables.--Pamphlet of the Abbé
  Sièyes.--Vote of the  King's Brother.--His supposed Motive.--The Basis
  of Representation.--Arrangements for the Meeting of the States.
  --Statement of Grievances.--Mirabeau; his Menace.--Sympathy of the
  Curates with the  People.--Remonstrance of the Nobles.--First Riot.
  --Meeting of the States-General.--New Effort of the privileged Classes 77



  Opening of the States-General.--Sermon of the Bishop of Nancy.--Insult
  to the Deputies of the People.--Aspect of Mirabeau.--Boldness of the
  Third Estate.--Journal of Mirabeau.--Commencement of the Conflict.--First
  Appearance of Robespierre.--Decided Stand taken by the Commons.--Views of
  the Curates.--Dismay of the Nobles.--Excitement in Paris.--The National
  Assembly.--The Oath                                                    85



  First Acts of the Assembly.--Confusion of the Court.--Hall of the
  Assembly closed.--Adjournment to the Tennis-court.--Cabinet Councils.
  --Despotic Measures.--The Tennis-court closed.--Exultation of the Court.
  --Union with the Clergy.--Peril of the Assembly.--The Royal Sitting.
 --Speech of the King                                                    92



  Speech of Mirabeau.--Approach of the Soldiers and Peril of the Assembly.
  --Elation of the Queen.--Triumph of Necker.--Embarrassment of the Bishops
  and the Nobles.--Letter of the King.--The Bishops and Nobles join the
  Assembly.--Desperate Resolve of the Nobles.--The Troops sympathizing with
  the People                                                             99



  Marshal Broglie.--Gatherings at the Palais Royal.--Disaffection of the
  Soldiers.--Imprisonment and Rescue.--Fraternization.--Petition to the
  Assembly.--Wishes of the Patriots.--Movement of the Troops.--Speech of
  Mirabeau.--New Menaces.--Declaration of Rights.--Dismissal of Necker.
  --Commotion in Paris.--Camille Desmoulins.--The French Guards join the
  People.--Terror in Paris.--Character of the King                      103



  The Assembly petitions the King.--Resolves of the Assembly.--Narrative
  of M. Dumont.--Scenes in Paris.--The People organize for Self-defense.
  --The new Cockade.--The Abbé Lefebvre d'Ormesson.--Treachery of the
  Mayor, Flesselles.--Character of De Launey, Governor of the Bastille.
  --Sacking the Invalides.--The Bastille Assailed.--Assassination of De
  Launey and of Flesselles                                              112



  Rout of the Cavalry of Lambesc.--Tidings of the Capture of the Bastille
  reach Versailles.--Consternation of the Court.--Midnight Interview
  between the Duke of Liancourt and the King.--New Delegation from the
  Assembly.--The King visits the Assembly.--The King escorted back to his
  Palace.--Fickleness of the Monarch.--Deputation sent to the Hôtel de
  Ville.--Address of La Fayette.--La Fayette appointed Commander of the
  National Guard                                                        122



  Views of the Patriots.--Pardon of the French Guards.--Religious
  Ceremonies.--Recall of Necker.--The King visits Paris.--Action of the
  Clergy.--The King at the Hôtel de Ville.--Return of the King to
  Versailles.--Count d'Artois, the Polignacs, and others leave France.
  --Insolence of the Servants.--Sufferings of the People.--Persecution of
  the Corn-dealers.--Berthier of Toulon.--M. Foulon.--Their Assassination.
  --Humane Attempts of Necker.--Abolition of Feudal Rights              127



  Arming of the Peasants.--Destruction of Feudal Charters.--Sermon of the
  Abbé Fauchet.--Three Classes in the Assembly.--Declaration of Rights.
 --The Three Assemblies.--The Power of the Press.--Efforts of William Pitt
  to sustain the Nobles.--Questions on the Constitution.--Two Chambers in
  one?--The Veto.--Famine in the City.--The King's Plate melted.--The
  Tax of a Quarter of each one's Income.--Statement of Jefferson        141



  Waning Popularity of La Fayette.--The King contemplates Flight.--Letter
  of Admiral d'Estaing.--The Flanders Regiment called to Versailles.--Fête
  in the Ball-room at Versailles.--Insurrection of the Women; their March
  to Versailles.--Horrors of the Night of October 5th.--The Royal Family
  conveyed to Paris                                                     155



  Kind Feelings of the People.--Emigration receives a new Impulse.--The
  National Assembly transferred to Paris.--The Constituent Assembly.
  --Assassination of François.--Anxiety of the Patriots.--Gloomy Winter.
  --Contrast between the Bishops and the laboring Clergy.--Church
  Funds seized by the Assembly.--The Church responsible for the Degradation
  of the People.--New Division of France.--The Right of Suffrage.--The
  Guillotine.--Rabaud de St. Etienne                                    165



  The King visits the Assembly.--His Speech.--The Priests rouse the
  Populace.--The King's Salary.--Petition of Talma.--Views of Napoleon.
  --Condemnation and Execution of the Marquis of Favrus.--Spirit of
  the New Constitution.--National Jubilee.--The Queen sympathizes
  with the Popular Movement.--Writings of Edmund Burke                  175



  Riot at Nancy.--Prosecution of Mirabeau.--Issue of Assignats.--Mirabeau's
  Interview with the Queen.--Four political Parties.--Bishops refuse to
  take the Oath to the Constitution.--Character of the Emigrants.--The
  King's Aunts attempt to leave France.--Debates upon Emigration.
  --Embarrassment of the Assembly.--Death of Mirabeau.--His Funeral.
  --The King prevented from visiting St. Cloud.--Duplicity of the King.
  --Conference of the Allies.--Their Plan of Invasion.--Measures for the
  Escape of the King.--The Flight                                       188



  Arrival at Varennes.--The Party arrested.--Personal Appearance of the
  King.--The Guards fraternize with the People.--Indignation of the Crowd.
  --The Captives compelled to return to Paris.--Dismay of M. de Bouillé.
  --Excitement in Paris.--The Mob ransack the Tuileries.--Acts of the
  Assembly.--Decisive Action of La Fayette.--Proclamation of the King.
  --The Jacobin Club.--Unanimity of France                              200



  Proclamation of Marat.--Three Commissioners sent to meet the King.
  --Address to the Nation from the Assembly.--The slow and painful Return.
  --Conversation between Barnave and the Queen.--Brutality of Pétion.
  --Sufferings of the Royal Family.--Reception of the King in Paris.
  --Conduct of the Queen.--Noble Avowal of La Fayette.--Statement of the
  King.--Menace of Bouillé                                              214



  The Remains of Voltaire removed to the Pantheon.--Decision of the
  Assembly on the Flight of the King.--Thomas Paine.--Views of the
  Constitutional Monarchists.--Message from La Fayette to the King of
  Austria.--The Jacobins summon the Populace to the Field of Mars.--Mandate
  of the Jacobins.--The Crowd on the Field of Mars dispersed by the
  Military.--Completion of the Constitution.--Remarkable Conversation of
  Napoleon.--The King formally accepts the Constitution.--Great, but
  transient, Popularity of the Royal Family                             222



  Sentiments of the King and Queen upon the Constitution.--The Legislative
  Assembly.--Its democratic Spirit.--The King's Speech.--Painful Scene.
  --The Queen plans Escape.--Riot in the Theatre.--Infatuation of the
  Aristocrats.--Insult to the Duke of Orleans.--Embarrassment of the
  Allies.--Replies to the King from the European Powers.--The Emigrants at
  Coblentz.--The King's Veto.--Letters of the King to his Brothers.--Their
  Replies.--Cruel Edicts.--Pétion chosen Mayor.--The King visits the
  Assembly.--Rise of the Republican Party                               236



  Death of Leopold.--Assassination of Gustavus.--Interview between
  Dumouriez and the Queen.--Discussion in the Assembly.--The Duke of
  Brunswick.--Interview of Barnave with the Queen.--Interview between
  Dumouriez and the King.--Dismissal of M. Roland.--The Palace invaded.
  --Fortitude of the King.--Pétion, the Mayor.--Affecting Interview of
  the Royal Family.--Remarks of Napoleon                                246



  Angry Interview between the King and the Mayor.--Decisive Action of La
  Fayette.--Expectations of the Queen.--Movement of the Prussian Army.
  --Efforts of the Priests.--Secret Committee of Royalists.--Terror in
  the Palace.--The Queen's View of the King's Character.--Parties
  in France.--Energetic Action of the Assembly.--Speech of Vergniaud    262



  The Country proclaimed in Danger.--Plan of La Fayette for the Safety of
  the Royal Family.--Measures of the Court.--Celebration of the Demolition
  of the Bastille.--Movement of the Allied Army.--Conflicting Plans of the
  People.--Letter of the Girondists to the King.--Manifesto of the Duke of
  Brunswick.--Unpopularity of La Fayette.--The Attack upon the Tuileries,
  Aug. 10th.--The Royal Family take Refuge in the Assembly              271



  Tumult and Dismay in the Assembly.--Storming the Tuileries.--Aspect of
  the Royal Family.--The Decree of Suspension.--Night in the Cloister.
  --The second Day in the Assembly.--The Royal Family Prisoners.--Third
  Day in the Assembly.--The Temple.--The Royal Family transferred to the
  Temple                                                                286



  Supremacy of the Jacobins.--Their energetic Measures.--The Assembly
  threatened.--Commissioners sent to the Army.--Spirit of the Court Party
  in England.--Speech of Edmund Burke.--Triumphant March of the Allies.
  --The Nation summoned _en masse_ to resist the Foe.--Murder of the
  Princess Lamballe.--Apology of the Assassins.--Robespierre and St. Just.
  --Views of Napoleon                                                   295



  Assassination of Royalists at Versailles.--Jacobin Ascendancy.--The
  National Convention.--Two Parties, the Girondists and the Jacobins.
  --Abolition of Royalty.--Madame Roland.--Battle of Jemappes.--Mode of
  Life in the Temple.--Insults to the Royal Family.--New Acts of Rigor.
  --Trial of the King.--Separation of the Royal Family.--The Indictment.
  --The King begs for Bread                                             308



  Close of the Examination.--The King's Counsel.--Heroism of Malesherbes.
  --Preparations for Defense.--Gratitude of the King.--The Trial.
  --Protracted Vote.--The Result.--The King solicits the Delay of Execution
  for three Days.--Last Interview with his Family.--Preparation for Death.
  --The Execution                                                       318



  Charges against the Girondists.--Danton.--The French Embassador ordered
  to leave England.--War declared against England.--Navy of England.
  --Internal War.--Plot to assassinate the Girondists.--Bold Words of
  Vergniaud.--Insurrection in La Vendée.--Conflict between Dumouriez and
  the Assembly.--Flight of Dumouriez.--The Mob aroused and the Girondists
  arrested.--Charlotte Corday.--France rises _en masse_ to repel the
  Allies.--The treasonable Surrender of Toulon                          331



  Marie Antoinette in the Temple.--Conspiracies for the Rescue of the Royal
  Family.--The young Dauphin torn from his Mother.--Phrensy of the Queen.
  --She is removed to the Conciergerie.--Indignities and Woes.--The Queen
  led to Trial.--Letter to her Sister.--The Execution of the Queen.--Madame
  Elizabeth led to Trial and Execution.--Fate of the Princess and the
  Dauphin                                                               345



  Views of the Girondists.--Anecdote of Vergniaud.--The Girondists brought
  to Trial.--Suicide of Valazé.--Anguish of Desmoulins.--Fonfrede and
  Ducos.--Last Supper of the Girondists.--Their Execution.--The Duke of
  Orleans; his Execution.--Activity of the Guillotine.--Humane
  Legislation.--Testimony of Desodoards.--Anacharsis Cloots.
 --The New Era                                                          353



  Continued Persecution of the Girondists.--Robespierre opposes the
  Atheists.--Danton, Souberbielle, and Camille Desmoulins.--The _Vieux
  Cordelier_.--The Hebertists executed.--Danton assailed.--Interview
  between Danton and Robespierre.--Danton warned of his Peril.--Camille
  Desmoulins and others arrested.--Lucile, the Wife of Desmoulins.
  --Letters.--Execution of the Dantonists.--Arrest and Execution of Lucile.
  --Toulon recovered by Bonaparte                                       361



  Inexplicable Character of Robespierre.--Cécile Regnault.--Fête in honor
  of the Supreme Being.--Increase of Victims.--The Triumvirate.--Suspicions
  of Robespierre.--Struggle between Robespierre and the Committee of Public
  Safety.--Conspiracy against Robespierre.--Session of the 27th of July.
  --Robespierre and his Friends arrested.--Efforts to save Robespierre.
  --Peril of the Convention.--Execution of Robespierre and his Confederates



  The Reign of Committees.--The _Jeunesse Dorée_.--The Reaction.--Motion
  against Fouquier Tinville.--Apotheosis of Rousseau.--Battle of Fleurus.
  --Brutal Order of the Committee of Public Welfare.--Composition of the
  two Parties.--Speech of Billaud Varennes.--Speech of Légendre.--The
  Club-house of the Jacobins closed.--Victories of Pichegru.--Alliance
  between Holland and France.--Advance of Kleber.--Peace with Prussia.
  --Quiberon.--Riot in Lyons                                            389



  Famine in Paris.--Strife between the Jeunesse Dorée and the Jacobins.
  --Riots.--Scene in the Convention.--War with the Allies.--A new
  Constitution.--Insurrection of the Sections.--Energy of General
  Bonaparte.--Discomfiture of the Sections.--Narrative of the Duchess of
  Abrantes.--Clemency of the Convention.--Its final Acts and Dissolution,
  and Establishment of the Directory                                    398



  Constitution of the Directory.--Distracted State of Public Affairs.--New
  Expedition to La Vendée.--Death of the Dauphin.--Release of the Princess.
  --Pacification of La Vendée.--Riots in London.--Execution of Charette.
  --Napoleon takes command of the Army of Italy.--Thefirst Proclamation.
  --Triumphs in Italy.--Letter of General Hoche.--Peace with Spain.
  --Establishment of the Cispadane Republic.--Negotiations with England.
  --Contemplated Invasion of Ireland.--Memorials of Wolfe Tone.--Deplorable
  State of Public Affairs.--Description of Napoleon.--Composition of the
  Directory                                                             411



  Proclamation of Napoleon.--March into Austria.--Letter to the Archduke
  Charles.--Preliminaries of Peace.--Union of Parties against the
  Directory.--Triumph of the Directory.--Agency of Napoleon.--Severe
  Measures of the Directory.--Indignation of Napoleon.--Dictatorship of
  the Directory.--Dismay of the Royalists.--Treaty of Campo Formio.
  --Napoleon's Address to the Cispadane Republic.--Remarks of Napoleon.
  --Plan for the Invasion of India.--Expedition to Egypt.--New Coalition.
  --Rastadt                                                             421




  Extent of France.--Character of its early
  Inhabitants.--Conquest of Gaul.--Barbarian Invasion.--The
  Franks.--Pharamond.--Clovis.--Introduction of
  Christianity.--Clotilda.--Merovingian Dynasty.--Fields of
  March.--Anecdote of Clovis.--The Parisii.--Strife with the
  Nobles.--Moorish Invasion.--Charles Martel.--Pepin.--Fields
  of May.--Charlemagne.--His Policy.--Feudal System.--The
  Church.--Rolls.--Louis V.--Hugh Capet.--Parliament established by
  Philip the Fair.

Could one have occupied some stand-point in the clouds fifty years
before the birth of our Savior, and have looked down upon that portion
of ancient Gaul which has since been called France, he would have
seen an immense undulating plain about six hundred and fifty miles
square, bounded on the north by the Rhine, on the east by the craggy
cliffs of the Alps, on the south by the almost impassable barriers
of the Pyrenees, and on the west by the ocean. This beautiful realm,
most admirably adapted in its physical features, its climate, and its
soil to be inhabited by man, was then mostly covered with forest. Vast
rivers, with their innumerable branches flowing in every direction,
beautified the landscape and rendered the soil exuberantly fertile.
About twenty millions of people, divided into more than a hundred
independent tribes, inhabited this fair land. Life was with them all a
scene of constant battle. They ever lived with weapons of war in their
hands, seeking to encroach upon the rights of others or to repel those
who were crowding upon them.

In this state of affairs imperial Rome cast a glance over the Alps upon
Gaul, and resolved upon its conquest and annexation to the empire.
Julius Cæsar, at the head of forty thousand men, descended through
the defiles of the mountains and entered Gaul between the Lake of
Geneva and Mount Jura. After a series of campaigns extending through
ten years, and after sweeping with his invincible legions nearly two
millions of men from his path, he succeeded in the entire subjugation
of the country. Roman governors were appointed over the several
provinces, and fortresses were reared and garrisoned by twelve hundred
Roman soldiers, who enforced the laws of the empire. The arts, the
civilization, and the refinements of Rome were gradually extended over
the semi-barbaric Gauls, and for nearly four hundred years the country
enjoyed general peace and prosperity. The southern portion of the
province became distinguished for its schools, its commerce, and its

Toward the close of the third century the Roman Empire, enervated by
luxury and vice, was visibly on the decline. Then commenced that mighty
flood of invasion from the north which finally overran the whole of
southern Europe, sweeping before it almost every vestige of the power
and grandeur of the Cæsars. Army after army of skin-clad warriors, in
aspect savage as wolves and equally merciless, crossed the Rhine, and
in fierce and interminable battle fought their way over the plains of
Gaul. For nearly four hundred years barbarian hordes from the shores of
the North Sea, from the steppes of Tartary, even from far-off China,
were pouring down upon southern Europe. Those in the rear crowded
forward those in the advance. These clannish tribes, every where
victorious, were slow to amalgamate. Each retained its distinctive
laws, language, customs, and manners. For more than two centuries this
cruel war continued, and all Gaul presented but a scene of tumult,
terror, and carnage.

Among the marshes of the Lower Rhine there dwelt a fierce tribe
called Franks, or Freemen. Early in the fifth century, Pharamond,
the sovereign chief of this tribe, a man of extraordinary energy and
sagacity, formed a confederacy with several other adjacent tribes,
crossed the Rhine at various points, and after a series of terrific
conflicts, which were protracted through many years, overpowered the
Gauls under their Roman leaders, and took possession of the country
nearly as far as the River Somme. Being the leading chief of the
confederated tribes, he exerted a kind of supremacy over the rest,
which may perhaps be considered as the first dawning of the French
monarchy. The successors of Pharamond retained his conquests, and
gradually extended their dominions until they were in possession of all
the country between the Rhine and the Loire.

In the year 480 Clovis succeeded to the chieftainship of the
confederation. Ambitious, unscrupulous, and energetic, he pushed his
invading armies toward the Pyrenees, and for thirty years nearly all
the south of France was a volcano of smoke and flame. His march, though
attended with many reverses, was triumphant, and at the close of his
career in the year 511 nearly all Gaul was partially subjected to his

Christianity had previously entered Gaul from Rome. Clovis married
Clotilda, the daughter of a Christian bishop. In the heat of one of
his battles, as the tide of victory was setting against him, Clovis,
raising his hands and eyes to heaven, exclaimed,

"O God of Clotilda! if thou wilt interpose and grant me this victory, I
will renounce idols forever and become a Christian."

He gained the victory, and on the next Christmas-day Clovis was
baptized. But a man more thoroughly wicked never played the hypocrite.
By treachery the most loathsome, he caused all the chiefs to be
assassinated who could be regarded in the least degree as his rivals,
and, placing chiefs subject to his will at the head of all the
different tribes, he attained such a supremacy as has led historians
to speak of Clovis as the first monarch of the conquered realm.
The dynasty thus established has been called the Merovingian, from
Merovius, the grandfather of Clovis. From this successful invasion
of the Franks all Gaul received the name of France. The leaders of
these victorious bands occasionally had general assemblies, held in
the open air, to deliberate respecting important movements. These
meetings were very large, as all the chiefs and sub-chiefs came in
battle array, surrounded by an ostentatious and well-armed retinue.
As these assemblies were usually held in the month of March they
received the name of Fields of March, _Champs de Mars_. The interests
of the confederation rendered it not unfrequently necessary that these
assemblies should be convened. This was the origin of the States
General of France, which, twelve centuries later, opened the drama of
that terrible revolution, which is universally regarded as the most
awful tragedy of time.

An incident which occurred during one of these assemblies held by
Clovis interestingly illustrates the character of that barbaric chief
and the state of the times. A silver vase was included in the plunder
taken from the church of Rheims after the conquest of that city. The
plunder was divided at Soissons. The bishop of the church earnestly
solicited that the vase might be restored to him. Clovis advocated the
wishes of the bishop. One of the Frank warriors, jealous of his chief's
interference, with one blow of his battle-axe crushed the vase, sternly
declaring that Clovis was entitled to his share of the plunder and to
no more. The chieftain, though glowing with rage, ventured not to utter
a word.

At the next review of his troops, Clovis, approaching the soldier, took
his weapon as if to inspect it. Pronouncing it to be unfit for use,
he threw it disdainfully upon the ground. As the soldier stooped to
pick it up, Clovis with one blow of his battle-axe crushed his skull,
exclaiming, "Thus didst thou strike the vase at Soissons."[5]

The monarchy, thus established by usurpation, treachery, and blood, was
very precarious and shadowy in its power. There was no acknowledged
metropolis, no centralization of authority, no common laws. The whole
country was occupied by the various tribes of invaders, each, under
its own local chiefs, claiming independence, governed by its own
customs, and holding the province upon which it chanced to have taken
possession. Thus the supremacy of Clovis was neither precisely defined
nor boldly claimed.

When Cæsar, five hundred years before the rise of Clovis, invaded
Gaul, he found a tribe, called the Parisii, dwelling upon the banks
of the Seine, with their principal village--which consisted of a few
barbarian huts of mud, with straw roofs, and without chimneys--upon
a small island embraced by the river. From the name of the tribe the
village itself was subsequently called Paris. Such was the origin of
that world-renowned metropolis which for ages has been the focal point
of literature, science, art, and bloody revolutions. During the sway of
the Romans the city had increased very considerably in population and
importance, and Clovis selected it as his capital.

For about three hundred years the successors of Clovis maintained their
supremacy. During all this period there was a constant conflict between
the king and the heads of the other tribes, or the nobles as they
gradually began to be called. An energetic monarch would occasionally
arise and grasp extended power. But he would perhaps be succeeded by
a feeble ruler, and the nobles would again rally and make vigorous
encroachments upon the royal assumptions. The only contest, however,
was between the king and the nobles. The mass of the people were in
abject servitude, with no recognized rights.

In the year 732 the Moors, who had crossed the sea from Africa and
had overrun Spain, began to crowd down in battle array through the
defiles of the Pyrenees upon the plains of France. A successful
general, Charles _Martel_ (the hammer), so called from the tremendous
blows he dealt the enemy, met them and drove them back with prodigious
slaughter. By his achievements he acquired immense popularity and
renown. As a very feeble prince then occupied the throne, Charles
Martel collected the reins of power into his own hands, and, though
nominally but an illustrious general, became in reality the ruler of
France. Satisfied with the possession of power he was not ambitious of
the kingly title, or thought it not prudent to grasp at too much at

At the death of Charles Martel, his son Pepin, a man of great energy
and ambition, drove the imbecile king, Childeric III., into a cloister,
and took his seat unresisted upon the throne. The dynasty thus
established is called the Carlovingian, from Charlemagne, the most
illustrious of this line of kings. The nation cordially approved of
the act. As Pepin could not claim the throne by right of hereditary
descent, he founded his title to reign upon the regal power which his
father had in _reality_ exercised, and upon the well-known assent of
the nation. To confirm his authority still more, he appealed to the
Pope. The Church was now in the plenitude of its power; and the Pope,
grateful for the service which Charles Martel had rendered the Church
by driving back the infidels, with alacrity consented to establish
Pepin upon the throne by the august rites of religion.

Pepin, as his leading warriors had now become horsemen, changed the
time of the general assemblies from the month of March to May, as
the latter month was more convenient for forage, and the Assembly
hence received the name of Fields of May, _Champs de Mai_. At these
meetings the king presided, and the body was composed of the higher
clergy and the nobility. Occasionally, a small delegation of the most
distinguished of the people, who were called the Third Estate, _Tiers
Etat_, had been admitted. Pepin called together only the clergy and
the nobility, declining to admit the Third Estate to the Assembly.
Subsequently some kings admitted the Third Estate, and others excluded
them, according to their caprice. Questions relating to war, peace, and
the enactment of general laws were submitted to this body, and decided
by the majority. The chiefs only could speak. The assembled warriors
clamorously and with clashing of arms expressed assent or dissent.

The world-renowned Charlemagne, succeeding his father Pepin, ascended
the throne in the year 768. France at that time presented every where
an aspect of decay and wild disorder. This monarch, illustrious both
as a warrior and a statesman, fused the heterogeneous and warring
tribes into a compact nation. Still, the mass, though consolidated, was
conglomerate, its component parts distinctly defined. All France bowed
submissive to his sway. Like a whirlwind he traversed Spain with his
armies. Italy speedily acknowledged his supremacy. The vast empire of
Charlemagne soon vied with that of ancient Rome, embracing nearly the
whole of Europe.

It was an important point in the policy of Charlemagne to humble the
nobles. He wished to surround his throne with an aristocracy enjoying
privilege and splendor, but deprived of all political power. He wished
himself to appoint the rulers of the provinces, and not to allow those
offices to be hereditary with the counts and the dukes. Therefore he
endeavored to ally the _people_ with himself in resisting the powerful
barons. He also, with the same object in view, sedulously courted the
affections of the Church, conferring many of the most important offices
of the state upon the high ecclesiastics.

Charlemagne ordered the Assembly to meet twice every year. Every
count was commanded to bring to this congress thirteen of the most
influential of the people within his jurisdiction. They usually met in
two bodies, the ecclesiastical leaders in one spot, the military in
another. Sometimes, by order of the king, they both met together. The
king held his court at a little distance, and by messengers received
constant reports from the two bodies. Weighing the result of their
deliberations, he issued his decree, which all recognized as law. Such
was the germ of deliberative assemblies in France.

Charlemagne established several schools. In these he assembled for
severe study many of the young men of the empire, selecting the
low-born as well as the sons of the nobles. As he was very desirous
that his reign should be embellished by the attainments of men of
letters, he frequently examined these schools himself. One of the
historians of those days writes:

"When, after a long absence, Charlemagne returned to Gaul, he ordered
the children to be brought to him, to show him their exercises and
verses. Those belonging to the lower classes exhibited works beyond all
hope, but those of noble descent had only trifles to show. The wise
monarch, imitating the Eternal Judge, placed those who had done well on
his right hand, and thus addressed them:

"'A thousand thanks, my sons, for your diligence in laboring according
to my orders and for your own good. Proceed. Endeavor to perfect
yourselves, and I will reward you with magnificent bishoprics and
abbeys, and you shall be ever honorable in my sight.'

"Then he bent an angry countenance upon those on his left hand, and,
troubling their consciences with a lightning look, with bitter irony,
and thundering rather than speaking, he burst upon them with this
terrible apostrophe:

"'But for you, nobles, you sons of the great--delicate and pretty
minions as you are, proud of your birth and your riches--you have
neglected my orders and your own glory, and the study of letters, and
have given yourselves up to ease, sports, and idleness.'

"After this preamble, raising on high his august head and his
invincible arm, he fulminated his usual oath:

"'By the King of Heaven I care little for your nobility and beauty,
however others may admire you. You may hold it for certain that, if you
do not make amends for your past negligence by vigilant zeal, you will
never obtain any thing from Charles.'"[6]

Wherever Charlemagne led his legions, he baptized the vanquished; and
the conquered tribes and nations called themselves Christians. The
ignorant barbarians eagerly accepted the sacrament for the sake of the
white baptismal robe which was given to each proselyte.

The vast empire of Charlemagne under his effeminate successors rapidly
crumbled to pieces. In ceaseless conflicts and fluctuations the chiefs
of the tribes, or nobles, gradually regained the power which had
been wrested from them by Charlemagne. Upon the ruins of the empire
arose the feudal system, and France became a monarchy but in name.
The throne, shorn of its energies, retained but the shadow of power.
Haughty dukes, surrounded by their warlike retainers, and impregnable
in massive castles which had been the work of ages, exercised over
their own vassals all the prerogatives of royalty, and often eclipsed
the monarch in wealth and splendor. The power of the duke became so
absolute over the serfs who tilled his acres, and who timidly huddled
for protection beneath the ramparts of the castle, that, in the
language of the feudal code, the duke "might take all they had, alive
or dead, and imprison them when he pleased, being accountable to none
but God."

France again became but a conglomeration of independent provinces, with
scarcely any bond of union. The whole landscape was dotted with castles
strongly built upon the river's bluff, or upon the craggy hill. These
baronial fortresses, massive and sombre, were flanked by towers pierced
with loop-holes and fortified with battlements. A ditch often encircled
the walls, and an immense portcullis or suspended gate could at any
moment be let down, to exclude all entrance. The apartments were small
and comfortless, with narrow and grated windows. There was one large
banqueting-hall, the seat of baronial splendor, where the lord met his
retainers and vassals in intercourse in which aristocratic supremacy
and democratic equality were most strangely blended. Every knight swore
fealty to the baron, the baron to the duke, the duke to the king. The
sovereign could claim military service from his vassals, but could
exercise no power over their serfs, either legislative or judicial. It
not unfrequently happened that some duke had a larger retinue and a
richer income than the king himself.

A poor knight implored of the Count of Champagne a marriage-portion for
his daughter. A wealthy citizen who chanced to be present said, "My
lord has already given away so much that he has nothing left." "You
do not speak the truth," said the count, "since I have got yourself;"
and he immediately delivered him up to the knight, who seized him by
the collar, and would not liberate him until he had paid a ransom of
twenty-five hundred dollars. A French knight relates this story as an
instance of the count's generosity.

These lords were often highway robbers. Scouts traversed the country,
and armed men who filled their castles watched for travelers. The rich
merchant who chanced to fall into their hands was not only despoiled of
all his goods, but was often thrown into a dungeon, and even tortured
until he purchased his ransom at a price commensurate with his ability.

Under this feudal sway the eldest son was the sole possessor. "As for
the younger children," exclaims Michelet, with indignant sarcasm,
"theirs is a vast inheritance! They have no less than all the highways,
and over and above, all that is under the vault of heaven. Their bed
is the threshold of their father's house, from which, shivering
and ahungered, they can look upon their elder brother sitting alone
by the hearth where they too have sat in the happy days of their
childhood, and perhaps he will order a few morsels to be flung to them
notwithstanding the dogs do growl. 'Down, dogs, down, they are my
brothers! they must have something as well as you.'"

The Church was the only asylum for the younger sons of these
great families. In her bosom ambitious ecclesiastics, as bishops,
archbishops, and cardinals, often attained a degree of splendor and
of authority which the baron, the count, or the duke in vain strove
to emulate. The unmarried daughters took refuge in the monasteries,
or were shut up, in seclusion which was virtual imprisonment, in the
corners of the old chateaux. Thus the convents, those castles of the
Church, were reared and supported mainly to provide for the privileged
class. The peasant in the furrow looked with equal dread upon the
bishop and the baron, and regarded them equally as his oppressors.

These proud bishops assumed the character and the haughty air of feudal
lords. They scorned to ride upon the lowly mule, but vaulted upon the
back of the charger neighing for the battle. They were ever ready for a
fray, and could strike as sturdy blows as ever came from the battle-axe
of a knight. The vows of celibacy were entirely disregarded. Some took
wives; others openly kept concubines. These younger sons of the nobles,
dressed in the garb of the Church, were found to be such dangerous
characters that there was a general demand that they should be married.
"Laymen are so convinced," says one of the ancient writers, "that
none ought to be unmarried, that in most parishes they will not abide
a priest except he have a concubine." The lords spiritual endeavored
to fashion the Church upon the model of the feudal system. Abbeys and
bishoprics, with all their rich endowments, passed by descent to the
children of the bishops.[7]

An incident which occurred in the year 911 throws much light upon the
rudeness of those barbaric times. Rollo, the chieftain of a band of
Norman pirates, entered the Seine, committing fearful ravages. Charles
IV., appropriately called Charles the Simple, alarmed by his progress
and unable to raise a force sufficient to check him, sent an archbishop
to offer him the possession of Normandy, with the title of hereditary
duke, if he would peaceably take possession of this territory and
swear allegiance to the king. Rollo eagerly accepted the magnificent
offer. In performing the ceremony of swearing fealty, it was necessary,
according to custom, for Rollo to prostrate himself before the king
and kiss his feet. The haughty Norman, when called upon to perform the
ceremony, indignantly drew himself up, exclaiming,

"Never, never will I kiss the foot or bow the knee to mortal man."

After some delay it was decided that the act of homage should be
performed by proxy, and Rollo ordered one of his stalwart soldiers to
press his lip upon the foot of the king. The burly barbarian strode
forward, as if in obedience to the command, and, seizing the foot of
the monarch, raised it high above his head, and threw the monarch
prostrate upon the floor. The Norman soldiers filled the hall with
derisive shouts of laughter, while the king and his courtiers,
intimidated by barbarians so fierce and defiant, prudently concealed
their chagrin.

The Carlovingian dynasty held the throne for two hundred and
thirty-five years. Louis V., the last of this race, died in 987. He was
called, from his indolence and imbecility, the Idler. As he sank into
an inglorious grave, an energetic and powerful noble, Hugh Capet, Duke
of the Isle of France, with vigorous arm thrust the hereditary claimant
into a prison and ascended the throne. Thus was established the third
dynasty, called the Capetian.

For two hundred and fifty years under the Capets, France could hardly
be called a kingdom. Though the name of king remained, the kingly
authority was extinct. The history of France during this period is
but a history of the independent feudal lords, each of whom held his
court in his own castle. None of these kings had power to combine
the heterogeneous and discordant elements. The fragile unity of the
realm was broken by differences of race, of customs, of language, and
of laws. But in this apparent chaos there was one bond of union, the
Church, which exerted an almost miraculous sway over these uncultivated
and warlike men. The ecclesiastics were strongly in favor of the
Capets, and were highly instrumental in placing them upon the throne.

With the Capets commenced a royal line which, in its different
branches, running through the houses of Valois and of Bourbon, retained
the throne for eight hundred years, until the fall of Louis XVI. in

About the year 1100 we begin to hear the first faint murmurs of the
people. Some bold minds ventured the suggestion that a man ought to
be free to dispose of the produce of his own labor, to marry his
children without the consent of another, to go and come, sell and buy
without restriction. Indeed, in Normandy the peasants broke out in a
revolt. But steel-clad knights, in sweeping squadrons, cut them down
mercilessly and trampled them beneath iron hoofs. The most illustrious
of the complainants were seized and hung to the trees, as a warning
to all murmurers. The people were thus taught that trees made good
gibbets. When their turn came they availed themselves of this knowledge.

In the year 1294 Philip the Fair established a court in Paris called
the Parliament. This was purely an aristocratic body, and was, in
general, entirely subservient to the king's wishes. Similar parliaments
were established by the great feudal princes in their provinces. There
were occasional contentions between the parliaments and the king,
but the king usually succeeded in compelling them to obedience. The
Parliament enjoyed only the privilege of registering the royal edicts.
In the reign of Louis XIV. the Parliament ventured to express a little
objection to one of the tyrannical ordinances of the monarch.

The boy-king, eighteen years of age, was astounded at such impudence.
He left the chase, and, hastening to the hall, entered it whip in
hand. He could send them one and all to the Bastille or the block, and
they knew it, and he knew it. The presence of the king brought them to
terms, and they immediately became as submissive as fawning spaniels.


[Footnote 5: Greg. Tur., book ii., c. 28.]

[Footnote 6: Monach. Sangall, b. i., c. ii., sqq., as quoted by

[Footnote 7: See the abundant proof of these statements in Michelet's
History of France, p. 193.]



  The House of Valois.--Luxury of the Court and the
  Nobles.--Insurrection.--Jaques Bonhomme.--Henry III.--Henry
  IV., of Navarre.--Cardinal Richelieu.--French Academy.--Regency
  of Anne of Austria.--Palaces of France.--The Noble and the
  Ennobled.--Persecution of the Protestants.--Edict of Nantes.--Its
  Revocation.--Distress of the Protestants.--Death of Louis XIV.

In the year 1328 the direct line of the Capets became extinct by
the death of Charles IV., who left no male descendant. The nobles,
assembled in parliament at Paris, assigned the crown to Philip, Count
of Valois, a nephew of the former king. He was crowned at Rheims,
in May, 1328, as Philip VI. The nobles, having thus obtained a king
according to their wishes, complained to him that they had borrowed
large sums of money from wealthy merchants and artisans, which it was
inconvenient for them to pay, and that it was not consistent with the
dignity of the French nobility that they should be harassed by debts
due to the low-born. The king promptly issued a decree that all these
debts should be cut down one fourth, that four months grace should be
allowed without interest, and then, that these plebeian creditors might
be reduced to a proper state of humility, he ordered them all to be
imprisoned and their property to be confiscated. The merciless monarch
doubled the taxes upon the people, and created a court at Paris of
such magnificence that the baronial lords abandoned their castles and
crowded to the metropolis to share its voluptuous indulgences. Even
neighboring kings, attracted by the splendor of the Parisian court,
took up their abode in Paris. The nobles needed vast sums of money to
sustain them in such measureless extravagance. They accordingly left
stern overseers over their estates, to drive the peasants to their toil
and to extort from them every possible farthing.

The king, to replenish his ever-exhausted purse, assumed the sole right
of making and selling salt throughout the realm. Each family, always
excepting the nobles, who were then exempted from every species of tax,
was required to take a certain quantity at an exorbitant price.

Vincennes was then the great banqueting-hall of Europe. In its present
decay it exhibits but little of the grandeur it presented four hundred
years ago, when its battlements towered above the forest of oaks,
centuries old, which surrounded the castle--when plumed and blazoned
squadrons met in jousts and tournaments, and when, in meteoric
splendor, hunting bands of lords and ladies swept the park. Brilliant
as was this spectacle, no healthy mind can contemplate it but with
indignation. To support this luxury of a few thousand nobles, thirty
millions of people were plunged into the extreme of ignorance, poverty,
and misery.

Again the king and the nobles had empty purses, and were greatly in
debt. By an arbitrary decree all the coin of the kingdom was called
in. It was then passed through the mint greatly debased. With this
debased coin the debts were paid, and _then_ an order was issued that
the coin should be regarded at its depreciated value.

With the lapse of centuries intelligence had gradually increased, and
there was now quite a growing middling class between the peasants
and the nobles--artisans, merchants, manufacturers, and literary and
professional men. These outrages had at length become intolerable.
Human nature could endure no more. This middle class became the leaders
of the blind and maddened masses, and hurled them in fury upon their
foes. The conspiracy spread over the kingdom, and in all the towns
and throughout the country the signal for revolt was simultaneously
given. It was a servile insurrection, accompanied by all the horrors
inevitable to such a warfare. The debased populace, but little elevated
above the brute, were as merciless as the hyena or the wolf. Phrensied
with rage and despair, in howling bands they burst upon the castles,
and the wrongs of centuries were terrifically avenged. We need not
tell the story. Violence, torture, flame, and blood exhausted their
energies. Mothers and maidens suffered all that mortals can endure in
terror, brutal indignities, shame, and woe. In war even the refined and
courteous often become diabolical; but those who have been degraded by
ages of ignorance and oppression, when they first break their fetters,
generally become fiends incarnate.

The nobles so thoroughly despised the peasants that they had not
dreamed that the starving, cringing boors would dare even to think
of emerging from their mud hovels to approach the lordly castle of
rock, with its turrets and battlements and warlike defenders. The
sheep might as well conspire against the dogs and the wolves. The
peasant had hardly individuality enough even to receive a name. He was
familiarly called Jack Goodman, _Jacques Bonhomme_. This insurrection
of the Jacks, or of the Jacquerie as it is usually called, was, after
much devastation and bloodshed, quelled. Barbaric phrensy can seldom
long hold out against disciplined valor. One half of the population of
France fell a prey to the sword, or to the pestilence and famine which

This was the first convulsive movement made by the _people_. Defeated
though they were, and with their fetters riveted anew, they obtained
new ideas of power and right which they never forgot. Already we begin
to hear many of the phrases which four hundred years later were upon
all lips, when the monarchy and the feudal aristocracy were buried in
one common grave.

The house of Valois retained the throne for two hundred and sixty-one
years. During these two and a half centuries, as generations came and
went, storms of war and woe were incessantly sweeping over France.
The history of the kingdom during these dreary ages is but the record
of the intrigues of ecclesiastics, the conflicts between monarchs and
nobles, and the sweep of maddened armies. The _Third Estate_, the
people, continued to be deprived of almost all social and political
rights. They were debased by ignorance and depressed by intolerable
burdens. The monarchy was gradually centralizing power. The chiefs
and sub-chiefs of the conglomerated tribes were losing their feudal
authority and lapsing into nobles of higher and lower rank, whose
splendor was obtained by exemption from all the burdens of the state,
and by enormous taxation of the people. The Roman Catholic Church,
under the Popes, blazed with almost supernatural splendor over Europe;
and the high dignitaries of the Church, as lords spiritual, were as
luxurious, haughty, and domineering as were any of the lords temporal.

Henry III., the last of the Valois race, was stabbed by a friar in
1589, and died leaving no issue. Henry of Bourbon, King of Navarre,
as the nearest relative, claimed the crown. He ascended the throne
as Henry IV., and after several years of civil war put down all
opposition. He was the first of the Bourbon family who swayed the
sceptre, and by far the most able and energetic. Under his vigorous
sway the kingdom became consolidated, the throne attained a great
supremacy over the nobles, and the resources of the realm were greatly
developed. Henry IV. was sincerely devoted to the interests of France.
He encouraged commerce, manufactures, and the arts; endeavored to
enforce equitable laws, and under his wise administration the _people_
made decided advances in wealth and intelligence. He retained the
throne for twenty-one years, until 1610, when he died beneath the
dagger of an assassin. Though Henry governed _for_ the people, he did
not admit them to any voice in public affairs. During his long reign no
assembly was convened in which the people had any representation.

Henry IV. at his death left a son, Louis, nine years of age. The mother
of this child, Mary of Medicis, was invested with the regency. When
this prince was fourteen years of age he was considered by the laws
of France as having attained his majority. He accordingly, while thus
but a boy, marrying a bride of fifteen, Anne of Austria, ascended the
throne as Louis XIII. For twenty-eight years this impotent prince
sat upon the throne, all the time in character a bashful boy devoid
of any qualities which could command respect. Cardinal Richelieu was
during this reign the real monarch of France. Measurelessly ambitious,
arrogant, and cruel, he consolidated the despotism of the throne, and
yet, by far-reaching policy, greatly promoted the power and grandeur
of the kingdom. This renowned minister, stern, vindictive, cruel,
shrinking from no crime in the accomplishment of his plans, with the
dungeons of the Bastilles of France and the executioner's axe at his
command, held the impotent king and the enslaved kingdom for nearly
thirty years in trembling obedience to his will.

The Chateau of Versailles was commenced by Richelieu. He also, in the
year 1635, established the French Academy, which has since exerted so
powerful an influence upon literature and science throughout Europe.
Richelieu died in December, 1642, and six months after, in May, 1643,
Louis XIII., who, during his reign, had been but a puppet in the hands
of the cardinal, followed him to the tomb. As the monarch was lying
upon his dying bed, he called his little son, five years of age, to
his side, and said to him, "What is your name?" "Louis Fourteenth,"
answered the proud boy, already eager to grasp the sceptre. "Not yet,
not yet," sadly rejoined the dying father.

Anne of Austria held the regency for nine years, until her son, having
attained the age of fourteen, had completed his minority and assumed
the crown. Under this powerful prince the monarchy of France, as an
unlimited despotism, became firmly established. The nobles, though
deprived of all political power, were invested with such enormous
privileges, enabling them to revel in wealth and luxury, that they
were ever ready to unite with the king in quelling all uprising of the
people, who were equally robbed by both monarch and noble. During the
long reign of this monarch, for Louis XIV. sat upon the throne for
seventy-two years, if we consider his reign to have commenced when he
was proclaimed king upon the death of his father, France made vast
strides in power, wealth, and splendor. Palaces arose almost outvying
the dreams of an Oriental imagination. The saloons of Marly, the
Tuileries, the Louvre, and Versailles, were brilliant with a splendor,
and polluted with debaucheries, which Babylon, in its most festering
corruption, could not have rivaled. The nobles, almost entirely
surrendered to enervating indulgence, were incapacitated for any post
which required intellectual activity and energy. Hence originated a
class of men who became teachers, editors, scientific and literary
writers, jurists, and professional men. In the progress of commerce and
manufactures, wealth increased with this class, and the king, to raise
money, would often sell, at an enormous price, a title of nobility to
some enriched tradesman.

A numerous and powerful middle class, rich and highly educated, was
thus gradually formed, who had emerged from the people, and whose
sympathies were entirely with them. The nobles looked upon all these,
however opulent, or cultivated in mind, or polished in manners, with
contempt, as low-born. They refused all social intercourse with them,
regarding them as a degraded caste. They looked with even peculiar
contempt upon those who had purchased titles of nobility.

They drew a broad line of distinction between the _nobles_ and the
_ennobled_. The hereditary aristocracy, proud of a lineage which could
be traced through a hundred generations, and which was lost in the haze
of antiquity, exclaimed with pride, instinct to the human heart:

"You may give a lucky tradesman, in exchange for money, a title of
nobility, but you can not thus make him a nobleman; you can not thus
constitute him a lineal descendant of the old Frank barons; you can not
thus constitute him a Lorraine, a Montmorency, a Rohan. God alone can
create a nobleman."

Thus they regarded a man who had been ennobled by a royal decree, or
who had descended from a father or a grandfather thus ennobled, as a
new man, an upstart, one hardly redeemed from contempt. The doors of
their saloons were closed against him, and he was every where exposed
to mortifying neglect. A noble whose lineage could be traced for two or
three centuries, but whose origin was still _distinctly defined_, was
considered as perhaps belonging to the aristocratic calendar, though of
low estate. The fact that the time once was, when his ancestors were
known to be low-born, was a damaging fact, which no subsequent ages of
nobility could entirely efface. He only was the true noble, the origin
of whose nobility was lost in the depths of the past, the line of whose
ancestry ran so far back into the obscurity of by-gone ages that no one
could tell when it commenced.

It has generally been said that there were three estates in the
realm; the clergy composing the first, the nobles the second, and the
people the third. But the higher class of the clergy, luxuriating
in the bishoprics and the abbacies, with their rich emoluments,
were the sons of the nobility, and shared in all the privileges and
popular odium pertaining to that class. The lower clergy, devoted to
apostolic labors and poverty, belonged to the people, and were with
them in all their sympathies. Thus there were in reality but two
classes, the _privileged_ and the _unprivileged_, the _patrician_ and
the _plebeian_, the _tax payer_ and the _tax receiver_. The castle,
whether baronial or monastic in its architecture, was the emblem of
the one, the thatched cottage the symbol of the other. Louis XIV., as
Madame de Maintenon testifies, was _shocked_ to learn that Jesus Christ
associated with the poor and the humble, and conversed freely with them.

Soon after the succession of Louis XIV. to the throne he became
convinced that the maintenance of the Romish hierarchy was essential
to the stability of his power. He consequently commenced a series of
persecutions of the Protestants, with the determination of driving
that faith entirely from France. In 1662 he issued a decree that no
Protestant should be buried except after sunset or before sunrise.
Protestant mechanics or shop-keepers were not allowed to have
apprentices. Protestant teachers were permitted to instruct only in the
first rudiments of letters, and not more than twelve Protestants were
allowed to meet together for the purposes of worship. No Protestant
woman could be a nurse in the chamber of infancy; no Catholic could
embrace Protestantism or marry a Protestant woman under pain of exile.
Catholic magistrates were empowered to enter the dying chambers of
the Protestants to tease them, when gasping in death, to return to
the Catholic faith. In four years, between 1680 and 1684, more than
twenty royal edicts were issued against the Protestants, decreeing,
among other things, that no Protestant should be a lawyer, doctor,
apothecary, printer, or grocer. Children were often taken by violence
from Protestant parents, that they might be trained in the Catholic

Madame de Maintenon, the unacknowledged wife of Louis XIV., wished to
bring back into the fold of Rome a young lady, Mademoiselle de Murgay.
She consequently wrote to her brother:

"If you could send her to me you would do me a great pleasure. There
are no other means than violence, for they will be much afflicted in
the family by De Murgay's conversion. I will send you a _lettre de
cachet_ (secret warrant) in virtue of which you will take her into your
own house until you find an opportunity of sending her off."[8]

Such outrages as these were of constant occurrence. Zeal for the
conversion of the Protestants never rose to a higher pitch. At the same
time Louis XIV. could bid defiance to God's commands, and insult the
moral sense of the nation by traveling with his wife and his two guilty
favorites, Madame de Montespan and Madame la Vallière, all in the same
carriage. The profligacy of the ecclesiastics and the debauchery of the
court and the nobles, though less disguised during the wild saturnalia
of the succeeding regency, was never more universal than during this
reign. This was the golden age of kings. Feudality had died, and
democracy was not born. The monarchy was absolute. The nobles, deprived
of all _political_ power, existed merely as a luxurious appendage and
embellishment to the throne, while the people, unconscious of either
power or rights, made no movements to embarrass the sovereign.[9]

In the year 1681 Louis XIV. commenced his system of dragooning the
Protestants into the Catholic faith. He sent regiments of cavalry into
the provinces, quartered them in the houses of the Protestants, placing
from four to ten in each family, and enjoined it upon these soldiers
to do every thing they could to compel the Protestants to return to
the Catholic faith. Scenes ensued too awful to be narrated. He who has
nerves to endure the recital can find the atrocities minutely detailed
in "_L'Histoire de l'Édit de Nantes, par Elias Benoît_."

The brutal soldiery, free from all restraint, committed every
conceivable excess. They scourged little children in the presence of
their parents, that the shrieks of agony of the child might induce
the parents to abjure their faith. They violated the modesty of women
and girls, and mangled their bodies with the lash. They tortured,
mutilated, disfigured. And when human nature in its extreme of agony
yielded, the exhausted victim was compelled to sign a recantation of
his faith, declaring that he did it of his own free will, without
compulsion or persuasion. In their terror the Protestants fled in all
directions, into the fields, the forests, to caves, and made desperate
endeavors to escape from the kingdom. Multitudes died of exhaustion and
famine by the way-side and on the sea-shore. Large tracts of country
were thus nearly depopulated. Madame de Maintenon wrote to her brother,
sending him a present of a large sum of money:

"I beseech you employ usefully the money you are to have. The lands in
Poitou are sold for nothing. The distresses of the Protestants will
bring more into market. You can easily establish yourself splendidly in

The Protestant countries, England, Switzerland, Holland, and Denmark,
issued proclamations to these persecuted Christians offering them
an asylum. The court was alarmed, and interdicted their leaving the
kingdom under penalty of condemnation to the galleys, confiscation of
their property, and the annulling of all contracts they should have
made for a year before their emigration.[10]

The condition of the Protestants was now miserable in the extreme. It
was the determination of the court utterly to exterminate the reformed
faith. The Archbishop of Paris made out a list of the works of four
hundred authors who were considered as assailing Catholicism, and all
the libraries, public and private, of the kingdom were searched that
the condemned books might be burned.

There were between two and three millions of Protestants in France.[11]
The dragoons were sent in every direction through the kingdom,
enjoined by the court, to secure, at whatever expense of torture,
a return to Catholicism. One of the tortures which these merciless
fanatics were fond of applying was to deprive their victim of sleep.
They kept the sufferer standing, and relieved each other in their
cruel work of pinching, pricking, twitching, pulling with ropes,
burning, suffocating with offensive fumes, until after successive
days and nights of torture the victim was driven to madness, and to
promise any thing to escape from his tormentors. By these means, it was
boasted that in the district of Bordeaux, where there were one hundred
and fifty thousand Protestants, one hundred and forty thousand were
converted in a fortnight. The Duke of Noailles wrote to the court that
in the district to which he had been sent with his dragoons there had
been two hundred and forty thousand Protestants, but he thought that by
the end of the month none could be left.

In the year 1598 Henry IV., by the Edict of Nantes, had granted freedom
of conscience and of worship to the Protestants. Louis XIV. now issued
a decree revoking this edict. The revocation, which was signed the 18th
of October, 1685, states in the preamble that "since the better and the
greater part of our subjects of the pretended reformed religion have
embraced the Catholic faith, the maintenance of the Edict of Nantes
remains superfluous." It then declares that no more exercise of the
reformed worship is to be tolerated in the realm. All the Protestant
pastors were to leave the kingdom within fifteen days, and were
forbidden to exercise their office under pain of the galleys. Parents
were forbidden to instruct their children in the reformed faith, and
were enjoined to send them to the Catholic church to be baptized and to
be instructed in the Catholic schools and catechism, under penalty of a
fine of five hundred livres. The Protestant laity were prohibited from
emigrating under pain of the galleys for the men, and imprisonment for
life for the women.

Notwithstanding the penalty, vast numbers escaped from the kingdom.
No vigilance could guard such extended frontiers. In one year after
the revocation, Vauban wrote that France had lost one hundred thousand
inhabitants, twelve thousand disciplined soldiers, six hundred
officers, and her most flourishing manufactures. The Duke of St. Simon
records that "a fourth part of the kingdom was perceptibly depopulated."

These crimes perpetrated against religion filled the land with
infidelity. There were even Catholics of noble name and note, as
Fénélon and Massillon, who energetically remonstrated. Montesquieu,
Voltaire, Rousseau, and Mirabeau, not distinguishing between
Christianity and the Papal Church, uttered cries of indignation which
thrilled upon the ear of Europe and undermined the foundations of
Christianity itself.

The edict of revocation was executed with the utmost rigor. The
pastors in Paris were not allowed even the fifteen days which the
edict granted, but were ordered to leave in forty-eight hours. Those
pastors who had children over seven years of age had those children
taken from them. Fathers and mothers, thus robbed of their children, in
poverty and heart-broken, were driven into exile. "Old men of eighty or
ninety years were seen gathering up the last remains of their life to
undertake distant journeys, and more than one died before reaching the
asylum where he was to rest his weary foot and drooping head."[12]

The court became alarmed by the magnitude of emigration. Guards were
posted at the gates of towns, at the fords of rivers, on the bridges,
on the highways, and at all points of departure upon the frontiers.
Still the fugitives, hiding in caverns by day and traveling by
night through by-paths, in great numbers eluded their foes. Every
conceivable disguise was adopted, as of shepherds, pilgrims, hunters,
valets, merchants. Women of rank--for there were not a few such among
the Protestants, who had been accustomed to all the delicacies and
indulgences of life--traveled on foot, exposed to hunger and storms,
two or three hundred miles. Girls of sixteen, of all ranks in life,
incurred the same hardships and perils. They disfigured their faces,
wore coarse and ragged garments, and trundled wheel-barrows filled with
manure, or carried heavy burdens, to elude suspicion. Some assumed the
disguise of men or boys and took the office of servants; others feigned
insanity or to be deaf and dumb. In these ways large numbers escaped to

Those near the sea-shore concealed themselves in ships among bales of
merchandise, and in hogsheads stowed away among the freight. There were
children who passed whole weeks in such lurking places without uttering
a cry. Some desperately pushed out to sea in open boats, trusting
to winds and waves to bear them to a place of safety. Thousands
perished of cold, exposure, and starvation. Thousands were seized,
loaded with chains, and dragged through the realm in derision and
contempt, and were then condemned to pass the remainder of their days
as galley-slaves. The galleys of Marseilles were crowded with these
victims, among whom were many of the noblest men who have ever dwelt on
earth. The prisons were crowded with women arrested in their flight and
doomed to life-long captivity.

It is estimated that five hundred thousand found a refuge in foreign
lands. Thirteen hundred passed through the city of Geneva in one
week. England formed eleven regiments out of the refugees. One of
the faubourgs of London was entirely peopled by these exiles. M. de
Sismondi estimates that as many perished in the attempt to escape
as escaped. A hundred thousand in the Province of Languedoc died
prematurely, and of these ten thousand perished by fire, the gallows,
or the wheel.[14] We can not but sympathize with the indignation of
Michelet as he exclaims:

"Let the Revolutionary Reign of Terror beware of comparing herself
with the Inquisition. Let her never boast of having, in her two or
three years, paid back to the old system what it did for us for six
hundred years! The Inquisition would have good cause to laugh. What
are the twelve thousand men guillotined of the one, to the millions of
men butchered, hung, broken on the wheel--to that pyramid of burning
stakes--to those masses of burnt flesh which the other piled up to
heaven. The single inquisition of one of the provinces of Spain states,
in an authentic monument, that in sixteen years it burned twenty
thousand men!

"History will inform us that in her most ferocious and implacable
moments the Revolution trembled at the thought of aggravating death,
that she shortened the sufferings of victims, removed the hand of man,
and invented a machine to abridge the pangs of death.

"And it will also inform us that the Church of the Middle Ages
exhausted itself in inventions to augment suffering, to render it
poignant, intense; that she found out exquisite arts of torture,
ingenious means to contrive that, without dying, one might long taste
of death; and that, being stopped in that path by inflexible Nature,
who, at a certain degree of pain, mercifully grants death, she wept at
not being able to make man suffer longer."[15]

Louis XIV. died in 1715. He did not allow any assembly of the states to
be convened during his reign. Every body began to manifest discontent.
The nobility were humbled and degraded, and hungered for more power.
The people had become very restive. The humbler class of the clergy,
sincere Christians and true friends of their parishioners, prayed
earnestly for reform. The Jesuits alone united with the monarch and his
mistresses to maintain despotic sway. The court was utterly corrupt;
the king a shameless profligate. Every thing was bartered for money.
Justice was unknown. The court reveled in boundless luxury, while the
mass of the people were in a state almost of starvation. The burden had
become intolerable.

The monarchy of France attained its zenith during the reign of Louis
XIV. Immense standing armies overawed Europe and prevented revolt at
home. Literature and art flourished, for the king was ambitious to
embellish his reign with the works of men of genius. Great freedom of
opinion and of utterance was allowed, for neither king nor courtiers
appear to have had any more fear of a rising of the peasants than
they had of a revolt of the sheep. Vast works were constructed, which
the poor and the starving alone paid for. Still there were not a few
who perceived that the hour of vengeance was at hand. One of the
magistrates of Louis XIV. remarked, "The conflict is soon to arrive
between those who pay and those whose only function is to receive." The
Duke of Orleans, who was regent after the death of Louis XIV., said,
"If I were a subject I would most certainly revolt. The people are
good-natured fools to suffer so long."

Louis XIV. left the throne to his great-grandchild, a boy five years
of age. The populace followed the hearse of the departed monarch with
insults and derisive shouts to the tomb. The hoary despot, upon a
dying bed, manifested some compunctions of conscience. He left to his
successor the words:

"I have, against my inclination, imposed great burdens on my subjects;
but have been compelled to do it by the long wars which I have been
obliged to maintain. Love peace, and undertake no war, except when the
good of the state and the welfare of your people render it necessary."

These words were not heeded, until the people were, in their terrible
might, inspired by fury and despair.

There is nothing more mournful to contemplate than the last days of
Louis XIV. He was the victim of insupportable melancholy, dreading
death almost with terror. His children and his grandchildren were
nearly all dead. The people were crushed by burdens which they could no
longer support. The treasury was in debt over eight hundred millions
of dollars. Commerce was destroyed, industry paralyzed, and the
country uncultivated and in many places almost depopulated. The armies
of France had been conquered and humiliated; a disastrous war was
threatening the realm, and the king from his dying bed could hear the
execrations of the people, rising portentously around his throne.


[Footnote 8: Histoire de Madame de Maintenon, et des principaux
Evenements du Regne de Louis XIV. Par M. le Duc de Noilles, Paris,

[Footnote 9: "Madame de Maintenon," writes St. Simon, "had men,
affairs, justice, religion, all, without exception, in her hands, and
the king and the state her victims."]

[Footnote 10: Under these circumstances the Protestants sent the
following touching petition: "It being impossible for us to live
without the exercise of our religion, we are compelled, in spite of
ourselves, to supplicate your majesty, with the most profound humility
and respect, that you may be pleased to allow us to leave the kingdom,
with our wives, our children, and our effects, to settle in foreign
countries, where we can freely render to God the worship which we
believe indispensable, and on which depends our happiness or our misery
for eternity." This petition met only the response of aggravated
severities.--_Hist. of the Protestants of France, by G. de Félice_, p.

[Footnote 11: History of the Protestants of France, by G. de Félice, p.

[Footnote 12: History of the Protestants of France, by G. de Félice, p.

[Footnote 13: Histoire de l'Édit de Nantes, par Elias Benoît, tome v.,
p. 953.]

[Footnote 14: Boulainvilliers.]

[Footnote 15: "It is painful to detect continually the hand of the
clergy in these scenes of violence, spoliation, and death. The
venerable Malesherbes, the Baron de Breteuil, Rulhières, Joly de
Fleury, Gilbert de Voisins, Rippert de Monclus, the highest statesmen,
the most eminent magistrates, who have written upon the religious
affairs of this period, utter but one voice on it. They agree in
signalizing the influence of the priests, an influence as obstinate
as incessant, sometimes haughty, sometimes supple and humble, but
always supplicating the last means of restraint and severity for the
re-establishment of religious unity."--_History of the Protestants of
France, by G. de Félice_, p. 487.]



  State of France.--The Regency.--Financial Embarrassment.--Crimes of
  the Rulers.--Recoining the Currency.--Renewed Persecution of the
  Protestants.--Bishop Dubois.--Philosophy of Voltaire.--Anecdote
  of Franklin.--The King's Favorites.--Mademoiselle Poisson.--Her
  Ascendency.--_Parc aux Cerfs._--Illustrative Anecdote.--Letter to the
  King.--Testimony of Chesterfield.--Anecdote of La Fayette.--Death of
  Pompadour.--Mademoiselle Lange.--Power of Du Barry.--Death of Louis

The reign of Louis XIV. was that of an Oriental monarch. His authority
was unlimited and unquestioned. The people had two powerful foes,
the king and the nobles. The nobles, as the most numerous, were the
most dreaded. The people consequently looked to the kings to protect
them against the nobles, as sheep will look to their natural enemy,
the dogs, to defend them from their still worse enemies, the wolves.
The king had now obtained a perfect triumph over the nobles, and
had gathered all the political power into his own hands. He had
accomplished this by bribery, as well as by force. The acquiescence of
the nobles in his supremacy was purchased by his conferring upon them
all the offices of honor and emolument, by exempting them from all
taxes, and by supporting them in indolence, luxury, and vice, from the
toil of the crushed and starving masses. There were now in the nation
two classes, and two only, with an impassable gulf between them. On the
one side were eighty thousand aristocratic families living in idleness
and luxury; on the other were twenty-four millions of people, who, as
a mass, were kept in the lowest poverty, maintaining by their toil the
haughty nobles, from whom they received only outrage and contempt.

Louis XIV. just before his death drew up an edict appointing a council
of regency during the minority of his great-grandson, the young king.
The Parliament of Paris, however, declared the will null, and appointed
the Duke of Orleans, who was considered favorable to the nobles,
regent! For eight years, from 1715 to 1723, the regent, by shameless
profligacy and extravagance, was but filling up the measure of wrath
which had been accumulating for ages. Nothing was done to promote
the welfare of the people, and, notwithstanding the misery which was
actually depopulating the provinces, the gorgeous palaces of France
exhibited scenes of voluptuousness which the wealth of the Orient had
never paralleled.

Louis XIV. had expended upon the single palace of Versailles more than
two hundred millions of dollars. The roofs of that vast pile would
cover a surface of twenty-five French acres. Thirty thousand laborers
were frequently employed simultaneously in embellishing the magnificent
park sixty miles in circuit.[16] Marly, with its fountains, its parks,
and gardens, had also been constructed with equal extravagance. Both of
these palaces exhibited scenes of measureless profligacy gilded by the
highest fascinations of external refinement and elegance. Louis XIV.
left the nation in debt eight hundred and fifty millions of dollars.
For several years the expenditure had exceeded the income by nearly
thirty millions of dollars a year. The regent during the seven years
of his profligate administration had added to this debt a hundred and
fifty millions of dollars.

There was now fearful embarrassment in the finances. All the measures
for extorting money seemed to be exhausted, and it was found impossible
to raise the sums necessary to meet the expenses of the court and
to pay the interest upon the debt. Taxation had gone to its last
extremity; and no more money could be borrowed. The Duke of St. Simon
proposed that the treasury should declare itself bankrupt.

"The loss," said he, "will fall upon the commercial and moneyed
classes, whom no one fears or pities. The measure," he continued, "will
also be a salutary rebuke to the ignoble classes, teaching them to
beware how they lend money to the king which will enable him to gain
the supremacy over the nobles."

The Duke of Orleans, who was regent only, not king, could sympathize in
these views. The general discontent, however, was such, that he did not
dare to resort to so violent a measure. The end was accomplished in a
more circuitous way. A commission of courtiers was appointed to examine
the accounts of the public creditors. Three hundred and fifty millions
of francs ($76,000,000) were peremptorily struck from their claims.
There was no appeal. This mode of paying debts seemed so successful
that the commission established itself as an inquisitorial chamber, and
summoned before it all those who had been guilty of lending money to
the king. Most of these were thrown into prison, and threatened with
death unless they purchased pardon for the crime with large sums of
money. The regent and the nobles made themselves merry with the woes of
these low-born men of wealth, and filled their purses by selling their

A wealthy financier was perishing in one of the dungeons of the
Bastille. A count visited him and offered to procure his release for
sixty thousand dollars. "I thank you, Monsieur le Comte," was the
reply, "but Madame, your countess, has just been here, and has promised
me my liberty for half that sum."

The reign of the regent Duke of Orleans was the reign of the nobles,
and they fell eagerly upon the people, whom Louis XIV. had sheltered
from their avarice that more plunder might be left for him. The
currency was called in and recoined, one fifth being cut from the
value of each piece. By this expedient the court gained nearly fifteen
millions of dollars.

Soon this money was all gone. The horizon was darkening and the
approaching storm gathering blackness. Among the nobles there were some
who abhorred these outrages. A party was organized in Paris opposed to
the regent. They sent in a petition that the States-General might be
assembled to deliberate upon the affairs of the realm. All who signed
this petition were sent to the Bastille. There had been no meeting of
the States-General called for more than one hundred years. The last had
been held in 1614. It consisted of 104 deputies of the clergy, 132 of
the nobles, and 192 of the people. The three estates had met separately
and chosen their representatives. But the representatives of the
people in this assembly displayed so much spirit that the convention
was abruptly dismissed by the king, and neither king nor nobles were
willing to give them a hearing again.

A bank was now established with a nominal capital of six millions of
francs ($1,200,000). The shares were taken up by paying half in money
and half in valueless government bills. Thus the _real_ capital of the
bank was $600,000. Upon this capital bills were issued to the amount
of three thousand millions of francs ($600,000,000). Money was of
course for a time plenty enough. The bubble soon burst. This operation
vastly increased the financial ruin in which the nation was involved.
Five hundred thousand citizens were plunged into bankruptcy.[17] The
Parliament of Paris, though composed of the privileged class, made a
little show of resistance to such outrages and was banished summarily
to Pontoise.

Dubois, one of the most infamous men who ever disgraced even a court,
a tool of the regent, and yet thoroughly despised by him, had the
audacity one morning to ask for the vacant archbishopric of Cambray.
Dubois was not even a priest, and the demand seemed so ridiculous as
well as impudent that the regent burst into a laugh, exclaiming,

"Should I bestow the archbishopric on such a knave as thou art, where
should I find a prelate scoundrel enough to consecrate thee?"

"I have one here," said Dubois, pointing to a Jesuit prelate who was
ready to perform the sacrilegious deed. Dubois had promised Rohan that
if he would consecrate him he would bring back the favor of the court
to the Jesuit party. One of the mistresses of the regent had been won
over by Dubois, and the bloated debauchee was consecrated as Archbishop
of Cambray. Dubois was now in the line of preferment. He soon laid
aside his mitre for a cardinal's hat, and in 1722 was appointed prime
minister. The darkness of the Middle Ages had passed away, and these
scandals were perpetrated in the full light of the 18th century. The
people looked on with murmurs of contempt and indignation. It was too
much to ask, to demand reverence for such a church.[18]

The infamous Jesuit, Lavergne de Tressan, Bishop of Nantes, who
consecrated Dubois, revived from their slumber the most severe
ordinances of Louis XIV. Louis XV. was then fourteen years of age.
Royal edicts were issued, sentencing to the galleys for life any man
and to imprisonment for life any woman who should attend other worship
than the Catholic. Preachers of Protestantism were doomed to death;
and any person who harbored such a preacher, or who should neglect
to denounce him, was consigned to the galleys or the dungeon. All
children were to be baptized within twenty-four hours of their birth
by the curate of the parish, and were to be placed under Catholic
instructors until the age of fourteen. Certificates of Catholicity were
essential for all offices, all academical degrees, all admissions into
corporations of trade. This horrible outrage upon human rights was
received by the clergy with transport. When we contemplate the seed
which the king and the court thus planted, we can not wonder at the
revolutionary harvest which was reaped.

The Catholic Church thus became utterly loathsome even to the most
devout Christians. They preferred the philosophy of Montesquieu, the
atheism of Diderot, the unbelief of Voltaire, the sentimentalism of
Rousseau, to this merciless and bloody demon, assuming the name of the
Catholic Church, and swaying a sceptre of despotism which was deluging
France in blood and woe. The sword of persecution which had for a time
been reposing in its scabbard was again drawn and bathed in blood. Many
Protestant ministers were broken upon the wheel and then beheaded.
Persecution assumed every form of insult and cruelty. Thousands fled
from the realm. Religious assemblies were surrounded by dragoons,
and fired upon with the ferocity of savages, killing and maiming
indiscriminately men, women, and children. Enormous sums of money were,
by the lash, torture, the dungeon, and confiscation, extorted from the
Protestants. Noblemen, lawyers, physicians, and rich merchants were
most eagerly sought.

The seizure of Protestant children was attended with nameless outrages.
Soldiers, sword in hand, headed by the priests, broke into the houses,
overturned every thing in their search, committed brutal violence upon
the parents, and, reckless of their lamentations and despair, seized
the terrified children, especially the young girls, and forced them
into the convents.

Fanaticism so cruel was revolting to the intelligence and to the
general conscience of the age. Maddened priests could easily goad on
a brutal and exasperated populace to any deeds of inhumanity, but
intelligent men of all parties condemned such intolerance. It is,
however, worthy of note that few of the _philosophers_ of that day
ventured to plead for religious toleration. They generally hated
Christianity in all its forms, and were not at all disposed to shield
one sect from the persecutions of another. Voltaire, however, was an
exception. He had spent a year and a half in the Bastille on the charge
of having written a libel against the government, which libel he did
not write. When it was proved to the court that he did not write the
libel he was liberated from prison and banished from France. Several
years after this, Voltaire, having returned to France, offended a
nobleman, the Chevalier de Rohan. The chevalier disdainfully sent his
servant to chastise the poet. Voltaire, enraged by the degradation,
sent a challenge to De Rohan. For the crime of challenging a noble he
was again thrown into the Bastille. After six months he was released
and again exiled. Soon after his _Lettres Philosophiques_ were
condemned by the Parliament to be burned, and an order was issued for
his arrest. For many years he was compelled to live in concealment. He
thus learned how to sympathize with the persecuted. In his masterly
treatise upon toleration, and in his noble appeals for the family of
the murdered Protestant, Jean Calas, he spoke in clarion tones which
thrilled upon the ear of France. When Franklin in Paris called upon
Voltaire, with his grandson, he said, "My son, fall upon your knees
before this great man." The aged poet, then over eighty years of age,
gave the boy his blessing, with the characteristic words, "_God and
freedom_." The philosophy of Voltaire overturned the most despicable of
despotisms. His want of religion established another despotism equally

The miserable regent died in a fit in the apartment of his mistress in
1723. The young king was now fourteen years of age. He was a bashful
boy, with no thought but for his own indulgence. When a child he was
one day looking from the windows of the Tuileries into the garden,
which was filled with a crowd.

"Look there, my king," said Villeroi, his tutor; "all these people
belong to you. All that you see is your property; you are lord and
master of it."

Louis XV. carried these principles into vigorous practice during his
long reign of fifty-nine years. When fifteen years of age he married
Maria, daughter of Stanislaus, the exiled King of Poland. Maria was
not beautiful, but through a life of neglect and anguish she developed
a character of remarkable loveliness and of true piety. There is but
little to record of France during these inglorious years which is
worthy of the name of history. The pen can only narrate a shameful tale
of puerility, sin, and oppression. Weary and languid with worn-out
excitements, the king at one time took a sudden freak for worsted-work,
and the whole court was thrown into commotion as imitative nobles
and ecclesiastics were busy in the saloons of Versailles with wool,
needles, and canvas.

The king at one of his private suppers noticed a lady, Madame de
Mailly, whose vivacity attracted him. Simply to torture the queen he
took her for his favorite, and received her into the apartment from
which he excluded his meek and virtuous wife. Maria could only weep
and look to God for solace. Madame de Mailly had a sister, a bold,
spirited girl, Mademoiselle de Nesle. She came to visit the court, and
after vigorous efforts succeeded in supplanting her sister, and took
her degrading place. She was suddenly cut off in her sins by death;
but there was another sister of the same notorious family, Madame
Tournelle, who endeavored to solace the king by throwing herself into
his arms. The king received her, and she became his acknowledged
favorite, and for some time maintained the position of sultana of the
royal harem. Wherever she went a suite of court-ladies followed in her
train. All were compelled to pay homage to the reigning favorite of
the day, for all power was in her hands, and she was the dispenser of
rewards and punishments. The king conferred upon this guilty woman, who
was as cruel as she was guilty, the title of Duchess of Chateauroux.
Madame de Tencin, one of the ladies of the court, in a confidential
letter to Richelieu, written at this time, says:

"What happens in his kingdom seems to be no business of the king's.
It is even said that he avoids taking any cognizance of what occurs,
averring that it is better to know nothing than to learn unpleasant
tidings. Unless God visibly interferes, it is physically impossible
that the state should not fall to pieces."

Even Madame Chateauroux, herself one of the most corrupt members of
that court of unparalleled corruption, remarked to a friend,

"I could not have believed all that I now see. If no remedy is
administered to this state of things, there will, sooner or later, be a
great overthrow."[19]

Though the Duchess of Chateauroux was the reigning favorite, she
had another younger sister who was a member of the royal harem. The
princess of the blood, Mademoiselle Valois, and the Princess of Conti
were also in this infamous train. These revolting facts must be stated,
for they are essential to the understanding of the French Revolution.
Up to this time the king, of whom the people knew but little, was
regarded with affection. They looked upon him as the only barrier
to protect them from the nobles. Soon after this Madame Chateauroux
was taken sick and died in remorse, crying bitterly for mercy, and
promising, if her life could be spared, amendment and penance. She was
so detested by the people that an armed escort conducted her remains to
the grave to shield them from popular violence.

The king, for a time, was quite chagrined by the death of this woman,
who had obtained a great control over him. While profligacy and
boundless extravagance were thus rioting in the palace, bankruptcy was
ruining merchants and artisans, and misery reigned in the huts of the

A citizen of Paris by the name of Poisson had a daughter of marvelous
grace and beauty. Mademoiselle Poisson married a wealthy financier, M.
Etoilles. She then, conscious of her beauty and of her unrivaled powers
of fascination, formed the bold and guilty resolve to throw herself
into the arms of the king. When the king was hunting in the forest of
Senart she placed herself in his path, as if by accident, in an open
barouche, dressed in a manner to shed the utmost possible lustre upon
her charms. The voluptuous king fixed his eye upon her and soon sent
for her to come to the palace of Versailles. The royal mandate was
eagerly obeyed. She immediately engrossed the favor of the king, was
established in the palace, and henceforth became the great power before
which all France was constrained to bow. Her disconsolate husband, who
had loved her passionately, entreated her to return to him, promising
to forgive every thing. Scornfully she refused to turn her back upon
the splendors of Versailles. Receiving from the king as the badge
of her degradation the title of Marchioness of Pompadour, Jeannette
Poisson was enthroned as the real monarch of France. She was a woman of
vast versatility of talent, brilliant in conversation, and possessed
unrivaled powers of fascination. For twenty years she held the king in
perfect subjection to her sway. She never for one moment lost sight
of her endeavor to please and to govern the monarch. "Sometimes she
appeared before him clad as a peasant-girl, assuming all the simplicity
and rustic grace of this character. She took with equal ease the
appearance of a languishing Venus or the proud beauty of a Diana. To
these disguises often succeeded the modest garb of a nun, when, with
affected humility and downcast eyes, she came to meet the king."

Her power soon became unlimited and invincible, for her heart was of
iron, and even her feminine hand could wield all the terrors of court
banishment, confiscation, exile, and the Bastille. It is said that a
witticism of Frederic II. of Prussia, at her expense, plunged France
into all the horrors of the Seven Years' War. The most high-born ladies
in the land were her waiting-women. Her steward was a knight of the
order of St. Louis. When she rode out in her sedan-chair, the Chevalier
d'Hénin, a member of one of the noblest families of the kingdom, walked
respectfully by her side, with her cloak upon his arm, ready to spread
it over her shoulder whenever she should alight.

She summoned embassadors before her, and addressed them with the
regal _we_, assuming the style of royalty. She appointed bishops and
generals, and filled all the important offices of Church and State with
those who would do her homage. She dismissed ministers and created
cardinals, declared war and made peace. Voltaire paid court to her,
and devoted his muse to the celebration of her beauty and her talents.
Montesquieu, Diderot, and Quesnay waited in her antechamber, imploring
her patronage. Those authors who pleased her she pensioned and honored;
those who did not were left in poverty and neglect. Even the imperial
Maria Theresa, seeking the alliance of France, wrote to her with her
own hand, addressing her as her "dear friend and cousin." "Not only,"
said Madame de Pompadour one day to the Abbé de Bernis, "not only have
I all the nobility at my feet, but even my lap-dog is weary of their
fawnings." Rousseau, strong in the idolatry of the nation, refused to
join the worshipers at the shrine of Pompadour. She dared not send
_him_ to the Bastille, but vexatiously exclaimed "I will have nothing
more to do with that _owl_."

As Madame de Pompadour found her charms waning, she maintained her
place by ministering to the king's appetites in the establishment of
the most infamous institution ever tolerated in a civilized land.
Lacretelle, in his History of France, thus describes this abomination:

"Louis XV., satiated with the conquests which the court offered him,
was led by a depraved imagination to form an establishment for his
pleasures of such an infamous description that, after having depicted
the debaucheries of the regency, it is difficult to find terms
appropriate to an excess of this kind. Several elegant houses, built
in an inclosure called the _Parc aux Cerfs_, near Versailles, were
used for the reception of beautiful female children, who there awaited
the pleasure of their master. Hither were brought young girls, sold
by their parents, and sometimes forced from them. It was skillfully
and patiently fostered by those who ministered to the profligacy of
Louis; whole years were occupied in the debauchery of girls not yet in
a marriageable age, and in undermining the principles of modesty and
fidelity in young women."

When some one spoke to Madame de Pompadour of this establishment, she

"It is the king's heart that I wish to possess, and none of these
little uneducated girls will deprive me of that."

If the king in his rides chanced to see a pretty child who gave promise
of unusual beauty, he sent his servants to take her from her parents
to be trained in his harem. The parents had their choice to submit
quietly at home, or to submit in the dungeons of the Bastille. One
incident, related by Soulavie, in his "Anecdotes of the Reign of Louis
XV.," illustrates the mode of operation:

"Among the young ladies of very tender age with whom the king amused
himself during the influence of Madame de Pompadour or afterward, there
was also a Mademoiselle Treicelin, whom his majesty ordered to take
the name of Bonneval the very day she was presented to him. The king
was the first who perceived this child, when not above nine years old,
in the care of a nurse, in the garden of the Tuileries, one day when
he went in state to his good city of Paris; and having in the evening
spoken of her beauty to Le Bel, the servant applied to M. de Sartine,
who traced her out and bought her of the nurse for a few louis. She
was the daughter of M. de Treicelin, a man of quality, who could not
patiently endure an affront of this nature. He was, however, compelled
to be silent; he was told his child was lost, and that it would be best
for him to submit to the sacrifice unless he wished to lose his liberty

The expense of the _Parc aux Cerfs_ alone, according to Lacretelle,
amounted to 100,000,000 francs--$25,000,000.

These were not deeds of darkness. They were open as the day. France,
though bound hand and foot, saw them, and exasperation was advancing to
fury. An anonymous letter was sent to Louis, depicting very vividly the
ruinous state of affairs and announcing the inevitable shock. Madame de
Hausset, in her memoirs, gives the following synopsis of this letter:

"Your finances are in the greatest disorder, and the great majority of
states have perished through this cause. Your ministers are without
capacity. Open war is carried on against religion. The encyclopedists,
under pretense of enlightening mankind, are sapping the foundations
of Christianity. All the different kinds of liberty are connected.
The philosophers and the Protestants tend toward republicanism. The
philosophers strike at the root, the others lop the branches, and their
efforts will one day lay the tree low. Add to these the economists,
whose object is political liberty, as that of others is liberty of
worship, and the government may find itself in twenty or thirty years
undermined in every direction, and it will then fall with a crash. Lose
no time in restoring order to the state of the finances. Embarrassments
necessitate fresh taxes, which grind the people and induce toward
revolt. A time will come, sire, when the people will be enlightened,
and that time is probably near at hand."

The king read this letter to Madame de Pompadour, and then, turning
upon his heel, said,

"I wish to hear no more about it. Things will last as they are as long
as I shall."

On another occasion, Mirabeau the elder remarked in the drawing-room of
Madame de Pompadour,

"This kingdom is in a deplorable state. There is neither national
energy nor money. It can only be regenerated by a conquest like that of
China, or by some great internal convulsion. But woe to those who live
to see that. The French people do not do things by halves."

Madame de Pompadour herself was fully aware of the catastrophe which
was impending, but she flattered herself that the storm would not burst
during her life. She often said, "Après nous le déluge"--"_After us
comes the deluge_."

The indications of approaching ruin were so evident that they could
not escape the notice of any observing man. Even Louis XV. himself was
not blind to the tendency of affairs, and only hoped to ward off a
revolution while his day should last.

Lord Chesterfield visited France in 1753, twenty years before the death
of Louis XV., and wrote as follows to his son:

"Wherever you are, inform yourself minutely of, and attend particularly
to the affairs of France. They grow serious, and, in my opinion, will
grow more so every day. The French nation reasons freely, which they
never did before, upon matters of religion and government. In short,
all the symptoms which I have ever met with in history previous to
great changes and revolutions now exist and daily increase in France."

The great difficulty of raising money and the outrages resorted to for
the accomplishment of that purpose alarmed the courtiers. One night,
an officer of the government, sitting at the bedside of the king
conversing upon the state of affairs, remarked,

"You will see, sire, that all this will make it absolutely necessary to
assemble the States-General."

The king sprang up in his bed, and, seizing the courtier by his arm,

"Never repeat those words. I am not sanguinary; but, had I a brother,
and did he dare to give me such advice, I would sacrifice him within
twenty-four hours to the duration of the monarchy and the tranquillity
of the kingdom."

It is not strange that in such a court as this Christianity should have
been reviled, and that infidelity should have become triumphant.

"When I was first presented to his majesty Louis XV.," La Fayette
writes, "I well remember finding the eldest son of the Church, the
King of France and Navarre, seated at a table between a bishop and a
prostitute. At the same table was seated an aged philosopher, whose
writings had conveyed lustre upon the age in which he flourished;
one whose whole life had been spent in sapping the foundation of
Christianity and undermining monarchy. Yet was this philosopher,
at that moment, the object of honor from monarchs and homage from
courtiers. A young abbé entered with me, not to be presented to
royalty, but to ask the benediction of this enemy of the altar. The
name of this aged philosopher was _Voltaire_, and that of the young
abbé was Charles Maurice Talleyrand."

Nearly all the infidel writers of the day--Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot,
D'Alembert--were men hopelessly corrupt in morals. Many of them were
keen-sighted enough distinctly to perceive the difference between
Christianity and the lives of debauched ecclesiastics. But most of
them hated Christianity and its restraints, and were glad to avail
themselves of the corruptions of the Church that they might bring
the religion of Christ into contempt. But there were not wanting,
even then, men of most sincere and fearless piety, who advanced
Christianity by their lives, and who with heroism rebuked sin in high

The Bishop of Senez was called to preach before the king. With the
spirit of Isaiah and Daniel he rebuked the monarch for his crimes in
terms so plain, direct, and pungent as to amaze the courtiers. The king
was confounded, but God preserved his servant as Daniel was preserved
in the lions' den.

At length Madame de Pompadour died, in 1764, and the execrations of
France followed her to her burial. It was a gloomy day of wind and rain
when the remains of this wretched woman were borne from Versailles to
the tomb. The king had now done with her, and did not condescend to
follow her to her burial. As the funeral procession left the court-yard
of the palace he stood at a window looking out into the stormy air, and
chuckled at his heartless witticism as he said, "The marchioness has
rather a wet day to set out on her long journey." This remark is a fair
index of the almost inconceivable heartlessness of this contemptible

Madame de Pompadour breathed her last at Versailles in splendid misery.
She was fully conscious of the hatred of the nation, and trembled in
view of the judgment of God. "My whole life," said she, in a despairing
hour, "has been a continual death."

"Very different indeed," beautifully writes Julia Kavanagh, "were the
declining years of Maria Lecsinska and those of the Marchioness of
Pompadour. The patient and pious queen laid her sufferings at the foot
of the cross. Insulted by her husband and his mistresses, neglected by
the courtiers, deeply afflicted by the loss of her children, whom she
loved most tenderly, she still found in religion the courage necessary
to support her grief, and effectual consolation in the practice of a
boundless benevolence."[20]

The old king was now utterly whelmed in the vortex of dissipation;
character, and even self-respect, seemed entirely lost. He looked
around for another female to take the place of Jeannette Poisson. In
one of the low haunts of Parisian debauchery, the courtiers of the king
found a girl of extraordinary beauty, calling herself Mademoiselle
Lange. She had been sewing in the shop of a milliner, but was now
abandoned to vice. She was introduced as a novelty to the voluptuous
monarch, and succeeded in fascinating him. She received the title of
Countess du Barry, and was immediately installed at Versailles as
the acknowledged favorite of the king. Vice never rises, but always
descends in the scale of degradation. The king had first selected
his favorites from the daughters of nobles, he then received one
from the class whom he affected to despise as low-born; and now a
common prostitute, taken from the warehouses of infamy in Paris,
uneducated, and with the manners of a courtesan, is presented to the
nation as the confidant and the manager of the despicable sovereign.
All the high-born ladies, accustomed as they were to the corruptions
of the court, regarded this as an insult too grievous to be borne.
The nobles, the clergy, the philosophers, and the people, all joined
in this outcry. But Madame du Barry, wielding the authority of the
king, was too strong for them all. She dismissed and banished from the
court the Duke of Choiseul, the king's minister, and to his post she
raised one of her own friends. She then, with astounding boldness,
suppressed the Parliaments, thus leaving to France not even the shadow
of representative power. Thus she proceeded, step by step, removing
enemies and supplanting them by friends, until the most noble of the
land were emulous of the honor of admission to the saloon of this
worthless woman.

It is an appalling and a revolting fact that for half a century before
the revolution _France was governed by prostitutes_. The real sovereign
was the shameless woman who, for the time being, kept control of the
degraded and sensual king. "The individual," says De Tocqueville, "who
would attempt to judge of the government by the men at the head of
affairs and not by the women who swayed those men, would fall into the
same error as he who judges of a machine by its outward action and not
by its inward springs."

The king was now so execrated that he dared not pass through Paris in
going from his palace at Versailles to Compiègne. Fearing insult and a
revolt of the people if he were seen in the metropolis, he had a road
constructed which would enable him to avoid Paris. As beautiful female
children were often seized to replenish his seraglio at the _Parc aux
Cerfs_, the people received the impression that he indulged in baths
of children's blood, that he might rejuvenate his exhausted frame. The
king had become an object of horror.[21]

Such was the state of affairs when the guilty king was attacked by the
small-pox, and died at Versailles in 1774, in the sixty-fourth year
of his age and the fifty-ninth of his reign. Such in brief was the
career of Louis XV. His reign was the consummation of all iniquity, and
rendered the Revolution inevitable. The story of his life, revolting
as it is, must be told; for it is essential to the understanding of
the results which ensued. The whirlwind which was reaped was but
the legitimate harvest of the wind which was sown. Truly does De
Tocqueville say, "The Revolution will ever remain in darkness to those
who do not look beyond it. It can only be comprehended by the light
of the ages which preceded it. Without a clear view of society in the
olden time, of its laws, its faults, its prejudices, its sufferings,
its greatness, it is impossible to understand the conduct of the French
during the sixty years which have followed its fall."


[Footnote 16: Galignani's Paris Guide.]

[Footnote 17: History of French Revolution, by E.E. Crowe, vol. ii., p.
150.--_Enc. Am._]

[Footnote 18: The Duke of St. Simon, who was one of the council of
the regency, in his admirable memoirs, gives the following sketch of
Dubois: "Dubois was a little, thin, meagre man, with a polecat visage.
All the vices, falsehood, avarice, licentiousness, ambition, and the
meanest flattery contended in him for the mastery. He lied to such a
degree as to deny his own actions when taken in the fact. In spite of
his debauchery he was very industrious. His wealth was immense, and his
revenue amounted to millions."]

[Footnote 19: Women of France, p. 91.]

[Footnote 20: Women of France, p. 170.]

[Footnote 21: Historical View of the French Revolution, by J. Michelet,
vol. i., p. 46.]



  Assumptions of the Aristocracy.--Molière.--Decay of the
  Nobility.--Decline of the Feudal System.--Difference between France
  and the United States.--Mortification of Men of Letters.--Voltaire,
  Montesquieu, Rousseau.--Corruption of the Church.--Diderot.--The
  Encyclopedists.--Testimony of De Tocqueville.--Frederic II. of
  Prussia.--Two Classes of Opponents of Christianity.--Enormity of
  Taxation.--Misery of the People.--"Good old Times of the Monarchy!"

Having given a brief sketch of the character of Louis XV., let us now
contemplate the condition of France during his long reign. It has been
estimated that the privileged class in both Church and State consisted
of but one hundred and fifty thousand. It was their doctrine, enforced
by the most rigorous practice, that the remaining twenty-five millions
of France were created but to administer to their luxury; that this was
the function which Providence intended them to perform. Every office
which could confer honor and emolument in the Church, the army, the
State, or the Court, was filled by the members of an aristocracy who
looked with undisguised contempt upon all those who were not high-born,
however opulent or however distinguished for talents and literary
culture. Louis XV., surrounded by courtesans and debauched courtiers,
deemed it presumption in Voltaire to think of sitting at the same
table with the king. "I can give pensions to Voltaire, Montesquieu,
Fontinelle, and Maupertius," said the king, "but I can not dine and sup
with _these people_."[22]

The courtiers of Louis XIV. manifested in the most offensive manner
the mortification which they felt in being obliged to receive Molière,
the most distinguished comic dramatist of France, to their table.
No degree of genius could efface the ignominy of not being nobly
born.[23] But, notwithstanding the arrogance of the nobles, they, as a
class, had fallen into contempt. All who could support a metropolitan
establishment had abandoned their chateaux and repaired to Paris. The
rural castle was shut up, silence reigned in its halls, and grass waved
in its court-yard. The bailiff only was left behind to wring the last
farthing from the starving tenantry. Many of the noble families were in
decay. Their poverty rendered their pride only the more contemptible.
Several of the provinces contained large numbers of these impoverished
aristocratic families, who had gradually parted with their lands, and
who were living in a state of very shabby gentility. They were too
proud to work and too poor to live without working. Turgot testifies
that in the Province of Limousin there were several thousand noble
families, not fifteen of whom had an income of four thousand dollars a
year.[24] One of the crown officers wrote in 1750:

"The nobility of this section are of very high rank, but very poor,
and as proud as they are poor. The contrast between their former and
their present condition is humiliating. It is a very good plan to
keep them poor, in order that they shall need our aid and serve our
purposes. They have formed a society into which no one can obtain
admission unless he can prove four quarterings. It is not incorporated
by letters patent, but it is tolerated, as it meets but once a year and
in the presence of the intendant. These noblemen hear mass, after which
they return home, some on their Rosinantes, some on foot. You will
enjoy this comical assembly."

In days of feudal grandeur the noble was indeed the lord and master of
the peasantry. He was their government and their sole protector from
violence. There was then reason for feudal service. But now the noble
was a drone. He received, and yet gave nothing, absolutely nothing,
in return. The peasant despised as well as hated him, and derisively
called him the _vulture_.

The feudal system is adapted only to a state of semi-barbarism. It can
no more survive popular intelligence than darkness can exist after the
rising of the sun. When, in the progress of society, nobles cease to be
useful and become only drones; when rich men, vulgar in character, can
purchase titles of nobility, so that the nobles cease to be regarded
as a peculiar and heaven-appointed race; when men from the masses,
unennobled, acquire opulence, education, and that polish of manners
which place them on an equality with titled men; when men of genius
and letters, introduced into the saloons of the nobles, discover their
own vast superiority to their ignorant, frivolous, and yet haughty
entertainers; and when institutions of literature, science, and art
create an aristocracy of scholarship where opulence, refinement, and
the highest mental culture combine their charms, then an hereditary
aristocracy, which has no support but its hereditary renown, must die.
Its hour is tolled.

Such was the state of France at the close of the reign of Louis XV.
It is estimated that there were in France at that time five hundred
thousand well-informed citizens.[25] This fact explains both the
outbreak of the Revolution and its failure. They were too many to
submit to the arrogance of the nobles; hence the insurrection. They
were too few to guide and control the infuriated masses when the
pressure was taken from them, and hence the reign of terror, the
anarchy and blood. The United States, with a population about the same
as that of France in the morning of her Revolution, has four or five
millions of intelligent and well-educated men. These men support our
institutions. But for them, the republic would be swept away like chaff
before the wind.

As we have before said, men of letters were patronized by the king and
the court, but it was a patronage which seemed almost an insult to
every honorable mind. The haughty duke would look down condescendingly,
and even admiringly, upon the distinguished scholar, and would admit
him into his saloon as a curiosity. High-born ladies would smile
upon him, and would condescend to take his arm and listen to his
remarks. But such mingling with society stung the soul with a sense
of degradation, and none inveighed with greater bitterness against
aristocratic assumption than those men of genius who had been most
freely admitted into the halls of the great. They were thus exasperated
to inquire into the origin of ranks, and their works were filled with
eulogiums of equality and fraternity.

It was this social degradation which was one of the strongest
incentives to revolution. This united all the industrial classes in
France, all who had attained wealth, and all men of intellectual
eminence, in the cry for reform. Equality of rights was the great
demand thus forced from the heart of the nation. _Fraternity_ became
the watch-word of the roused and rising masses.[26]

Thought was the great emancipator. Men of genius were the Titans who
uphove the mountains of prejudice and oppression. They simplified
political economy, and made it intelligible to the popular mind.
Voltaire assailed with keenest sarcasm and the most piercing invectives
the corruptions of the Church, unjustly, and most calamitously for the
interests of France, representing those corruptions as Christianity
itself. Montesquieu popularized and spread before the nation those
views of national policy which might render a people prosperous and
happy; and Rousseau, with a seductive eloquence which the world has
never seen surpassed, excited every glowing imagination with dreams of
fascinating but unattainable perfection. Nearly all the revolutionary
writers represented religion not merely as a useless superstition, but
as one of the worst scourges of the state. Thus they took from the
human heart the influence which alone can restrain passion and humanize
the soul.

They represented man but as a lamb, meek and innocent, dumb before
his shearers, and seeking only to live harmlessly and happily in the
outflowings of universal benevolence and love. This lamb-like man
needed no more religion than does the butterfly or the robin. He was to
live his joyous day, unrestrained by customs, or laws, or thoughts of
the future, and then was to pass away like the lily or the rose, having
fulfilled his function. Death an eternal sleep, was the corner-stone
of their shallow and degrading philosophy. The advocates of this
sentimentalism were amazed when they found the masses, brutalized by
ignorance and ages of oppression, and having been taught that there was
no God before whom they were to stand in judgment, come forth into the
arena of the nations, not as lambs, but as wolves, thirsting for blood
and reckless in devastation. Libertines in France are still infidels,
but they have seen the effect of their doctrines, and no longer dare
to proclaim them. "Where is the Frenchman of the present day," says
De Tocqueville, "who would write such books as those of Diderot or

Unfortunately, fatally for the liberties of France, the leading
writers were infidels. Mistaking the corruptions of Christianity for
Christianity itself, they assailed religion furiously, and succeeded
in eradicating from men's souls all apprehensions of responsibility to
God. Nothing could more effectually brutalize and demonize the soul of
man. And yet the Papal Church, as a towering hierarchy, had become
so corrupt, such an instrument of oppression, and such a support of
despotism, that no reform could have been accomplished but by its
overthrow.[28] It was the monarch's right arm of strength; it was the
rampart which was first to be battered down.

The Church had no word of censure for vice in high places. It spread
its shield before the most enormous abuses, and, by its inquisitorial
censorship of the press, protected the most execrable institutions.
The Church, enervated by wealth and luxurious indulgence, had also
become so decrepit as to invite attack. No man could summon sufficient
effrontery to attempt her defense. The only reply which bloated and
debauched ecclesiastics could make to their assailants was persecution
and the dungeon. There were a few truly pious men in the Church; they
did, however, but exhibit in clearer contrast the general corruption
with which they were surrounded.

Diderot, though educated by the Jesuits--perhaps _because_ he was
educated by the Jesuits--commenced his career by an attack upon
Christianity in his _Pensées Philosophiques_. He was sent to prison,
and his book burned by the public executioner. Still, multitudes
read and so warmly applauded that he was incited to form the plan of
the celebrated Encyclopedia which was to contain a summary of all
human knowledge. In this grand enterprise he allied with him the
ablest scholars and writers of the day--Mably, Condillac, Mercier,
Raynal, Buffon, Helvetius, D'Alembert, and others. Nearly all these
men, despising the _Church_, were unbelievers in _Christianity_.
They consequently availed themselves of every opportunity to assail
religion. The court, alarmed, laid a prohibition upon the work, but did
not dare to punish the writers, as they were too numerous and powerful.
Thus infidelity soon became a fashion. Notwithstanding the prohibition,
the work was soon resumed, and became one of the most powerful agents
in ushering in the Revolution.

"Christianity was hated by these philosophers," writes De Tocqueville,
"less as a religious doctrine than as a political institution; not
because the ecclesiastics assumed to regulate the concerns of the other
world, but because they were landlords, seigneurs, tithe-holders,
administrators in this; not because the Church could not find a place
in the new society which was being established, but because she then
occupied a place of honor, privilege, and might in the society which
was to be overthrown."

Christianity is the corner-stone of a true democracy. It is the
unrelenting foe of despotism, and therefore despotism has invariably
urged its most unrelenting warfare against the Bible. When papacy
became the great spiritual despotism which darkened the world, the
Bible was the book which it hated and feared above all others. With
caution this corrupt hierarchy selected a few passages upon submission
and obedience, which it allowed to be read to the people, while the
majestic principles of fraternity, upon which its whole moral code is
reared, were vigilantly excluded from the public mind. The peasant
detected with a Bible was deemed as guilty as if caught with the tools
of a burglar or the dies of a counterfeiter.

It was impossible, however, to conceal the fact that the Bible was the
advocate of purity of heart and life. Its teachings created a sense
of guilt in the human soul which could not be effaced. Corrupt men
were consequently eager to reject the Bible, that they might appease
reproachful conscience. Frederick II., of Prussia, an atheist and a
despiser of mankind, became the friend and patron of Voltaire in his
envenomed assaults upon Christianity. Louis XV., anxious to maintain
friendly political relations with Prussia, hesitated to persecute the
recognized friend of the Prussian king. The courtiers, generally with
joy, listened to those teachings of unbelief which relieved them from
the restraints of Christian morality. Thus Christianity had two classes
of vigorous assailants. The first were those who knew not how to
discriminate between Christianity and its corruptions. They considered
Christianity and the Papal Church as one, and endeavored to batter the
hateful structure down as a bastille of woe. Another class understood
Christianity as a system frowning upon all impurity, and pressing ever
upon the mind a final judgment. They were restive under its restraints,
and labored for its overthrow that guilt might find repose in unbelief.

Astonishment is often expressed at the blindness with which the upper
classes of the Old Régime allowed their institutions to be assailed.
"But where," asks De Tocqueville, "could they have learned better.
Ruling classes can no more acquire a knowledge of the dangers they have
to avoid, without free institutions, than their inferiors can discern
the rights they ought to preserve in the same circumstances."[29]

The measureless extravagance of the court had plunged the nation into
a state of inextricable pecuniary embarrassment. The whole burden of
the taxes, in myriad forms, for the support of the throne in Oriental
luxury, for the support of the nobles, who were perhaps the most
profligate race of men the world has ever known; for the support of the
Church, whose towering ecclesiastics, performing no useful functions,
did not even affect the concealment of their vices, and who often vied
with the monarch himself in haughtiness and grandeur; for the support
of the army, ever engaged in extravagant wars, and employed to keep the
people in servitude--all these taxes so enormous as to sink the mass of
the people in the lowest state of poverty, debasement, and misery, fell
upon the unprivileged class alone.

Taxes ran into every thing. The minister who could invent a new tax was
applauded as a man of genius. All the offices of the magistracy were
sold. Judges would pay an enormous sum for their office, and remunerate
themselves a hundred-fold by selling their decisions. Thus justice
became a farce. Titles of nobility were sold, which, introducing the
purchaser into the ranks of the privileged class, threw the heavier
burden upon the unprivileged. All the trades and professions were put
up for sale. Even the humble callings of making wigs, of weighing coal,
of selling pork, were esteemed privileges, and were sold at a high
price. There was hardly any thing which a man could do, which he was
not compelled to buy the privilege of doing. A person who undertook to
count the number of these offices or trades for which a license was
sold, growing weary of his task, estimated them at over three hundred

An army of two hundred thousand tax-gatherers devoured every thing. To
extort substance from the starving people the most cruel expedients
were adopted. All the energies of galleys, gibbets, dungeons, and racks
were called into requisition. When the corn was all absorbed, the
cattle were taken. The ground, exhausted for want of manure, became
sterile. Men, women, and children yoked themselves to the plow. Deserts
extended, the population died off, and beautiful France was becoming
but a place of graves.

The people thus taxed owned but one third of the soil, the clergy and
the nobles owning the other two thirds. From this one third the people
paid taxes and feudal service to the nobles, tithes to the clergy, and
imposts to the king. They enjoyed no political rights, could take no
share in the administration, and were ineligible to any post of honor
or profit. No man could obtain an office in the army unless he brought
a certificate, signed by four nobles, that he was of noble blood.

The imposition of the tax was entirely arbitrary. No man could tell
one year what his tax would be the next. There was no principle in the
assessment except to extort as much as possible. The tax-gatherers
would be sent into a district to collect one year one million of
francs, perhaps the next year it would be two millions. No language
can describe the dismay in the humble homes of the peasants when these
cormorants, armed with despotic power, darkened their doors. The
seed-corn was taken, the cow was driven off, the pig was taken from
the pen. Mothers plead with tears that food might be left for their
children, but the sheriff, inured to scenes of misery, had a heart of
rock. He always went surrounded by a band of bailiffs to protect him
from violence. Fearful was the vengeance he could wreak upon any one
who displeased him.

The peasant, to avoid exorbitant taxation, assumed the garb of poverty,
dressed his children in rags, and carefully promoted the ruin and
dilapidation of his dwelling. "Fear," writes de Tocqueville, "often
made the collector pitiless. In some parishes he did not show his face
without a band of bailiffs and followers at his back. 'Unless he is
sustained by bailiffs,' writes an intendant in 1764, 'the taxables will
not pay. At Villefranche alone six hundred bailiffs and followers are
always kept on foot.'"[31]

Indeed, the government seemed to desire to keep the people poor.
Savages will lop off the leg or the arm of a prisoner that he may
be more helplessly in their power. Thus those despotic kings would
desolate their realms with taxation, and would excite wars which
would exhaust energy and paralyze industry, that the people thus
impoverished and kept in ignorance might bow more submissively to
the yoke. The wars which in endless monotony are inscribed upon the
monuments of history were mostly waged by princes to engross the
attention of their subjects. When a despot sees that public attention
is directed, or is likely to be directed, to any of his oppressive
acts, he immediately embarks in some war, to divert the thoughts of
the nation. This is the unvarying resource of despotism. After a few
hundred thousand of the people have been slaughtered, and millions of
money squandered in the senseless war, peace is then made. But peace
brings but little repose to the people. They must now toil and starve
that they may raise money to pay for the expenses of the war. Such, in
general, has been the history of Europe for a thousand years. Despots
are willing that billows of blood should surge over the land, that the
cries of the oppressed may thus be drowned.

So excessive was the burden of taxation, that it has been estimated
by a very accurate computation that, if the produce of an acre of
land amounted to sixteen dollars, the king took ten, the duke, as
proprietor, five, leaving one for the cultivator.[32] Thus, if we
suppose a peasant with his wife and children to have cultivated forty
acres of land, the proceeds of which, at sixteen dollars per acre,
amounted to six hundred and forty dollars, the king and the duke and
the Church took six hundred of this, leaving but forty dollars for the
support of the laborers.

Let us suppose a township in the United States containing twenty square
miles, with five thousand inhabitants. Nearly all these are cultivators
of the soil, and so robbed by taxes that they can only live in mud
hovels and upon the coarsest food. Clothed in rags, they toil in the
fields with their bareheaded and barefooted wives and daughters.
The huts of these farmers are huddled together in a miserable dirty
village. In the village there are a few shop-keepers, who have acquired
a little property, and have become somewhat intelligent. There is
also a physician, and a surgeon, and a poor, dispirited, half-starved
parish priest. Upon one of the eminences of the town there is a lordly
castle of stone, with its turrets and towers, its park and fish-pond.
This massive structure belongs to the duke. Weary of the solitude of
the country, he has withdrawn from the castle, and is living with his
family in the metropolis, indulging in all its expensive dissipations.
His purse can only be replenished by the money which he can extort from
the cultivators of the land who surround his castle; and his expenses
are so enormous that he is ever harassed by an exhausted purse.

For a few weeks in the summer he comes down to his castle, from the
metropolis, with his city companions, to engage in rural sports. Wild
boars, deer, rabbits, and partridges abound in his park. The boars and
the deer range the fields of the farmers, trampling down and devouring
their crops; but the farmer must not harm them, lest he incur the
terrible displeasure of the duke. The rabbits and the partridges infest
the fields of grain; but the duke has issued a special injunction that
the weeds _even_ must not be disturbed, lest the brooding partridges
should be frightened away, to the injury of his summer shooting.

Perhaps one half of the land in the township belongs to the duke, and
the farmers are mere tenants at will. During past ages, about half of
the land has been sold and is owned by those who till it. But even
they have to pay a heavy ground-rent annually to the duke for the land
which they have bought. If a farmer wishes to purchase a few acres
from his neighbor, he must first pay a sum to the duke for permission
to make the purchase. For three or four days in the week the farmer
is compelled, as feudal service, to work in the fields of the duke,
without remuneration. When he has gathered in the harvest on his own
land, a large portion of it he must cart to the granaries of the duke
as a tax. If he has any grain to be ground, or grapes to press, or
bread to bake, he must go to the mill, the wine-press, and the oven of
the duke, and pay whatever toll he may see fit to extort. Often even
the use of hand-mills was prohibited, and the peasant had to purchase
the privilege of bruising his grain between two stones. He could not
even dip a bowl of water from the sea, and allow it to evaporate to
get some salt, lest he should interfere with the monopoly of the king.
If he wishes to take any of his produce to market, he must pay the
duke for permission to travel on the highway. Thus robbed under the
name of custom and law, the farmer toils joylessly from the cradle
to the grave, with barely sufficient food and shelter to keep him in
respectable working order; and when he dies, he leaves his children to
the same miserable doom. Such was the condition of the great mass of
the French people during the long reign of Louis XV.

This intolerable bondage spread all through the minutiæ of social
life. It was, of course, impossible but that the masses of the people
should be in the lowest state of ignorance and indigence. Their huts,
destitute of all the necessities of civilized life, were dark and
comfortless, and even the merriment with which they endeavored at times
to beguile their misery was heartless, spasmodic, and melancholy.[33]

In the year 1785, Thomas Jefferson wrote from Paris to Mrs. Trist, of
Philadelphia, "Of twenty millions of people supposed to be in France,
I am of opinion that there are nineteen millions more wretched, more
accursed in every circumstance of human existence, than the most
conspicuously wretched individual of the whole United States."[34]

Again he writes, in the same year, to M. Bellini, a Florentine
gentleman who was professor in William and Mary College, "I find the
general state of humanity here most deplorable. The truth of Voltaire's
observation offers itself perpetually, that every man here must be
either the hammer or the anvil."


[Footnote 22: Madame Campan's Memoirs of Marie Antoinette, vol. i., p.

[Footnote 23: Ib.]

[Footnote 24: "Men of rank sold their land piecemeal to the peasantry,
reserving nothing but seigneurial rents, which furnished a nominal but
not a substantial competency."--_The Old Régime, De Tocqueville_, p.

[Footnote 25: History of the French Revolution, by M. Rabaud de St.
Etienne, p. 188.]

[Footnote 26: "A lord," writes Montesquieu, bitterly, "is a man who
sees the king, speaks to the minister, has ancestors, debts, and

[Footnote 27: The Old Régime, by De Tocqueville, p. 18.

"It is a singularity worth remarking that the Gospel is nothing but a
declaration of rights. Its mysteries were a long time hidden, because
they attacked the priests and the great."--_M. Rabaud de St. Etienne_,
p. 174.]

[Footnote 28: "Shall we say, then, Woe to Philosophism that
it destroyed Religion, what it called 'extinguishing the
abomination'--_écraser l'infâme_? Woe rather to those that made the
Holy an abomination and extinguishable."--_Carlyle, French Revolution_,
i., 56.]

[Footnote 29: Old Régime, p. 175.

Count Segur, a peer of France, in his Memoirs, has very frankly
described the feelings with which he and the young nobles who were his
companions regarded the writings of the philosophers:

"We felt disposed to adopt with enthusiasm the philosophical doctrines
professed by literary men, remarkable for their boldness and their wit.
Voltaire seduced our imagination. Rousseau touched our hearts. We felt
a secret pleasure in seeing that their attacks were directed against an
old fabric which presented to us a Gothic and ridiculous appearance.
We were pleased with this petty war, although it was undermining our
own ranks and privileges and the remains of our ancient power. But we
felt not these attacks personally. It was, as yet, but a war of words
and paper, which did not appear to us to threaten the superiority
of existence which we enjoyed, consolidated as we thought it by a
possession of many centuries."]

[Footnote 30: History of the Revolution of France, by M. Rabaud de St.

[Footnote 31: For appalling proof of the sufferings of the tax-payers,
turn to the pages of Michelet, of De Tocqueville, of any writer upon
the _Old Régime_.]

[Footnote 32: Arthur Young, vol. i., p. 574; Marshall's Travels, vol.
iv., p. 322.]

[Footnote 33: "Care must be taken not to misunderstand the gayety which
the French have often exhibited in the greatest affliction. It is a
mere attempt to divert the mind from the contemplation of misfortune
which seems inevitable."--_The Old Régime, by De Tocqueville_, p. 167.]

[Footnote 34: Life of Jefferson, by Henry T. Randall, vol. i., p. 432.]



  Absolute Power of the King.--_Lettres de Cachet._--The
  Bastille.--Cardinal Balue.--Harancourt.--Charles of
  Armanac.--Constant de Renville.--Duke of Nemours.--Dungeons
  of the Bastille.--_Oubliettes._--Dessault.--M. Massat.--M.
  Catalan.--Latude.--The Student.--Apostrophe of Michelet.

The monarchy was now so absolute that the king, without any regard to
law, had the persons and the property of all his subjects entirely at
his disposal. He could confiscate any man's estate. He could assign any
man to a dungeon for life without trial and even without accusation. To
his petted and profligate favorites he was accustomed to give sealed
writs, _lettres de cachet_, whose blanks they could fill up with any
name they pleased. With one of these writs the courtiers could drag
any man who displeased them to one of the dungeons of the Bastille,
where no light of the sun would ever gladden his eyes again. Of these
sealed writs we shall speak hereafter. They were the most appalling
instruments of torture despotism ever wielded.

_The Bastille._ At the eastern entrance of Paris stood this
world-renowned fortress and prison. In gloomy grandeur its eight towers
darkened the air, surrounded by a massive wall of stone nine feet thick
and a hundred feet high. The whole was encircled by a ditch twenty-five
feet deep and one hundred and twenty feet wide. The Bastille was an
object exciting universal awe. No one could ever pass beneath its
shadow without thinking of the sighs which ceaselessly resounded
through all its vaults. It was an ever-present threat, the great
upholder of despotic power, with its menace appalling even the boldest
heart. It is easy to brave death from the bullet or the guillotine;
but who can brave the doom of Cardinal Balue, who, for eleven years,
was confined in an iron cage, so constructed that he could find no
possible position for repose; or the fate of Harancourt, who passed
fifteen years in a cage within the Bastille, whose iron bars required
in their riveting the labors of nineteen men for twenty days? To be
thus torn from wife, children, and home, and to be consigned for life
to the unearthly woe of such a doom must terrify even the firmest soul.
It is painful to dwell upon these details, but they must be known in
explanation of the scenes of violence and blood to which they finally
gave birth.

Charles of Armanac, for no crime whatever of his own, but because
his _brother_ had offended Charles XI., was thrown into prison. For
fourteen years he lingered in the dungeon, until his reason was
dethroned and his spirit was bewildered and lost in the woes of the
maniac. Constant de Renville, a Norman gentleman, was accused, while
in exile in Holland, of writing a satirical poem against France. For
eleven years he was immured in one of the most loathsome dungeons of
the Bastille. He appears to have been a man of true piety, and upon
his release wrote an account of the horrors of his prison-house, which
thrilled the ear of Europe.

The Duke of Nemours was accused of an intrigue against Louis XI. He
was dragged from the presence of his wife, exciting in her such terror
that she fell into convulsions and died. After two years' imprisonment
he was condemned to be executed. A scaffold was erected with openings
beneath the planks, and his three children were placed beneath the
planks, bareheaded, clothed in white robes, and with their hands bound
behind their backs, that the blood of their beheaded father might
drop upon them, and that his anguish might be increased by witnessing
the agony of his children. The fearful tragedy being over, these
tender children, the youngest of whom was but five years of age, were
again locked up in one of the gloomiest vaults of the Bastille, where
they remained for five years. Upon the death of Louis XI. they were
released. The two eldest, however, emaciate with privation and woe,
soon died. The youngest alone survived.

Imagination can not conceive of an abode more loathsome than some of
these horrible dens. The cold stone walls, covered with the mould of
ages, were ever dripping with water. The slimy floor swarmed with
reptiles and all kinds of vermin who live in darkness and mire. A
narrow slit in the wall, which was nine feet thick, admitted a few
straggling rays of light, but no air to ventilate the apartment where
corruption was festering. A little straw upon the floor or upon a plank
supported by iron bars fixed in the wall afforded the only place for
repose. Ponderous double doors, seven inches thick and provided with
enormous locks and bolts, shut the captive as effectually from the
world and from all knowledge of what was passing in the world as if
he were in his grave. His arrest was frequently conducted so secretly
that even his friends had no knowledge of what had become of him; they
could make no inquiries at the gloomy portals of the Bastille, and the
unhappy captive was left to die unknown and forgotten in his dungeon.
If by any happy chance he was liberated, he was first compelled to take
an oath never to repeal what he had seen, or heard, or suffered within
the walls of the Bastille.

Thus any person who became obnoxious to the king or any of his
favorites was immediately transferred to these dungeons of despair.
Cardinal Richelieu filled its cells with the victims of his tyranny.
The captive immediately received the name of his cell, and his real
name was never uttered within the precincts of the Bastille.

The Bastille was often full to overflowing, but there were other
Bastilles in France sufficiently capacious to meet all the demands of
the most inexorable tyranny.

It is the more necessary to dwell upon these details since the Bastille
was the mailed hand with which aristocratic usurpation beat down all
resistance and silenced every murmur. The Bastille, with its massive
walls and gloomy towers and cannon frowning from every embrasure,
was the terrific threat which held France in subjection. It was the
demon soul of demoniac despotism. So awful was the terror inspired,
that frequently the victim was merely enjoined by one of the warrants
bearing the seal of the king to go himself to the dungeon. Appalled
and trembling in every nerve, he dared not for one moment disobey.
Hastening to the prison, he surrendered himself to its glooms,
despairingly hoping, by prompt obedience, to shorten the years of his

There were vaults in the Bastille and other prisons of France called
_oubliettes_, into which the poor victim was dropped and left to die
forgotten. These were usually shaped like a bottle, with a narrow
neck and expanding beneath. In one of these tombs of massive stone,
twenty-two feet deep and seventeen or eighteen feet in diameter,
with a narrow neck through which the captive could be thrust down,
the inmate was left in Egyptian darkness amid the damp and mould of
ages, and, trampling upon the bones of those who had perished before
him, to linger through weary hours of starvation and woe until death
came to his relief. Sometimes he thus lingered for years, food being
occasionally thrown down to him.

There were twenty bastilles in France. In Paris, besides the Bastille,
there were thirty prisons, where people might be incarcerated without
sentence, trial, or even accusation. The convents were amply supplied
with dungeons. All these prisons were at the disposal of the Jesuits.
They were instruments of torture. The wretched victim, once consigned
to those cells, was enshrouded by the oblivion of the tomb. The rich
man was robbed of his wealth and taken there to be forgotten and to
die. Beauty, whose virtue bribes could not destroy, was dragged to
those apartments to minister to the lust of merciless oppressors. The
shriek of despair, smothered by walls of stone and doors of iron,
reached only the ear of God.[35]

During the reign of Louis XV. one hundred and fifty thousand of these
_lettres de cachet_ were issued, making an average of two thousand five
hundred annually.[36] The king could not refuse a blank warrant to his
mistress or to a courtier. All those who had influence at court could
obtain them. They were distributed as freely as in this country members
of Congress have distributed their postage franks. St. Florentin alone
gave away fifty thousand. These writs were often sold at a great price.
Any man who could obtain one had his enemy at his disposal. One can
hardly conceive of a more awful despotism. Such were "_the good old
times of the monarchy_," as some have insanely called them. Even during
the mild reign of Louis XVI. fourteen thousand _lettres de cachet_ were
issued. Let us enter the prison and contemplate the doom of the captive.

A gentleman by the name of Dessault offended Richelieu by refusing to
execute one of his atrocious orders. At midnight a band of soldiers
entered his chamber, tore him from his bed, and dragged him through
the dark streets to the Bastille, and there consigned him to a living
burial in one of its cold damp tombs of iron and stone. Here in silence
and solitude, deprived of all knowledge of his family, and his family
having lost all trace of him, he lingered eleven years.

 "Oh, who can tell what days, what nights he spent
 Of tideless, waveless, sailless, shoreless woe!"

At last his jailer ventured to inform him that Richelieu was on a dying
bed. Hoping that in such an hour the heart of the haughty cardinal
might be touched with sympathy, he wrote to him as follows:

"My lord, you are aware that for eleven years you have subjected me
to the endurance of a thousand deaths in the Bastille--to sufferings
which would excite compassion if inflicted even upon the most disloyal
subject of the king. How much more then should I be pitied, who am
doomed to perish here for disobeying an order, which, obeyed, would
have sent me to the final judgment with blood-stained hands, and would
have consigned my soul to eternal misery. Ah! could you but hear the
sobs, the lamentations, the groans which you extort from me, you
would quickly set me at liberty. In the name of the eternal God, who
will judge you as well as me, I implore you, my lord, to take pity
on my woe, and, if you wish that God should show mercy to you, order
my chains to be broken before your death-hour comes. When that hour
arrives you will no longer be able to do me justice, but will persecute
me even in your grave."

The iron-hearted minister was unrelenting, and died leaving his victim
still in the dungeon. There Dessault remained _fifty years_ after
the death of Richelieu. He was at length liberated, after having
passed sixty-one years in a loathsome cell but a few feet square. The
mind stands aghast in the contemplation of such woes. All this he
suffered as the punishment of his _virtues_. The mind is appalled in
contemplating such a doom. Even the assurance that after death cometh
the judgment affords but little relief. Michelet, an unbeliever in
Christian revelation, indignantly exclaims, "though a sworn enemy to
barbarous fictions about everlasting punishment, I found myself praying
to God to construct a hell for tyrants."

When we remember that during a single reign one hundred and fifty
thousand were thus incarcerated; that all the petted and profligate
favorites of the king, male and female, had these blank warrants
placed in their hands, which they could fill up with any name at their
pleasure; that money could be thus extorted, domestic virtue violated,
and that every man and every family was thus placed at the mercy of
the vilest minions of the court, we can only wonder that the volcano
of popular indignation did not burst forth more speedily and more
desolatingly. It is true that in many other countries of Europe the
state of affairs was equally bad, if not worse. But in France wealth
and intelligence had made great advances, while in central and northern
Europe the enslaved people were so debased by ignorance that they had
no consciousness of the rights of which they were defrauded.

The court demanded of a rich man, M. Massat, six hundred thousand
livres ($120,000). Stunned by the ruinous demand, he ventured to
remonstrate. He was dragged to the Bastille, where the vermin of his
dungeon could alone hear his murmurs. M. Catalan, another man of
wealth, after experiencing the horrors of such an imprisonment for
several months, was glad to purchase his ransom for six millions of
livres ($1,200,000).[37]

The money thus extorted was squandered in the most shameless
profligacy. The king sometimes expended two hundred thousand dollars
for a single night's entertainment at Versailles. The terrors of the
Bastille frowned down all remonstrances. A "stone doublet" was the
robe which the courtiers facetiously remarked they had prepared for

On the 1st of May, 1749, a gentleman of the name of Latude was arrested
by one of these _lettres de cachet_, and thrown into the Bastille. He
was then but twenty years of age, and had given offense to Madame de
Pompadour, by pretending that a conspiracy had been formed against
her life. For thirty-five years he remained in prison enduring
inconceivable horrors. In 1784, several years after the death of both
the mistress and her subject king, he was liberated and wrote an
account of his captivity. It was a tale of horror which thrilled the
ear of Europe. Eloquently, in view of the letters of Latude, Michelet
represents the people as exclaiming,

"Holy, holy Revolution, how slowly dost thou come! I, who have been
waiting for thee a thousand years in the furrows of the Middle Ages,
what! must I wait still longer? Oh, how slowly time passes! Oh, how
have I counted the hours! Wilt thou never arrive?"

A young man, in a Jesuit College, in a thoughtless hour, composed
a satirical Latin distich, making merry with the foibles of the
professors and of the king. A _lettre de cachet_ was immediately served
upon him, and for _thirty-one years_, until youth and manhood were
giving place to old age, he remained moaning in living burial in one of
the dungeons of the Bastille. One of the first acts of the Revolution
was to batter down these execrable walls and to plow up their very

In view of the facts here revealed one can not but be amazed at the
manner in which many have spoken of the French Revolution, as if it
were merely an outburst of human depravity. "Burke had no idea," writes
De Tocqueville, "of the state in which the monarchy, he so deeply
regretted, had left us." Michelet, glowing with the indignation which
inflamed the bosoms of his fathers, exclaims, "Our fathers shivered
that Bastille to pieces, tore away its stones with bleeding hands,
and flung them afar. Afterward they seized them again, and, having
hewn them into a different form, in order that they might be trampled
under foot by the people forever, built with them the Bridge of


[Footnote 35: Historical View of French Revolution, by J. Michelet, i.,

[Footnote 36: History of the Bastille, Chambers' Miscellany.]

[Footnote 37: Old Régime, p. 191.]



  Death of Louis XV.--Education of Louis XVI.--Maurepas,
  Prime Minister.--Turgot; his Expulsion from
  Office.--Necker.--Franklin.--Sympathy with the Americans.--La
  Fayette.--Views of the Court.--Treaty with America.--Popularity
  of Voltaire.--Embarrassment of Necker.--_Compte Rendu au
  Roi._--Necker driven into Exile.--Enslavement of France.--New

As the clock of Versailles tolled the hour of twelve at midnight of the
10th of May, 1774, Louis XV., abandoned by all, alone in his chamber,
died. In the most loathsome stages of the confluent small-pox, his
body had for several days presented but a mass of corruption. Terror
had driven all the courtiers from the portion of the palace which he
occupied, and even Madame du Barry dared not approach the bed where
her guilty paramour was dying. The nurse hired to attend him could
not remain in the apartment, but sat in an adjoining room. A lamp was
placed at the window, which she was to extinguish as soon as the king
was dead. Eagerly the courtiers watched the glimmering of that light
that they might be the first to bear to Louis, the grandson of the
king, the tidings that _he_ was monarch of France.

Louis was then hardly twenty years of age.[39] His wife, Marie
Antoinette, daughter of Maria Theresa, Queen of Austria, was scarcely
nineteen. They had been married four years. Marie Antoinette was one
of the most beautiful of women, but from infancy she had been educated
in the belief that kings and nobles were created to illustrate life by
gayety and splendor, and that the people were created only to be their

The taper was extinguished, and the crowd of courtiers rushed to the
apartment of the Dauphin to hail him as Louis XVI. The tidings, though
expected, for a moment overwhelmed them both, and, encircled in each
other's arms, they fell upon their knees, while Louis exclaimed, "_O
God! guide us, protect us, we are too young to govern_."[41] They then
entered the grand saloon, where they received the congratulations of
all the dignitaries of the Church and the State. All were anxious to
escape from the palace whose atmosphere was tainted, and hardly an
hour elapsed ere the new court, in carriages and on horseback, left
Versailles and were passing rapidly to the Chateau of Choisy, one of
the favorite rural palaces of Louis XV. The loathsome remains of the
king were left to the care of a few under-servants to be hurried to
their burial.

It was not yet four o'clock in the morning. The sleepless night, the
chill morning air, the awful scene of death from which they had come,
oppressed all spirits. Soon, however, the sun rose warm and brilliant;
a jocular remark dispelled the mental gloom, and in two hours they
arrived at the palace a merry party exulting in the new reign. The
education of Louis XVI. had been such that he was still but a boy,
bashful, self-distrusting, and entirely incompetent to guide the
kingdom through the terrific storm which for ages had been gathering.
He had not the remotest idea of the perils with which France was
surrounded. He was an exceedingly amiable young man, of morals most
singularly pure for that corrupt age, retiring and domestic in his
tastes, and sincerely desirous of promoting the happiness of France.
Geography was the only branch of learning in which he appeared to take
any special interest. He framed, with much sagacity, the instructions
for the voyage of La Pérouse around the world in 1786, and often
lamented the fate of this celebrated navigator, saying, "I see very
well that I am not fortunate."[42] How mysterious the government of
God, that upon the head of this benevolent, kind-hearted, conscientious
king should have been emptied, even to the dregs, those vials of wrath
which debauched and profligate monarchs had been treasuring up for so
many reigns!

[Illustration: LOUIS XVI. AND LA PÉROUSE.]

Louis had no force of character, and, destitute of self-reliance, was
entirely guided by others. At the suggestion of his aunt, Adelaide, he
called to the post of prime minister Count Maurepas, who was eighty
years of age, and who, having been banished from Paris by Madame de
Pompadour, had been living for thirty years in retirement. Thus France
was handed over in these hours of peril to a king in his boyhood and a
prime minister in his dotage. Was it chance? Was it Providence? Clouds
and darkness surround God's throne!

M. Turgot was appointed to the post of utmost difficulty and
danger--the administration of the finances. He had acquired much
reputation by the skill with which, for twelve years, he had
administered the government of the Province of Limousin. The kingdom of
France was already in debt more than four thousand millions of francs
($800,000,000).[43] As the revenue was by no means sufficient to pay
the interest upon this debt and the expenses of the government, new
loans had been incessantly resorted to, and national bankruptcy was
near at hand. To continue borrowing was ruin; to impose higher taxes
upon the people impossible. There were but two measures which could
be adopted. One was to introduce a reform of wide-sweeping and rigid
economy, cutting down salaries, abolishing pensions and sinecures, and
introducing frugality into the pleasure-haunts of the court. Turgot was
too well acquainted with the habits of the courtiers to dream that it
was in the power of any minister to enforce this reform. There remained
only the plan to induce the clergy and the nobles to allow themselves
to be taxed, and thus to bear their fair proportion of the expenses of
the state. Turgot fully understood the Herculean task before him in
attempting this measure, and in a letter to the king he wrote:

"We will have no bankruptcies, no augmentation of the taxes, no loans.
I shall have to combat abuses of every kind, to combat those who are
benefited by them, and even the kindness, sire, of your own nature. I
shall be feared, hated, and calumniated; but the affecting goodness
with which you pressed my hands in yours, to witness your acceptance
of my devotion to your service, is never to be obliterated from my
recollection, and must support me under every trial."[44]

Several of Turgot's measures of reform the privileged class submitted
to, though with reluctance and with many murmurs; but when he proposed
that a tax should be fairly and equally levied upon proprietors of
every description, a burst of indignant remonstrance arose from the
nobles which drowned his voice. To suggest that a _high-born_ man was
to be taxed like one _low-born_ was an insult too grievous to be borne.
The whole privileged class at once combined, determined to crush the
audacious minister thus introducing the doctrine of equal taxation into
the court of aristocratic privilege.

Madame du Barry, in a pet, four years before, had abolished the
Parliament of Paris, which was entirely under the control of the
aristocracy. Louis XVI., seeking popularity, restored the Parliament.
Unfortunately for reform, the nobles had now an organized body with
which to make resistance. The Parliament, the clergy, the old minister
Maurepas, and even the young queen, all united in a clamorous onset
upon Turgot, and he was driven from the ministry, having been in office
but twenty months.[45] The Parliament absolutely refused to register
the obnoxious decree. The inexperienced and timid king, frightened
by the clamor, yielded, and abandoned his minister. Had the king
been firm, he might, perhaps, have carried his point; but want of
capacity leads to results as disastrous as treachery, and the king,
though actuated by the best intentions, was ignorant and inefficient.
Though the king held a _bed of justice_,[46] and ordered the edicts
registered, they remained as dead letters and were never enforced.

There was in Paris a wealthy Protestant banker, born in Geneva, of
great financial celebrity, M. Necker. He was called to take the place
of Turgot. Warned by the fate of his predecessor and seeing precisely
the same difficulties staring him in the face, he resolved to try the
expedient of economy, cutting off pensions and abolishing sinecures.
But the nobles, in Church and State, disliked this as much as being
taxed, and immediately their clamor was renewed.[47]

Just at this time the American war of independence commenced. All
France was in a state of enthusiasm in view of a heroic people
struggling to be free. And when the American delegation appeared in
Paris, headed by Franklin, all hearts were swept along by a current
which neither king nor nobles could withstand. The republican
simplicity of Franklin in his attire and manners produced an
extraordinary impression upon all classes. The French ladies in
particular were lavish in their attentions. Several fêtes were given
in his honor, at one of which the most beautiful of three hundred
ladies crowned him with a laurel wreath, and then kissed him on both
cheeks. Almost every saloon was ornamented with his bust, bearing the
inscription, "Eripuit coelo fulmen, sceptrumque tyrannis."

All the latent spirit of freedom which had so long been slowly
accumulating burst forth with a power which alarmed the court. Not a
few of the nobles, disgusted with the aristocratic oppression which
was ruining France, gave their sympathies to the American cause.
The Marquis la Fayette, then but eighteen years of age, openly and
enthusiastically applauded the struggle of the colonists. Marie
Antoinette, instinctively hating a war in which the people were
contending against royalty, expressed much indignation that La Fayette
should utter such sentiments in the Palace of Versailles. Joseph
II. of Austria, brother of Marie Antoinette, then on a visit to the
French court, was asked by a lady his opinion of the subject which
was now engrossing every mind. He replied, "I must decline answering;
my business is to be a Royalist" (_Mon métier à moi c'est d'être

It is hardly possible for one now to realize the enthusiasm with
which the American war, at that time, inspired France. Even the court
hated England, and wished to see that domineering power humbled. The
mind of the nation had just awakened and was thoroughly aroused from
the lethargy of ages. Theories, dreams, aspirations had exhausted
themselves, and yet there was in France no scope whatever for action.
America opened a theatre for heroic enterprise. France had given the
theory of liberty, America was illustrating that theory by practice.
The popular cry so effectually drowned every other voice that even the
king was compelled to yield. A treaty with America was signed which
drew from the treasury of France twelve hundred millions of francs
($240,000,000), in support of American independence.[49] But for the
substantial aid thus rendered by the fleet and the army of France it
can hardly be doubted that the American Revolution would have been
crushed, Washington and Franklin would have been hanged as traitors,
and monarchical historians would elegantly have described the horrors
of the great American rebellion.[50]

The king, however, had sufficient intelligence to appreciate the
suicidal act he was thus compelled to perform. With extreme reluctance
he signed the treaty which recognized the right of nations to change
their government. The doctrine of the _sovereignty of the people_ was
thus legitimated in France. That one sentiment unresisted would sweep
Europe of its despotic thrones. As the king signed the treaty, Feb. 8,
1778, he remarked to his minister, "You will remember, sir, that this
is contrary to my opinion."[51] The same weakness which constrained
Louis XVI. to abandon Turgot to his enemies, compelled him to perform
this act which his views of state policy condemned. "How painful," he
writes, in his private correspondence, "to be obliged, for reasons of
state, to sign orders and commence a great war contrary alike to my
opinions and my wishes."[52]

In the midst of these transactions Voltaire, after an absence of
twenty-seven years, much of which time he had passed in his retreat
at Ferney, about five miles from Geneva, revisited Paris. He was
then eighty-four years of age. The court hated the bold assailer of
corruptions, and refused to receive him. But the populace greeted him
with enthusiasm unparalleled. He attended the theatre where his last
play, "Irene," was acted. Immediately upon his appearance the whole
audience, rising, greeted him with long and tumultuous applause. As,
overpowered with emotion, he rose to depart, with trembling limbs and
with flooded eyes, men of the highest rank and beautiful women crowded
around him and literally bore him in their arms to his carriage. He
could only exclaim, "Do you wish to kill me with joy?" A crowd with
lighted torches filled the streets, making his path brilliant as day,
and shouts of triumph arose which appalled the courtiers in the saloons
of the palace. A few weeks after this, May 30, 1778, Voltaire died.
The Archbishop of Paris refused to allow him Christian burial, and the
court forbade his death to be mentioned in the public journals. His
corpse was taken from the city and buried secretly at an old abbey at
Scellières. This petty persecution only exasperated the friends of
reform. A month after the death of Voltaire, Rousseau also passed away
to the spirit-land.

The situation of Necker was now deplorable. The kingdom was involved
in an enormously expensive war. The court would not consent to any
diminution of its indulgences, and the privileged class would not
consent to be taxed. Necker was almost in despair. He borrowed of
every one who would lend, and from the already exhausted people with
sorrow, almost with anguish, gleaned every sou which the most ingenious
taxation could extort.

"Never shall I forget," he wrote, in 1791, "the long, dark staircase of
M. Maurepas, the terror and the melancholy with which I used to ascend
it, uncertain of the success of some idea that had occurred to me,
likely, if carried into effect, to produce an increase of the revenue,
but likely at the same time to fall severely though justly on some one
or other; the sort of hesitation and diffidence with which I ventured
to intermingle in my representations any of those maxims of justice
and of right with which my own heart was animated."

For a time Necker succeeded by loans and annuities in raising money,
but at last it became more difficult to find lenders, and national
bankruptcy seemed inevitable. And what is national bankruptcy? It is
the paralysis of industry, and wide-spreading consternation and woe.
Thousands of widows and orphans had all their patrimony in the national
funds. The failure of these funds was to them beggary and starvation.
The hospitals, the schools, the homes of refuge for the aged and
infirm--all would lose their support. The thousands in governmental
employ and those dependent upon them would be left in utter
destitution. The bankruptcy of a solitary merchant may send poverty to
many families--the bankruptcy of a nation sends paleness to the cheeks
and anguish to the hearts of millions.

In this exigence Necker adopted the bold resolve to publish an honest
account of the state of the finances, that the nation, nobles, and
unennobled might see the destruction toward which the state was
drifting. Necker thought that, if the facts were fairly presented,
the privileged class, in view of the ruin otherwise inevitable, would
consent to bear their share of taxation, manifestly the only possible
measure which could arrest the disaster. He consequently, in 1781,
published his celebrated _Compte Rendu au Roi_. The impression which
this pamphlet produced was amazing. Two hundred thousand copies were
immediately called for, and the appalling revelation went with electric
speed through the whole length and breadth of the land. It was read in
the saloon, in the work-shop, and in the hamlet. Groups of those who
could not read were gathered at all corners to hear it read by others.

"We wetted with our tears," writes M. Rabaud de St. Etienne, who
acted an illustrious part in those days, "those pages which a citizen
minister had imprinted with luminous and comfortable reflections,
and where he was turning all his attention to the prosperity of the
French with a sensibility deserving of their gratitude. The _people_
blessed him as its savior. But all those nourished by abuses formed a
confederacy against the man who seemed about to wrest their prey from

Necker was desirous of introducing some popular element into the
government. There was now a numerous body of men belonging to the
unprivileged class, energetic and enlightened, whose voice ought to
be heard in the administration of affairs as representatives of the
people. He therefore recommended that there should be provincial
parliaments in the different departments of France, somewhat
corresponding with the present legislatures in the United States.
In a few of the provinces there were already parliaments, but they
were composed exclusively of the privileged class. Turgot also had
contemplated provincial legislatures, which he desired to constitute
as the organ of the _people_, and to be composed only of members of
the Tiers Etat.[53] Necker, however, hoped to conciliate the nobles
by giving the privileged body an equal representation with the
unprivileged in these assemblies. One half were to be representatives
of the clergy and the nobility, and the other half of the people,
though the people numbered millions, while the clergy and nobles
numbered but thousands.

Necker's report showed that the interest upon the public debt
absorbed one third of the revenues; that the remaining two thirds
were by no means sufficient for carrying on the government, and that,
consequently, the burden was continually growing heavier by loans and
accumulations.[54] The suggestions of Necker, to give the people a
voice in the administration of affairs and to tax high-born men equally
with low-born, created intense opposition. The storm became too fierce
to be resisted. Both the king and the prime minister yielded to its
violence, and Necker, like Turgot, was driven with contumely from the
ministry and into exile. The hearts of the people followed the defeated
minister to his retreat. These outrages were but making the line which
separated the privileged from the unprivileged more visible, and were
rousing and combining the masses. The illustrious financier, in his
retirement, wrote his celebrated work upon the administration of the
finances, a work which contributed much to the enlightenment of the
public mind.[55] The intellect of the nation was roused, as never
before, to the discussion of the affairs of state. In the parlor, the
counting-room, the work-shop, the farm-house, and the field, all were
employed in deliberating upon the one great topic which engrossed
universal attention. And yet the nobles and their partisans, with
infatuation inexplicable, resisted all measures of reform; a singular
illustration of the Roman adage, "Quem Deus vult perdere priusquam
dementat" (_whom God would destroy he first makes mad_).

Indeed, the opposition was sufficiently formidable to appal any
minister. There were eighty thousand nobles, inheriting the pride and
prestige of feudal power, with thousands, dependent upon their smiles,
rallying around them as allies. There were the officers in the army,
who were either hereditary nobles or, still worse, men of wealth
who had purchased titles of nobility. There were a hundred thousand
persons who, in various ways, had purchased immunity from the burdens
of state, and were thus within the limits of the privileged class, and
hated by the people, though despised by the nobles. There were two
hundred thousand priests bound by the strongest of possible ties to
the hierarchy, the humble class depending for position and bread upon
their spiritual lords and obliged by the most solemn oaths to obey
their superiors. And these priests, intrusted with the keys of heaven
and of hell, as was supposed by the unenlightened masses, held millions
in subjection by the most resistless powers of superstition. There
were sixty thousand in the cloisters of the monasteries, many of them
dissolute in the extreme, and who were necessarily subservient to the
ecclesiastics. There were the farmers general, the collectors of the
revenue, and all the vast army of office-holders, who were merely the
agents of the court.

"This formidable mass of men," says M. Rabaud de St. Etienne, "were
in possession of all France. They held her by a thousand chains. They
formed, in a body, what was termed _la haute nation_. All the rest was
the people."[56]

Though the privileged class and their dependents, which we have above
enumerated, amounted to but a few hundred thousand, perhaps not five
hundred thousand in all, and the people amounted to some twenty-five
millions, still all the power was with the aristocracy. The mass of the
people were merely slaves, unarmed, unorganized, uneducated. They had
been degraded and dispirited by ages of oppression, and had no means of
combining or of uttering a united voice which should be heard.

Immediately succeeding M. Necker in the ministry of finance came M.
Fleury and M. d'Ormesson. They were both honest, well-meaning men, but
were promptly crushed by a burden which neither of them was at all
capable of bearing. Their names are hardly remembered. Maurepas was now
dead. The Americans, aided by France, had achieved their independence,
and France and England were again at peace. The king now selected M.
de Calonne from the Parliament, as Minister of Finance. He was a man
of brilliant genius, of remarkably courtly manners, but licentious and
extravagant. The king hoped, by his selecting Calonne, to diminish that
opposition of the Parliament which was daily growing more inveterate
against the crown. For a time the new minister was exceedingly popular.
His high reputation for financial skill and his suavity enabled him
to effect important loans; and by the sale and the mortgage of the
property of the crown he succeeded for a few months in having money
in abundance. The court rioted anew in voluptuous indulgence. The
beautiful palace of St. Cloud was bought of the Duke of Orleans for the
queen, and vast sums were expended for its embellishment. The Palace
of Rambouillet was purchased as a hunting-seat for the king. Marie
Antoinette gave innumerable costly entertainments at Versailles, and
rumor was rife with the scenes of measureless extravagance which were
there displayed. The well-meaning, weak-minded king, having no taste
for courtly pleasure and no ability for the management of affairs,
either unconscious of the peril of the state or despairing of any
remedy, fitted up a work-shop at Versailles, where he employed most
of his time at a forge, under the guidance of a blacksmith, tinkering
locks and keys. This man, Gamin, has recorded:

"The king was good, indulgent, timid, curious, fond of sleep. He
passionately loved working as a smith, and hid himself from the queen
and the court to file and forge with me. To set up his anvil and
mine, unknown to all the world, it was necessary to use a thousand

There is a secret power called _public credit_ which will speedily
bring such a career to its close. Public credit was now exhausted.
No more money could be borrowed. The taxes for some time in advance
were already pledged in payment of loans. The people, crushed by their
burdens, could not bear any augmentation of taxes. The crisis seemed
to have come. Calonne now awoke to the consciousness of his condition,
and was overpowered by the magnitude of the difficulties in which
he was involved. There was but one mode of redress--_an immediate
retrenchment of expenses and the including of the privileged class in
the assessment of taxes_. Whoever had attempted this had been crushed
by the aristocratic Parliament. Could Calonne succeed? After long and
anxious deliberation he became conscious that it would be impossible
to induce the Parliament to consent to such a reform, that it would
be very hazardous to call a meeting of the States-General, where the
_people_ could make their voice to be heard, and yet it was essential
to have some public body upon which he could lean for support. He
therefore recommended that the king should convene an assembly of the
notables, to be composed of such individuals as the king should select
from the clergy, the nobles, and the magistracy, they all belonging to
the privileged class. Such an assembly had never been convened since
Richelieu called one in 1626.

[Illustration: LOUIS XVI. AS LOCKSMITH.]


[Footnote 38: Historical View of the French Revolution, by J. Michelet,
vol. i., p. 64.]

[Footnote 39: Louis XVI. was born Aug. 22, 1754. In May, 1770, when
not quite sixteen, he married Marie Antoinette. In May, 1774, he
wanted three months of being twenty years of age. Marie Antoinette was
born Nov. 2, 1755. She was but fourteen years and six months old when
married. She was but eighteen years and six months old when she became
Queen of France.--_Encyclopædia Americana._]

[Footnote 40: "It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the
Queen of France at Versailles; and surely never lighted on this orb,
which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision! I saw her
just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she
just began to move in, glittering like the morning star, full of life
and splendor and joy."--_Burke's Reflections._]

[Footnote 41: Memoirs of Marie Antoinette, by Madame Campan, i., 75.]

[Footnote 42: Encyclopædia Americana, article Louis XVI.]

[Footnote 43: Encyclopædia Americana, article Louis XV.]

[Footnote 44: Précis de la Revolution, par M. Lacretelle.]

[Footnote 45: "On the very threshold of the business he must propose to
make the clergy, the noblesse, the very Parliament subject to taxes!
One shriek of indignation and astonishment reverberates through all the
chateau galleries. M. de Maurepas has to gyrate. The poor king, who had
written (to Turgot) a few weeks ago, '_Il n'y a que vous et moi qui
aimions le peuple_' (There is none but you and I who love the people),
must now write a dismissal, and let the French Revolution accomplish
itself pacifically or not, as it can."--_Carlyle, French Revolution_,
i., 41.

"The nobles and the prelates, it seems, considered themselves degraded
if they were to contribute to the repair of the roads; and they would
no doubt have declared that their dignity and their existence, the very
rights of property itself, were endangered, if they were now, for the
first time, they would have said, in the history of the monarchy, to be
subjected to the visits of the tax-gatherer."--_Lectures on the French
Revolution, by Wm. Smyth_, vol. i., p. 102.]

[Footnote 46: _Lit de justice_ was a proceeding in which the king, with
his court, proceeded to the Parliament, and there, sitting upon the
throne, caused those edicts which the Parliament did not approve to be
registered in his presence.--_Encyclopædia Americana._]

[Footnote 47: It is not necessary to allude to De Clugny, who
immediately succeeded Turgot, but who held his office six months only
and attempted nothing.]

[Footnote 48: Woman in France, by Julia Kavanagh, p. 211. Memoirs of
Marie Antoinette, by Madame Campan, vol. i., p. 375.]

[Footnote 49: Hist. Phil. de la France, par Ant. Fantin Desodoards, t.
i., p. 28. Audouin states that the war cost France, from 1778 to 1782,
fourteen hundred millions of livres ($280,000,000).]

[Footnote 50: "The queen never disguised her dislike to the American
war. She could not conceive how any one could advise a sovereign to
aim at the humiliation of England through an attack on the sovereign
authority, and by assisting a people to organize a republican
constitution. She often laughed at the enthusiasm with which Franklin
inspired the French."--_Madame Campan's Mem. of Marie Antoinette_, ii.,

[Footnote 51: Lectures on Fr. Rev., by Wm. Smyth, i., 109.]

[Footnote 52: Cor. Conf. de Louis XVI., ii., 178.]

[Footnote 53: Lectures on the French Revolution, by William Smyth, i.,

[Footnote 54: "The notion that our maladies were incapable of remedy,
and that no human mind could cure them, added keenly to the general
grief. We saw ourselves plunged into a gulf of debts and public
engagements, the interest alone of which absorbed the third part of the
revenue, and which, far from being put into a course of liquidation,
were continually accumulating by loans and anticipations."--_History of
the French Revolution, by M. Rabaud de St. Etienne_, vol. i., p. 19.]

[Footnote 55: "And so Necker, Atlas-like, sustains the burden of
the finances for five years long. Without wages--for he refused
such--cheered only by public opinion and the ministering of his
noble wife. He, too, has to produce his scheme of taxing; clergy,
noblesse to be taxed--like a mere Turgot. Let Necker also depart; not
unlamented."--_Carlyle, French Revolution_, vol. i., p. 46.]

[Footnote 56: M. Rabaud de St. Etienne, vol. i., p. 22.]

[Footnote 57: Memoirs of the Reign of Louis XVI., by the Abbé Soulavie,
vol. ii., p. 191.]



  Measures of Brienne.--The Bed of Justice.--Remonstrance of
  Parliament.--Parliament Exiled.--Submission of Parliament.--Duke
  of Orleans.--Treasonable Plans of the Duke of Orleans.--Anxiety
  of the Queen.--The Diamond Necklace.--Monsieur, the King's
  Brother.--Bagatelle.--Desperation of Brienne.--Edict for abolishing
  the Parliaments.--Energy of the Court.--Arrest of D'Espréménil and
  Goislard.--Tumults in Grenoble.--Terrific Hail-storm.

The Notables, one hundred and forty-four in number, nearly all
ecclesiastics, nobles, or ennobled, met at Versailles, Jan. 29, 1787.
Calonne expected that this body, carefully selected by the king, would
advise that all orders should make common cause and bear impartially
the burden of taxation. Sustained by the moral power of this advice he
hoped that the measure could be carried into execution. He presented
his statement of affairs. Though he endeavored to conceal the worst,
the Notables were appalled. Three hundred and fifty millions of dollars
had been borrowed within a few years, and the annual deficit was
thirty-five millions of dollars.[58] Cautiously he proposed his plan of
impartial taxation. It was the signal for a general assault upon the
doomed minister. He was literally hooted down. Not only the Assembly of
Notables, but the clergy, the Parliament, the nobles all over the realm
pounced upon him, led even by the queen and the Archbishop of Paris;
and Calonne, without a friend, was compelled to resign his office and
to fly from France.[59]

The clergy were exceedingly exasperated against Calonne, for they
deemed the proposition to tax the possessions of the Church as
sacrilegious. The most active of the opponents of Calonne was Brienne,
Archbishop of Toulouse. He was a bold, resolute, ambitious man, and by
the influence of the queen was appointed to succeed Calonne. "As public
credit was dead," said a wag, "an archbishop was summoned to bury the
remains."[60] The spirit of discontent and of menace was now becoming
every day more extended and alarming, and the Revolution was gaining

Among the Notables thus assembled there were some warm advocates of
popular liberty. La Fayette was perhaps the most conspicuous of these.
He spoke boldly against _lettres de cachet_ and other abuses. The
Count d'Artois, afterward Charles X., reproved him for this freedom.
La Fayette firmly, yet with caution, responded, "When a Notable is
summoned to speak his opinion he must speak it."[61]

One of the first acts of Brienne was to abolish the Assembly of

Their session continued but nine weeks, being dissolved May 25,
1787. He then struggled for a time in the midst of embarrassments
inextricable until he was compelled to propose the same measure which
had already been three times rejected with scorn, and which had driven
three ministers in disgrace from Paris--_the taxing of the nobles_. He
did every thing in his power to prepare the way for the suggestion, and
connected the obnoxious bill with another less objectionable, hoping
that the two might pass together. But the clergy and the nobles were on
the alert.

Two thirds of the territory of the kingdom had been grasped by
the Church and the nobles. One third only belonged to the people.
Brienne proposed a _territorial tax which should fall upon all landed
proprietors alike_. There was an instantaneous shout of indignation
from the whole privileged class, and the cry "Away with him," "Hustle
him out," spread from castle to castle, and from convent to convent.

It was a _custom_, rather than a law, that no royal decree could
pass into effect until it had been registered by Parliament; and it
was a _custom_, rather than a law, that, if the Parliament refused
to register a decree, the king could hold what is called a _bed of
justice_; that is, could summon the Parliament into his presence and
command the decree to be registered. As the king could banish, or
imprison, or behead any one at his pleasure, no Parliament had as yet
ventured to disobey the royal command.

The Parliament declined registering the decree taxing the property of
the clergy and the nobles. The king peremptorily summoned the whole
refractory body to appear before him. It was the 6th of August, 1787.
In a vast train of carriages, all the members, some one hundred and
twenty in number, wheeled out from Paris to the Palace of Versailles.
There the king with his own lips ordered them to register the decree.
Obedient to the royal order it was registered, and the Parliament,
sullen and exasperated, was rolled back again to the metropolis. The
people contemplated the scene in silent expectation, and by thousands
surrounded the Parliament on its return, and greeted them with

Emboldened by the sympathy of the people in this conflict with the
court, the Parliament ventured to enter upon its records a remonstrance
against the violent procedure; and, to gain still more strength from
popular approval, they made the strange assertion that Parliament was
not competent to register tax edicts at all; that for this act the
authority of the three estates of the realm was essential, convened
in the States-General. This was, indeed, unheard of doctrine, for the
Parliament had for centuries registered such decrees. It, however,
answered its purpose; it brought the masses of the people at once and
enthusiastically upon their side.

This call for the States-General was the first decisive step toward
bringing the people into the field. Tumultuous crowds surrounded the
palace where the Parliament held its session, and with clapping of
hands and shouts received the tidings of the resolutions adopted. The
king, indignant, issued _letters de cachet_ on the night of the 14th,
and the next morning the whole body was arrested and taken in carriages
into banishment to Troyes, a dull city about one hundred miles from
Paris. The blessings of the people followed the Parliament;[62] "for
there are quarrels," says Carlyle, "in which even Satan, bringing help,
were not unwelcome."

Paris was now in a state of commotion. Defiant placards were posted
upon the walls, and there were angry gatherings in the streets. The
two brothers of the king, subsequently Louis XVIII. and Charles X.,
entered Paris in state carriages to expunge from the records of the
Parliament the obnoxious protests and resolutions. They came with a
well-armed retinue. The stormy multitudes frowned and hissed, and were
only dispersed by the gleam of the sword.

For a month Parliament remained at Troyes, excessively weary of exile.
In the mean time Brienne had no money, and could raise none. Both
parties were ready for accommodation. The crown consented to relinquish
the _tax upon the nobles_, and to summon the States-General in five
years. Parliament consented to register an edict for a _loan_ of one
hundred millions of dollars, the burden of which was to fall upon the
_people_ alone. With this arrangement the exiled Parliament was brought
back on the 20th of September. "It went out," said D'Espréménil,
"covered with glory. It came back covered with mud."

On the 20th of September the king appeared before the Parliament in
person, to present the edict for the loan and the promise to convoke
the States-General at the close of five years.

There was at that time in Parliament a cousin of the king, the Duke of
Orleans, one of the highest nobles of the realm.[63] Inheriting from
his father the enormous Orleans property, and heir, through his wife,
to the vast estates of the Duke of Penthièvre, he was considered the
richest man in France, enjoying an income of seven million five hundred
thousand francs a year ($1,500,000). For years he had been rioting
in measureless debauchery. His hair was falling off, his blood was
corrupted, and his bronzed face was covered with carbuncles.[64] Sated
with sensual indulgence, the passion for political distinction seized
his soul. As heir to the dukedom of Penthièvre, he looked forward to
the office of high admiral. In preparation he ventured upon a naval
campaign, and commanded the rear guard of M. d'Orvilliers' fleet in
the battle off Ushant. Rumor affirmed that during the battle he hid
in the hold of the ship. The court, exasperated by his haughtiness,
and jealous of his power, gladly believed the story, and overwhelmed
him with caricatures and epigrams. Some time after this he ascended
in a balloon, and as he had previously descended a mine, where he had
shown but little self-possession, it was stated that he had shown
all the elements his cowardice.[65] The king withheld from him, thus
overwhelmed with ridicule, the office of admiral, and conferred it upon
his nephew, the son of the Count d'Artois.

The Duke of Orleans was envenomed by the affront, and breathed
vengeance. While in this state of mind, and refusing to present himself
at court, he received another indignity still more exasperating. A
matrimonial alliance had been arranged between the eldest daughter
of the Duke of Orleans and the son of Count d'Artois, the Duke
d'Angoulême. An income of four hundred thousand francs ($80,000) per
annum had been settled upon the prospective bride. She had received
the congratulations of the court, and the foreign ministers had been
authorized to communicate to their respective courts the approaching
nuptials, when Marie Antoinette, alarmed by the feeble health of her
two sons, and thinking that the son of the Count d'Artois might yet
become heir to the throne of France, broke off the match, and decided
that her daughter, instead of the daughter of the Duke of Orleans,
should marry the young Duke d'Angoulême.[66]

The Duke of Orleans was now ready to adopt any measures of desperation
for the sake of revenge. Though one of the highest and most opulent of
the aristocrats of Europe, he was eager to throw himself into the arms
of the popular party, and to lead them in any measures of violence in
their assaults upon the crown.[67]

When Louis XVI. met the Parliament to secure the registry of the
edict for a new loan, a strong opposition was found organized against
him, and he encountered silence and gloomy looks. The king had not
intended to hold a _bed of justice_ with his _commands_, but merely
a royal sitting for friendly conference. But the antagonism was so
manifest that he was compelled to appeal to his kingly authority, and
to _order_ the registry of the edict. The Duke of Orleans rose, and
with flushed cheek and defiant tone, entered a protest. Two members,
his confederates, ventured to sustain him. This insult royalty could
not brook. The duke was immediately sent into exile to one of his rural
estates, and the two other nobles were sent to prison.

A fierce conflict was now commenced between the king and the
Parliament. The Parliament passed a decree condemning arbitrary
arrests. The king, by an order in council, canceled the decree. The
Parliament reaffirmed it. The king was exasperated to the highest
degree, but, with the united Parliament and the popular voice against
him, he did not dare to proceed to extreme measures. Louis XIV. would
have sent every man of them to the Bastille or the scaffold. But the
days of Louis XIV. were no more.

It may at first thought seem strange that in this conflict the
_people_ should have sided with the Parliament. But the power of the
crown was the great power they had to dread, and which they wished
to see humbled. It was to them a matter of much more moment that the
_despotism of the court_ should be curtailed than that the one act of
taxation should be passed in their favor. Men of far-reaching sagacity
must have guided the populace to so wise a decision. Inequality of
taxation was but one of the innumerable wrongs to which the people were
exposed. What they needed was a thorough reform in the government which
should correct _all_ abuses. To attain this it was first indispensable
that despotism should be struck down. Therefore their sympathies were
with the Parliament in its struggle against the crown, though it so
happened that the conflict arose upon a point adverse to the popular

The Duke of Orleans began seriously to contemplate the dethronement
of his cousin and the usurpation of the crown. With almost boundless
wealth at his command, and placing himself at the head of the popular
party, now rising with such resistless power, he thought the plan not
difficult of accomplishment. He had traveled in England, had invested
large sums there, had formed friendship with the sons of the king,
the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York. The court of St. James was
bitterly exasperated against the court of Louis XVI. for aiding in the
emancipation of America. The Duke of Orleans consequently doubted not
that he could rely upon the friendship of England in the introduction
of a new dynasty to France.[68]

And now the parliaments which had been organized in many of the
provinces made common cause with the Parliament of Paris, and sent
in their remonstrances against the despotism of the crown. Gloom now
pervaded the saloons of Versailles. Marie Antoinette, with pale cheek
and anxious brow, wandered through the apartments dejected and almost
despairing. Groves and gardens surrounded her embellished with flowers
and statues and fountains. The palace which was her home surpassed
in architectural grandeur and in all the appliances of voluptuous
indulgence any abode which had ever before been reared upon earth.
Obsequious servants and fawning courtiers anticipated her wishes, and
her chariot with its glittering outriders swept like a meteor through
the enchanting drives which art, aided by the wealth of a realm, had
constructed, and yet probably there was not a woman in the whole realm,
in garret or hut or furrowed field, who bore a heavier heart than that
which throbbed within the bosom of the queen. The king was a harmless,
inoffensive, weak-minded man, spending most of his time at the forge.
It was well understood that the queen, energetic and authoritative,
was the real head of the government, and that every act of vigor
originated with her. She consequently became peculiarly obnoxious to
the Parliament, and through them to the people; and Paris was flooded
with the vilest calumnies against her.

There was at that time fluttering about Versailles a dissolute woman
of remarkable beauty, the Countess Lamotte. She forged notes against
the queen, and purchased a very magnificent pearl necklace at the price
of three hundred thousand dollars. Cardinal Rohan was involved in the
intrigue. The transaction was noised through all Europe. The queen was
accused of being engaged in a swindling transaction with a profligate
woman to cheat a jeweler, and was also accused of enormous extravagance
in wishing to add to the already priceless jewels of the crown others
to the amount of three hundred thousand dollars. The queen was
innocent; but the public mind exasperated wished to believe all evil
of her. Men, haggard and hungry, and without employment; women ragged
and starving, and with their starving children in their arms, were ever
repeating the foul charge against the queen as a thief, an accomplice
with a prostitute, one who was willing to see the people starve if she
might but hang pearls about her neck. The story was so universally
credited, and created such wide-spread exasperation, that Talleyrand
remarked, "Mind that miserable affair of the necklace. I should be
nowise surprised if it should overturn the French monarchy."

In addition to all this the report was spread abroad that the children
of Marie Antoinette were illegitimate; that the king had not sufficient
capacity to reign; that his next brother, called Monsieur, subsequently
Louis XVIII., was engaged in a conspiracy with the Parliament to eject
Louis XVI. from the throne, and to establish a government of the
nobles, of which Monsieur should be the nominal head. It is by no means
improbable that this plan was formed. It will account for many of the
actions of the nobles during the first stages of the Revolution.[69]

The second brother of the king, Count d'Artois, a very elegant and
accomplished man of fashion, fond of pleasure, and with congenial
tastes with the young and beautiful queen, was accused, though probably
without foundation, of being her paramour and the father of her
children. He had erected, just outside the walls of Paris, in the woods
of Boulogne, a beautiful little palace which he called _Bagatelle_.
This was the seat of the most refined voluptuousness and of the most
costly indulgence.

The queen now knew not which way to turn from the invectives which were
so mercilessly showered upon her. It was in vain to attempt an answer.
Her lofty spirit so far sustained her as to enable her in public to
appear with dignity. But in her boudoir she wept in all the anguish
of a crushed and despairing heart. "One morning at Trianon," writes
Madame Campan, "I went into the queen's chamber when she was in bed.
There were letters lying upon her bed and she was weeping bitterly. Her
tears were mingled with sobs, which she occasionally interrupted by
exclamations of '_Ah! that I were dead. Wretches! monsters! what have
I done to them?_' I offered her orange-flower-water and ether. '_Leave
me, if you love me; it would be better to kill me at once._' At this
moment she threw her arm over my shoulder and began weeping afresh."[70]

Parliament had registered the edict for a loan of one hundred millions
of dollars. It would be no burden to them. The people alone were to
be taxed for the debt. But public credit was dead. No one would lend.
Brienne was also assailed with lampoons and caricatures and envenomed
invectives, until, baited and bayed from every direction, he became
almost distracted.[71] Burning with fever and with tremulous nerves, he
paced his chamber-floor, ready for any deed of desperation which could
extricate him from his woe. All this the Parliament in Paris and the
twelve parliaments in the departments enjoyed, for it was the object
of the nobles, who mainly formed these bodies, to wrest back from the
monarchy that feudal power which energetic kings had wrested from them.
The people were ready to sustain the nobles, though their enemies, in
their attack upon the crown, and the nobles were also eager to call
in the people to aid them in their perilous conflict. Some of the
nobles, however, more far-sighted, strongly opposed the calling of the
States-General. The majority, however, prevailed, and decreed to call
a meeting of the states, but with the proviso that five years were to
elapse before they should be convened.

Brienne was now goaded to desperation. He determined to break down the
parliaments. Secretly he matured a plan for the formation of a series
of minor courts, where all small causes could be tried, and a superior
court for registering edicts. Thus there would be absolutely nothing
left for the parliaments to do, and they could be abolished as useless.
These courts, the superior to be called the _Plenary Court_ and the
others _Grand Bailliages_, were to be composed of courtiers carefully
selected, who would be subservient to the wishes of the king.[72]

It was a shrewd measure, but one which required the strictest secrecy
in its execution. Such a coup d'état must come as a sudden stroke, or
so powerful a body as the Parliament would be able to ward off the
blow. The whole kingdom was then divided into a number of provinces,
over each of which a governor, called an intendant, presided, appointed
by the king. The royal edict was to be placed secretly in the hands
of each of these intendants, with minute directions how to act, and
they were promptly and secretly to organize the courts, so that upon
an appointed day all should be accomplished, the new machinery in
motion, and the power of the parliaments annihilated. So important
was it that profound secrecy should be observed that printers were
conveyed in disguise by night to one of the saloons of Versailles,
where they brought their type and put up their press to print the
royal edict. Sentries stood at the doors and the windows of their
work-room and their food was handed in to them. M. d'Espréménil, one
of the most active and influential members of Parliament, suspecting
some stratagem, succeeded, through a bribe of twenty-five hundred
dollars, in obtaining a copy of the edict. In the greatest excitement
he hastened back to Paris and presented himself in Parliament with the
edict in his hand. It was the 3d of May, 1788. The members listened
with breathless eagerness to the reading of the paper, which was to
their body a death-warrant. The edict required all the military to
be assembled on the appointed day, ready for action. The intendants
were to march an armed force to those cities of the provinces where
parliaments had been in session, and, when the new courts were to be
organized, to enforce the decree. None of the intendants or commanders
of the troops knew what was to be done, but confidential agents of the
king were to be sent to all these places, that at the same day and on
the same hour the order might be received and executed all over France.

There succeeded this reading at first a universal outbreak of
indignation. They then took an oath to resist, at the peril of their
lives, all measures tending to the overthrow of the old French
parliaments. The tidings that the plot had been detected were borne
speedily to the court at Versailles. Fierce passion now added fury to
the battle. Two _lettres de cachet_ were issued to seize D'Espréménil
and another active member of the opposition, Goislard, and silence
them in the Bastille. Warned of their danger they escaped through
scuttles and over the roofs of houses to the Palace of Justice,
dispatched runners in every direction to summon the members, and
then, laying aside their disguise, assumed their robes of office. An
hour had not elapsed ere Parliament was in session and all Paris in
commotion. Parliament immediately voted that the two members should
not be given up, and that their session was permanent and subject to
no adjournment until the pursuit of the two victims was relinquished.
All the avenues of the Palace of Justice were inundated with a throng
of excited citizens, bewildered by this open and deadly antagonism
between the Parliament and the court. All the day and all the night
and all the next day, for thirty-six hours, the session of stormy
debate and fierce invective continued. Again gloomy night settled down
over sleepless Paris. But suddenly there was heard the roll of drums
and the bugle-blast and the tramp of armed men. Captain d'Agoust, at
the head of the royal troops, marched from Versailles with infantry,
cavalry, and artillery. Sternly and rapidly by torch-light the soldiers
advanced, clearing their way through the multitudes crowding the
court-yards and avenues of the Palace of Justice.[73]

At the head of a file of soldiers with gleaming bayonets and loaded
muskets, D'Agoust, a soldier of cast-iron face and heart, mounted
the stairs, strode with the loud clatter of arms into the hall, and
demanded, in the name of the king, M. Duval d'Espréménil and M.
Goislard de Monsabert. As he did not know these persons he called upon
them to come forward and surrender themselves. For a moment there was
profound silence, and then a voice was heard, "We are all D'Espréménils
and Monsaberts." For a time there was great tumult, as many voices
repeated the cry.

Order being restored, the president inquired whether D'Agoust will
employ violence. "I am honored," the captain replies, "with his
majesty's commission to execute his majesty's order. I would gladly
execute the order without violence, but at all events I shall execute
it. I leave the senate for a few minutes to deliberate which method
they prefer." With his guard he left the hall.

After a brief interval the sturdy captain returned with his well-armed
retinue. "We yield to force," said the two counselors, as they
surrendered themselves. Their brethren gathered around their arrested
companions for a parting embrace, but the soldiers cut short the scene
by seizing them and leading them down, through winding passages, to a
rear gate, where two carriages were in waiting. Each was placed in a
carriage with menacing bayonets at his side. The populace looked on in
silence. They dared not _yet_ speak. But they were learning a lesson.
D'Espréménil was taken to an ancient fortress on one of the Isles
of Hieres, in the Mediterranean, about fourteen miles from Toulon.
Goislard was conveyed to a prison in Lyons.

D'Agoust, having dispatched his prisoners, returned to the Hall of
Assembly, and ordered the members of Parliament to disperse. They were
compelled to file out, one hundred and sixty-five in number, beneath
the bayonets of the grenadiers. D'Agoust locked the doors, put the keys
into his pocket, and, with his battalions, marched back to Versailles.

The Parliament of Paris was now turned into the street. But still there
was no money in the treasury. The provincial parliaments were roused,
and had matured their plans to resist the new courts. The 8th of May
arrived, when the decree, now every where promulgated, was to be put
into execution. The intendants and the king's commissioners found, at
all points, organized opposition. The provincial noblesse united with
the parliaments, for it was now but a struggle of the nobility against
the unlimited power of the crown. A deputation of twelve was sent from
the Parliament of Breton, with a remonstrance, to Versailles. They were
all consigned to the Bastille. A second deputation, much larger, was
sent. Agents of the king met them, and, by menaces, drove them back. A
third, still more numerous, was appointed, to approach Versailles by
different roads. The king refused to receive them. They held a meeting
in Paris, and invited La Fayette and all patriotic Bretons in Paris to
advise with them.[74] This was the origin of the Jacobin Club.

Eight parliaments were exiled. But at Grenoble they refused to
surrender themselves to the _lettres de cachet_. The tocsin pealed
forth the alarm, and booming cannon roused the masses in the city and
upon the mountains to rush, with such weapons as they could seize, to
protect the Parliament. The royal general was compelled to capitulate
and to retire, leaving his commission unexecuted. The nobles had
appealed to the masses, and armed them to aid in resisting the king,
and thus had taught them their power. It seems as though supernatural
intelligence was guiding events toward the crisis of a terrible
revolution. Four of the parliaments were thus enabled to bid defiance
to the kingly power.

The attempt to establish the new courts was a total failure. The
clergy, the nobility, and the people were all against it. A universal
storm of hatred and contempt fell upon all who accepted offices in
those courts. The Plenary Court held but one session, and then expired
amid the hisses of all classes. The king seemed suddenly bereft of

"Let a commissioner of the king," says Weber, "enter one of these
parliaments to have an edict registered, the whole tribunal will
disappear, leaving the commissioner alone with the clerk and president.
The edict registered and the commissioner gone, the whole tribunal
hastens back to declare such registration null. The highways are
covered with deputations of the parliaments, proceeding to Versailles
to have their registers expunged by the king's hand, or returning home
to cover a new page with new resolutions still more audacious."[75]

Still there was no money, and Brienne was in despair. Wistfully he
looked to his embowered chateau at Brienne, with its silent groves
and verdant lawn. There, while these scenes were transpiring, had
sat, almost beneath the shadow of his castle, "a dusky-complexioned,
taciturn boy, under the name of Napoleon Bonaparte." This boy,
forgetful of the sports of childhood, was gazing with intensest
interest upon the conflict, and by untiring study, night and day,
was girding himself with strength to come forth into the arena. He
had already taken his side as the inexorable foe of feudal privilege
and the friend of popular rights. He had already incurred the frown
of his teachers for the energy with which he advocated in his themes
the doctrine of equality. "The themes of Napoleon," said one of his
teachers, "are like flaming missiles ejected from a volcano."

In these fearful scenes, ominous of approaching floods and earthquakes,
God, in the awful mystery of his providence, took an energetic part.
On the 13th of July of this year, 1788, the whole country, for one
hundred and twenty miles around Paris, was laid waste by one of the
most frightful hail-storms which ever beat down a harvest. Not a green
blade was left. Gaunt famine was inevitably to stride over distracted,
impoverished France. Consternation oppressed all hearts. It was now
hastily decided that the States-General should be assembled in the
following month of May. The queen was that day standing at one of the
windows of Versailles, pallid, trembling, and lost in gloomy thought.
She held in her hand a cup of coffee, which, mechanically, she seemed
to sip. Beckoning to Madame Campan, she said to her,

"Great God! what a piece of news will be made public to-day. The king
grants States-General. 'Tis a first beat of the drum of ill omen for
France. This noblesse will ruin us."[76]

Brienne, who now occupied the post of prime minister, wrote to M.
Necker entreating him to return to the post of Controller of the
Finance. Necker refused. He was not willing to take charge of the
finances with Brienne prime minister. Bankruptcy, with its national
disgrace and wide-spreading misery, was at hand. On the 16th of August
an edict was issued that all payments at the royal treasury should be
made three fifths in cash, and the remaining two fifths in promissory
notes bearing interest. As the treasury was without credit the notes
were comparatively valueless. This was virtual bankruptcy, in which the
state offered to pay sixty cents on the dollar. The announcement of
this edict rolled another surge of excitement and consternation over
the kingdom.

Count d'Artois called upon the queen and informed her of the terrible
agitation pervading the public mind. She sat down in silence and
wept. Brienne, pale, haggard, and trembling, frightened by the storm
now raging, having contrived to secure for himself property to the
amount of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year, gave in his
resignation, entered his carriage and drove off to Italy, leaving the
king to struggle alone against the Revolution.[77]

During these conflicts for power between the king and the nobles the
moan of twenty-five millions crushed beneath the chariot-wheels of
feudal aristocracy ascended, not unheeded, to the ear of Heaven. The
hour of retribution if not of recompense approached. For weary ages the
people had waited for its coming with hope ever deferred. Generation
after generation had come and gone, and still fathers and mothers, sons
and daughters were toiling in the furrows and in the shop, exclaiming,
"O God, how long!" The dawn after the apparently interminable night was
now at hand, but it was the dawn not of a bright but of a lurid day.
France at this time presented the spectacle of millions in misery, of
some thousands obtaining by the severest toil the bare necessaries of
life, and of a few hundred rioting in wealth and luxury.


[Footnote 58: Histoire Philosophique de la Revolution de France, par
Ant. Fantin Desodoards, t. i., p. 58.]

[Footnote 59: "Calonne has published a work on the French Revolution.
At the end of it he gives an outline of his plan. Nothing can be more
reasonable; and it remains an eternal indictment on the people of
consequence then in France, more particularly on that part of them
that composed the Assembly of Notables."--_Lectures on the French
Revolution, by Wm. Smyth_, vol. i., p. 122.]

[Footnote 60: Montgaillard, vol. i., p. 300.]

[Footnote 61: There was at this time a nominal tax of two twentieths
upon all incomes, which the clergy and the nobility were to pay as
the rest. They contrived, however, in a great measure to evade this
tax. "The princes of the blood, for example," says Bouillé, in his
Memoirs, "who enjoyed among them from twenty-four to twenty-five
millions yearly ($5,000,000), paid for their two twentieths only
188,000 livres ($37,600) instead of 2,400,000 ($480,000). The Duke of
Orleans, who presided over the committee to which I belonged in the
Assembly of the Notables, said to me, one day, after a deliberation in
which we had considered and approved the establishment of provincial
administrations, 'Are you aware, sir, that this pleasantry will cost
me at least 300,000 livres ($60,000) a year?' 'How is that, my lord?'
I asked. 'At present,' he replied, 'I arrange with the intendants,
and pay pretty nearly what I like. The provincial administrations, on
the contrary, will make me pay what is strictly due.'"--_Bouillé's
Memoirs_, p. 41.]

[Footnote 62: "This body at first courageously sustained the blow which
had fallen upon them. But soon men accustomed to the pleasures of Paris
threw aside the mask of stoicism which they had assumed, and redeemed
themselves from exile by promising to adopt the views of the court,
provided that no new taxation was proposed."--_Desodoards_, vol. i., p.

[Footnote 63: The Marquis of Ferrières, a noble of high rank, was a
deputy of the nobles. He was a warm patron of the old opinions and
customs, and voted perseveringly with the majority of his order. In his
very interesting Memoirs he writes thus of the Duke of Orleans, upon
whom, of course, he could not look with a partial eye. "The duke was
himself without talents, and debased by a life of drunkenness; greedy
of money to a degree that would have been perfectly reprehensible in a
private man, but which was disgraceful and degrading in a prince. He
had every vice which can make crime odious, and none of the brilliant
qualities by which it can be in some degree illustrated in the eyes
of posterity. The dead feelings of the duke it was necessary to
animate in some way or other, that he might appear to have a wish for
something, and so they held out to him the supreme power, under the
title of lieutenant-general of the kingdom; all the public money at
his disposal, and in the event, which it was for him to hasten, the
crown for his children, and himself thus made the commencement of a new

[Footnote 64: Carlyle, French Revolution, vol. i., p. 48.]

[Footnote 65: Biographie Moderne.

"Off Ushant some naval thunder is heard. In the course of which
did our young prince hide in the hold! Our poor young prince
gets his opera plaudits changed into mocking tehees, and can not
become Grand Admiral--the source to him of woes which one may call
endless."--_Carlyle, French Revolution_, vol. i., p. 43.]

[Footnote 66: This was the princess who subsequently experienced such
terrible suffering in the prison of the Temple, with her brother, the
dauphin. She was released by Napoleon, and afterward married the Duke

[Footnote 67: Desodoards, vol. i., p. 28. Thiers, vol. i., p. 23.]

[Footnote 68: Desodoards, vol. i., p. 50.]

[Footnote 69: Histoire Phil. de la Rev. de Fr. par Ant. Fantin
Desodoards, vol. i., p. 45.]

[Footnote 70: Memoirs of Marie Antoinette, by Madame Campan, vol. i.,
p. 243.]

[Footnote 71: "Paris is what they call in figurative speech flooded
with pamphlets (_regorgé des brochures_), flooded and eddying again.
Hot deluge from so many patriot ready-writers, all at the fervid or
boiling point; each ready-writer now in the hour of eruption going
like an Iceland geyser! Against which what can a judicious friend,
Morellet, do; a Rivarol, an unruly Linguet (well paid for it), spouting
_cold_?"--_Carlyle_, vol. i., p. 91.]

[Footnote 72: Montgaillard, tome i., p. 405.]

[Footnote 73: The following was the commission of D'Agoust: "J'ordonne
au sieur d'Agoust, capitaine de mes gardes françaises, de se rendre au
palais à la tête de six companies, d'en occuper toutes les avenues,
et d'arrêter dans la grand chambre de mon parlement, ou partout
aillieurs, messieurs Duval d'Espréménil et Goislard, conseillers,
pour les remettre entre les mains des officiers de la prévôte de
l'hôtel."--_Desodoards_, tome i., p. 82.]

[Footnote 74: Carlyle, vol. i., p. 101.]

[Footnote 75: Weber, vol. i., p. 275.]

[Footnote 76: Campan, vol. iii., p. 104.]



  Recall of Necker.--Reassembling the Notables.--Pamphlet of the Abbé
  Sièyes.--Vote of the King's Brother.--His supposed Motive.--The
  Basis of Representation.--Arrangements for the Meeting of the
  States.--Statement of Grievances.--Mirabeau: his Menace.--Sympathy
  of the Curates with the People.--Remonstrance of the Nobles.--First
  Riot.--Meeting of the States-General.--New Effort of the privileged

The king again turned to Necker, as one strong in the confidence of the
people. The announcement of his recall filled France with enthusiasm.
Guns were fired, bells rung, and masses of people surged through the
streets of Paris and of Versailles, shouting exultingly. It was the
24th of August, 1788. Necker's first exclamation, at the intimation of
his recall, was, "Ah! that I could recall the fifteen months of the
Archbishop of Toulouse." He found but two hundred and fifty thousand
francs ($50,000) in the treasury. Though disorder and ruin had made
rapid progress, the reputation of Necker was such that he immediately
had loans offered him, and the public funds rose thirty per cent.[78]

Preparations were immediately made for the assembling of the
States-General, and the public announcement was given that it was
to be convened on the 27th of April. There had been no meeting of
the States-General for one hundred and seventy-five years, and
the question now rose, How shall the members be elected? who shall
be voters? of how many shall the body be composed? what proportion
shall be from the privileged and what from the unprivileged class?
The learned bodies and popular writers were invited to express
their views upon these points. Thousands of political pamphlets
immediately appeared, and every mind in the nation was roused.[79]
The all-important and most agitating question was, What proportion
shall the people occupy in this assembly? The unprivileged class
composed ninety-eight hundredths of the nation; the privileged class
two hundredths. And yet the privileged class demanded inexorably that
they should have two thirds of the representatives, and the people one
third. This would place the people in a hopeless minority, and leave
them entirely at the mercy of the privileged class.

To settle these agitating questions the Notables were again summoned
on the 6th of September, 1788. It was the same body which Calonne had
called together. Parliament had firmly declared in favor of allowing
the people a representation of but one third, giving the nobles a third
and the clergy a third. The king and Necker were fully assured that
such an arrangement could by no means satisfy the nation--that it would
be a mockery of the people which would only exasperate them. They hoped
that these Notables, carefully selected, though from the aristocracy,
would be willing to give ninety-eight of the people at least an equal
voice with two of the aristocracy.

The Abbé Sièyes had written a pamphlet which had produced a profound
impression throughout France. He thus asked, and answered, three
questions: "What is the Third Estate? The whole people. What has it
hitherto been in our form of government? Nothing. What does it want? To
become something."

But the Notables were now alarmed, and a warm discussion ensued between
the advocates of ancient traditions and of national justice. One alone
of the several committees into which the Notables were divided voted
in favor of allowing the people an equal representation with the
privileged classes. Monsieur, afterward Louis XVIII., was chairman of
that committee. When the king was informed of this vote he remarked,
"Let them add my vote: I give it willingly."[80] After a month's
session, the Notables, on the 12th of December, having accomplished
nothing, vanished, to appear no more forever.

The question was still unsettled, and the clamor was growing louder and
more exciting. It was a vital struggle. To give the people an equal
voice was death to aristocratic usurpation. To give the privileged
class two votes, to the people one, hopelessly perpetuated abuses.
The question could only be settled by the authority of the king. On
the 27th of December Necker made a report to the king recommending
that the unprivileged class should send the same number of delegates
as the privileged.[81] In accordance with this report, on the 24th of
January, 1789, the royal edict was issued.[82] The dissatisfaction on
the part of the nobles amounted almost to rebellion. In Brittany the
nobles, who had sent in a strong protest, refused to send any delegates
to the States-General, hoping probably that the nobles and the clergy
generally would follow their example, and that thus the measure might
be frustrated.

But events ran onward like the sweep of ocean tides. Nothing could
retard them. Preparations were made for the elections. Among the people
every man over twenty-five years of age who paid a tax was allowed
to vote.[83] A more sublime spectacle earth has rarely witnessed.
Twenty-five millions of people suddenly gained the right of popular
suffrage. Between five and six millions of votes were cast. The city
of Paris was divided into sixty districts, each of which chose two
electors, and these electors were to choose twenty deputies. The people
were also enjoined to send in a written statement of their grievances,
with instructions to the deputies respecting the reforms which they
wished to have introduced. These statements of grievances, now existing
in thirty-six compact folio volumes, present appalling testimony to the
outrages which the people had for ages been enduring. With propriety,
dignity, and marvelous unanimity of purpose the people assembled at the

There were a few of the nobles who were in favor of reform. In Provence
the nobility in their provincial parliament protested against the
royal edict, declaring that such innovations as were contemplated
tended to "impair the dignity of the nobility." One of their number,
Count Mirabeau, ventured to remonstrate against this arrogance, and
to advocate the rights of the people. He was a man of extraordinary
genius and courage, and before no mortal or assemblage of mortals could
his eye be compelled to quail. He persisted and stood at bay, the whole
Parliament, in a tumult of rage, assailing him. With amazing powers of
vituperative eloquence he hurled back their denunciations, and glared
upon them fiercely and unconquerably. He was a man of Herculean frame,
with a gigantic head, thickly covered with shaggy locks, and he would
have been an exceedingly handsome man had not his face been horribly
scarred with the small-pox. He was a man of iron nerve and soul, and
knew not what it was to fear any thing. Like most of the noblesse and
the higher clergy, he had lived a dissolute life. The parliamentary
assembly, in a storm of wrath, expelled him from their body. He left
the house, but in departing, in portentous menace, exclaimed:

"In all countries and in all times the aristocrats have implacably
pursued every friend of the people; and with tenfold implacability if
such were himself born of the aristocracy. It was thus that the last
of the Gracchi perished by the hands of the Patricians. But he, being
struck with the mortal stab, flung dust toward heaven and called on the
avenging deities; and from this dust there was born Marius--Marius, not
so illustrious for exterminating the Cimbri, as for overturning in Rome
the tyranny of the nobles."[85]

Mirabeau now threw himself into the arms of the Third Estate. That he
might more perfectly identify himself with them, he hired a shop, it is
said, in Marseilles, and put up his sign--_Mirabeau, Woolen-draper_.
By such influences he was elected deputy by the Third Estate both at
Aix and at Marseilles. With enthusiasm was he elected--with ringing of
bells, booming of cannon, and popular acclaim. He decided to accept
the election of Aix. His measureless audacity was soon called into
requisition to repel the haughtiness of the court.[86]

The nobles had obtained the decision that the people should not be
allowed the secret ballot, but should vote with an audible voice. They
cherished the hope that inferior people so dependent upon the higher
and wealthy classes, would not venture openly to vote in opposition
to the wishes of their superiors.[87] It was thought that the nobles
might thus be able to control the popular election. To render this more
certain, the people, in their primary assemblies, were only to choose
_electors_; and these electors were to choose the delegates. Thus then
was a double chance for intimidation and bribery.

But the people had made progress in intelligence far beyond the
conceptions of the nobles. They had an instinctive perception of
their rights, and, in the presence of their frowning lords, unawed,
yet respectfully, they chose electors who would be true to the
popular cause.[88] Thus the nobles not only failed in introducing
an aristocratic element into the popular branch, but, much to their
chagrin, they found a very powerful popular party thrown into the
order of the clergy.[89] The higher offices in the ecclesiastical
hierarchy, which gave the possessor vast revenue and no labor, were
generally in the hands of nobles, haughty, intolerant, united in all
their sympathies with their brethren of the privileged class. But the
curates, the pastors of the churches, who preached, and visited the
rich, and instructed the children, working hard and living in penury,
came from the firesides of the people. They were familiar with the
sufferings of their parishioners, and their sympathies were warmly with
them. Many of these curates were men of unaffected piety. Nearly every
writer upon the Revolution is compelled to do them justice.[90]

It had been decided that the States-General should consist of twelve
hundred members. The people were consequently to choose six hundred,
and the clergy and nobility six hundred. But, as the three orders held
their elections separately, the two privileged classes were entitled to
three hundred each. Two hundred curates were chosen as representatives
of the clergy. And though these parish ministers were much overawed
by their ecclesiastical superiors, and would hardly venture openly to
vote in contradiction to their wishes, still both nobles and bishops
understood that they were in heart with the people. There was also a
very small minority among the nobles who were advocates of the popular
cause, some from noble impulses, like La Fayette, and some from ignoble
motives, like the Duke of Orleans. Thomas Jefferson, who was at this
time in Paris, wrote four days after the opening of the States-General
to Mr. Jay, "It was imagined the ecclesiastical elections would have
been generally in favor of the higher clergy; on the contrary, the
lower clergy have obtained five sixths of these deputations. These are
the sons of peasants, who have done all the drudgery of the service
for ten, twenty, and thirty guineas a year, and whose oppressions and
penury, contrasted with the pride and luxury of the higher clergy, have
rendered them perfectly disposed to humble the latter."

These facts, and the harmony with which the inexperienced multitude
took this first great step toward national regeneration, excited
throughout aristocratic Europe amazement and alarm. Kings and nobles
alike trembled. All the states of Europe, like France, were oppressed
by feudal despotism. All the people of Europe might, like the French,
demand reform. The formidable aspect which this popular unity of
thought and action presented struck such terror that many of the
leading nobles of France combined, among whom was Count d'Artois,
brother of the king, afterward Charles X., and wrote a menacing letter
to the king, to induce him to break his pledge and forbid the meeting
of the States.[91]


It was now, however, too late to retract. The train was in motion and
could not be stopped. The meeting had been appointed for the 27th of
April, but was postponed until the 4th of May. Another effort, and one
still more desperate, was now made to prevent the meeting. By bribery,
secret agents, and false rumors, a riot was fomented in Paris. It was
apparently judged that if fifty thousand men could be turned loose
into the streets, starving and without work, to pillage and destroy,
it would authorize the concentration of the army at Paris; the deluded
rioters could be easily shot down, and it could plausibly be affirmed
that public tranquility required the postponement of the meeting of the
States. The mob was roused by secret instigators. Guns were skillfully
placed here and there, which they could seize. Two cart-loads of
paving-stones were placed in their way. For twenty-four hours a
tumultuous mass of people were left to do as they pleased, apparently
waiting for the tumult to gain strength.

But the effort was a failure; it proved but an artificial mob, and
the outbreak almost died of itself. One house, that of M. Reveillon,
was sacked, and the wine-bottles from his cellar distributed through
the streets. At length the soldiers were called in, and at the first
discharge of the guns the riot was quelled. How many were shot down
by the discharge of grapeshot is uncertain. The court made a foolish
endeavor to exaggerate the disturbance, and represented that the people
were ferocious in violence. Others, on the popular side, represented
that multitudes were assembled from curiosity to see what was going
on, that the streets were swept with grapeshot, and that hundreds of
innocent spectators were cut down. M. Bailly, on the contrary, says,
that the rioters fled as soon as the soldiers appeared, and that no one
was injured.

The court did not venture to prosecute inquiries respecting the

The cold winds of winter were now sweeping over France. All the
industrial energies of the nation were paralyzed. The loss of the
harvest had created a general famine, and famine had introduced
pestilence. Men, women, and children, without number, wandered over the
highways, and by a natural instinct flocked to Paris. The inhabitants
of the city looked appalled upon these multitudes, with haggard faces
and in rags, who crowded their pavements. They could not be fed, and
starving men are not willing to lie down tranquilly and die when they
have strong arms to seize that food which the rich can obtain with
money. The eloquent and impassioned writers of the day had fully
unveiled to the nation the abuses which it had for ages endured, and
yet the people, with wonderful patience and long-suffering, were
quietly waiting for the meeting of the _States-General_, as the only
means for the redress of their grievances.

On the 4th of May, 1789, the States-General were convened at
Versailles. The clergy and the nobility appeared, by royal decree,
magnificently attired in purple robes emblazoned with gold, and with
plumed hats. The deputies of the Third Estate were enjoined to present
themselves in plain black cloaks and slouched hats, as the badge of
their inferiority.[93] On Saturday, the 2d of May, the king gave a
reception, in the magnificent audience-chamber of the palace, to the
delegates. When one of the nobles or of the high clergy presented
himself both of the folding doors were thrown open as his name was
announced; but when one of the Third Estate was presented one door
only was thrown back. This studied indignity was of course annoying
to men who were really the most distinguished in the realm, and who
were conscious of their vast superiority to the corrupt and decaying

[Illustration: THE THREE ORDERS.]

On the Paris Avenue at Versailles there was an immense hall called the
_Salle des Menus_, which no longer exists. It was sufficiently large to
contain the twelve hundred deputies, and in whose spacious galleries
and wide side-aisles four thousand spectators could be assembled.
It was a magnificent hall, and was ornamented for the occasion with
the highest embellishments of art. Here the king could meet all the
deputies of the three orders. But the nobles and the clergy had
already formed the plan still to keep the power in their own hands by
insisting that the States should meet in three separate chambers and
give three separate votes. Thus three hundred nobles and three hundred
clergy would give two votes, and six hundred of the people but one.
This was the last chance for the privileged class to retain their
domination, and this battle they would fight to desperation. The people
were equally determined not to be thus circumvented. The privileged
class, resolved upon the accomplishment of their plan, had prepared
for themselves two smaller halls, one for the nobility and one for the


[Footnote 77: Brienne, in addition to the Archbishopric of Toulouse,
was appointed Archbishop of Sens, and Louis XVI. obtained for him from
Pius VI. a cardinal's hat. The Cardinal of Loménie as he was then
called, subsequently returned to France, where he was arrested, and,
Feb. 19, 1794, was found dead on the floor of his cell, in the 67th
year of his age.--_Enc. Am._]

[Footnote 78: Alison, Hist. of Europe, vol. i., p. 63.]

[Footnote 79: "For, behold, this monstrous twenty-million class,
hitherto the dumb sheep which these others had to agree about
the sheering of, is now also arising with hopes! It has ceased
or is ceasing to be dumb. It speaks through pamphlets. It is
a sheer snowing of pamphlets, like to snow up the government
thoroughfares."--_Carlyle_, vol. i., p. 112.]

[Footnote 80: Labaume, vol. ii., p. 323.

It was supposed that the Count of Provence, afterward Louis XVIII., was
then intriguing to gain popularity, that he might dethrone his brother
and take his place. "Le Comte de Provence," writes Villaumé, "intrigoit
et profitait des fautes du roi, pour se frayer un chemin vers le
trône."--_Hist. de Rev. Fr., par Villaumé_, vol. i., p. 13.]

[Footnote 81: Rapport fait au Roi dans son Conceil, le 27 Décembre,

[Footnote 82: The edict convening the States contained the following
sentiments: "We have need of the concourse of our faithful subjects
to aid in surmounting the difficulties arising from the state of the
finances, and establishing, in conformity with our most ardent desire,
a durable order in the parts of government which affect the public
welfare. We wish that the three estates should confer together on the
matters which will be exhibited for their examination. They will make
known to us the wishes and grievances of the people in such a way that,
by a mutual confidence and exchange of kindly offices between the king
and the people, the public evils should, as rapidly as possible, be

"For this purpose we enjoin and command that immediately upon the
receipt of this letter, you proceed to elect deputies of the three
orders, worthy of confidence from their virtues and the spirit with
which they are animated; that the deputies should be furnished with
powers and instructions sufficient to enable them to attend to all
the concerns of the state, and introduce such remedies as shall be
deemed advisable for the reform of abuses, and the establishment of a
fixed and durable order in all parts of the government, worthy of the
paternal affections of the king, and of the revolutions of so noble an
assembly."--_Calonne, Etat de la France_, p. 315.]

[Footnote 83: Michelet, vol. i., p. 75.]

[Footnote 84: "I am convinced that those societies (as the Indians)
who live without government, enjoy in their general mass an infinitely
greater degree of happiness than those who live under the European
governments. Among the former public opinion is in the place of
law, and restrains morals as powerfully as laws ever did any where.
Among the latter, under the pretense of governing, they have
divided their nations into two classes--wolves and sheep. I do not
exaggerate."--_Thomas Jefferson. Life by Henry S. Randall_, vol. i., p.

[Footnote 85: Tils Adoptif, vol. v., p. 256.]

[Footnote 86: Art. Mirabeau, Biographie Moderne.]

[Footnote 87: "The popular assemblies were to vote by acclamation (_à
haute voix_). They did not suppose that inferior people in such a mode
of election, in presence of the nobles and Notables, would possess
sufficient firmness to oppose them--enough assurance to pronounce other
names than those which were dictated to them."--_Michelet_, vol. i., p.

[Footnote 88: "The long-looked-for has come at last; wondrous news of
victory, deliverance, enfranchisement, sounds magical through every
heart. To the proud strong man it has come whose strong hands shall be
no more gyved. The weary day-drudge has heard of it; the beggar with
his crust moistened in tears. What! to us also has hope reached--down
even to us? Hunger and hardship are not to be eternal? The bread we
extorted from the rugged glebe, and with the toil of our sinews reaped,
and ground, and kneaded into loaves, was not wholly for another then,
but we shall cut of it and be filled?"--_Carlyle_, vol. i., p. 118.]

[Footnote 89: "The prelates and dignified clergy felt the utmost
disquietude at the number of curés and ecclesiastics of inferior rank
who attended them as members of the States-General. It was evident,
from their conversation, habits, and manners, that they participated
in the feelings of the _Tiers Etat_, with whom they lived in constant
communication; and that the unjust exclusion of the middling ranks
from the dignities and emoluments of the Church had excited as much
dissatisfaction in the ecclesiastical classes as the invidious
privileges of the noblesse had awakened in the laity."--_Alison's
History of Europe_, vol. i., p. 68.]

[Footnote 90: Michelet, vol. i., p. 77. Desodoards, vol. i., p. 135.
Rabaud, vol. i., p. 41. De Tocqueville, Old Régime, vol. i., p. 144.]

[Footnote 91: Michelet, vol. i., p. 78. Mémoire présenté au Roi par
Monseigneur Compte d'Artois (Charles X.), M. le Prince de Condé, M. le
Duc de Bourbon, M. le Duc d'Enghien, et M. le Prince de Conti.]

[Footnote 92: It has been denied that the nobles were guilty of this
act. For proof see Mémoires de Bensenval, tome ii., p. 347; L'OEuvre
des Sept Jours, p. 411; Exposé Justificatif; Bailly's Mémoires,
tome ii., p. 51. M. Rabaud de St. Etienne writes: "If the agents of
despotism devised this infernal stratagem, as was afterward believed,
it makes one crime more to be added to all those of which despotism had
already become guilty."]

[Footnote 93: "A hall had been hastily got ready; the costumes were
determined upon, and a humiliating badge had been imposed upon the
_Tiers Etat_. Men are not less jealous of their dignity than of their
rights. With a very just pride the instructions forbade the deputies to
condescend to any degrading ceremonial."--_Thiers_, vol. i., p. 35.]

[Footnote 94: M. Rabaud de St. Etienne, vol. i., p. 43.]



  Opening of the States-General.--Sermon of the Bishop of
  Nancy.--Insult to the Deputies of the People.--Aspect
  of Mirabeau.--Boldness of the Third Estate.--Journal of
  Mirabeau.--Commencement of the Conflict.--First Appearance of
  Robespierre.--Decided Stand taken by the Commons.--Views of the
  Curates.--Dismay of the Nobles.--Excitement in Paris.--The National
  Assembly.--The Oath.

On the 4th of May, 1789, the day of the opening of the States-General,
a solemn procession took place. Nearly all Paris flocked out to
Versailles, which is but ten miles from the metropolis, and countless
thousands from the surrounding regions crowded the avenues of the
city of the court. The streets were decorated with tapestry. The
pavements, balconies, and house-tops were covered with spectators. Joy
beamed from almost every face,[95] for it was felt that, after a long
night, a day of prosperity was dawning. The court, the clergy, and
the nobles appeared in extraordinary splendor; but, as the procession
moved along, it was observed that the eyes of the multitude, undazzled
by the pageant of embroidered robes and nodding plumes, were riveted
upon the six hundred deputies of the people, in their plain garb--the
advance-guard of freedom's battalions. They were every where greeted,
as they moved along, with clapping of hands and acclaim which seemed to
rend the skies.

"Rapturous, enchanting scene!" exclaims Ferrières, "to which I faintly
strive to do justice. Bands of music, placed at intervals, filled the
air with melodious sounds. Military marches, the rolling of the drums,
the clang of trumpets, the noble chants of the priests, alternately
heard without discordance, without confusion, enlivened this triumphal
procession to the temple of the Almighty."

On their arrival at the church, the three orders were seated on benches
placed in the nave. The king and queen occupied thrones beneath a
canopy of purple velvet sprinkled with golden _fleur de lis_. The
princes and princesses, with the great officers of the crown and the
ladies of the palace, occupied conspicuous positions reserved for them
by the side of their majesties. After the most imposing ceremonies, and
music by a majestic choir, "unaccompanied by the din of instruments,"
the Bishop of Nancy preached a sermon enforcing the sentiment that
religion constitutes the prosperity of nations.[96]

It was a noble discourse, replete with political wisdom and Christian
philosophy. The two can never be dissevered. In glowing colors he
depicted the vices of the financial system, and showed the misery
and demoralization which it necessarily brought upon the people.
"And it is," said he, "in the name of a good king, of a just and
feeling monarch, that these miserable exactors exercise their acts
of barbarism." This sentiment, so complimentary to the personal
character of the king, so denunciatory of the institutions of France,
was received with a general burst of applause, notwithstanding the
sacredness of the place, and the etiquette of the French court,
which did not allow applause in the presence of the king even at the
theatre.[97] With these religious ceremonies the day was closed.

The next day, May 5th, the court and all the deputies of the three
orders were assembled in the great hall, to listen to the instructions
of the king. And here, again, the deputies of the people encountered an
insult. A particular door was assigned to them, a back door which they
approached by a corridor, where they were kept crowded together for
several hours, until the king, the court, the nobles, and the clergy
had entered in state at the great door, and had taken their seats. The
back door was then opened, and the deputies of the people, in that
garb which had been imposed upon them as a badge of inferiority, were
permitted to file in and take the benches at the lower end of the hall
which had been left for them.[98]

As they entered, the galleries were filled with spectators. The king
and queen were seated upon a throne gorgeously decorated. The court,
in its highest splendor, nearly encircled the throne. The nobility and
the clergy, with plumes and robes of state, occupied elevated seats.
All eyes were fixed upon the deputies as they entered one by one,
plainly dressed, with slouched hat in hand. Mirabeau, in particular,
attracted universal observation. He was not only by birth and blood an
aristocrat, but he was an aristocrat in taste and manners. The spirit
of revenge had driven him into the ranks of the people. As he strode
along the aisle to his seat, he turned a threatening glance to the
plumed and embroidered noblesse, from whose seats he had been driven,
and a smile, haughty and bitterly menacing, curled his lips.[99]

The king's speech was favorably received. He appeared before the
representatives with dignity, and recited very appropriately the
cordial and conciliatory words which Necker had placed in his mouth. On
finishing his speech, he sat down and put on his plumed hat. The clergy
and the nobles, in accordance with custom, did the same. But to their
astonishment, the Third Estate also, as by an instinctive simultaneous
movement, placed their slouched hats upon their heads. The nobles,
amazed at what they deemed such insolence of the people, shouted
imperiously, "Hats off, hats off!" But the hats remained, as if glued
to the head. The king, to appease the tumult, again uncovered his head.
This necessitated the nobles and the clergy to do the same. Immediately
the Third Estate followed their example, and, for the remainder
of the session, all sat with uncovered heads.[100] When the last
States-General met, the Third Estate were compelled to throw themselves
upon their knees in the presence of the king, and to address him only
upon their knees.[101]

When Necker arose to speak, all eyes were riveted and all ears were
on the alert. As the organ of the king and his council, the minister
was to communicate the real opinions and intentions of the court. The
clergy and the nobility were agreeably disappointed; but the people,
on their back benches, listened silent and sorrowful. They heard none
of those noble ideas of equality and liberty which they were ready to
receive with enthusiastic acclaim. Necker was evidently trammeled by
the king, the court, and the nobles, now uniting in the feeling that
the rising power of the Third Estate must be repressed. Thus ended the
second day.

Mirabeau had commenced a journal, to contain, for popular information,
a record of the proceedings of the States-General. The court promptly
issued a decree prohibiting the publication of this journal, and
also prohibiting the issuing of any periodical without permission of
the king. A rigid censorship of the press was thus re-established,
and the deputies were excluded from all effectual communication with
their constituents. This was another measure of folly and madness. It
led individual members to issue written journals, which were read in
the saloons, the clubs, and at the corners of the streets to excited
multitudes, and it induced thousands to crowd the spacious galleries of
the hall to listen to the debates. Thus the speakers were animated by
the presence of four thousand of the most earnest of the people, eager
to applaud every utterance in behalf of popular liberty. The public
mind was also increasingly irritated by the petty persecution; so much
so, that at length the king thought it not safe to enforce the decree,
and the defiant Mirabeau soon resumed the publication of his journal,
under the title of _Letters to my Constituents_.[102]

The next day the deputies of the Third Estate at the appointed hour
repaired to the hall; but they found there none either of the clergy or
of the nobles. These two parties, resolved to perpetuate the division
of orders, had met in their respective halls and had organized as
distinct bodies. The Third Estate, assuming the name of the Commons,
abstained from any organic measures and waited to be joined by their
colleagues. Thus matters continued for several days. Every effort was
made on the part of the clergy and nobles to ensnare the Commons into
some measure which would imply their organization as the Third Estate,
but all was in vain. Assuming that they were a meeting of citizens
assembled by legitimate authority to wait for other citizens that they
might organize a political assembly, they merely chose a temporary
chairman for the preservation of order, and _waited_.[103]

Here, then, the vital question was to be decided whether the
States-General should compose one body where the majority should
rule, or three separate bodies where two could unite, a perpetual
majority, against one. Upon this question the whole issue of reform
was suspended. All equally understood the bearings of the question,
and all equally saw that there was no room for compromise. It was a
death-struggle. If united in one assembly the _people_ would have
a majority, and could maintain popular rights. If there were three
bodies the people would be in a hopeless minority, having two against
them. The attention of all France was engrossed by the conflict, and
the nation, with all its interests paralyzed, began to grow impatient
of the delay. "The nobles," M. Bailly writes, "decreed that the
deliberation by order, and the power of each order to put a veto on
the proceedings of the other two, were part of the very constitution
of the monarchy, and that they must maintain them as the defenders of
the throne and freedom. What a strange decree! The representatives of
about two hundred thousand individuals, or more, who are nobles take
upon themselves to decide, and in their own favor, a question that
concerns twenty-five millions of men. They assume for themselves the
right of the veto; they declare the powers and the principles of the
constitution; and who are they more than others who thus declare?"[104]

During this protracted conflict the higher clergy cunningly devised the
following plan to place the Commons in a false position: They sent an
imposing delegation, headed by the Archbishop of Aix, with a pathetic
allusion to the miseries of the people, and entreated the Commons to
enter into a conference to assuage their sufferings. The snare was
shrewdly contrived. If the Commons assented, it was the commencement
of business with three chambers; if they refused, the clergy would
apparently be those alone who regarded the starving population. For a
moment there was much embarrassment.

A young man rose in the Assembly, who was unknown to nearly all the
members, and in a calm, distinct, deliberate voice, which arrested
universal attention, said:

"Go, tell your colleagues that we are waiting for them here to aid us
in assuaging the sorrows of the people; tell them no longer to retard
our work; tell them that our resolution is not to be shaken by such a
stratagem as this. If they have sympathy for the poor, let them, as
imitators of their Master, renounce that luxury which consumes the
funds of indigence, dismiss those insolent lackeys who attend them,
sell their gorgeous equipages, and with these superfluities relieve the
perishing. We wait for them here."[105]

The snare was adroitly avoided. There was a universal hum of approval,
and all were inquiring the name of the young deputy. This was the first
public appearance of Maximilian Robespierre.[106]

At last, on the 27th of May, twenty-two days after the convening of the
States, the Commons sent a deputation to the halls of the clergy and of
the nobility, urging them, in the name of the God of peace, to meet in
the hall of the Assembly to deliberate upon the public welfare. This
led to a series of conferences and of suggested compromises from the
king and the court which continued for a fortnight, and all of which
proved unavailing. At last, on the 10th of June, Mirabeau arose, and

"A month is passed.[107] It is time to take a decisive step. A deputy
of Paris has an important motion to make. Let us hear him."

The Abbé Sièyes[108] then rose and proposed to send a last invitation
to the other orders to join them; and, if they refused, to proceed to
business, not as a branch of the convention, but as the whole body. The
proposition was received with enthusiasm. This was on Wednesday. As the
next day, Thursday, was appropriated to religious solemnities, Friday,
the 12th, was fixed upon as the day in which this important summons was
to be sent.[109]

This last appeal was sent in the following words, which the committee
from the Commons were charged to read to the clergy and the nobles, and
a copy of which they were to leave with them:

"Gentlemen, we are commissioned by the deputies of the Commons of
France to apprise you that they can no longer delay the fulfillment of
the obligation imposed on all the representatives of the nation. It is
assuredly time that those who claim this quality should make themselves
known by a common verification of their powers, and begin at length to
attend to the national interest, which alone, and to the exclusion of
all private interests, presents itself as the grand aim to which all
the deputies ought to tend by one general effort. In consequence, and
from the necessity which the representatives of the nation are under
to proceed to business, the deputies of the Commons entreat you anew,
gentlemen, and their duty enjoins them to address to you, as well
individually as collectively, a last summons to come to the hall of
the States, to attend, concur in, and submit like themselves to the
common verification of powers. We are, at the same time, directed to
inform you that the general call of all the bailliages convoked will
take place in an hour; that the Assembly will immediately proceed to
the verification, and that such as do not appear will be declared

This summons, so bold and decisive, excited not a little consternation
in both of the privileged bodies. The curates among the clergy received
the message with applause, and were in favor of immediate compliance.
But their ecclesiastical superiors held them in check, and succeeded in
obtaining an adjournment.

The Commons waited the hour, and then proceeded to the examination
of the credentials of the deputies. This occupied three days. On
the first day three of the curates came from the clergy and united
with them. They were received with enthusiasm. On the second day six
came, on the third ten, and then it was announced that one hundred
and forty were coming in a body. This excited thorough alarm with all
the high dignitaries of Church and State. "The aristocracy," says
Thiers, "immediately threw itself at the feet of the king. The Duke of
Luxembourg, the Cardinal de la Rochefoucault, the Archbishop of Paris,
implored him to repress the audacity of the _Tiers Etat_ and to support
their rights which were attacked. The Parliament proposed to him to do
without the States, _promising to assent to all the taxes_. The king
was surrounded by the princes and the queen. This was more than was
requisite for his weakness. They hurried him off to Marly in order to
extort from him a vigorous measure."

This state of things had secured perfect reconciliation between the
court and the aristocracy. The lines were now distinctly drawn; the
king, nobles, and clergy on one side, the people on the other. The
excitement in Paris during this protracted conflict was very great. A
large wooden tent was erected in the garden of the Palais Royal, where
a crowd was almost constantly gathered to receive the news brought by
couriers from Versailles. At every street corner, in every café, the
subject was discussed. Almost every hour produced a pamphlet. "There
were thirteen issued to-day," writes Arthur Young, "sixteen yesterday,
ninety-two last week." In the mean time the court was concentrating the
troops from all parts of the kingdom around Paris and Versailles, and a
hundred pieces of field artillery menaced the two cities.

It was now necessary to give the Assembly a name, a name which should
define its functions. The assumption that they were the nation would
be bold and defiant. The admission that they were but a _branch_ of
the national representation would be paralyzing. The Assembly was
impelled to prompt and decisive action by the apprehension, universally
entertained, that the court might employ the army, now assembled in
such force, to arrest the principal deputies, dissolve the States, and,
if the people of Paris manifested any opposition, to surround the city
and starve them into subjection. Sièyes, in a celebrated pamphlet which
he had issued to prepare the public mind for this movement, had said,
"The Third Estate alone, they affirm, can not form the States-General.
Well! so much the better; it shall compose a National Assembly." A body
which, by universal admission represented ninety-six hundredths of the
nation, might with propriety take the name of National.[110]

Upon the morning of the 17th of June, after a long and animated
discussion of the preceding day, the Commons met to decide this
all-important question. The king, the court, and the aristocracy
were greatly alarmed. If this bold, resolute body were the _nation_,
what were they? Nothing. The people were intensely excited and
animated. Thousands in every conceivable vehicle flocked out from
Paris to Versailles. The galleries of the vast hall, rising like an
amphitheatre, were crowded to their utmost capacity. The building
was surrounded and the broad avenues of Versailles thronged with the
excited yet orderly multitude.

The members had but just assembled when the president, Bailly, was
summoned to the chancellor's office to receive a message from the king.
It was well understood that this message would be a regal prohibition
for them to do any thing without the concurrence of the three orders.
The Assembly immediately, with firmness, postponed the reception of
the message until the vote then before them was taken. Again they were
interrupted by a communication from the nobles, who in their alarm made
a desperate endeavor to thwart the proceedings. But the Assembly calmly
and firmly proceeded, and by a vote of four hundred and one against
ninety declared themselves the National Assembly.

In the presence of four thousand spectators the deputies then arose,
and with uplifted hands took the oath of fidelity. As with simultaneous
voice they pronounced the words "_We swear_," a burst of acclamation
rose from the galleries, which was caught by those outside the door and
rolled along the streets like reverberating thunder. "Vive le Roi! Vive
l'Assemblée Nationale!" was the cry which came from gushing hearts, and
thousands in intensity of emotion bowed their heads and wept.

A more heroic deed than this history has not recorded. It was a
decisive movement. It gave the people an organization and arrayed them
face to face against royalty and aristocracy. The king, the court,
the nobles, and the higher clergy were all against them. They were
surrounded with armies. They were unarmed and helpless, save in the
righteousness of their cause. They were menaced with all the terrors
of exile, the dungeon, and the scaffold; but, regardless of all these
perils, faithful to the sacred cause of popular liberty, they pledged
in its support their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
Even Alison, the unrelenting foe of popular rights, the untiring
advocate of aristocratic assumption, is constrained to say,

"It is impossible to refuse a tribute of admiration to those intrepid
men, who, transported by a zeal for liberty and the love of their
country, ventured to take a step fraught with so many dangers, and
which, to all appearance, might have brought many to prison or the
scaffold. Few situations can be imagined more dignified than that of
Bailly, crowning a life of scientific labor with patriotic exertion,
surrounded by an admiring assembly, the idol of the people, the
admiration of Europe."


[Footnote 95: "Like the nation, I was full of hope, hope that I then
could not suppose vain. Alas! how can one now think without tears on
the hopes and expectations then every where felt by all good Frenchmen,
by every friend of humanity!"--_Necker on the French Revolution._]

[Footnote 96: "The _Tiers Etat_ numbered among its members a great
proportion of the talent and almost all the energy of France. The
leading members of the bar, of the mercantile and medical classes,
and many of the ablest of the clergy were to be found in its
ranks."--_Alison_, vol. i., p. 69.]

[Footnote 97: France and its Revolutions, by Geo. Long, Esq., p. 2.]

[Footnote 98: M. Rabaud de St. Etienne, vol. i., p. 47.]

[Footnote 99: Madame de Staël.]

[Footnote 100: Histoire Parlementaire, vol. i., p. 356.]

[Footnote 101: "Who would believe that this mad court remembered
and regretted the absurd custom of making the Third Estate harangue
on their knees? They were unwilling to dispense from this ceremony
expressly, and preferred deciding that the President of the Third
Estate should make no speech whatever."--_Michelet_, vol. i., p. 88.]

[Footnote 102: Procès verbal des électeurs redigé par Bailly et
Duveyrier, t. i., p. 34.]

[Footnote 103: "The chairman was M. Bailly, a simple and virtuous man,
an illustrious and modest cultivator of the sciences, who had been
suddenly transported from the quiet studies of his closet into the
midst of civil broils. Elected to preside over a great assembly, he had
been alarmed at his new office, had deemed himself unworthy to fill it,
and had undertaken it solely from a sense of duty. But, raised all at
once to liberty, he found within him an unexpected presence of mind and
firmness. Amid so many conflicts, he caused the majesty of the assembly
to be respected, and represented it with all the dignity of virtue and
reason."--_Thiers_, vol. i., p. 42.]

[Footnote 104: Indignantly Desodoards exclaims, "The descendants of the
Sicumbrians, or of I know not what savages, who ages ago came prowling
from the forests of Germany, could they assume at the end of eighteen
centuries that their blood was more pure than that which flowed in
the veins of the descendants of the Gauls, or the Romans, the ancient
inhabitants of France? Do they pretend that they are nobles because
they are conquerors? Then we, being now more powerful, have only to
drive them across the Rhine, and in our turn we shall be conquerors
and consequently nobles."-_Histoire Philosophique de la Revolution de
France, par Ant. Fantin Desodoards, Citoyen Français._]

[Footnote 105: "What a spectacle for France! Six hundred inorganic
individuals, essential for its regeneration and salvation, sit there
on their elliptic benches longing passionately toward life, in painful
durance, like souls waiting to be born. Speeches are spoken, eloquent,
audible within doors and without. Mind agitates itself against mind;
the nation looks on with ever deeper interest. Thus do the Commons
deputies sit incubating."--_Carlyle_, vol. i., p. 148.]

[Footnote 106: Bailly's Mémoires, t. i., p. 114.--_Dumont, Souvenirs,
etc._, vol. i., p. 59.]

[Footnote 107: "A month lost! One month in open famine. Observe that
in this long expectation the rich kept themselves motionless, and
postponed every kind of expenditure. Work had ceased. He who had but
his hands, his daily labor to supply the day, went to look for work,
found none--begged--got nothing--robbed. Starving gangs overran the
country."--_Michelet_, vol. i., p. 93.]

[Footnote 108: The Abbé Sièyes was one of the deputies sent by the
Third Estate from Paris, and the only clergyman in their delegation.]

[Footnote 109: Sièyes' motion was to _summon_ the privileged. By vote
of the Assembly the word was changed to invite.--_France and its
Revolutions, by G. Long, Esq._, p. 12.

"The Assembly," writes M. Bailly, its president, "deliberating after
the verification of its powers, perceives that it is already composed
of representatives sent directly by ninety-six hundredths, at least, of
the whole nation. Nothing can be more exact than this assertion. The
four hundredths that are absent, but duly summoned, can not impede the
ninety-six hundredths that are present.

"The Assembly will never lose the hope of uniting in its bosom all
the deputies that are now absent; will never cease to call upon
them to fulfill the obligation that has been imposed upon them of
concurring with the sitting of the States-General. At whatever moment
the absent deputies may present themselves in the session about to
open, the Assembly declares beforehand that it will hasten to receive
them, to share with them, after the verification of their powers,
the continuance of the great labors which can not but procure the
regeneration of France."]

[Footnote 110: Necker estimated the Third Estate at ninety-_eight_
hundredths of the population.]



  First Acts of the Assembly.--Confusion of the Court.--Hall of
  the Assembly closed.--Adjournment to the Tennis-court.--Cabinet
  Councils.--Despotic Measures.--The Tennis-court closed.--Exultation
  of the Court.--Union with the Clergy.--Peril of the Assembly.--The
  Royal Sitting.--Speech of the King.

The first measure adopted by the National Assembly was worthy of
itself. It was voted that the taxes already decreed, though not legally
assessed by the consent of the nation, should be punctiliously paid.
Instead of repudiating the enormous public debt, they appropriated it
as their own and placed it under the safeguard of the nation. They
then appointed a committee immediately to attend to the distresses
of the people, and to devise measures for their relief. How vast the
contrast between this magnanimity of the people and the selfishness and
corruption of the court, as developed through ages! Thus terminated
the eventful 17th of June, 1789, which may almost be considered the
birthday of the nation of France. Before this event the _people_ had
hardly a recognized existence. Though the cradle of its infancy has
been rocked with storms, and though in its advancing manhood it has
encountered fearful perils and the sternest conflicts, yet its progress
is surely onward to dignity and repose.

At an early hour the Assembly adjourned. Couriers from the hall
hastened to expectant Paris with the glad tidings. The most fervid
imagination can not conceive the joyful enthusiasm which the
intelligence excited in the metropolis and throughout France. The king
and his court were at this time a few miles from Versailles, in the
Palace of Marly. The clergy and the nobles, in consternation, sent a
committee of their most prominent members to implore the interposition
of the royal power.[111] But the king had not sufficient nerve for so
decisive an act. It was urged that the nobility and the clergy should
immediately combine in forming a united body which should constitute
an upper house; and thus naturally the kingdom would have fallen into
a monarchy like that of England, with its House of Lords and its House
of Commons. This would have been a most salutary reform, and would have
prepared the way for the gradual and safe advance of the nation from
servitude to freedom. But, with madness almost inconceivable, the high
nobility with contempt repelled all idea of union.[112] They deemed it
a degradation to form a permanent association with the lower clergy
and with men who had been within a few centuries ennobled by a decree
of the king. Thus the formation of two separate chambers was rendered
impossible by the folly of those very men whose existence depended
upon it. Thus all was confusion and dismay with the nobles and the
clergy, while unanimity and vigor pervaded every movement of the

In this state of affairs a large proportion of the clergy, composing
nearly all the parish ministers, were in favor of uniting with the
Assembly. The Duke of Orleans also, among the nobility, led a small
minority of the nobles in advocacy of the same measure. But the court
generally entreated the king immediately to dissolve the Assembly,
by violence if needful. The popular excitement in Paris and in
Versailles became intense. The only hope of the people was in the
Assembly. Its dissolution left them hopeless and in despair. The king
was vacillating, intensely anxious to crush the popular movement,
now become so formidable, but still fearing to adopt those energetic
measures by which alone it could be accomplished. He at length decided,
in accordance with that system of folly with which the court seems to
have been inspired, to resort to the very worst measure which could
have been adopted. On Friday the 17th of June the majority of the
clergy, consisting of a few prelates and about one hundred and forty
curates, resolved to withdraw from the dignitaries of the Church and
unite with the people, in the Assembly, the next day. The prospect of
such an accession to the popular branch struck consternation into the
ranks of the privileged classes. A delegation of bishops and nobles in
the night hastened to the king at Marly, and persuaded him to interfere
to prevent the junction.

Yielding to their importunities he consented to shut up the hall of
Assembly the next day, and to guard the entrance with soldiers, so
that there might be no meeting. As an excuse for this act of violence
it was to be alleged that the hall was needed for workmen to put up
decorations, in preparation for a royal sitting which was to be held on
Monday. The king thus gained time to decide upon the measures which he
would announce at the royal sitting.[114]

At six o'clock in the morning of Saturday, placards were posted through
the streets of Versailles announcing this decree. At seven o'clock,
M. Bailly, president of the Assembly, received a note from one of the
officers of the king's household, informing him of the decision. The
Assembly had adjourned the evening before to meet at eight o'clock
in the morning. It was, of course, proper that such a communication
should have been made, not to the president at his lodgings, but to the
assembled body. It was a stormy morning; sheets of rain, driven by a
fierce wind, flooded the streets. At the appointed hour the president,
accompanied by several deputies, approached the hall. They found the
door guarded by a detachment of the royal troops, and a large number
of the representatives assembled before it. Admission was positively
refused, and it was declared that any attempt to force an entrance
would be repelled by the bayonet.[115]


The Assembly and the people were greatly alarmed: measures of violence
were already commenced. Their immediate dissolution was menaced,
and thus were to perish all hopes of reform. The rain still fell in
torrents. There was no hall in Versailles to which they could resort.
Some proposed immediately adjourning to Paris, where they could throw
themselves upon the protection of the masses. This measure, however,
was rejected as too revolutionary in its aspect. One suggested that
there was in the city an old dilapidated tennis-court, and it was
immediately resolved to assemble upon its pavements. The six hundred
deputies, now roused to the highest pitch of excitement and followed by
a vast concourse of sympathizing and applauding people, passed through
the streets to the unfurnished tennis-court. Here, with not even a seat
for the president, the Assembly was organized, and Bailly, in a firm
voice, administered the following oath, which was instantly repeated in
tones so full and strong, by every lip, as to reach the vast concourse
which surrounded the building:

"We solemnly swear never to separate, and to assemble wherever
circumstances shall require, until the constitution of the kingdom is
established, and founded on a solemn basis."

Every deputy then signed this declaration excepting one man; and this
Assembly so nobly respected private liberty as to allow him to enter
his protest upon the declaration.

It was now four o'clock in the afternoon, and the Assembly, having
immortalized the place as the cradle of liberty, adjourned.

The next day was the Sabbath, and Monday had been appointed for the
royal sitting. The excitement of the court at Marly now amounted almost
to a tumult of consternation. Necker, the minister, was proposing
measures of conciliation, and had drawn up a plan which would probably
have been accepted by the people, for none then wished for the
overthrow of the monarchy.[116] All the leaders in the Assembly were
united in the desire to preserve the monarchical form of government.
Surrounded as they were by thrones, England, not America, was their
model. They wished for a constitutional monarchy where the voice of the
people should be heard, and where all the citizens should live in the
enjoyment of equal rights. Their wishes were wise and noble. Necker,
closeted in council with the king and his cabinet, had at last brought
the king and the majority of the cabinet over to his views, when an
officer of the household came in and whispered to the king. The king
immediately arose, and, requesting the council to await his return,
left the room.

"This can only be a message from the queen," said M. de Montmorin
to Necker; "the princes of the blood have got her to interfere, and
persuade the king to adjourn his decision."

It was so. After half an hour the king returned, declined giving his
assent to the plan till after another meeting, and dismissed the
council. The royal sitting was also postponed until Tuesday.

On Monday, the 22d, the king held another council at Versailles. His
two brothers, Count of Provence (Louis XVIII.) and Count d'Artois
(Charles X.), with four other dignitaries of the privileged class,
met with the council and took an active part in their deliberations.
The project of Necker was here discussed and almost indignantly
rejected. And yet the most earnest Royalists admit that it was
extremely favorable to the privileged class, and no Republican can
read it without being surprised that so much could then have been
yielded by the people to aristocratic assumption.[117] But still this
plan, in which Necker had gone to the utmost extreme of concession to
propitiate the court, was peremptorily rejected, and another, insulting
in its tone, imperious in its exactments, and utterly despotic in its
principles, was adopted, and the Assembly was to be sternly dissolved.
Necker remonstrated in vain, and at last, in mortification and despair,
declared that he could not countenance such a message by his presence,
and that he should be under the necessity of resigning his ministry.
The feeble, vacillating king was in judgment and in heart with Necker,
as were also one or two other of the ministers; but the queen,
inheriting the spirit of Austrian despotism, acting through the two
brothers of the king and the majority of the court, carried her point.
This agitated discussion continued until midnight of Sunday, and then
it was too late to propose the defiant message for the next day. The
royal sitting was consequently postponed until Tuesday.[118]

To prevent the Assembly from meeting in the tennis-court on Monday,
where the curates could join them, the Count d'Artois sent word to the
keeper that he wished for the tennis-court on that day to play. On
Monday morning, when the Assembly, according to its adjournment, met
at the door, they found the entrance guarded, and they were excluded
under the plea that the Count d'Artois wished for the room for his
own amusement. Thus an Assembly, now consisting of seven or eight
hundred of the most illustrious men of France, the representatives of
twenty-five millions of people, were driven again into the streets,
because a young nobleman wished for their room that he might play a
game of ball.

Some of the younger deputies, exasperated by such treatment, were in
favor of forcing an entrance. But armed bands, all under aristocratic
officers, were parading the streets, bayonets glittered around the
hall, and fifty thousand troops were within summons. The court did not
disguise its merriment as it again contemplated the Assembly wandering
houseless like vagabonds in the street. The nobles now felt exultant.
They had compelled the king to adopt their plan. The Assembly was to
be dismissed in disgrace, and an ample force of infantry, cavalry,
and artillery was at hand to carry out their arrogant decree. They no
longer feared the Assembly. They no longer hesitated openly to deride

These representatives of the people, thus insulted beyond all
endurance, were for a time in great perplexity. It so happened,
however, that the curates who had voted to unite with the Third Estate,
about one hundred and forty in number,[120] with the Archbishop of
Vienne at their head, had met in the Church of St. Louis, intending
to go from there in procession to join the Assembly. They immediately
sent to the Commons an invitation to repair to the church where they
were assembled, and, taking themselves the choir, left the nave for
their guests. The clergy then descended and united with the Commons,
where they were received with shouts, embracings, and tears. It was a
solemn hour, and emotions too deep for utterance agitated all hearts.
Fearful perils were now accumulating. Rumors had reached the ears
of the deputies that the court intended the violent dissolution and
dispersion of the Assembly. Thus would end all hopes of reform. The
troops marching and countermarching, the new regiments entering the
city, the hundred pieces of field artillery approaching, the cannon
frowning before the door of their hall, the exultant looks and defiant
bearing of their foes, all were portents of some decisive act.[121]

The morning of the 23d of June arrived. It was dark and stormy. At the
appointed hour, ten o'clock, the members repaired to the hall of the
Assembly to meet the king and court. In various ways they had received
intimations of the measures which were to be adopted against them,
and anxiety sat upon every countenance. As they approached the hall
they found that the same disrespect which they had received on the
5th of May was to be repeated with aggravations. The court wished to
humiliate the Commons; they did but exasperate them. The front entrance
was reserved as before for the clergy and the nobles. The Commons were
guided to a side door not yet opened, where they were left crowded
together in the rain. They made several endeavors to gain admission,
but could not, and at last sought refuge from the storm in an adjoining

In the mean time the two privileged classes approached with an unusual
display of pompous carriages and gorgeous liveries. Files of soldiers
protected them, bands of music greeted them, and with the most
ostentatious parade of respect they were conducted to their seats. Then
the side door was thrown open, and the Commons, with garments drenched
and soiled, filed in to take the back benches left for them. They
found the aristocracy in their seats, as judges awaiting the approach
of criminals. The nobles and the high clergy could not repress their
feelings of exultation. The Commons were now to be rebuked, condemned,
and crushed.[123]

Military detachments patrolled the streets and were posted around the
hall. Four thousand guards were under arms, and there were besides
several regiments in the vicinity of Versailles, within an hour's call.
A tumultuous mass of people from Paris and Versailles surged around
the building and flooded all the adjoining avenues. As the carriage of
the king and queen, surrounded by its military retinue, approached, no
voice of greeting was heard. The multitude looked on silent and gloomy.
The king was exceedingly dejected, for his judgment and heart alike
condemned the measures he had been constrained to adopt. The queen
was appalled by the ominous silence, and began to fear that they had
indeed gone too far. When a few voices shouted "Vive le Duc d'Orleans!"
she correctly interpreted this greeting of her implacable foes as an
intended insult, and was observed to turn pale and almost to faint.

The king entered the hall with the queen, his two brothers, and his
ministers, excepting Necker. The absence of Necker so exclusively
arrested all thoughts, that the royal pageant was disregarded. Here
again the monarch was received in silence, interrupted only by faint
applause from the nobles.

The king hardly knew how to utter the arrogant, defiant words which had
been put into his mouth. It was the lamb attempting to imitate the roar
of the lion. He addressed a few words to the Assembly, and then placed
his declaration in the hands of one of his secretaries to be read.[124]

It declared his intention to maintain the distinction of the three
orders, and that they should vote separately; that they might
occasionally meet together, with the consent of the king, to vote
taxes. The decree of the Commons, constituting a National Assembly,
was pronounced illegal and null. The deputies were forbid to receive
any instructions from their constituents. No spectators were allowed
to be present at the deliberations of the States-General, whether they
met together or in different chambers. No innovation was to be allowed
in the organization of the army. Nobles, and nobles only, were to
be officers. The old feudal privileges were to remain unaltered. No
ecclesiastical reforms were to be allowed, unless sanctioned by the

Such were the prohibitions. Then came the benefits. The king promised
to sanction equality of taxation, _whenever the clergy and the nobles
should consent to such taxation_. The king promised to adopt any
measures of finance and expenditure which the States-General should
recommend, if he judged such measures _compatible with the kingly
dignity_. He invited the States--which, be it remembered, were to be
assembled in three chambers, the clergy and the nobility being thus
able to outvote the Commons by two votes to one--to _propose_ measures
for abolishing _lettres de cachet_, measures which should not interfere
with the power of repressing sedition, and of secretly punishing those
whose relatives would be dishonored by their being brought to trial.
They were also invited to seek the means of reconciling liberty of
the press with the respect due to religion and to the honor of the
citizens. In conclusion, the king threatened that if the Commons
refused obedience to these declarations he would immediately dissolve
the States, and again take the reins of government entirely into his
own hands. This address was closed with the following words:

"I command you, gentlemen, immediately to disperse, and to repair
to-morrow morning to the chambers appropriate to your order."[126]

The king then, with his attendant court, left the hall. A large part
of the nobility and nearly all the bishops followed him. Exultation
beamed upon their faces, for they supposed that the National Assembly
was now effectually crushed.


[Footnote 111: Michelet, vol. i., p. 105.]

[Footnote 112: "The party which professed to be the defender of the
throne spoke with infinite disdain of the authority of the King
of England. To reduce a King of France to the miserable condition
of the British monarch was, in the bare conception, heinous and
treasonable."--_Considerations on the French Revolution, by Madame de

[Footnote 113: Madame de Staël, vol. i., p. 106.]

[Footnote 114: Michelet, vol. i., p. 106.

The Marquis of Ferrières, a deputy of the nobles and an earnest
advocate of aristocratic assumption, writes in his Mémoires: "The
court, unable any longer to hide from themselves the real truth that
all their petty expedients to separate the orders served only to
bring on their union, resolved to dissolve the States-General. It
was necessary to remove the king from Versailles, to get Necker and
the ministers attached to him out of the way. A journey to Marly was
arranged. The pretext was the death of the dauphin. The mind of the
king was successfully worked upon. He was told it was high time to stop
the unheard-of enterprises of the Third Estate; that he would soon have
only the name of a king. The Cardinal Rochefoucault and the Archbishop
of Paris threw themselves at the feet of the king and supplicated him
to save the clergy and protect religion. The Parliament sent a secret
deputation proposing a scheme for getting rid of the States-General.
The keeper of the seals, the Count d'Artois, the queen, all united.
All was therefore settled, and an order from the king announced a
royal sitting and suspended the States under the pretense of making
arrangements in the hall."]

[Footnote 115: "The deputies stand grouped on the Paris road, on this
umbrageous _Avenue de Versailles_, complaining aloud of the indignity
done them. Courtiers, it is supposed, look from their windows and
giggle."--_Carlyle_, vol. i., p. 156.

"Is it decent," writes M. Bailly in his Memoirs, "that the members
of the National Assembly, or even the deputies of the Commons, as
you may still please to consider them, should thus be apprised of
the intentions of the king, of the suspension of their own sittings,
only by the public criers and by notices posted on the wall, as the
inhabitants of a town would be made acquainted with the shutting up of
a theatre?"]

[Footnote 116: "It is quite certain that, mixed with a little personal
vanity, the most sincere wish for the happiness of France, and the
happiness of mankind, was the ruling motive with Necker."--_Lectures on
the French Revolution, by Wm. Smyth_, vol. i., p. 287.

"Let us not forget that at that period the whole Assembly was Royalist,
without excepting a single member."--_Michelet_, vol. i., p. 108.]

[Footnote 117: For a full detail of this project see OEuvres de
Necker, vol. vi., p. 119. Necker is condemned by Michelet with
merciless severity for presenting a project which, though it secured
a few reforms, still allowed the despotic court such sway. But if the
minister could not carry even this project, what could he have done
with one making still greater demands? The British government, with its
king and its houses of lords and commons, was Necker's model; though
he still allowed the court powers which would not be tolerated by
the people of Great Britain for an hour. But the French court looked
with _contempt_ upon the limited powers of the king and the nobles of
England, and would consent to no approximation to the government which
prevailed there. The _Tiers Etat_ would have been more than satisfied
with the English Constitution. No one then desired the overthrow of the

[Footnote 118: Smyth, Lectures on French Revolution, i., 192; Michelet,
i., 110.]

[Footnote 119: Michelet, i., 110.]

[Footnote 120: M. Rabaud de St. Etienne, p. 53, says that the clergy
voted for union one hundred and forty-nine voices against one hundred
and twenty-six.]

[Footnote 121: "The nobility that I converse with," writes Arthur
Young, "are most disgustingly tenacious of all old rights, however
hard they may bear upon the people. They will not hear of giving way
in the least to the spirit of liberty beyond the point of paying equal
land-taxes, which they hold to be all that can with reason be demanded."

"It was only very late," writes Wm. Smyth, "and when too late, that
they reached even this point."]

[Footnote 122: M. Rabaud de St. Etienne, i., 56.]

[Footnote 123: Id., 57; Michelet, i., 112.]

[Footnote 124: Hist. Parl., vol. ii., p. 15.]

[Footnote 125: "The nobles having applauded the article consecrating
feudal rights, loud, distinct voices were heard to utter, 'Silence
there!'"--_Michelet_, vol. i., p. 115.]

[Footnote 126: Mr. Alison strangely says that "These decrees contained
the whole elements of rational freedom, abolished pecuniary privileges,
regulated the expenses of the royal household, secured the liberty of
the press, regulated the criminal code, and the personal freedom of the
subject."--_Alison, Hist. of Europe_, vol. i., p. 74. The French people
did not think so. See Michelet's indignant rejection of the mockery of
these decrees.--_Mich., Hist. Fr. Rev._, vol. i., p. 115. M. Rabaud de
St. Etienne, member of the Assembly, writes, "In these benefits which
the king was thus promising to the nation, no mention was made either
of the constitution so much desired, or of the participation of the
States-General in all acts of legislation, or of the responsibility
of ministers, or of the liberty of the press; and almost every thing
which constitutes civil liberty was passed over in total silence.
Nevertheless, the pretensions of the privileged orders were maintained,
the despotism of the ruler was sanctioned, and the States-General were
abased and subject to his power."--_Hist. of Rev. of Fr._, vol. i., p.

The Marquis of Ferrières writes, "The hall was surrounded by soldiers
and by guards. Every thing about the throne was silent and melancholy.
The declaration itself satisfied no one; and the king spoke rather
like a despot who commanded than a monarch who discussed with the
representatives of his people the interests of a great nation."]



  Speech of Mirabeau.--Approach of the Soldiers and Peril of the
  Assembly.--Elation of the Queen.--Triumph of Necker.--Embarrassment
  of the Bishops and the Nobles.--Letter of the King.--The Bishops and
  Nobles join the Assembly.--Desperate Resolve of the Nobles.--The
  Troops sympathizing with the People.

As the king, followed by the nobles and the clergy, left the hall, the
Commons remained in their seats. The crisis had now arrived. There was
no alternative but resistance or submission, rebellion or servitude.
For a moment there was an entire silence. But the spirit of indomitable
determination glowed on every cheek. Mirabeau was the first to rise.
In a few of those impassioned sentences, which pealed over France like
clarion notes, he exclaimed,

"Why this dictatorial language, this train of arms, this violation
of the national sanctuary? Who is it who gives commands to us--to us
to whom alone twenty-five millions of men are looking for happiness?
Let us arm ourselves with our legislative authority, remember our
oath--that oath which does not permit us to separate until we have
established the constitution!"[127]

While he was yet speaking the Marquis of Brézé, one of the officers of
the king, perceiving that the Assembly did not retire, advanced into
the centre of the hall, and, in a loud authoritative voice, a voice
at whose command nearly fifty thousand troops were ready to march,

"Did you hear the commands of the king?"

"Yes, sir," responded Mirabeau, with a glaring eye and a thunder tone
which made Brézé quail before him, "we did hear the king's command; and
you, who have neither seat nor voice in this house, are not the person
to remind us of his speech. Go, tell those who sent you that we are
here by the power of the people, and that nothing shall drive us hence
but the power of the bayonet."[128]

The officer, the marquis, turned to the president, as if inquiring his

"The Assembly," said M. Bailly, "resolved yesterday to sit after the
royal session. That question must be discussed."

"Am I to carry that answer to the king?" inquired the marquis.

"Yes, sir," replied the president. The marquis departed. Armed
soldiers now entered the hall accompanied by workmen to take away the
benches and dismantle the room. Soldiers surrounded the building and
the life-guard advanced to the door. But a word from the president
arrested the workmen, and they stood with their tools in their hands
contemplating with admiration the calm majesty of the Assembly.
The body-guard had now formed a line in front of the hall, and the
position of its members was full of peril. It was expected that all the
prominent deputies would be arrested. A vote was then passed declaring
the person of each member of the Assembly inviolable, and pronouncing
any one guilty of treason who should attempt to arrest any one of the
representatives of the nation.

In the mean time the nobility were in exultation. They deemed the
popular movement now effectually crushed. In a crowd they hastened to
the residences of the two brothers of the king, the Count of Provence
and Count d'Artois, with their congratulations. They then repaired to
the queen and assured her that the work was done and that all was safe.
The queen was much elated, and received them with smiles. Presenting
to them her son, the young dauphin, she said, "_I intrust him to the

But at this very moment loud shouts were heard in the streets, swelling
in a roar of tumult from countless voices, which penetrated the inmost
apartments of the Palace of Versailles. All were eager to ascertain
the cause. The whole body of the people by a simultaneous movement had
gathered around the apartments of M. Necker, and were enthusiastically
applauding him for refusing to attend the royal sitting.

This manifestation of popular feeling was so decisive, that alarm took
the place of joy. Even the fears of the queen were aroused, and Necker
was promptly sent for. He entered the palace accompanied by a crowd
of many thousands who filled the vast court-yard. Both king and queen
entreated Necker to withdraw his resignation, the king good-naturedly
saying, "For my part I am not at all tenacious about that declaration."

Necker willingly complied with their request.[129] As he left the
palace he informed the multitude that he should remain at his post.
The announcement was received with unbounded demonstrations of joy.
As the exultant shouts of the populace resounded through the castle,
Brézé entered to inform the king that the deputies still continued
their sitting, and asked for orders. The king impatiently walked once
or twice up and down the floor, and then replied hastily, "Very well!
leave them alone."

The next day, Wednesday, June 24th, the Assembly met in its hall and
transacted business as quietly as if there had been no interruption.
The clergy, who had joined them in the Church of St. Louis, still
resolutely continued with them, notwithstanding the prohibition, and
this day one half of the remaining clergy joined the Assembly. A
few individuals from the nobles had also gone over. These two bodies
thus broken were now quite powerless, and were fast sinking into
insignificance. Thousands continually thronged the galleries and the
aisles of the National Assembly, while no one seemed to turn a thought
to the two chambers where the few remaining clergy and the nobles were
separately lingering.

The next day, June 26th, after a long and exciting debate, in which
the overwhelming majority of the nobles resolved to remain firm in
opposition to union, forty-seven of their number, led by the Duke of
Orleans and La Fayette, and embracing many of the most eminent for
talent and virtue, repaired to the Assembly, where they were received
with hearty demonstrations of joy. One of the nobles, Clermont Tonnere,
speaking in behalf of the rest, said,

"We yield to our conscience, but it is with pain that we separate from
our colleagues. We have come to concur in the public regeneration. Each
of us will let you know the degree of activity which his mission allows

The king now wrote a letter to his "faithful clergy" and his "loyal
nobility," urging them to join the Assembly without further? delay. In
compliance with this request, the next day, June 27th, the remaining
portion of the nobility and of the clergy entered the hall and united
with the Third Estate. The Marquis of Ferrières, who was one of the
nobles who at this time united with the Assembly, records,

"It was now a grievous mortification and affliction to the nobility
to join the Third Estate. The Vicomte de Noailles assured the nobles
that the union would be but temporary; that the troops were coming up,
and that in fifteen days every thing would be changed. The king sent a
second letter assuring the nobles that the safety of the state and his
own personal security depended upon the union. The assembly of nobles
rose in a tumultuous manner, they were joined by the minority of the
clergy, and entered in silence the hall of the _Tiers Etat_."

But the nobles and the dignitaries of the Church had hardly entered
the hall of the Assembly ere they regretted the step. The Assembly
was proceeding energetically in the formation of a constitution which
would sweep away abuses. "Many of the nobles," says Ferrières, with
wonderful frankness, "would have quitted the Assembly, but a partial
secession would have done nothing. They were assured that the troops
were coming up, were praised for the resistance they had already made,
and were urged that they must dissemble a little longer. And, indeed,
thirty regiments were now marching upon Paris. The pretext was public
tranquillity; the real object the dissolution of the Assembly." Many
petty artifices were resorted to still to keep up the appearance of
distinct orders. The very day of the junction they endeavored to eject
M. Bailly, a citizen, from the presidency, and to place a clerical
noble, the Cardinal de la Rochefoucault, in the chair. The movement was
promptly checked.[131] They for some time entered in a body after the
openings of the sittings, and stood together, declining to sit down
with the deputies. But M. Bailly, by his prudence and firmness, upheld
the rights of the Assembly, and maintained the dignity of his post.
It was indeed a strange spectacle for France to see a plain citizen,
illustrious only in virtue and talent, presiding over the proudest
nobles and the highest dignitaries of the Church.

The leading members of the Assembly were patriots seeking reform, not
revolution. It was expected that this union would promote harmony.

"How honorable," said Mirabeau, "will it be for France that this great
revolution has cost humanity neither offenses nor crimes." After
describing the sanguinary scenes which accompanied the revolutions
in England and America, he continued, "We, on the contrary, have the
happiness to see a revolution of the same nature brought about by the
mere union of enlightened minds with patriotic intentions. Our battles
are only discussions. Our enemies are only prejudices that may indeed
be pardoned. Our victories, our triumphs, so far from being cruel, will
be blessed by the very conquered themselves.

"History too often records actions which are worthy only of the most
ferocious animals; among whom, at long intervals, we can sometimes
distinguish heroes. There is now reason to hope that we have begun
the history of man, the history of brothers, who, born for mutual
happiness, agree even when they vary, since their objects are the same
and their means only are different."

This triumph of the Third Estate exasperated the privileged classes,
and they were eager for revenge. It was evident that their exclusive
power was imperiled, and they resolved, at whatever expense of
bloodshed, to secure the dissolution of the Assembly. It soon became
manifest to all that violence was meditated; that a secret conspiracy
was ripening; that the nobles had united with the Assembly merely to
subserve a momentary purpose, and that the Assembly was to be dispersed
by force, the leaders punished, and that all who should interfere for
their protection were to be shot down.[132]

"I could never ascertain," writes Necker, "to what lengths their
projects really went. There were secrets upon secrets; and I believe
that even the king himself was far from being acquainted with all
of them. What was intended was probably to draw the monarch on,
as circumstances admitted, to measures of which they durst not at
first have spoken to him. With me, above all others, a reserve was
maintained, and reasonably, for my indisposition to every thing of the
kind was decided."

The nobles again became arrogant and defiant. Openly they declared
their intentions to crush the Assembly, and boasted that with an army
of fifty thousand men they would bring the people to terms.[133] Loaded
cannon were already placed opposite the hall, and pointed to the doors
of the Assembly. This state of menace and peril excited the Parisians
to the highest pitch, and united all the citizens high and low to
defend their rights. The French soldiers, who came from the humble
homes of the people, sympathized in all these feelings of their fathers
and brothers. The women, as they met the soldiers in the streets,
would ask, "Will you fire upon your friends to perpetuate the power of
your and our oppressors?" Ere long there came a very decisive response,
"No! we will not." Thus the soldiers who had been collected to overawe
the capital were soon seen in most friendly intercourse with the
citizens, walking with them arm in arm, comprehending the issues which
now agitated the nation, and evidently ready to give their energies to
the defense of the popular cause.


[Footnote 127: The curate, M. Rabaud de St. Etienne, one of the most
illustrious members of the Assembly, and who finally perished on the
guillotine, writes, "These memorable expressions have been since
engraved upon the bust of Mirabeau which was executed for the society
of _Friends to the Constitution_. A print of this hath been struck off,
in which we behold, not the downcast look of a cunning conspirator, but
the ardent air and attitude of a noble-hearted man, who sincerely meant
the welfare of his country; and such a man was _Mirabeau_."]

[Footnote 128: Michelet, vol. i., p. 116. "In the middle of the night
Bailly was called up and privately informed that Necker disapproved
of the measures adopted, and that he would not attend the sitting,
and would probably be dismissed. It had been settled between Bailly
and the Assembly that no reply should be made to the king whatever he
might say to them. It was afterward intimated to Bailly by the king,
that he wished no reply to be made. And under these most unfortunate
circumstances the royal sitting opened."--_Lectures on the French
Revolution, by William Smyth_, vol. i., p. 269.]

[Footnote 129: Michelet, vol. i., p. 118.]

[Footnote 130: Thiers, _Fr. Rev._, vol. i., p. 51.]

[Footnote 131: Bailly's Mem., vol. i., p. 252, 257, 260.]

[Footnote 132: For abundant proof of the conspiracy, see Memoirs of
Marmontel, a man of letters and of elegant attainments, who resided in
Paris at this time.]

[Footnote 133: "Before the Revolution the number of noble families
in France did not exceed 17,500. Reckoning five individuals to a
family there might have been about 90,000 nobles. The disasters of the
Revolution must have reduced them to less than 40,000."-_-L'Europe
après le Congrès d'Aix la Chapelle, by Abbé de Pradt, note at the end
of_ chap. ix.]



  Marshal Broglie.--Gatherings at the Palais Royal.--Disaffection of
  the Soldiers.--Imprisonment and Rescue.--Fraternization.--Petition
  to the Assembly.--Wishes of the Patriots.--Movement of the
  Troops.--Speech of Mirabeau.--New Menaces.--Declaration of
  Rights.--Dismissal of Necker.--Commotion in Paris.--Camille
  Desmoulins.--The French Guards join the People.--Terror in
  Paris.--Character of the King.

Notwithstanding the National Assembly was thus organized, rumors filled
the air that the junction was but transient, and that the court was
making preparation for some deed of violence. The citizens of Paris
were in a great ferment, all business was at a stand, the poorer
classes had no employment, and their families were actually perishing
from hunger. Troops were continually parading the streets, and an army
of fifty thousand men, now placed under the command of the veteran
Marshal Broglie, encircled the city of Versailles. The spacious garden
of the Palais Royal in Paris, surrounded by the most brilliant shops in
Europe, was the general rendezvous of the populace anxiously watching
the progress of events. The people in their misery had nothing to
do but to meet together to hear the news from Versailles. Often ten
thousand men were assembled in the garden, where impassioned orators
harangued them upon their rights and upon their wrongs. The Duke of
Orleans, with his boundless wealth, encouraged every insurrectionary
movement. He was willing so far to renounce aristocratic privileges as
to adopt a constitution like that of England, if he, as the head of the
popular party, could be placed upon the throne, from which he hoped to
eject his cousin Louis XVI.

It soon became evident that there was a _Tiers Etat_ in the army as
well as in the state. The French Guards, consisting of three thousand
six hundred picked men, in the highest state of discipline and
equipment, were stationed at Paris. They began to echo the murmurs
of the populace. The declaration of the king had informed them that
no reform whatever was to be tolerated in the army; that the common
soldier was to be forever excluded from all promotion. The privates and
subalterns were doomed to endure all the toil of the army and its most
imminent perils, but were to share none of its honors or emoluments.
The troops were governed by young nobles, generally the most dissolute
and ignorant men, who merely exhibited themselves upon the field on
parade days, and who never condescended even to show themselves in the

The discontent of the soldiers reached the ears of their officers.
Apprehensive that by association with the people the troops might
become allied to them by a common sympathy, the officers commanded
the guards no longer to go into the streets, and consigned them
to imprisonment in their barracks. This of course increased their
exasperation, and, being left to themselves and with nothing to do,
they held meetings very much like those which they had attended in the
Palais Royal, and talked over their grievances and the state of the
monarchy.[134] Patriotic enthusiasm rapidly gained strength among them,
and they took an oath that they would not fire upon the people. The
colonel of the regiment arrested eleven of the most prominent in this
movement and sent them to the prison of the Abbaye, where they were to
await a court-martial and such punishment as might be their doom. This
was the 30th of June.[135] On the evening of that day, as a vast and
agitated multitude was assembled at the Palais Royal, listening to the
speakers who there, notwithstanding reiterated municipal prohibitions,
gave intelligence of all that was passing at Versailles, tidings came
of the arrest of the soldiers. A young man, M. Lourtalot, editor of a
Parisian paper, mounted a chair and said,

"These are the brave soldiers who have refused to shed the blood of
their fellow-citizens. Let us go and deliver them. To the rescue!"

There was an instantaneous cry, rising from a thousand voices in the
garden and reverberating through the streets, "To the Abbaye!" The
throng poured out of the gate, and, seizing axes and crowbars as they
rushed along, every moment increasing in numbers, soon arrived at the
prison, six thousand strong. There was no force there which could for a
moment resist them. The doors were speedily battered down, the soldiers
liberated and conducted in triumph to the Palais Royal. Here they were
provided with food and lodging, and placed under the protection of a
citizens' guard.

While on their way to the Palais Royal a squadron of cavalry was
ordered to charge upon the people. They approached at full gallop,
and then, regardless of their officers, reined in their horses,
and, lifting their caps, with true French politeness saluted their
citizen-friends. There was then a scene of _fraternization_ such as
the French metropolis alone can exhibit. Men and women ran out from
the houses and the shops presenting to the dragoons goblets of wine,
shouting "Vive le Roi! Vive la Nation!"[136]

The people were still disposed to love their king. They instinctively
felt that his sympathies were with them. Thus far they desired only
reform, not the overthrow of the monarchy. The court, however, were
instructed by these scenes that they could not rely upon the French
Guards to execute the bloody mandates they were about to issue. Hence
vigorous efforts were immediately adopted to concentrate in the
metropolis an efficient force of foreign mercenaries, Swiss and German
troops, who would be less scrupulous in shooting down and trampling
under iron hoofs the French people. The Parisians distinctly understood
this movement, and one can hardly conceive of a measure more
exasperating. It is worthy of record that the citizens, ascertaining
that they had liberated one soldier who was accused of what they deemed
a crime, immediately sent that one back to his prison cell.

The next day, July 1st, the populace at the Palais Royal, who were
thus far under the guidance of the most virtuous, intelligent, and
influential citizens, sent a committee to the National Assembly at
Versailles urging them to interpose with the king for a pardon for
the soldiers. This was a movement quite unexampled. The citizens,
heretofore deprived of all political rights, had never before ventured
to make their wishes known to their rulers. Even then it was considered
by the privileged classes in the Assembly very impudent.[137] The
Assembly very prudently sent back word to the Parisians, exhorting
them to refrain from all acts of violence, and assuring them that the
maintenance of good order was essential to the prosperity of their
cause.[138] At the same time the Assembly sent a deputation to the king
imploring his clemency for the soldiers.

Troops were, however, still rapidly approaching the city from different
parts of the kingdom. The nobles and the higher clergy were throwing
every possible obstruction in the way of either deliberation or action
by the Assembly, and it was manifest to all that a conspiracy was in
progress for its violent dissolution.[139]

The courtiers could not conceal their exultation, and began openly
to boast that their hour of triumph was at hand. Fifteen regiments
of Swiss and German troops were now between Paris and Versailles. It
was supposed that they, without reluctance, would fire upon French
citizens. It was very evident that the court was studiously endeavoring
to foment disturbances in Paris, that an appeal to the military might
be necessary. On the other hand, the leaders of the revolution were
doing every thing in their power to keep the people calm. A very able
pamphlet was circulated through the city, containing the following

"Citizens! the ministers, the aristocrats, are endeavoring to excite
sedition. Be peaceful, tranquil, submissive to good order. If you
do not disturb the precious harmony now reigning in the National
Assembly, a revolution the most salutary and the most important will be
irrevocably consummated, without causing the nation blood or humanity

One is bewildered in learning that these sentiments came from the pen
of Jean Paul Marat![140]

The next day, the 2d of July, the king returned an answer to the
deputation from the Assembly, that the soldiers should be pardoned as
soon as order was re-established in the capital. Upon the receipt of
the message at the Palais Royal, the guards were taken back to prison,
from whence they were speedily released by a pardon from the king.

On the 3d of July, M. Bailly having resigned the presidency of the
Assembly, the Archbishop of Vienne, one of the high clergy, who had
warmly espoused the popular cause, was chosen president, and the
Marquis de la Fayette, equally devoted to popular rights, was elected
vice-president. Thus the two most important offices of the Assembly
were conferred upon men selected from the highest ranks of the
privileged class. But this act of conciliation did not in the least
degree conciliate men who were determined at every hazard to perpetuate

The aspect of affairs was every hour becoming more threatening. New
regiments of foreigners were continually marching into the metropolis,
and occupying all the avenues which conducted to Paris and Versailles.
Squadrons of horse were galloping through the streets and heavy
artillery rumbling over the pavements of both the cities. The Elysian
Fields, the Place Louis XV., the Field of Mars, presented the aspect
of an encampment. Sentinels were placed around the French Guards,
who were confined in their barracks, to prevent them from holding
any intercourse with the citizens or with the other soldiers.[141]
Versailles was encompassed by armies, and a battery of artillery was
pointed at the very doors of the Assembly.

On Friday, the 10th of July,[142] Mirabeau rose in the Assembly, and
proposed that the discussion of the Constitution should be suspended
while a petition was sent to the king urging the removal of these
menacing armies.

"Fresh troops," said he, "are daily advancing; all communications are
intercepted. All the bridges and promenades are converted into military
posts. Movements, public and secret, hasty orders and counter-orders,
meet all eyes. Soldiers are hastening hither from all quarters.
Thirty-five thousand men are already cantoned in Paris and Versailles.
Twenty thousand more are expected. They are followed by trains of
artillery; spots are marked for batteries; every communication is
secured, every pass is blocked up; our streets, our bridges, our public
walks are converted into military stations. Events of public notoriety,
concealed facts, secret orders, precipitate counter-orders--in a
word, preparations for war strike every eye and fill every heart with

At the same time a pamphlet was circulated through Paris, stating
that the king was to hold another royal sitting on the 13th; that he
had determined to enforce his declarations of the 23d of June; that
the National Assembly was to be dissolved by violence, its leaders
arrested, and Necker to be driven from the kingdom.

The tidings excited great consternation in the city, and the crowd
in the Palais Royal began to talk of arming in self-defense. In the
evening of that day an artillery company, which had been posted at the
Hôtel des Invalides, came to the Palais Royal to fraternize with the
people there. The citizens gave them a supper in the Elysian Fields,
where they were joined by many troops from other regiments, and the
friendly festivities were continued late into the hours of the warm
summer night.[143]

This speech of Mirabeau was received with applause, and a deputation
of twenty-four members was sent with a petition to the king. The
address was drawn up by Mirabeau, and is of world-wide celebrity.[144]

"It is not to be dissembled," says Bailly, "that Mirabeau was in the
Assembly its principal force. Nothing could be more grand, more firm,
more worthy of the occasion than this address to the king. The great
quality of Mirabeau was boldness. It was this that fortified his
talents, directed him in the management of them, and developed their
force. Whatever might be his moral character, when he was once elevated
by circumstances he assumed grandeur and purity, and was exalted by his
genius to the full height of courage and virtue."

Though Necker earnestly advised the removal of the troops, the king,
now in the hands of his worst counselors, returned to the Assembly
almost an insulting answer. He affirmed that the troops were mustered
for the maintenance of public order and for the protection of the
Assembly; and that if the members of the Assembly were afraid of their
protectors, they might adjourn to Noyon or to Soissons, cities some
fifty or sixty miles north of Paris, where, removed from the protection
of the capital, they would have been entirely at the mercy of their

"We have not," Mirabeau indignantly retorted, "asked permission to run
away from the troops, but have requested that the troops may be removed
from the capital."

Upon the reception of this answer from the king, La Fayette presented
the Assembly a declaration of rights based upon that Declaration of
American Independence which is almost the gospel of popular liberty.
It is probable that Thomas Jefferson, who was then in Paris, aided La
Fayette in preparing this paper. It affirmed that nature has made all
men free and equal, that sovereignty resides in the _nation_, and that
no one can claim authority which does not emanate from the people.

On the evening of this day, Saturday, July 11th, as Necker was dressing
for dinner, he received a note announcing his dismissal. A confidential
letter from the king at the same time informed him that the monarch
was unable to prevent his removal, and urged the minister to leave the
kingdom without delay, and not to communicate to any one the knowledge
of his dismissal lest it should excite public disturbance.[146] Necker,
true to the confidence thus reposed in him, quietly dined, and then
taking his carriage, as if for an evening drive with his wife, took
the direction to the Netherlands, the nearest frontier, and pressed on
rapidly through the night.

The next day was the Sabbath, July 12th. Early in the morning an
extraordinary degree of activity was observed among the troops.
Infantry and artillery were marching and countermarching through the
streets of Paris and Versailles. The next day, Monday, was secretly
appointed for the great _coup d'état_, in which the National Assembly
was to be dispersed, and the citizens of Paris, if they manifested any
resistance, were to be mown down by grapeshot. Redoubts were thrown
up upon the heights of Montmartre, where cannon could be placed which
would command the metropolis. Enormous placards were posted, enjoining
the people to remain at home and not to assemble in the streets. The
numerous staff of Marshal Broglie were galloping in all directions,
disgusting the people with their insolent and consequential airs.[147]
A battery of cannon was placed at the Sevres bridge, cutting off all
direct communication between Versailles and Paris. The Place of Louis
XV. was filled with troops, presenting the aspect of an encampment.
In the adjoining Elysian Fields the Swiss Guards, with four pieces of
artillery, were drawn up in battle array.

The people wondered what all this meant. At an early hour the garden of
the Palais Royal was filled with an anxious and inquiring crowd. About
ten o'clock an unknown person announced that Necker was dismissed,
and that a new ministry was organized, composed of members of most
determined hostility to popular reform. These tidings explained
the formidable military display, and excited universal alarm and
indignation. A young man, Camille Desmoulins, sprung upon a table, his
dress disarranged, his hair disheveled, his face flushed, his eyes
gleaming with indignation and tears, and, with a pistol in each hand to
protect himself from the police, shouted,

"To arms! to arms! This dismissal is but the precursor to another St.
Bartholomew. This night the Swiss and German troops are to march to our
massacre. We have but one resource; it is to defend ourselves."

The impassioned cry was immediately echoed by the multitude, "To
arms! to arms!" A rallying sign was needed. Desmoulins plucked a
green leaf from a tree and attached it to his hat. Instantly all the
chestnut-trees which embellished the garden were stripped of their
foliage, and the leaf became the pledge of union. The flash of a moment
had brought the whole body of the populace into a recognized uniform
and a rude organization.

An army of more than a hundred thousand souls was in an hour enlisted,
inspired with deathless enthusiasm, and crying out for leaders and
for weapons. The movement was now in progress which was to scatter
like chaff the battalions of foreign mercenaries, and to prostrate
in dust and ashes the court and the throne. But alas for man! the
flame which cheers the fireside may lay palaces and temples and happy
homes in ruins. A new power had arisen, and it proved to be as blind
and ignorant as it was resistless. Had the populace been imbued with
Christian principles and intelligence, blessings only would have
resulted from their sway.


In this wild hour of turmoil the multitude were bewildered, and knew
not what to do. They had no arms, and no recognized leaders except the
National Assembly at Versailles, from whom they were now cut off by
detachments of troops.

Near by there was a museum of wax figures. Some men ran to the spot
and brought out busts of Necker and of the Duke of Orleans, who was
also, it was said, threatened with exile. Decorating these busts with
crape they bore them aloft through the streets with funeral honors. As
the procession, rapidly increasing to many thousands, approached the
Place of Louis XV., a detachment of German troops were marched up to
charge them. But these soldiers had but little spirit for their work,
and they were speedily put to flight by a shower of stones. A company
of dragoons then made a charge. The unarmed procession was broken and
put to flight in all directions. The busts were hacked to pieces by the
sabres of the soldiers, and one man, a French guardsman, who disdained
to run, was cut down and killed.

The French Guards were all this time locked up in their barracks, and
the Prince of Lambesc had stationed a squadron of German dragoons
in front of their quarters to prevent them coming to the aid of the
people. But nothing now could restrain them. They broke down and
leaped over the iron rails, and fiercely attacked the hated foreigners.
The dragoons fled before them, and the Prince of Lambesc, who
commanded, fell back upon the garden of the Tuileries, and, entering
the gates, charged upon the people who were there. One old man was
killed and the rest were put to flight.

The French Guards, however, immediately drew up in battle array, and
placed themselves between the citizens and the royal troops. In the
mean time a formidable array of Swiss and German troops had been
collected in the Field of Mars. They received orders to march to the
Place Louis XIV. and dislodge the French Guards. In obedience to the
command they marched to the spot, and then reversing their arms,
positively refused to fire upon their comrades.[148]

The populace, however, unconscious of the support which they were
receiving from the soldiers, were in a state of phrensy. The women and
children, who had been passing the pleasant day in the recreations of
the Elysian Fields, and who had fled shrieking before the horses and
the sabres of the dragoons, speedily carried the tidings of the assault
to every part of the city. An indescribable scene of tumult ensued.
The multitude were running to and fro in search of arms. Upon all the
steeples every bell rang the alarm. A population of nearly a million
of souls was agitated by the most intense emotions of indignation and

"It would be difficult," writes Bertrand de Moleville, "to paint
the disorder, fermentation, and alarm that prevailed in the capital
during this dreadful day. A city taken by storm and delivered up to
the soldiers' fury could not present a more dreadful picture. Imagine
detachments of cavalry and dragoons making their way through different
parts of the town at full gallop to the posts assigned them; trains
of artillery rolling over the pavements with a monstrous noise; bands
of ill-armed ruffians and women, drunk with brandy, running through
the streets like furies, breaking the shops open, and spreading terror
every where by their howlings, mingled with frequent reports of guns
or pistols fired in the air; all the barriers on fire; thousands of
smugglers taking advantage of the tumult to hurry in their goods; the
alarm-bells ringing in almost all the churches; a great part of the
citizens shutting themselves up at home, loading their guns and burying
their money, papers, and valuable effects in cellars and gardens; and
during the night the town paraded by numerous patrols of citizens of
every class, and even of both sexes, for many women were seen with
muskets or pikes upon their shoulders. Such is the exact picture of
the state of Paris on the 12th of July."

To add to the alarm, a letter which had been intercepted from Marshal
Broglie was printed and circulated through the city, in which the
marshal wrote to the Prince of Condé that the greater part of the
National Assembly were hungry wolves, ready to devour the nobility;
that with fifty thousand troops he would quickly disperse them and the
crowd of fools who applauded them.[150]

As the sun went down and darkness enshrouded the city, the tumult
increased, and the night was passed in sleeplessness, terror, and
bewilderment. All were apprehensive that the dawn would usher in a
dreadful day. A report of the agitated state of the metropolis was
carried to the Assembly at Versailles, exciting very great anxiety in
the minds of the patriots deliberating there. The nobles rejoiced. They
earnestly desired such violence on the part of the people as should
compel the king to restore the ancient order of things by the energies
of grapeshot and the bayonet.[151]

M. Bailly, a man of unblemished character, whose purity and whose
patriotism never can be questioned, gives the following testimony to
the integrity of Louis XVI.:

"Despotism is what never entered into the head of the king. He never
had any wish but the happiness of his people, and this was the only
consideration that could be ever employed as a means of influencing
him. If any acts of authority were to be resorted to, he was never
to be persuaded but by showing him that some good was to be attained
or some evil avoided. I am convinced that his authority was never
considered by him, nor did he wish to maintain it but as the best means
of supporting and securing the tranquillity and peace of the community.
As we are now speaking of the causes that produced this regeneration of
the country, let us state the first to be the character of Louis XVI. A
king less of a good man and ministers more adroit, and we should have
had no revolution."


[Footnote 134: "The French Guards, those generous citizens, rebels
to their masters, in the language of despotism, but faithful to the
nation, are the first to swear never to turn their arms against
her."--_M. Rabaud de St. Etienne_, vol. i., p. 62.

Mr. Alison calls this the "_revolt and treason of the French Guards_."
The same occurrence assumes very different aspects as seen from
different stand-points.]

[Footnote 135: M. Rabaud de St. Etienne.]

[Footnote 136: Hist. Parlementaire, vol. ii., p. 32. Michelet, vol. i.,
p. 127.]

[Footnote 137: Histoire des Montagnards, par Alphonse Esquiros, p. 15.]

[Footnote 138: Thiers, vol. i., p. 61.]

[Footnote 139: "While on this subject I can not refrain from remarking
on the impolitic conduct of the nobles and the bishops. As they aimed
only to dissolve the Assembly, to throw discredit on its operations,
when the president stated a question they left the hall, inviting the
deputies of their party to follow them. With this senseless conduct
they combined an insulting disdain, both of the Assembly and of the
people who attended the sittings. Instead of listening, they laughed
and talked aloud, thus confirming the people in the unfavorable opinion
which it had conceived of them; and instead of striving to recover the
confidence and the esteem of the people, they strove only to gain their
hatred and contempt."--_Ferrières_, t. ii., p. 122.]

[Footnote 140: Histoire des Montagnards, par Alphonse Esquiros, p. 15.]

[Footnote 141: France and its Revolutions, by George Long, Esq.]

[Footnote 142: Some authorities say the 9th.]

[Footnote 143: France and its Revolutions, by George Long, Esq., vol.
i., p. 25.]

[Footnote 144: It is said that this famous address to the king was
composed by M. Dumont, the leading ideas having been communicated to
him by Mirabeau. A few extracts will give one an idea of the spirit of
the piece.

"In the emotions of your own heart, sire, we look for the true safety
of the French. When troops advance from every quarter, when camps are
forming around us, when the capital is besieged, we ask one another
with astonishment, 'Hath the king distrusted the fidelity of his
people? What mean these menacing preparations? Where are the enemies of
the state and of the king that are to be subdued?'

"The danger, sire, is urgent, is universal, is beyond all the
calculations of human prudence.

"The danger is for the provinces. Should they once be alarmed for our
liberty we should no longer have it in our power to restrain their

"The danger is for the capital. With what sensations will the people,
in their state of indigence, and tortured with the keenest anguish, see
the relics of its subsistence disputed for by a throng of threatening

"The danger is for the troops. They may forget that the ceremony of
enlisting made them soldiers, and recollect that nature made them men.

"The danger, sire, is yet more terrible. And judge of its extent by the
alarms which bring us before you. Mighty revolutions have arisen from
causes far less striking.

"Sire, we conjure you, in the name of our country, in the name of
your own happiness, and your own glory, to send back your soldiers to
the posts from which your counselors have drawn them. Send back that
artillery," etc.]

[Footnote 145: The Marquis of Ferrières acknowledges the insincerity of
the court in the king's answer. "The Assembly saw," he writes, "through
the snare that was spread for them. They would have lost all their
hold if they had once removed themselves from the security which the
vicinity of Paris afforded. Inclosed between the two camps (of Flanders
and Paris) they would have found themselves at the mercy of the
court."--_See also Hist. Phil. de la Rev. de France, par Ant. Fantin
Desodoards_, vol. i., p. 150.]

[Footnote 146: Madame de Staël's Considerations, etc., ch. xii.]

[Footnote 147: Alison, vol. i., p. 73.]

[Footnote 148: Miguet, vol. i., p. 50. Thiers, vol. i., p. 62.]

[Footnote 149: The following journal kept by the king during these
stormy days singularly illustrates the weakness of his character. We
give it as found in the interesting work, _Histoire des Montagnards,
par Alphonse Esquiros_.

"_July 1st, 1789, Wednesday._ Nothing; deputation from the States.
_Thursday 2d._ Mounted horseback at the gate Du Main to hunt a stag
at Port Royal; took one. _Friday 3d._ Nothing. _Saturday 4th._ Hunted
a buck at Boutard; took one and shot twenty-nine game. _Sunday 5th._
Vespers and benediction. _Monday 6th._ Nothing. _Tuesday 7th._ Hunted a
stag at Port Royal; took two. _Wednesday 8th._ Nothing. _Thursday 9th_.
Nothing; deputation from the States. _Friday 10th._ Nothing; answer to
the deputation from the States. _Saturday 11th._ Nothing; departure
of M. Necker. _Sunday 12th._ Nothing; departure of M. Montmorin, St.
Priest and Luzerne. _Sunday 12th._ Nothing; took medicine."

Such was the record of the predecessor of Napoleon upon the throne of
France when the monarchy was tottering to its foundations.]

[Footnote 150: France and its Revolutions, by Geo. Long, Esq., vol. i.,

[Footnote 151: "During this day of mourning and consternation the
conspirators gave loose to a guilty joy. At Versailles, in that
orangery where were lodged, or, to speak more properly, dispersed in
ambuscade, the German troops of Nassau, princes, princesses, favorites,
male and female, were entertaining themselves with the music of the
martial instruments. They were loading the soldiers with caresses and
presents; and the latter, amid their brutal orgies, were pleasing
themselves with the thought of dispersing the National Assembly, and
of subjugating the kingdom. Calamitous night! when the courtiers
were dancing to that foreign music, and enjoying the idea of the
massacre."--_M. Rabaud de St. Etienne_, vol. i., p. 66.]



  The Assembly petitions the King.--Resolves of the
  Assembly.--Narrative of M. Dumont.--Scenes in Paris.--The People
  organize for Self-defense.--The new Cockade.--The Abbé Lefebvre
  d'Ormesson.--Treachery of the Mayor, Flesselles.--Character of De
  Launey, Governor of the Bastille.--Sacking the Invalides.--The
  Bastille Assailed.--Assassination of De Launey and of Flesselles.

It will be remembered that in the election of deputies to the
States-General Paris had been divided into sixty sections, each of
which chose two electors. These hundred and twenty electors, composed
of the most wealthy and influential citizens of Paris, immediately met
and passed the night deliberating respecting the anarchy into which the
city was so suddenly plunged. There were two foes whom the city had
now equally to dread--the court and the mob; the princes, bishops, and
nobles of the realm, with the armies and the resources of the kingdom,
on the one hand, and the starving multitude, infuriated by misery and
brutalized by ages of misrule, on the other. These were the two foes
against which the Revolution ever had to struggle. The mob triumphed
in the Reign of Terror. _Napoleon_ rescued the Revolution from their
bloody hands. The princes, with the aid of all the despotisms of
Europe, triumphed at Waterloo, and the Revolution was crushed _for a

Early on Monday morning, July 12th, the electors sent a deputation to
the National Assembly at Versailles soliciting the establishment of a
citizens' guard for the preservation of order. They gave a true and of
course a terrible description of the tumult prevailing in the city.[152]

The Assembly immediately sent a committee of twenty-four members to the
king, entreating him to withdraw the foreign troops from the capital.
But the queen and the court had now obtained such an ascendency over
the feeble-minded king that he was constrained to send a reply that he
should make no change whatever in his measures, and that the Assembly
could accomplish no useful purpose by interfering with matters in the

This was the day on which it was supposed armed bands were to march
to disperse the Assembly. It was publicly stated at Versailles that
a parliament composed of the nobles was to be suddenly organized at
Versailles, that all the deputies of the Third Estate were to be tried
for treason, that those members of the clergy and of the nobility
who had declared in their favor were to be consigned to perpetual
imprisonment, and that those who had been particularly active in the
cause of popular liberty were to be sent to the scaffold.[153]

In preparation for this event, the day before (Sunday, 12th), the
new ministry, bitterly hostile to the popular cause, had taken their
seats in the king's cabinet; Necker, a fugitive, was hastening into
the Netherlands; fifty thousand troops under Marshal Broglie, the most
determined advocate of aristocratic privilege, crowded the environs of
Paris and Versailles; and the troops on the 12th had been ordered to
those movements which were preliminary to the great event.[154]

Under such perilous circumstances the Assembly, with a heroism which
was truly sublime, determined, if they must perish, to perish in the
discharge of duty. No impartial man can read the record of these
days without paying the tribute of admiration to those men who thus
periled liberty and life in the cause of popular rights. "I have
studied history extensively," says De Tocqueville, "and I venture to
affirm that I know of no other revolution at whose outset so many men
were imbued with a patriotism as sincere, as disinterested, as truly

When the Assembly received the answer of the king refusing to withdraw
the troops, the only response it could make was in the passing of
resolutions. Unintimidated by menaces which might well appal the
stoutest heart, they resolved,

1. That M. Necker carried with him the regrets of the nation.

2. That it was the duty of the king immediately to remove the foreign

3. That the king's advisers, _of whatever rank_, were responsible for
present disorders.

4. That to declare the nation bankrupt was infamous.[156]

These were bold resolves. The third, it was well understood, referred
to the queen and to the two brothers of the king. The fourth branded
with infamy the measure which the court had already adopted in
virtually proclaiming bankruptcy and in making payments only in
paper.[157] After passing these resolutions the members of the Assembly
were in such peril that they deemed it best to keep together for mutual
protection. They voted their session permanent, and for seventy-two
hours, day and night, continued in their seats, one half deliberating
while the other half slept upon their benches. La Fayette, who was
one of the most resolute of this Spartan band, relieved the venerable
president in the labors of the chair.[158]

During the whole of Monday, even the king knew not what was passing
in Paris; and the Assembly, all communication being cut off between
Versailles and the metropolis, were in a state of most painful
suspense. Every moment they dreaded receiving the news that the city
was attacked, and the clangor of martial bands and arms around them led
them momentarily to expect the entrance of a military force for their
arrest. During the night of the 13th but little business was done, and
the wearied members remained talking in groups or dozing in their seats.

Tuesday morning, July 14th, dawned--ever-memorable day. The Assembly,
in the most perplexing anxiety, resumed its labors of preparing a
constitution. During the whole day no definite tidings could be
received from the city, and yet the booming of cannon was heard
proclaiming serious and sanguinary trouble. M. Dumont, who wrote under
the _nom de plume_ of Groenvelt,[159] thus describes the scene of which
he was an eye-witness:

"But it was in the evening (of July 14th) that the spectacle exhibited
by the Assembly was truly sublime. I shall not attempt to describe
the various emotions of joy, grief, and terror which at different
moments agitated those who were merely spectators and strangers in the
Assembly. But the expression is improper; we were none of us strangers.
For myself, I felt as a Frenchman, because I felt as a man. Nothing
could be more distracting than our uncertainty concerning the state
of Paris, from whence no person was suffered to stir. The Viscount de
Noailles[160] after repeated interruptions had contrived at last to get
away; but the intelligence which he brought served only to quicken our
impatience and increase our alarms.

"He knew that a multitude of people in search of arms had forced their
way into the Hospital for Military Invalids; that the Bastille was
besieged; that there had been already much bloodshed; that the troops
encamped in the Field of Mars were expected every moment to march
to the relief of that fortress, which could not be effected without
deluging all Paris in blood.

"At this dreadful news the Assembly was penetrated with horror.
A number of the members started from their seats by a kind of
involuntary impulse, as if determined to hasten to the defense of their
fellow-citizens. Others were for immediately bursting into the king's
presence to remonstrate with him on what had happened; to say to him
'Behold the fruits of your counsels; hear the cries of your victims;
see the destruction which is about to overwhelm your capital; say, are
you the king or the murderer of your people?'

"But these tumultuous emotions gave place to the more temperate measure
of sending a numerous deputation to the king, to represent to him the
calamities which threatened Paris, and again to conjure him to remove
the army. A long time elapsed, and the deputation did not return.
No one could account for the delay. In the mean time there came a
message that two deputies from the body of electors at Paris desired
admittance. They were instantly ordered in. Not a breath was heard;
every ear was attentive: every eye was strained; every mind was upon
the rack. From some unaccountable mistake it was some time before they
entered. Never was impatience wrought up to a higher pitch. At last
they appeared at the bar."[161]

But let us leave the Assembly listening at midnight of the 14th to
the narrative of the deputies from Paris, while we enter the city
to witness the transactions there. At three o'clock Monday morning
tumultuous masses of men were filling the streets. The barriers,
at which a tax had been levied upon all articles of food and other
merchandise which entered the city, had been seized, set on fire, and
were now blazing. It was expected every moment that the troops would
enter to sweep the streets with grapeshot; and from every steeple the
tocsin was pealing, summoning the people to arms. Thousands of those
who thronged the city, houseless wanderers, were haggard and wan with
famine, and knew not where to get a mouthful of bread.

There was a rumor that in the convents of the Lazarites a vast amount
of wheat was hoarded up. Resistless, like an inundation, the hungry
multitude poured in at the doors and filled the convent from attic to
cellar. They found vast quantities of wine in the vaults and more than
fifty cart-loads of wheat. They drank the wine freely, fed themselves,
and sent the wheat to the market to be distributed. But they would
allow no _stealing_. One wretch who was detected as a thief was
immediately hung by the populace![162]

They then ransacked the city in pursuit of arms. Every sword, musket,
and pistol from private residences was brought forward. The shops of
the gunsmiths furnished a small supply. The royal arsenal, containing
mainly curiosities and suits of ancient armor, was ransacked, and,
while all the costly objects of interest were left untouched, every
available weapon was taken away. The prison of La Force was filled
with debtors. The populace broke down the doors and liberated these
unfortunate men, incarcerated for no crime. The prison of the Chatelet
was filled with convicts. These felons, hearing of the tumult and of
the release of the prisoners of La Force, rose upon their keepers and
endeavored to batter down their doors. The same populace, called upon
by the keepers of the Chatelet, entered the court-yard of the prison,
and, with pike and bayonet, drove the convicts back again to their


Crowds were assembled around the Hôtel de Ville, where the electors
had met, demanding arms and the immediate establishment of a citizen's
guard. But the electors moved with great caution. They did not feel
authorized to establish the guard without the approval of the Assembly;
and the Assembly had not ventured to adopt the measure without the
consent of the king.

The excitement at last became so intense, and the importunity so
pressing, that the electors referred the people to the mayor of the
city. Flesselles, the mayor, was an officer of the crown, but he
immediately obeyed the summons of the people, and came to the Hôtel de
Ville. Here he feigned to be entirely on their side, declared that he
was their father, and that he would preside over their meetings only by
the election of the people. This announcement was received with a burst
of enthusiasm. It was immediately decided that a citizen's guard should
be established.

Paris then contained nearly a million of inhabitants, and almost every
able-bodied man was eager to mount guard for the protection of the
city. There was no want of men, but as yet there was no efficient
organization, and there were no arms. The electors were very anxious
to avoid insurrection, and at first wished only for a guard simply
strong enough to protect the city. They therefore decreed that each
of the sixty districts should elect and arm two hundred of its most
respectable citizens. These twelve thousand men would constitute a
very admirable police, but a very poor army. Matters, however, were so
rapidly approaching a crisis, and the peril so fast increasing, that
on the afternoon of the same day it was decided that this citizen's
guard should consist of forty-eight thousand men, and that the colors
of the cockade should be blue and red. La Fayette proposed that they
should add white, the old color of France, saying, "I thus give you a
cockade which will go round the world."

The electors then appointed a committee to watch day and night over
the safety of the city. Thus a new and independent government, with
its strong army of defense, entirely detached from the throne, was
established in a day. It was the sudden growth of uncontrollable
events, which no human wisdom had planned. "But to whom," said the
mayor, Flesselles, "shall the oath of fidelity be taken?" "To the
Assembly of the citizens," an elector promptly replied.

Every thinking man saw clearly that matters were approaching a fearful
crisis. Marshal Broglie, proud and self-confident, was at Versailles
in constant conference with the court, and having at his command
fifty thousand men, abundantly armed and equipped, all of whom could
in a few hours be concentrated in the streets of Paris. Bensenval
had assembled his force of several thousand Swiss and German troops,
cavalry and artillery, in the Field of Mars. The enormous fortress of
the Bastille, with its walls forty feet thick at its base and ten at
the top, rising with its gloomy towers one hundred and twenty feet in
the air, with cannon, charged with grapeshot, already run out at every
embrasure to sweep the streets, commanded the city. It was garrisoned
by about eighty French soldiers; but, as it was feared that they
could not be wholly relied upon, forty Swiss troops were thrown in
as a re-enforcement who would be as blindly obedient as the muskets
they shouldered. Every moment rumors were reaching the city that
Marshal Broglie was approaching with all his troops. Still no arms or
ammunition could be obtained.

In this state of things a report was brought that a large quantity
of powder had been embarked in a boat from the Hôtel des Invalides,
and was floating down the Seine to be conveyed to Versailles. The
people immediately ran to the Electors, and obtained an order to have
the powder seized and brought to the hotel. It was promptly done. A
heroic clergyman, the Abbé Lefebvre, who had great influence over the
populace, assumed the perilous task of guarding the powder in one of
the lower rooms of the Hôtel de Ville and distributing it among the
people. For forty-eight hours this brave man guarded his dangerous
treasure in the midst of fire-arms and the surging of the multitude. A
drunken man at one time staggered in smoking amid the casks.[163]

Guns only were wanting now. It was well known that there were large
stores of them somewhere in the city, but no one knew where to find

The mayor, Flesselles, who the people now began to suspect was deluding
them merely to gain time for the royal troops to enter the city, being
urged to point out the dépôt, said that the manufactory at Charleville
had promised to send him thirty thousand guns, and that twelve
thousand he was momentarily expecting. Soon a large number of boxes
were brought, marked "guns." The mayor ordered them to be stored in the
magazine till he should have time to distribute them. But the impatient
people so urged the electors that they broke open the boxes and found
them filled with rubbish. Was the mayor deceiving them? many anxiously
inquired. Flesselles, much embarrassed, sent the people to two
monasteries where he said guns were concealed; but the friars promptly
threw open the doors, and no arms were to be found.

It soon became evident that Flesselles was trifling with the people,
hoping to keep them unarmed until the troops should arrive to crush
them mercilessly. He was well known as a dissolute man, hostile to
popular liberty, and was undoubtedly a traitor, and a spy at the Hôtel
de Ville, acting in communication with the court.[164]

The electors now ordered thirty thousand pikes to be manufactured.
Every smith was immediately employed, every forge was glowing, and for
thirty-six hours, day and night, without intermission, the anvils rang
till the pikes were finished. All this day of Monday the people thought
only of defending themselves, but night again came, another night of
terror, tumult, and sleeplessness.

The Bastille was the great terror of Paris. While that remained in
the hands of their enemies, with its impregnable walls and heavy guns
commanding the city, there was no safety. As by an instinct, during
the night of the 13th, the Parisians decided that the Bastille must be
taken. With that fortress in their hands they could defend themselves
and repel their foes. But how could the Bastille be taken? It was
apparently as unassailable as Gibraltar's rock. Nothing could be more
preposterous than the thought of storming the Bastille. "The idea,"
says Michelet, "was by no means reasonable. It was an act of faith."

The Bastille stood in the very heart of the Faubourg St. Antoine,
enormous, massive, and blackened with age, the gloomy emblem of royal
prerogative, exciting by its mysterious power and menace the terror
and the execration of every one who passed beneath the shadow of its
towers. Even the sports of childhood dare not approach the empoisoned
atmosphere with which it seemed to be enveloped.

M. de Launey was governor of the fortress, He was no soldier, but a
mean, mercenary man, despised by the Parisians. He contrived to draw
from the establishment, by every species of cruelty and extortion, an
income of twenty-five thousand dollars a year. He reduced the amount
of fire-wood to which the shivering inmates were entitled; made a
great profit on the wretched wine which he furnished to those who were
able to buy, and even let out the little garden within the inclosure,
thus depriving those prisoners who were not in dungeon confinement of
the privilege of a walk there, which they had a right to claim. De
Launey was not merely detested as Governor of the Bastille, but he was
personally execrated as a greedy, sordid, merciless man. Linguet's
Memoirs of the Bastille had rendered De Launey's name infamous
throughout Europe. Such men are usually cowards. De Launey was both
spiritless and imbecile. Had he not been both, the Bastille could not
have been taken.[165]

Still the people had no guns. It was ascertained that there was a
large supply at the Hôtel des Invalides, but how could they be taken
without any weapons of attack? Sombrueil, the governor, was a firm and
fearless man, and, in addition to his ordinary force, amply sufficient
for defense, he had recently obtained a strong detachment of artillery
and several additional cannon, showing that he was ready to do battle.
Within fifteen minutes march of the Invalides, Bensenval was encamped
with several thousand Swiss and German troops in the highest state
of discipline, and provided with all the most formidable implements
of war. Every moment rumors passed through the streets that the
troops from Versailles were on the march, headed by officers who were
breathing threatenings and slaughter.

With electric speed the rumor passed through the streets that there
was a large quantity of arms stored in the magazine of the Hôtel of
the Invalides. Before nine o'clock in the morning of the 14th, thirty
thousand men were before the Invalides; some with pikes, pistols, or
muskets, but most of them unarmed. The curate of St. Etienne led his
parishioners in this conflict for freedom. As this intrepid man marched
at the head of his flock he said to them, "My children, let us not
forget that all men are brothers." The bells of alarm ringing from the
steeples seemed to invest the movement with a religious character.
Those sublime voices, accustomed to summon the multitude to prayer, now
with their loudest utterance called them to the defense of their civil
and religious rights.[166]

Sombrueil perceived at once that the populace could only be repelled
by enormous massacre, and that probably even that, in the phrensied
state of the public mind, would be ineffectual. He dared not assume
the responsibility of firing without an order from the king, and he
could get no answer to the messages he sent to Versailles. Though his
cannon charged with grapeshot could have swept down thousands, he did
not venture to give the fatal command to fire. The citizens, with a
simultaneous rush in all directions, leaped the trenches, clambered
over the low wall--for the hotel was not a fortress--and, like a
resistless inundation, filled the vast building. They found in the
armory thirty thousand muskets. Seizing these and six pieces of cannon
they rushed, as by a common instinct, toward the Bastille to assail
with these feeble means one of the strongest fortresses in the world--a
fortress which an army under the great Condé had in vain besieged for
three and twenty days![167]

De Launey, from the summit of his towers, had for many hours heard the
roar of the insurgent city. As he now saw the black mass of countless
thousands approaching, he turned pale and trembled. All the cannon,
loaded with grapeshot, were thrust out of the port-holes, and several
cart-loads of paving-stones, cannon-balls, and old iron had been
conveyed to the tops of the towers to be thrown down to crush the
assailants. Twelve large rampart guns, charged heavily with grape,
guarded the only entrance. These were manned by thirty-two Swiss
soldiers who would have no scruples in firing upon Frenchmen. The
eighty-two French soldiers who composed the remainder of the garrison
were placed upon the towers, and at distant posts, where they could act
efficiently without being brought so immediately into conflict with the
attacking party.

A man of very fearless and determined character, M. Thuriot, was
sent by the electors at the Hôtel de Ville to summon the Bastille
to surrender. The draw-bridge was lowered, and he was admitted. The
governor received him at the head of his staff.

"I summon you," said Thuriot, "in the name of the people, in the name
of honor, and of our native land."

The governor, who was every moment expecting the arrival of troops to
disperse the crowd, refused to surrender the fortress, but replied that
he was ready to give his oath that he would not fire upon the people,
if they did not fire upon him. After a long and exciting interview,
Thuriot came forth to those at the Hôtel de Ville who had sent him.

He had hardly emerged from the massive portals, and crossed the
draw-bridge of the moat, which was immediately raised behind him, ere
the people commenced the attack. A scene of confusion and uproar ensued
which can not be described. A hundred thousand men, filling all the
streets and alleys which opened upon the Bastille, crowding all the
windows and house-tops of the adjacent buildings, kept up an incessant
firing, harmlessly flattening their bullets against walls of stone
forty feet thick and one hundred feet high.[168]

The French soldiers within the garrison were reluctant to fire upon
their relatives and friends. But the Swiss, obedient to authority,
opened a deadly fire of bullets and grapeshot upon the crowd. While
the battle was raging an intercepted letter was brought to the Hôtel
de Ville, in which Bensenval, commandant of the troops in the Field of
Mars, exhorted De Launey to remain firm, assuring him that he would
soon come with succor.[169] But, fortunately for the people, even these
foreign troops refused to march for the protection of the Bastille.

The French Guards now broke from their barracks, and, led by their
subaltern officers, came with two pieces of artillery in formidable
array to join the people. They were received with thunders of applause
which drowned even the roar of the battle. Energetically they opened
their batteries upon the fortress, but their balls rebounded harmless
from the impregnable rock.

Apparently the whole of Paris, with one united will, was combined
against the great bulwark of tyranny.[170] Men, women, and boys were
mingled in the fight. Priests, nobles, wealthy citizens, and the
ragged and emaciate victims of famine were pressing in the phrensied
assault side by side.[171] The French soldiers were now anxious to
surrender, but the Swiss, sheltered from all chance of harm, shot down
with deliberate and unerring aim whomsoever they would. Four hours
of the battle had now passed, and though but one man had been hurt
within the fortress, a hundred and seventy-one of the citizens had
been either killed or wounded. The French soldiers now raised a flag
of truce upon the towers, while the Swiss continued firing below. This
movement plunged De Launey into despair. One hundred thousand men
were beleaguering his fortress. The king sent no troops to his aid;
and three fourths of his garrison had abandoned him and were already
opening communications with his assailants. He knew that the people
could never pardon him for the blood of their fathers and brothers with
which he had crimsoned their streets--that death was his inevitable
doom. In a state almost of delirium he seized a match from a cannon and
rushed toward the magazine, determined to blow up the citadel. There
were a hundred and thirty-five barrels of gunpowder in the vaults.
The explosion would have thrown the Bastille into the air, buried one
hundred thousand people beneath its ruins, and have demolished one
third of Paris.[172] Two subaltern officers crossed their bayonets
before him and prevented the accomplishment of this horrible design.

Some wretches seized upon a young lady whom they believed to be the
governor's daughter, and wished, by the threat of burning her within
view of her father upon the towers, to compel him to surrender. But the
citizens promptly rescued her from their hands and conveyed her to a
place of safety. It was now five o'clock, and the assault had commenced
at twelve o'clock at noon. The French soldiers within made white flags
of napkins, attached them to bayonets, and waved them from the walls.
Gradually the flags of truce were seen through the smoke; the firing
ceased, and the cry resounded through the crowd and was echoed along
the streets of Paris, "The Bastille surrenders." This fortress, which
Louis XIV. and Turenne had pronounced impregnable, surrendered not to
the arms of its assailants, for they had produced no impression upon
it. It was conquered by that public opinion which pervaded Paris and
which vanquished its garrison.[173]

The massive portals were thrown open, and the vast multitude, a living
deluge, plunging headlong, rushed in. They clambered the towers,
penetrated the cells, and descended into the dungeons and oubliettes.
Appalled they gazed upon the instruments of torture with which former
victims of oppression had been torn and broken. Excited as they were by
the strife, and exasperated by the shedding of blood, but one man in
the fortress, a Swiss soldier, fell a victim to their rage.

The victorious people now set out in a tumultuous procession to convey
their prisoners, the governor and the soldiers, to the Hôtel de Ville.
Those of the populace whose relatives had perished in the strife were
roused to fury, and called loudly for the blood of De Launey. Two very
powerful men placed themselves on each side of him for his protection.
But the clamor increased, the pressure became more resistless, and
just as they were entering the Place de Grève the protectors of the
governor were overpowered--he was struck down, his head severed by a
sabre stroke, and raised a bloody and ghastly trophy into the air upon
a pike.

In the midst of the great commotion two of the Swiss soldiers of
the Bastille, whom the populace supposed to have been active in the
cannonade, were seized, notwithstanding the most strenuous efforts to
save them, and hung to a lamp-post. A rumor passed through the crowd
that a letter had been found from the mayor, Flesselles, who was
already strongly suspected of treachery, directed to De Launey, in
which he said,

"I am amusing the Parisians with cockades and promises. Hold out till
the evening and you shall be relieved."[174]

Loud murmurs rose from the crowd which filled and surrounded the
hall. Some one proposed that Flesselles should be taken to the Palais
Royal to be tried by the people. The clamor was increasing and his
peril imminent. Pallid with fear he descended from the platform, and,
accompanied by a vast throng, set out for the Palais Royal. At the
turning of the first street an unknown man approached, and with a
pistol shot him dead. Infuriate wretches immediately cut off his head,
and it was borne upon a pike in savage triumph through the streets.

The French Guards, with the great body of the people, did what they
could to repress these bloody acts. The French and Swiss soldiers took
the oath of fidelity to the nation, and under the protection of the
French Guard were marched to places of safety where they were supplied
with lodgings and food. Thus terminated this eventful day. The fall of
the Bastille broke the right arm of the monarchy, paralyzed its nerves
of action, and struck it a death blow. The monarch of France, from his
palace at Versailles, heard the distant thunders of the cannonade, and
yet inscribed upon his puerile journal "_Nothing!_"[175]


[Footnote 152: "Thus Paris, without courts of justice, without
police, without a guard, at the mercy of one hundred thousand men
who were wandering idly in the middle of the night, and for the most
part wanting bread, believed itself on the point of being besieged
from without and pillaged from within; believed that twenty-five
thousand soldiers were posted around to blockade it and cut off all
supplies of provisions, and that it would be a prey to a starving
populace."--_Memoirs of Marmontel._]

[Footnote 153: Hist. Phil. de la Rev. Fr., par Ant. Fantin Desodoards,
t. i., p. 148.]

[Footnote 154: Professor William Smyth, in his very able and candid
lectures, delivered at the University of Cambridge, England, though his
sympathies are with the court in this conflict, writes:

"On the whole, it appears to me that there can be no doubt that a
great design had been formed by the court for the dissolution of the
National Assembly and the assertion of the power of the crown. That
military force was to have been produced, and according to the measure
of its success would, in all probability, have been the depression
of the spirit of liberty, even of national liberty, then existing in
France. Less than this can not well be supposed; much more may be
believed."--_Lectures on the French Revolution_, vol. i., p. 251.]

[Footnote 155: The Old Régime and the Revolution, by M. de Tocqueville,
p. 190.]

[Footnote 156: Michelet, vol. i., p. 136.]

[Footnote 157: "They were going to make payments with a paper money,
without any other guarantee than the signature of an insolvent
king."--_Michelet_, vol. i., p. 137.]

[Footnote 158: "A list of the proscribed had been drawn up in the
committee of the queen. Sixty-nine deputies, at the head of whom
were placed Mirabeau, Sièyes, and Bailly, were to be imprisoned
in the citadel of Metz, and from thence led to the scaffold, as
guilty of rebellion. The signal agreed upon for this St. Bartholomew
of the representatives of the people was the change of the
ministry."--_Histoire des Montagnards, par Alphonse Esquiros_, p. 15.]

[Footnote 159: Lectures on the French Revolution, by Wm. Smyth, vol.
i., p. 241.]

[Footnote 160: Louis, Viscount of Noailles, was a deputy of the nobles.
With La Fayette, Rochefoucault, and others he warmly espoused the cause
of popular liberty. He voted in favor of uniting with the National
Assembly, and was the first to exhort the clergy and the nobility to
renounce their privileges, as injurious to the common weal. When the
Revolution sank degraded into the hands of low and worthless men, he
retired from the public service; but when Napoleon came to the rescue,
he again entered the army, and was subsequently killed in a battle with
the English.--_Enc. Am., Art. Noailles._]

[Footnote 161: "The better part of the Assembly," writes Ferrières,
"strangers to all the intrigues which might be going forward, was
filled with alarm at the sad reports that were circulating, and
terrified at the designs of the court, which they were assured went to
the seizing of Paris, the dissolution of the Assembly, and the massacre
of the citizens. In the mean time the partisans of the court concealed
their joy under an appearance of indifference. They came to the
sittings to see what turns the deliberations would take, to enjoy their
triumph, and the humiliation of the Assembly. The Assembly they looked
upon as annihilated."]

[Footnote 162: Michelet, vol. i., p. 38; Geo. Long, Esq., vol. i., p.

[Footnote 163: "This heroic man was the Abbé Lefebvre d'Ormesson.
No man rendered a greater service to the Revolution and the city of
Paris."--_Michelet_, vol. i., p. 140.

"A patriot, in liquor, insisted on sitting to smoke on the edge of
one of the powder-barrels. There smoked he, independent of the world,
till the Abbé purchased his pipe for three francs, and pitched it
far."--_Carlyle_, vol. i., p. 191.]

[Footnote 164: Louis Blanc, Histoire de la Revolution Française, vol.
ii., p. 365.]

[Footnote 165: Michelet, vol. i., p. 156.]

[Footnote 166: Histoire des Montagnards, par Alphonse Esquiros, p. 16.]

[Footnote 167: M. Rabaud de St. Etienne, vol. i., p. 66.]

[Footnote 168: "Its walls, ten feet thick at the top of its towers,
and thirty or forty at the base, might long laugh at cannon-balls. Its
batteries, firing down upon Paris, could in the mean time demolish the
whole of the Marais and the Faubourg St. Antoine. Its towers pierced
with windows and loop-holes, protected by double and triple gratings,
enabled the garrison in full security to make a dreadful carnage of its
assailants."--_Michelet_, vol. i., p. 143.]

[Footnote 169: Thiers, vol. i., p. 69.]

[Footnote 170: "Old men," says Michelet, "who have had the happiness
and the misery to see all that has happened in this unprecedented half
century, declared that the grand and national achievements of the
Republic and the Empire had, nevertheless, a partial non-unanimous
character. But that the 14th of July alone was the day of the whole
people."--_Michelet_, vol. i., p. 144.]

[Footnote 171: Histoire Des Montagnards par Alphonse Esquiros, p. 17.]

[Footnote 172: Michelet, vol. i., p. 156.]

[Footnote 173: "Properly speaking the Bastille was not taken, it
surrendered. Troubled by a bad conscience, it went mad, and lost all
presence of mind."--_Michelet_, vol. i., p. 156.]



  Rout of the Cavalry of Lambesc.--Tidings of the Capture of the
  Bastille reach Versailles.--Consternation of the Court.--Midnight
  Interview between the Duke of Liancourt and the King.--New Delegation
  from the Assembly.--The King visits the Assembly.--The King escorted
  back to his Palace.--Fickleness of the Monarch.--Deputation sent to
  the Hôtel de Ville.--Address of La Fayette.--La Fayette appointed
  Commander of the National Guard.

While these scenes were transpiring in Paris, the court, but poorly
informed respecting the real attitude of affairs, were preparing, on
that very evening, with all the concentrated troops of the monarchy,
to drown the insurrection in Paris in blood, to disperse the Assembly,
consigning to the dungeon and the scaffold its prominent members, and
to rivet anew those shackles of despotism which for ages had bound the
people of France hand and foot.

M. Berthier, one of the high officers of the crown, aided by his
father-in-law, M. Foulon, under minister of war, was intensely active
marshaling the troops, and giving orders for the attack. Conscious of
the opposition they must encounter, and regardless of the carnage which
would ensue, they had planned a simultaneous assault upon the city at
seven different points. Entertaining no apprehension that the Bastille
could be taken, or that the populace, however desperate, could present
any effectual resistance to the disciplined troops of the crown, they
were elated with the hope that the decisive hour for the victory of the
court had arrived.

The queen could not conceal her exultation. With the Duchess of
Polignac, one of the most haughty of the aristocratic party, and with
others of the court, she went to the Orangery, where a regiment of
foreign troops were stationed, excited the enthusiasm of the soldiers
by her presence, and caused wine and gold to be freely distributed
among them. In the intoxication of the moment the soldiers sang,
danced, shouted, clashed their weapons, and swore eternal fidelity to
the queen.[176]

But these bright hopes were soon blighted. A cloud of dust was seen,
moving with the sweep of the whirlwind through the Avenue of Paris.
It was the cavalry of Lambesc flying before the people. Soon after
a messenger rushed breathless into the presence of the court, and
announced that the Bastille was taken, and that the troops in Paris
refused to fire upon the people. While he was yet speaking another
came with the tidings that De Launey and Flesselles were both slain.
The queen was deeply affected and wept bitterly. "The idea," writes
Madame Campan, "that the king had lost such devoted subjects wounded
her to the heart." The court party was now plunged into consternation.
The truth flashed upon them that while the people were exasperated to
the highest pitch, the troops could no longer be depended upon for the
defense of the court.

The masses, enraged by the insults and aggressions of the privileged
classes, still appreciated the kindly nature of the king, and spoke of
him with respect and even affection. Efforts were made by the court to
conceal from Louis the desperate state of affairs, and at his usual
hour of eleven o'clock he retired to his bed, by no means conscious
that the sceptre of power had passed from his hands.

The Duke of Liancourt, whose office as grand master of the wardrobe,
allowed him to enter the chamber of the king at any hour, was a sincere
friend of Louis. He could not see him rush thus blindly to destruction,
and, accordingly, entering his chamber and sitting down by his bedside,
he gave him a truthful narrative of events in Paris. The king,
astonished and alarmed, exclaimed, "Why, it is a revolt!" "Nay, sire,"
replied Liancourt, "it is a revolution!"

The king immediately resolved that he would the next morning,
without any ceremony, visit the National Assembly, and attempt a
reconciliation. The leading members of the court, now fully conscious
of their peril, were assembled in the saloons of the Duchess of
Polignac, some already suggested flight from the realm to implore the
aid of foreign kings. The Assembly was still, during these midnight
hours, deliberating in great anxiety. Many of the members, utterly
exhausted by their uninterrupted service by day and by night, were
slumbering upon the benches. It was known by all that this was the
night assigned for the great assault; and a rumor was passing upon all
lips that the hall of the Assembly had been undermined that all the
deputies might be blown into the air.

Paris at this hour presented a scene of awful tumult. It was
momentarily expected that the royal troops would arrive with cavalry
and artillery, and that from the heights of Montmartre bomb-shells
would be rained down upon the devoted city. Men, women, and children
were preparing for defense. The Bastille was guarded and garrisoned.
The pavements were torn up, barricades erected, and ditches dug. The
windows were illuminated to throw the light of day into the streets.
Paving stones and heavy articles of furniture were conveyed to the
roofs of the houses to be thrown down upon the assailing columns. Every
smith was employed forging pikes, and thousands of hands were busy
casting bullets. Tumultuous throngs of characterless and desperate
men swept through the streets, rioting in the general anarchy. The
watch-words established by the citizen patrols were "Washington and
Liberty." Thus passed the night of the 14th of July in the Chateau of
Versailles, in the hall of the Assembly, and in the streets of Paris.

At two o'clock in the morning of the 15th the Assembly ceased its
deliberations for a few hours, and the members, though the session
was still continued, sought such repose as they could obtain in their
seats. At eight o'clock the discussions were resumed. It was resolved
to send a deputation of twenty-four members, again to implore the king
to respect the rights of the people, and no longer to suffer them to
be goaded to madness by insults and oppression. As the deputation was
about to leave, Mirabeau rose and said, "Tell the king that the foreign
hordes surrounding us received yesterday the caresses, encouragement,
and bribes of the court; that all night long these foreign satellites,
gorged with money and wine, in their impious songs have predicted the
enslavement of France, and have invoked the destruction of the National
Assembly; tell him that in his very palace the courtiers have mingled
dancing with these impious songs, and that such was the prelude to the
massacre of St. Bartholomew."

He had hardly uttered these words ere the Duke of Liancourt entered and
announced that the king was coming in person to visit the Assembly. The
doors were thrown open, and, to the astonishment of the Assembly, the
king, without guard or escort and accompanied only by his two brothers,
entered. A shout of applause greeted him. In a short and touching
speech the king won to himself the hearts of all. He assured them of
his confidence in the Assembly; that he had never contemplated its
violent dissolution; and that he sincerely desired to unite with the
Assembly in consulting for the best interests of the nation. He also
declared that he had issued orders for the withdrawal of the troops
both from Paris and Versailles, and that, hereafter, the counsels of
the National Assembly should be the guide of his administration.[177]

This conciliatory speech was received by the mass of the deputies with
rapturous applause. The aristocratic party were, however, greatly
chagrined, and, retiring by themselves, with whispers and frowns gave
vent to their vexation; but the general applause drowned the feeble
murmurs of the nobles. Nearly the whole Assembly rose in honor of the
king as he left, and, surrounding him in tumultuous joy, they escorted
him back to his palace. A vast crowd from Paris and Versailles thronged
the streets, filling the air with their loyal and congratulatory
shouts. The queen, who was sitting anxiously in her boudoir, heard the
uproar and was greatly terrified. Soon it was announced to her that
the king was returning in triumph: she stepped out upon a balcony and
looked down upon the broad avenue filled with a countless multitude.
The king was on foot; the deputies encircled him, interlacing their
arms to protect him from the crowd, which was surging tumultuously
around with every manifestation of attachment and joy.

The people really loved the kind-hearted king; but they already
understood that foible in his character which eventually led to his
ruin. A woman of Versailles pressed her way through the deputies to the
king and, with great simplicity, said,

"Oh, my king! are you quite sincere? Will they not make you change your
mind again?"

"No," replied the king, "I will never change."

The feeble Louis did not know himself. He was then sincere; but in less
than an hour he was again wavering, being undecided whether to carry
out his pacific policy of respecting the just demands of the people, or
to fly from the realm, and invoke the aid of foreign despots, to quench
the rising flame of liberty in blood. It was well known that the queen,
the brothers of the king, and the Polignacs, were the implacable foes
of reform, and that it was through their councils that the Assembly and
the nation were menaced with violence.[178]

As soon as the queen was seen upon the balcony, with her son and
daughter by her side, the shouts of applause were redoubled. But now
murmurs began to mingle with the acclaim. A few execrations were heard
against the obnoxious members of the court. Still the general voice was
enthusiastic in loyalty; and when the queen descended to the foot of
the marble stairs and threw herself into the arms of the king, every
murmur was hushed, and confidence and happiness seemed to fill all

A cabinet council was immediately held in the palace to deliberate
respecting the next step to be taken. The Assembly returned to their
hall and immediately chose a deputation of one hundred members, with
La Fayette at their head, to convey to the municipal government at the
Hôtel de Ville in Paris the joyful tidings of their reconciliation with
the king. A courier was sent in advance to inform of the approach of
the delegation.

It was now two o'clock in the afternoon. The deputation left Versailles
accompanied by an immense escort of citizen-soldiers, and followed by
a crowd which could not be numbered. They were received in Paris with
almost delirious enthusiasm. Throughout the whole night the citizens,
men, women, and children, had been at work piling up barricades,
tearing up the pavements, and preparing with every conceivable weapon
and measure of offense and defense to meet the contemplated attack
from the artillery and cavalry of the crown. Fathers and mothers,
pallid with terror, had anticipated the awful scenes of the sack of
the city by a brutal soldiery. Inexpressible was the joy to which they
surrendered themselves in finding that the king now openly avowed
himself their friend and espoused the popular cause. Windows and
balconies were crowded, the streets were strewn with flowers, and the
deputies were greeted with waving of handkerchiefs and cheers.

At the Place Louis XV. the deputies left their carriages and were
conducted through the garden of the Tuileries, greeted by the music
of martial bands, to the vestibule of the palace. There they were met
by a committee of the municipality, with one of the clergy, the Abbé
Fauchet, at its head, who accompanied them to the Hôtel de Ville.

La Fayette addressed the electors, informing them of the king's
speech, and describing the monarch's return to his palace in the
midst of the National Assembly and of the people of Versailles,
"protected by their love and their inviolable fidelity." Lally
Tollendal, who was remarkable for his eloquence, then addressed the
electors and the assembled multitude. He spoke of the king, whom he
loved, in the highest terms of eulogy, and in a strain so persuasive
and spirit-stirring that he was immediately crowned with a wreath of
flowers, and, in a tumult of transport, was carried in triumph to the
window to receive the applause of the thousands who filled the streets.
Love for the king seemed to be an instinct with the populace. Shouts
of "Vive le Roi!" rose from the vast assembly, which were reverberated
from street to street through all the thronged thoroughfares of the

The king had authorized the establishment of the National Guard, but
the guard was yet without a commander-in-chief. The government of
Paris also, by the death of Flesselles, had no head. There was in the
hall of the Assembly a bust of La Fayette which had been presented
by the United States to the city of Paris. It stood by the side of
the bust of Washington. As the momentous question was discussed, who
should be intrusted with the command of the National Guard, a body
which now numbered hundreds of thousands and was spread all over the
kingdom, Moreau de St. Mèry, Chairman of the Municipality, rose, and,
without uttering a word, silently pointed to the bust of La Fayette.
The gesture was decisive. A general shout of acclaim filled the room.
He who had fought the battles of liberty in America was thus intrusted
with the command of the citizen-soldiery of France. M. Bailly was
then chosen successor of Flesselles, not with the title of Prévôt des
Marchands, but with the more comprehensive one of Mayor of Paris.

On the 27th of September the banners of the National Guard, each one of
which had been previously consecrated in the church of its district,
were all taken to the Cathedral of Nôtre Dame, and there, with the
utmost pomp of civil, military, and religious ceremonies, were
consecrated to the service of God and the nation.



[Footnote 174: It has not subsequently appeared that there was any
conclusive evidence of the existence of this letter.]

[Footnote 175: Histoire Des Montagnards, par Alphonse Esquiros, p. 17.]

[Footnote 176: The Duchess of Polignac was the most intimate friend
of the queen. Though enjoying an income from the crown of two hundred
and ninety thousand francs ($58,400) annually, she was deemed, when
compared with others of the nobles, poor. The queen had assigned her a
magnificent suite of apartments in the Palace of Versailles at the head
of the marble stairs. The saloons of the duchess were the rendezvous of
the court in all its plottings against the people. Here originated that
aristocratic club which called into being antagonistic popular clubs
all over the kingdom.--_Madame Campan_, vol. i., p. 139; _Weber_, vol.
ii., p. 23.]

[Footnote 177: Hist. Phil. de la Rev. Fr., par Ant. Fantin Desodoards,
vol. i., p. 165; M. Rabaud de St. Etienne, vol. i., p. 69; Hist.
Parlem., vol. ii., p. 117.]

[Footnote 178: Necker, speaking of the plots of the court, writes, "I
could never ascertain certainly what design was contemplated. There
were secrets and after-secrets, and I am convinced that the king
himself was not in all of them. It was intended, perhaps, according to
circumstances, to draw the monarch into measures which they did not
dare to mention to him beforehand."--Vol. ii., p. 85.]

[Footnote 179: Madame Campan's Memoirs of Marie Antoinette, vol. ii.,
p. 48.]



  Views of the Patriots.--Pardon of the French Guards.--Religious
  Ceremonies.--Recall of Necker.--The King visits Paris.--Action
  of the Clergy.--The King at the Hôtel de Ville.--Return of the
  King to Versailles.--Count d'Artois, the Polignacs, and others
  leave France.--Insolence of the Servants.--Sufferings of the
  People.--Persecution of the Corn-dealers.--Berthier of Toulon.--M.
  Foulon.--Their Assassination.--Humane Attempts of Necker.--Abolition
  of Feudal Rights.

The new government was now established, consolidated with power which
neither the court nor the people as yet even faintly realized. The
National Assembly and the municipality of Paris were now supreme. A
million of men were ready to draw the sword and spring into the ranks
to enforce their decrees. The king was henceforth but a constitutional
monarch; though by no means conscious of it, his despotic power had
passed away, never to be regained. The Revolution had now made such
strides that nothing remained but to carry out those plans which
might be deemed essential for the welfare of France. The Revolution
thus far had been almost bloodless. And had it not been for the
interference of surrounding despots, who combined their armies to
rivet anew the chains of feudal aristocracy upon the French people,
the subsequent horrors of the Revolution, in all probability, never
would have occurred. Men of wisdom and of the purest patriotism were at
the head of these popular movements. Every step which had been taken
had been wisely taken. The object which all sought was _reform_, not
_revolution_--the reign of a constitutional monarchy, like that of
England, not the reign of terror.

A republic was not then even thought of. A monarchy was in accordance
with the habits and tastes of the people, and would leave them still in
sympathy with the great family of governments which surrounded them.
La Fayette, Talleyrand, Sièyes, Mirabeau, Bailly, and all the other
leaders in this great movement, wished only to infuse the spirit of
personal liberty into the monarchy of France.

But when all the surrounding despotisms combined and put their armies
in motion to invade France, determined that the French people should
not be free, and when the aristocracy of France combined with these
foreign invaders to enslave anew these millions who had just broken
their chains, a spirit of desperation was roused which led to all the
woes which ensued. We can not tell what would have been the result had
there not been the combination of these foreign kings, but we _do_
know that the results which _did_ ensue were the direct and legitimate
consequence of that combination.

It will be remembered that the French Guards, espousing the popular
side, had refused to fire upon the people. This disobedience to
the royal officers was, of course, an act of treason. The Duke of
Liancourt, speaking in behalf of the king, said, "The king _pardons_
the French Guards." At the utterance of the obnoxious word _pardon_, a
murmur of displeasure ran through the hall. Some of the guards who were
present immediately advanced to the platform, and one, as the organ of
the rest, said, firmly and nobly,

"We can not accept a _pardon_. We need none. In serving the nation we
serve the king; and the scenes now transpiring prove it."

The laconic speech was greeted with thunders of applause, and nothing
more was said about a pardon. The lower clergy, who were active in
these movements, were not unmindful of their obligations to God. The
whole people seemed to sympathize in this religious sentiment. At the
suggestion of the Archbishop of Paris a Te Deum was promptly voted, and
the electors, deputies, and new magistrates, accompanied by an immense
concourse of citizens, and escorted by the French Guards, repaired to
the Cathedral of Nôtre Dame, where the solemn chant of thanksgiving was
devoutly offered. La Fayette and Bailly then took the oath of office.

Upon the return of the deputation to the Assembly at Versailles, Lally
Tollendal reported that the universal cry of the Parisians was for the
recall of Necker, with which minister the popular cause was held to be
identified. A motion was immediately introduced to send a deputation
to the king soliciting his recall. They had but just entered upon the
discussion of this question when a message was received from Louis
announcing the dismissal of the obnoxious ministers, accompanied by an
unsealed letter addressed to Necker, summoning him to return to his
post. Inspired by gratitude for this act, the Assembly immediately
addressed a vote of thanks to the king.

The populace of Paris had expressed the earnest wish that the king
would pay them a visit. During the afternoon and evening of the 16th,
the question was earnestly discussed by the court at Versailles,
whether the king should fly from the kingdom, protected by the foreign
troops whom he could gather around him, and seek the assistance of
foreign powers, or whether he should continue to express acquiescence
in the popular movement and visit the people in Paris. The queen was in
favor of escape. She told Madame Campan that, after a long discussion
at which she was present, the king, impatient and weary, said, "Well,
gentlemen, we must decide. Must I go away, or stay? I am ready to do
either." "The majority," the queen continued, "were for the king's
stay. Time will show whether the right choice has been made."[180]

The king was very apprehensive that in going powerless to Paris he
might be assassinated. In preparation of the event, he partook of the
sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and nominated his brother, subsequently
Louis XVIII., Lieutenant of France, in case of his detention or death.
Early the next morning, the 17th of July, he took an affecting leave of
his weeping, distracted family, to visit the tumultuous metropolis. His
pale and melancholy countenance impressed every observer. The queen,
who was bitterly hostile to the movement, was almost in despair. She
immediately retired to her chamber, and employed herself in writing an
address to the Assembly, which she determined to present in person in
case the king should be detained a prisoner.[181]

It was ten o'clock in the morning when the king left Versailles. He
rode in an unostentatious carriage, without any guards, but surrounded
by the whole body of the deputies on foot.[182]

It was three o'clock in the afternoon before the long procession
arrived at the gates of the city. Thus far they had proceeded in
silence. M. Bailly, the newly-appointed mayor, then, met him and
presented him with the keys of the city, saying "These are the keys
presented to Henry the Fourth. He had reconquered his people. Now the
people have reconquered their king."

Two hundred thousand men, now composing the National Guard, were
marshaled in military array to receive their monarch. They lined the
avenue four or five men deep from the bridge of Sevres to the Hôtel
de Ville. They had but 30,000 muskets and 50,000 pikes. The rest were
armed with sabres, lances, scythes, and pitchforks. The Revolution thus
far was the movement, not of a party, but of the nation. Even matrons
and young girls were seen standing armed by the side of their husbands
and fathers. The clergy, lower clergy, and some of the bishops, not
forgetting that they were men and citizens, were there also in this
hour of their country's peril, consecrating all their influence to
the cause of freedom. They did not ingloriously take refuge beneath
their clerical robes from the responsibilities of this greatest of
conflicts for human rights. Shouts were continually heard swelling
from the multitude of "Vive la Nation!" As yet not a voice had been
heard exclaiming "Vive le Roi!" The people had again become suspicious.
Rumors of the unrelenting hostility of the court had been circulating
through the crowd, and there were many fears that the ever-vacillating
king would again espouse the cause of aristocratic usurpation. Passing
through these lines of the National Guard, with the whole population
of Paris thronging the house-tops, the balconies, and the pavements,
the king at length arrived, at four o'clock in the afternoon, at the
Hôtel de Ville, the seat of the new government. He alighted from his
carriage and ascended the stairs beneath a canopy of steel formed by
the grenadiers crossing their bayonets over his head. This was intended
not as a humiliation, but as a singular act of honor.[183]

The king took his position in the centre of the spacious hall, which
presented an extraordinary aspect. It was crowded with the notabilities
of the city and of the realm, and those near the centre with true
French politeness dropped upon their knees, that those more remote
might have a view of the king. Bailly then presented the king with the
tricolored cockade. He received it, and immediately pinned it upon his
hat. This was the adoption of the popular cause. It was received with a
shout of enthusiasm, and "Vive le Roi!" burst from all lips with almost
delirious energy. Tears gushed into the eyes of the king, and, turning
to one of his suite, M. de Cubieres, he said, "My heart stands in need
of such shouts from the people."

"Sire," replied Cubieres, "the people love your majesty, and your
majesty ought never to have doubted it."

The king rejoined, in accents of deep sensibility, "The French loved
Henry the Fourth; and what king ever better deserved to be beloved?"

The king could not forget that the affection of the people did not
protect Henry from the dagger of the assassin. Moreau de St. Mèrry,
president of the Assembly of Electors, in his address to the king,
said, "You owed your crown to birth; you are now indebted for it
only to your virtues."[184] The minutes of the proceedings of the
municipality were then read, and the king, by silence, gave his assent
to the appointment of La Fayette as Commander of the National Guard, of
Bailly as Mayor of Paris, and to the order for the utter demolition of
the Bastille. It was also proposed that a monument should be erected
upon its site to Louis XVI., "the Regenerator of public liberty, the
Restorer of national prosperity, the Father of the French people."
These were, to the monarch, hours of terrific humiliation. He bore
them, however, with the spirit of a martyr, struggling in vain to
assume the aspect of confidence and cordiality.


When Bailly led him to the balcony, to exhibit him to the people with
the tricolored cockade upon his hat, and shouts of triumph, like
thunder-peals, rose from the myriad throng, tears flooded the eyes
of the king, and he bowed his head in silence and sadness, as if
presenting himself a victim for the sacrifice. Some one whispered to
the monarch that it was expected that he would make an address. Two or
three times he attempted it, but his voice was choked with emotion, and
he could only, in almost inarticulate accents, exclaim, "You may always
rely upon my affection!"

As the king returned through the vast throng to Versailles, the tide of
enthusiasm set strongly in his favor. Shouts of "Vive le Roi!" almost
deafened his ears. The populace bore him in their arms to his chariot.
A woman threw herself upon his neck and wept with joy. Men ran from the
houses with goblets of wine for his postillions and his suite. A few
words from his lips then would have re-echoed through the crowd, and
might have saved the monarchy. But Louis was a man of feeble intellect,
and of no tact whatever. He was pleased with the homage which was
spontaneously offered him, and, stolid in his immense corpulence, sat
lolling in his chariot, with a good-natured smile upon his face, but
uttered not a word. It was after nine o'clock in the evening when
he returned to the palace at Versailles. The queen and her children
met him on the stairs, and, convulsively weeping, threw themselves
into his arms. Clinging together, they ascended to the saloon. There
the queen caught sight of the tricolored cockade, which the king had
forgotten to remove from his hat. The queen recoiled, and looking upon
it contemptuously, exclaimed, "I did not think that I had married a
plebeian." The good-natured king, however, forgot all his humiliations
in his safe return, and congratulated himself that no violence had been

"Happily," he said, "no blood has been shed; and it is my firm
determination that never shall a drop of French blood be spilled by my

While these scenes were transpiring on this the 17th of July, the Count
d'Artois, second brother of the king, the Condés, the Polignacs, and
most of the other leaders of the aristocratic party fled from France.
The conspiracy they had formed had failed, the nation had risen against
them, and no reliance could be placed on the vacillating king. Their
only hope now was to summon the combined energies of foreign despotisms
to arrest the progress of that liberty in France which alike threatened
all their thrones. The palace was now forsaken and gloomy as a tomb.
For three days the king sadly paced the deserted halls, with none of
his old friends to cheer or counsel him but Bensenval and Montmorin.
His servants, conscious that he had fallen from his kingly power,
became careless even to insolence. Even the French Guard mounted guard
at Versailles only on orders received from the Electors at Paris.[186]

On the 19th Bensenval presented an order for the king to sign. A
footman entered the cabinet, and looked over the king's shoulder to see
what he was writing. Louis, amazed at such unparalleled effrontery,
seized the tongs to break the head of the miscreant. Bensenval
interposed to prevent the undignified blow. The king clasped the
hand of his friend, and, bursting into tears, thanked him for the
interposition. Thus low had fallen the descendant of Louis XIV. in his
own palace at Versailles.[187]

There was now, in reality, no government in France. The kingly power
was entirely overthrown, and the National Assembly had hardly awoke to
the consciousness that all power had passed into its hands. Even in
Paris, the municipality, now supreme there, had by no means organized
an efficient government. Famine desolated the kingdom. Ages of misrule
had so utterly impoverished the people that they were actually dying of
starvation. "Bread! bread!" was every where the cry, but bread could
not be obtained. Many boiled grass and fern-roots for sustenance.
Every where the eye met wan and haggard men in a state of desperation.
The king, constitutionally humane, felt deeply these woes of his
subjects. With a little apparent ostentation, quite pardonable under
the circumstances, he occasionally walked out and administered relief
with his own hands to the haggard beggary he every where met. He was by
nature one of the kindest of men, but he had hardly a single quality
to fit him to be the ruler of a great people. A nation was on the
brink of famine, and the monarch was giving gold to beggars instead of
introducing vigorous measures for relief.


As the National Assembly met on the morning of the 18th of July,
reports were brought from all parts of violence and riots. The most
vigorous efforts were adopted by the Electors in Paris to supply the
city with food. Nearly a million of people were within its walls. Vast
numbers had crowded into the city from the country, hoping to obtain
food. No law could restrain such multitudes of men, actually dying
of hunger. As it was better to die by the bullet or the bayonet than
by starvation, they would, at all hazards, break into the dwellings
of the wealthy, and into magazines, to obtain food, unless food in
some other way could be provided for them. The disorders of the times
had put a stop to all the enterprises of industry, and thus the
impoverished millions were left without money, without employment, and
without food.

In one of the villages near Paris it was reported that a rich farmer
had concealed a large quantity of grain, to enrich himself by its sale
at an exorbitant price. A haggard multitude of men, women, and children
surrounded his dwelling, and threatened to hang the farmer unless
he delivered up his stores. The Assembly hastily sent a deputation
of twelve members to attempt to save the unfortunate corn-dealer's
life.[188] While engaged in this business, a delegation entered from
the Faubourg San Antoine, stating that the wretched inhabitants of
that faubourg had for the last five days been without work and without
bread, and entreating that some measure might be devised to save them
from starvation. Nine thousand dollars were immediately subscribed by
the deputies for their relief. Four thousand of this sum were given by
the Archbishop of Paris.


The rage of the people, during these days of distress, was particularly
directed against those whom they deemed monopolists, who were accused
of keeping from the market the very sources of life. The sufferings of
the people and their desperation were so intense that it was necessary
to send military bands from the city of Paris to convoy provisions
through the famishing districts. The peasants, who saw their children
actually gasping and dying of hunger, would attack the convoys with
the ferocity of wolves, and, though it seemed absolutely necessary to
resist them even unto death, no one could severely blame them.

There were two men, M. Foulon and M. Berthier, who were conspicuous
members of the court, and who had both been very active in their
hostility to the popular cause. Upon the overthrow of the Necker
ministry, these men were called into the new ministry, antagonistic to
the people. It was reported that M. Foulon, who was the father-in-law
of M. Berthier, had frequently said, "If the _people_ are hungry, let
them eat grass. It is good enough for _them_; my horses eat it."[189]
He is also stated to have uttered the terrible threat, "France must be
mowed as we mow a meadow." He was reputed to be a man of great wealth,
and had long been execrated by the people. These brutal remarks,
which have never been proved against him, but which were universally
believed, and which were in entire harmony with his established
character, excited the wrath of the people to the highest pitch.[190]

Berthier, his son-in-law, even the Royalists confess to have been a
very hard-hearted man, unscrupulous and grasping.[191] Though fifty
years of age he was an atrocious libertine, and seemed to exult in the
opportunity of making war upon the Parisians, by whom he was detested.
He showed "a diabolical activity," says Michelet, "in collecting arms,
troops, every thing together, and in manufacturing cartridges. If Paris
was not laid waste with fire and sword it was not his fault."[192]

Both Berthier and Foulon were now at the mercy of the people. Neither
the court nor the royal army had any power to protect them, and murmurs
loud and deep fell upon their ears. Berthier attempted to escape from
France to join the Royalists who had already emigrated. Fleeing by
night and hiding by day, in four nights he reached as far as Soissons.
Foulon adopted the stratagem of a pretended death. He spread the report
that he had died suddenly of apoplexy. He was buried by proxy with
great pomp, one of his servants having by chance died at the right
moment. He then repaired to the house of a friend, where he concealed
himself. He would have been forgotten had he not been so utterly
execrated by all France. Those who knew him best hated him the worst.
His servants and vassals detected the fraud, and, hunting him out,
found him in the park of his friend.

"You wanted to give _us_ hay," said they; "you shall eat some yourself."

The awful hour of blind popular vengeance had come. They tied a truss
of hay upon his back, threw a collar of thistles over his neck, and
bound a nosegay of nettles upon his breast. They then led him on foot
to Paris, to the Hôtel de Ville, and demanded that he should be fairly
tried and legally punished. At the same time Berthier was arrested as
he was hastening to the frontier.

The municipality were in great perplexity. They had no power to sit in
judgment as a criminal court. The old courts were broken up and no new
ones had as yet been established. It was six o'clock in the morning
when he was presented at the Hôtel de Ville. The news of his arrest
spread rapidly through Paris, and the Place de Grève was soon thronged
with an excited multitude. Foulon was universally known as well as
execrated. La Fayette was anxious to send him to the protection of a
prison, that he might subsequently receive a legal trial for his deeds
of inhumanity.

"Gentlemen," said La Fayette to the people, "I can not blame your
indignation against this man. I have always considered him a great
culprit, and no punishment is too severe for him. He shall receive the
punishment he merits. But he has accomplices, and we must know them. I
will conduct him to the Abbaye, where we will draw up charges against
him, and he shall be tried and punished according to the laws."[193]

The people applauded this speech, and Foulon insanely joined with
them in the applause. This excited their suspicion that some plot was
forming for his rescue. A man from the crowd cried out,

"What is the use of judging a man who has been judged these thirty

This cry was Foulon's death-warrant. It kindled anew the flame of
indignation and it now burned unquenchably. The enraged populace
clamored for their victim. The surgings of the multitude were like the
tumult of the ocean in a storm. The countless thousands pressed on,
sweeping electors, judges, and witnesses before them, and Foulon was
seized, no one can tell by whom or how, till at last he was found in
the street with a cord around his neck, while the mob were attempting
to hang him upon a lamp-post. Twice the iron cut the cord, and the
old man on his knees begged for mercy. But the infuriated populace
were unrelenting. A third rope was obtained, and the poor man was soon
dangling lifeless in the air.

While these scenes were transpiring Berthier was brought into the city.
He was in a cabriolet, that the people might have a sight of their
inhuman persecutor. A frightful mob surrounded him, filling the air
with menaces and execrations. A placard was borne before him with this
inscription in large letters:

"He has devoured the substance of the people; he has been the slave of
the rich and the tyrant of the poor; he has robbed the king and France;
he has betrayed his country."[194]


The miserable wretch was dragged up the steps of the Hôtel de Ville.
But the mob was now in the ascendency. There was no longer law or
even semblance of authority. An attempt was made by the National
Guard to convey him to the Abbaye; but the moment they appeared with
their prisoner in the street the crowd fell irresistibly upon him.
Seizing a gun, he fought like a tiger; but he soon fell, pierced
with bayonets.[195] A dragoon tore out his heart, and carried it
dripping with blood to the Hôtel de Ville, saying, "Here is the heart
of Berthier!"[196] The man attempted an extenuation of his ferocity
by declaring that Berthier had caused the death of his father. His
comrades, however, deemed such brutality a disgrace to their corps.
They told him that he must die, and that they would all fight him in
turn until he was killed. He was killed that night.[197]

These deeds of violence excited the disgust of Bailly, the mayor, and
La Fayette. Having such evidence that both the municipality and the
National Guard were impotent, both La Fayette and Bailly tendered their

They were, however, prevailed upon to continue in office by the most
earnest solicitations of the friends of France.[198]

A report was spread throughout the kingdom that the fugitive princes
and nobles were organizing a force on the frontiers for the invasion of
France, that the armies of foreign despots were at their command, and
that all the Royalists in France were conspiring to welcome them. The
panic which pervaded the kingdom was fearful. France, just beginning
to breathe the atmosphere of liberty, was threatened with chains of
slavery more heavy than had ever been worn before. The energies of a
semi-enfranchised people were roused to the utmost vigor. Every city,
and every village of any importance, organized a municipal government
in sympathy with the municipality in Paris. The peasantry in the rural
districts, hating the nobles who had long oppressed them, attacked
and burned their castles. There was a universal rising of the Third
Estate against the tyranny of the privileged classes, assailing that
tyranny with the only instrument at its command--blind brutal force.
In one week three millions of men assumed the military character, and
organized themselves for the defense of the kingdom. The tricolored
cockade became the national uniform.

The National Assembly, intently occupied in framing a constitution, was
greatly disturbed by reports of these wide-spread acts of violence;
yet daily delegations arrived with vows of homage from the different
provinces, and with their recognition of the authority of the national

Necker was in exile at Basle. He had left the Polignacs in pride and
power at Versailles; _they_ now were fugitives. One morning one of
the Polignacs hastened to Necker's apartment and informed him of the
overthrow of the court and the triumph of the people. Necker had just
received these tidings when a courier placed in his hand the letter
of the king recalling him to the ministry. The grandest of triumphs
greeted him from the moment his carriage entered France until he was
received with a delirium of joy in the streets of Paris. The people,
who had with lawless violence punished Foulon and Berthier, who had
conspired so inhumanly for the overthrow of their liberties, were
determined that others, who with equal malignity had conspired against
them, should also be condemned. Necker humanely resolved that an act of
general amnesty should be passed. Many of his friends assured him that
it was not safe to attempt to secure the passage of such a measure;
that the crimes of the leaders of the court were too great to be thus
easily forgotten; that the indignant nation, finding Necker pleading
the cause of the court, would think that he had been bought over; and
that thus he would only secure his own ruin. But Necker, relying upon
his popularity, resolved to make the trial. On the 29th of July he
repaired to the Hôtel de Ville. As he passed through the streets and
entered the spacious hall, he was received with rapturous applause.
Deeming his popularity equal to the emergence, he demanded a general
amnesty. In the enthusiasm of the moment it was granted by acclamation.
Necker retired to his apartments delighted with his success; but before
the sun had set he found himself cruelly deceived. The Assembly, led by
Mirabeau, remonstrated peremptorily against this usurpation of power by
the Municipality of Paris, asserting that that body had no authority
either to condemn or to pardon. The measure of amnesty was annulled by
the Assembly, and the detention of the prisoners confirmed.

The great question which now agitated the Assembly was, what measures
were to be adopted to bring order out of the chaos into which France
was plunged. All the old courts were virtually annihilated. No new
courts had been organized with the sanction of national authority. The
nobles and all their friends, in conference with the emigrants and
foreign despots, were conspiring to reinstate the reign of despotic
power. The people were in a state of terror. The degraded, the
desperate, the vicious, in banditti hordes, were sweeping the country,
burning and pillaging indiscriminately. It was proposed to publish a
decree enjoining upon the people to demean themselves peaceably, to
pay such taxes and duties as were not yet suppressed, and to yield
obedience for the present to the old laws of the realm, obnoxious and
unjust as they undeniably were.

While this question was under discussion, the Viscount de Noailles
and the Duke d'Aguillon, both distinguished members of the nobility,
ascended the tribune and declared that it was vain to attempt to
quiet the people by force, that the only way of appeasing them was
by removing the cause of their sufferings. They then, though both of
them members of the privileged class, nobly avowed the enormity of the
aggressions under which, by the name of feudal rights, the people were
oppressed, and voted for the repeal of those atrocities.

It is a remarkable fact that in this great revolution the boldest
and ablest friends of popular rights came out from the body of the
nobles themselves. Some were influenced by as pure motives as can move
the human heart. With others, perhaps, selfish and ambitious motives
predominated. Among the most active in all these movements, we see La
Fayette, Talleyrand, Sièyes, Mirabeau, and the Duke of Orleans. But
for the aid of these men, whatever may have been the motives which
influenced the one or the other, the popular cause could not have
triumphed. And now we find, in the National Assembly, two of the most
distinguished of the nobles rising and themselves proposing the utter
abolition of all feudal rights.

It was the 4th of August, 1789, when this memorable scene was enacted
in the National Assembly, one of the most remarkable which ever
transpired on earth. The whole body of the nobles seems to have been
seized with a paroxysm of magnanimity and disinterestedness. One
of the deputies of the _Tiers Etat_, M. Kerengal, in the dress of
a farmer, gave a frightful picture of the sufferings of the people
under feudal oppression.[199] There was no more discussion. No voice
defended feudality. The nobles, one after another, renounced all their
prerogatives. The clergy surrendered their tithes. The deputies of the
towns and of the provinces gave up their special privileges, and, in
one short night, all those customs and laws by which, for ages, one man
had been robbed to enrich another were scattered to the winds. Equality
of rights was established between all individuals and all parts of
the French territory. Louis XVI. was then proclaimed the restorer of
French liberty. It was decreed that a medal should be struck off in
his honor, in memory of that glorious night. And when the Archbishop
of Paris proposed that God's goodness should be acknowledged in a
solemn Te Deum, to be celebrated in the king's chapel, in the presence
of the king and of all the members of the National Assembly, it was
carried by acclamation. During the whole of this exciting scene, when
sacrifices were made such as earth never witnessed before; when nobles
surrendered their titles, their pensions, and their incomes; when towns
and corporations surrendered their privileges and pecuniary immunities;
when prelates relinquished their tithes and their benefices; not a
solitary voice of opposition or remonstrance was heard. The whole
Assembly--clergy, nobles, and _Tiers Etat_--moved as one man. "It
seemed," says M. Rabaud, "as if France was near being regenerated in
the course of a single night. So true it is that the happiness of a
people is easily to be accomplished, when those who govern are less
occupied with themselves than with the people."[200]

It subsequently, however, appeared that this seeming unanimity was
not real. "The impulse," writes Thiers, "was general; but amid this
enthusiasm it was easy to see that certain of the privileged persons,
so far from being sincere, were desirous only of making matters worse."
This was the measure which the unrelenting nobles adopted to regain
their power. Finding that they could not resist the torrent, they
endeavored to swell its volume and to give impulse to its rush, that it
might not only sweep away all the rubbish which through ages had been
accumulating, but that it might also deluge every field of fertility,
and sweep, in indiscriminate ruin, all the abodes of industry and
all the creations of art. It was now their sole endeavor to plunge
France into a state of perfect anarchy, with the desperate hope that
from the chaos they might rebuild their ancient despotism; that the
people, plunged into unparalleled misery, might themselves implore the
restoration of the ancient régime.

This combination of the highest of the aristocracy and of the clergy
to exasperate the mob immeasurably increased the difficulties of the
patriots. The court party, with all its wealth and influence--a wealth
and influence which had been accumulating for ages--scattered its
emissaries every where to foster discord, to excite insurrection, to
stimulate the mob to all brutality, that the Revolution might have an
infamous name through Europe, and might be execrated in France. In
almost every act of violence which _immediately_ succeeded, the hand of
these instigators from palaces and castles was distinctly to be seen.
Indeed, it was generally supposed that even Berthier and Foulon were
wrested from the protection of La Fayette by emissaries of the court.
And the British government was so systematically assailed for exciting
disturbances in France, that the Duke of Dorset, British embassador at
the time, found it necessary to present a formal contradiction of the


[Footnote 180: Madame Campan, Memoirs, p. 251.]

[Footnote 181: "She got this address by heart," writes Madame Campan.
"I remember it began with these words, 'Gentlemen, I come to place in
your hands the wife and family of your sovereign. Do not suffer those
who have been united in Heaven to be put asunder on earth.' While she
was repeating this address her voice was often interrupted by her
tears, and by the sorrowful exclamation, 'They will never let him

[Footnote 182: The Parliamentary History, vol. ii., p. 130, records
that 100 deputies accompanied the king; Thiers states 200; Louis
Blanc, 240; Michelet, 300 or 400. M. Rabaud de St. Etienne, a member
of the Assembly, says that the whole body of the deputies accompanied
the king; and M. Ant. Fantin Desodoards, an eye-witness, writes,
"L'Assemblée National, entière l'accompagnait à pied dans son costume
de ceremonie," vol. i., p. 34. The probability is that 100 were chosen,
but all went.]

[Footnote 183: Michelet, vol. i., p. 173.]

[Footnote 184: Histoire de la Revolution Française, par Louis Blanc,
vol. ii., p. 420.]

[Footnote 185: Madame Campan, Memoirs, etc., ii., 59.]

[Footnote 186: Michelet, 186.]

[Footnote 187: Michelet, 175.]

[Footnote 188: "He was saved only by a deputation of the Assembly, who
showed themselves admirable for courage and humanity, risked their
lives, and preserved the man only after having begged him of the people
on their knees."--_Michelet_, p. 186.]

[Footnote 189: Bertrand de Moleville testifies that this was an
habitual expression in the mouth of Foulon.--_Annals_, vol. i., p. 347.]

[Footnote 190: "The old man (Foulon) believed, by such bravado, to
please the young military party, and recommend himself for the day he
saw approaching, when the court, wanting to strike some desperate blow,
would look out for a hardened villain."--_Michelet_, vol. ii., p. 10.]

[Footnote 191: Beaulieu's Memoirs, vol. ii., p. 10.]

[Footnote 192: "Foulon had a son-in-law after his own heart--Berthier,
the intendant of Paris, a shrewd but hard-hearted man, and
unscrupulous, as confessed by the Royalists. A libertine at the age of
fifty, in spite of his numerous family, he purchased on all sides, so
it was said, little girls twelve years of age. He knew well that he was
detested by the Parisians, and was but too happy to find an opportunity
of making war upon them."--_Michelet_, p. 184.]

[Footnote 193: An appeal to the then existing courts would have secured
the trial of Foulon by his own colleagues and accomplices, the ancient
magistrates, the only judges then empowered to act. This was evident to
all. See Michelet, p. 187.]

[Footnote 194: Deux Amis de la Liberté, vol. ii., p. 60.]

[Footnote 195: "These people," says Michelet, "whom Mirabeau termed so
well the refuse of public contempt, are as if restored to character by
punishment. The gallows becomes their apotheosis. They are now become
interesting victims--the martyrs of monarchy; their legend will go on
increasing in pathetic fictions. Mr. Burke canonized them and prayed on
their tomb."--_Historical View of the French Revolution_, p. 190.]

[Footnote 196: Sir Archibald Alison, true to his instincts as the
advocate of aristocratic usurpation, carefully conceals the character
of these men, which drew down upon them the vengeance of the mob.
Impartial history, while denouncing the ferocity of the mob, should not
conceal those outrages which roused the people to madness.]

[Footnote 197: "It is an indisputable fact that the murder of Foulon
and Berthier was not looked upon by the majority of the people of
Paris with horror and disgust. So unpopular were these two men that
their death was viewed as an act of justice, only irregular in its
execution. Frenchmen were still accustomed to witness the odious
punishment of torture and the wheel; and society may hence learn a
lesson that the sight of cruel executions tends to destroy the feelings
of humanity."--_France and its Revolutions, by George Long, Esq._, p.

[Footnote 198: "The people and the militia did actually throng
around La Fayette, and promised the utmost obedience in future. On
this condition he resumed the command; and subsequently he had the
satisfaction of preventing many disturbances by his own energy and the
zeal of the troops."--_Thiers_, vol. i., p. 76.]

[Footnote 199: "You would have prevented," said Kerengal, "the burning
of the chateau, if you had been more prompt in declaring that the
terrible arms which they contain, and which for ages have tormented the
people, were to be destroyed. Let these arms, the title-deeds, which
insult not only modesty but even humanity, which humiliate the human
species by requiring men to be yoked to a wagon like beasts of labor,
which compel men to pass the night in beating the ponds to prevent the
frogs from disturbing the sleep of their voluptuous lords, let them be
brought here. Which of us would not make an expiatory pile of these
infamous parchments? You can never restore quiet to the people until
they are redeemed from the destruction of feudalism."]

[Footnote 200: "That night, which an enemy of the Revolution designated
at the time the Saint Bartholomew of property, was only the Saint
Bartholomew of abuses."--_Miguet_, p. 54.]



  Arming of the Peasants.--Destruction of Feudal Charters.--Sermon of
  the Abbé Fauchet.--Three Classes in the Assembly.--Declaration of
  Rights.--The Three Assemblies.--The Power of the Press.--Efforts
  of William Pitt to sustain the Nobles.--Questions on the
  Constitution.--Two Chambers in one?--The Veto.--Famine in the
  City.--The King's Plate melted.--The Tax of a Quarter of each one's
  Income.--Statement of Jefferson.

An utterly exhausted treasury compelled Louis XVI. and the court
of France to call together the States-General. The deputies of the
people, triumphing over the privileged classes, resolved themselves
into a National Assembly, and then proceeded to the formation of a
constitution which should limit the hitherto despotic powers of the
crown. Though there were a few individuals of the nobles and of the
higher clergy who cordially espoused the popular cause, the great mass
of the privileged class clung firmly together in desperate endeavors
to regain their iniquitous power. Many of these were now emigrants,
scattered throughout Europe, and imploring the interference of foreign
courts in their behalf. The old royalist army, some two hundred
thousand strong, amply equipped and admirably disciplined, still
retained its organization, and was still under its old officers, the
nobles; but the rank and file of this army were from the people, and
their sympathies were with the popular cause.

The nobles were now prepared for the most atrocious act of treason.
They wished to surrender the naval arsenals of France to the English
fleet, so that England, in possession of the great magazines of war,
could throw any number of soldiers into the kingdom unresisted, while
the Prussians and Austrians, headed by the emigrant noblesse, should
invade France from the east. The English government, however, which
subsequently became an accomplice in the conspiracy of the French
nobles, by accepting the surrender of Toulon, was not yet prepared to
take the bold step of invading France simply to rivet the chains of
despotism upon the French people.

The English embassador, Dorset, who was residing at Versailles,
revealed the plot to the ministers of the king. They, however, kept
the secret until it was disclosed by an intercepted letter from Dorset
to the Count d'Artois (subsequently Charles X). This discovery vastly
increased the alarm of the nation. Perils were now multiplying on
every side. The most appalling rumors of invasion filled the air.
Bands of marauders, haggard, starving, brutal, swept over the country,
burning, devouring, and destroying. It was supposed at first that they
were the advance battalions of the invaders, sent by the emigrants to
chastise France into subjection. Alarm increased to terror. Mothers
in almost a delirium of fear sought places of concealment for their
children. The peasant in the morning ran to his field to see if it had
been laid waste. At night he trembled lest he should awake to behold
conflagration and ruin. There was no law. The king's troops were
objects of especial dread. The most insolent of the nobles were in
command, and with money and wine they sought to bribe especially the
Germans and the Swiss to be obedient to their wishes.

It was this peril which armed France. Villages, peasants, all were
united to defend themselves against these terrible brigands. The
arsenals of the old castles contained arms. Nerved by despair, the
roused multitudes simultaneously besieged all these castles, and
demanded and seized the weapons necessary for their defense. It was as
a movement of magic. A sudden danger, every where menacing, every where
worked the same result. In one short week France sprung up armed and
ready for war. Three millions of men had come from the furrow and the
shop, and fiercely demanded "Where are the brigands? Lead us to meet
our foes, whoever and wherever they may be."[201]

The lords in an hour found themselves helpless. The peasants, hitherto
so tame and servile, were now soldiers, roused to determination and
proud of their newly discovered power. Awful was the retribution. The
chateaux blazed--funeral fires of feudality--on every hill and in
every valley. One can only be surprised that the hour of retribution
should have been delayed for so many ages, and that when it came the
infuriated, degraded, brutalized masses did not proceed to even greater
atrocities. Though deeds of cruelty were perpetrated which cause the
ear that hears to tingle, still, on the whole, mercy predominated.

In many cases lords who had treated their serfs kindly were protected
by their vassals, as children would protect a father. The Marquis of
Montfermail was thus shielded from harm. In Dauphiné a castle was
assailed during the absence of the lord. His lady was at home alone
with the children. The peasants left the castle and its inmates
unharmed, destroying only those feudal charters which were the
title-deeds of despotism.

These titles, engrossed on fine parchment and embellished with gorgeous
seals, were the pride of the noble family--the evidence of their
antiquity. They were preserved with great reverence, deposited in
costly caskets, which caskets, enveloped in velvet, were safely placed
in oaken chests, and those chests, iron-ribbed and with ponderous
locks, were guarded in a strong part of the feudal tower. The peasants
ever gazed with awe upon the tower of the archives. They understood the
significancy of those title-deeds--the badges of their degradation,
the authority to which the lords appealed in support of their tyranny,
insolence, and nameless outrages.

"Our country-people," writes Michelet, "went straight to the tower.
For many centuries that tower had seemed to sneer at the valley,
sterilizing, blighting, oppressing it with its deadly shadow. A
guardian of the country in barbarous times, standing there as a
sentinel, it became later an object of horror. In 1789 what was it but
the odious witness of bondage, a perpetual outrage to repeat every
morning to the man trudging to his labor the everlasting humiliation
of his race? 'Work, work on, son of serfs! Earn for another's profit.
Work, and without hope.' Every morning and every evening, for a
thousand years, perhaps more, that tower had been cursed. A day came
when it was to fall.

"O glorious day, how long have you been in coming! How long our fathers
expected and dreamed of you in vain! The hope that their sons would
at length behold you was alone able to support them, otherwise they
would have no longer consented to live. They would have died in their
agony. And what has enabled me, their companion, laboring beside them
in the furrow of history and drinking their bitter cup, to revive the
suffering Middle Ages, and yet not die of grief? Was it not you, O
glorious day, first day of liberty? I have lived in order to relate
your history!"

Thus far the religious sentiment of France, as expressed by nearly all
the pastors and the great proportion of their Christian flocks, was
warmly in favor of the Revolution. The higher clergy alone, bishops,
archbishops, and cardinals, who were usually the younger sons of the
nobles, and were thus interested in the perpetuation of abuses, united
with the lords. As in the National Assembly so it was in the nation
itself, that the working clergy were among the most conspicuous of
the sons of freedom. Religious services were held in the churches in
grateful commemoration of the fall of the Bastille.[202] The vast
cathedral of Nôtre Dame was thronged to listen to a sermon from the
Abbé Fauchet, who consecrated to the memory of those who fell on that
occasion the homage of his extraordinary eloquence. He selected for his
text the words of St. Paul, "For, brethren, ye have been called unto
liberty."--Gal. v. 13.

"The false interpreters of the divine oracle," said the abbé, "have
wished, in the name of heaven, to keep the people in subjection to
the will of their masters. They have consecrated despotism. They
have rendered God an accomplice with tyrants. These false teachers
exult because it is written, '_Render unto Cæsar the things that are
Cæsar's_.' But that which is not Cæsar's, is it necessary to render to
him that? And _liberty_ does not belong to Cæsar. It belongs to human

The abbé unquestionably read the divine oracles aright. The
corner-stone of true democracy can only be found in the word of God.
The revelation there presented of God as a common father, and all
mankind as his children, made of one blood, brethren--it is that
revelation upon which is founded the great fundamental principle of
democracy, equality of rights. The very highest attainment of political
wisdom is the realization of the divine word, _"Whatsoever ye would
that others should do unto you, do ye even so unto them_."

The whole audience were transported with the clear and eloquent
enunciation of the politics of the gospel of Christ. As the orator
left the sacred cathedral he was greeted with the loudest plaudits. A
civic crown was placed upon his brow, and two companies of the National
Guard escorted him home, with the waving of banners and the clangor of
trumpets, and through the acclamations of the multitudes who thronged
the streets.[204]

While France was in this state of tumult and terror, threatened with
invasion from abroad, and harassed by brigands at home, the nobles
plotting treason, law powerless, and universal anarchy reigning, the
National Assembly was anxiously deliberating to restore order to the
country and to usher in the reign of justice and prosperity. The old
edifice was destroyed. A new one was to be erected. But there were now
three conspicuous parties developing themselves in the Assembly.

The first was composed of the nobles and the higher clergy, who still,
as a body, adhered to the court, and who eagerly fomented disorders
throughout the kingdom, hoping thus to compel the nation, as the only
escape from anarchy, to return to the old monarchy.

The second was composed of the large proportion of the Assembly,
sincere, intelligent, patriotic men, earnest for liberty, but for
liberty restrained by law. They were almost to a man monarchists,
wishing to ingraft _upon the monarchy of France_ institutions similar
to those of republican America. The English Constitution was in the
main their model.

A third party was just beginning to develop itself, small in numbers,
of turbulent, visionary, energetic men, eager for the overthrow of
all the institutions and customs of the past, and for the sudden
introduction of an entirely new era. Making no allowance for the
ignorance of the masses, and for the entire inexperience of the French
in self-government, they wished to cut loose from all the restraints of
liberty and of law, and to plunge into the wildest freedom.

The first and the third classes, the Aristocrats and the
ultra-Democrats, joined hand in hand to overthrow the Moderates, as the
middle party were called, each hoping thus to introduce the reign of
its own principles. Thus they both were ready to exasperate the masses
and to encourage violence. These were the two implacable foes against
whom the Revolution, and subsequently the Empire under Napoleon, had
ever to contend. Despotism and Jacobinism have ever been the two allied
foes against rational liberty in France.

The patriots of the middle, or moderate party, who had not as yet
assumed any distinctive name, for the parties in the Assembly were
but just beginning to marshal their forces for the fight, earnestly
deplored all scenes of violence. Such scenes only thwarted their
endeavors for the regeneration of France.

The Assembly now engaged with great eagerness in drawing up a
declaration of rights, to be presented to the people as the creed
of liberty. It was thought that if such a creed could be adopted,
based upon those self-evident truths which are in accordance with the
universal sense of right, the people might then be led to rally around
this creed with a distinct object in view.

For two months, from the 1st of August till the early part of October,
the Assembly was engaged in discussing the Bill of Rights and the
Constitution. But it was found that there had now suddenly sprung
up three Assemblies instead of one, each potent in its sphere, and
that between the three a spirit of rivalry and of antagonism was very
rapidly being engendered.

The first was the National Assembly at Versailles, originally
consisting of twelve hundred deputies, but now dwindled down by
emigration and other absence to about eight hundred.

The second was the municipal government of Paris, consisting of three
hundred representatives from the different sections or wards of the
city, and which held its sessions at the Hôtel de Ville. As Paris
considered itself France, the municipality of Paris began to arrogate
supreme power.

The third was the colossal assembly of the Parisian populace, an
enormous, tumultuous, excitable mass, every day gathered in the garden
of the Palais Royal. This assembly, daily becoming more arrogant,
often consisted of from ten to twelve thousand. It was continually in
session. Here was the rendezvous for all of the lower orders, men and
women. Impassioned orators, of great powers of popular eloquence, but
ignorant and often utterly unprincipled, mounted tables and chairs, and
passionately urged all their crude ideas.

Reflecting men soon began to look upon this assembly with alarm.
Its loud murmurs were echoed through the nation, boding only evil;
but emancipated France could not commence its career by prohibiting
liberty of speech. La Fayette anxiously looked in upon this portentous
gathering, and listened to the falsehood, the exaggerations, and the
folly with which its speakers deluded the populace, but he could
not interfere. Indeed, it soon became perilous for any one in that
assembly to plead the cause of law and order. He was at once accused as
an aristocrat, and was in peril of the doom of Berthier and Foulon.

And now suddenly there uprose another power which overshadowed all
the rest--the power of a free press. Newspapers and pamphlets deluged
the land. They were read universally; for the public mind was so
roused that those who could not read themselves eagerly listened to
the reading from others, at the corners of the streets, in shops and

France was now doomed to blood and woe. It is easy to say that if the
populace had been virtuous and enlightened all would have gone well;
or if the nobles and the higher clergy would have united with the true
patriots freedom might have been saved. But the populace were not
virtuous and enlightened, and the nobles were so inexorably hostile
to all popular rights that they were resolute to whelm France in ruin
rather than relinquish their privileges. France, as France then was,
could have been saved by no earthly wisdom. The Royalists openly
declared that the only chance of restoring the old system of government
was to have recourse to civil war, and they were eager to invoke so
frightful a remedy.

One of the most popular of the journals was "The Friend of the People,"
by Marat. This journal already declared that the National Assembly was
full of aristocrats, and that it must be dissolved to make way for a
better.[206] "We have wrested power," wrote Marat, "from the nobles but
to place it in the hands of the moneyed class. What have we gained? The
people are still poor and starving. We need another revolution." "Yes,"
echoed the mob of Paris, "we need another revolution."

The roar from the Palais Royal fell ominously upon the ears of the
Assembly at Versailles, and of the municipality at the Hôtel de Ville.
And now all the starving trades and employments began to congregate by
themselves for discussion and combined action. First came the servants,
destitute of place, of shelter, of bread, whose masters had fled from
insurgent Paris into the country or had emigrated. The court-yard of
the Louvre was their rendezvous. The soldiers debated at the Oratoire,
the hair-dressers in the Elysian Fields, and the tailors at the
Colonnade.[207] These bodies soon became, as it were, committees of
the great central congress of the populace ever gathered at the Palais

The noblest men in the National Assembly were already beginning to
despond. Firmly, however, they proceeded in the endeavor to reconstruct
society upon the basis of justice and liberty. The measure to which
their attention was now chiefly devoted was to adopt a Constitution,
which was to be prefaced by a Bill of Rights. La Fayette was active in
this movement, and was unquestionably assisted by Thomas Jefferson,
then American minister at Paris.

This celebrated declaration of rights, adopted on the 18th of August,
1789, was a simple enunciation of those principles which are founded in
nature and truth and which are engraven on all hearts. They were axioms
upon which every intelligent legislator must proceed in forming a just
code of laws. It declares that all mankind are born free and equal;
that the objects to be gained by human governments are liberty, the
security of property, and protection from oppression; that sovereignty
resides in the nation and emanates from the people; that law is the
expression of the will of the people; that the expenses of government
should be assessed upon the governed in proportion to their property;
that all the adult male inhabitants are entitled to vote; that freedom
consists in the liberty to do any thing which does not injure another,
and should have no limits but its interference with the rights of

These were noble sentiments nobly expressed; and, though execrated in
monarchical Europe, were revered in republican America. These were
the principles against which despotic Europe, coalesced by the genius
of William Pitt, rose in arms.[209] The battle was long and bloody.
Millions perished. The terrible drama was closed, for a season, by the
triumph of despots at Waterloo.[210]

The Assembly now turned its attention to the organization of the
legislative body of the nation. The all-absorbing question was whether
the National Congress or Parliament should meet in one chamber or in
two; if in two, whether the upper house should be an aristocratic,
hereditary body, like the House of Lords in the British Parliament,
or an elective republican Senate, as in the American Congress. The
debate was long and impassioned. The people would not consent to an
_hereditary_ House of Lords, which would remain an almost impregnable
fortress of aristocratic usurpation. They were, however, inclined to
assent to an upper house to be composed exclusively of the clergy and
the nobles, but to be elected by the people. To this arrangement the
haughty lords peremptorily refused their assent. They were equally
opposed to an _election_ to the upper house even by the nobles and
the clergy, for the high lords and great dignitaries of the Church
looked down upon the lower nobility and upon the working clergy with
almost as much contempt as they regarded the people. Finding the nobles
hostile to any reasonable measure, the masses of the people became
more and more irritated. The vast gathering at the Palais Royal soon
became unanimous in clamoring for but one chamber. The lords were their
enemies, and in a house of lords they could see only a refuge for old
and execrable feudality and an insurmountable barrier to reform.[211]

When the vote was taken there were five hundred for a single chamber
and but one hundred for two chambers.[212] It was unquestionably a
calamity to France that two chambers could not have been organized. But
the infatuation of the nobles now for the second time prevented this
most salutary check upon hasty legislation.

The next question to be decided was the _royal veto_. All were united
that the laws should be presented to the king for his sanction or
refusal. The only question was whether the veto should be absolute
or limited. That of the King of England is absolute. That of the
President of the United States is limited. All France was agitated
by this question. Here the aristocracy made their last desperate
stand and fought fiercely. Many of the popular party, alarmed in view
of the rapid progress of events, advocated the absolute veto. Its
inconsistency, however, with all enlightened principles of liberty was
too apparent to be concealed. That the caprice of a single man, and
he perhaps weak or dissolute, should permanently thwart the decrees
of twenty-seven millions of people appeared so absurd that the whole
nation rose against it.

The fate of liberty seemed to depend upon this question, as the
absolute veto would enable the court, through the king, to annul every
popular measure. The crowds in Paris became turbulent and menacing.
Threatening letters were sent to members of the National Assembly. The
Parisian mob even declared its determination to march to Versailles,
and drive from the Assembly those in favor of the veto. The following
letter, addressed to the Bishop of Langres, then president of the
Assembly, may be presented as a specimen of many with which the hall
was flooded:

"The patriotic assembly of the Palais Royal have the honor to make it
known to you, sir, that if the aristocratic faction, formed by some
of the nobility and the clergy, together with one hundred and twenty
ignorant and corrupt deputies, continue to disturb the general harmony,
and still insist upon the absolute veto, fifteen hundred men are ready
to _enlighten_ their country seats and houses, and particularly your

"I shall never forget," writes Dumont, "my going to Paris one of those
days with Mirabeau, and the crowd of people we found waiting for his
carriage about Le Say the bookseller's shop. They flung themselves
before him, entreating him, with tears in their eyes, not to suffer the
absolute veto."

"They were in a phrensy. 'Monsieur le Comte,' said they, 'you are the
people's father. You must save us. You must defend us against those
villains who are bringing back despotism. If the king gets this veto,
what is the use of the National Assembly? We are all slaves! All is
undone.'[214] There was as much ability in the tumultuous gathering at
the Palais Royal as in the National Assembly, and more of impassioned,
fiery eloquence. This disorderly body assumed the name of the Patriotic
Assembly, and was hourly increasing in influence and in the boldness of
its demands. Camille Desmoulins was one of its most popular speakers.
He was polished, keen, witty, having the passions of his ever-varying,
ever-excitable audience perfectly at his command. He could play with
their emotions at his pleasure, and though not an _earnest_ man, for
jokers seldom are, he was eager and reckless."[215]

St. Huruge was, however, the great orator of the populace, the
Mirabeau of the Palais Royal. A marquis by birth, he had suffered long
imprisonment in the Bastille by _lettre de cachet_. Oppression had
driven him mad, and _he_ was thoroughly earnest. Every day he uttered
the most fierce and envenomed invectives against that aristocratic
power by whose heel he had been crushed. He was a man of towering
stature, impassioned gesticulation, and with a voice like the roar of a

On Monday, August 30th, there was a report at the Palais Royal that
Mirabeau was in danger of arrest. St. Huruge immediately headed a band
of fifteen hundred men, and set out for Versailles for his protection.
It was a mob threatening violence, and La Fayette, at the head of a
detachment of the National Guard, stopped them and drove them back.
Murmurs now began to arise against La Fayette and the National Guard.
Rumors were set in circulation that La Fayette was in league with the
aristocrats. Excitement was again rapidly increasing, as the people
feared that, after all, they were to be betrayed and again enslaved.


The agitated assembly at the Palais Royal sent a deputation to
Versailles to Mounier, one of the most influential and truly patriotic
of the deputies, announcing to him that twenty thousand men were
ready to march to Versailles to drive the aristocrats out of the
Assembly. At the same time an address was received by the president
from the citizens of Rennes, declaring that those who should vote
for the absolute veto were traitors to their country. Under these
circumstances, the king sent a message to the National Assembly,
stating that he should be satisfied with a limited, or, as it was
then called, a _suspensive_ veto. In taking the question the absolute
veto was rejected, and the suspensive veto adopted by a vote of 673
to 355. By this measure the veto of the king would suspend the action
of any legislative enactment during two subsequent sessions of the
Legislature. If, after this, the Legislature still persisted, the
king's veto was overruled and the act went into effect. This was giving
the king much greater power than the President of the United States
possesses. A two-thirds vote of both houses can immediately carry any
measure against the veto of the President. Freedom of opinion, of
worship, and of the press were also decreed.

These questions being thus settled, it was now voted that the measures
thus far adopted were constitutional, not legislative; and that,
consequently, they were to be presented to the king, not for his
sanction, but for promulgation. It was also voted by acclaim that the
crown should be hereditary and the person of the king inviolable, the
ministers alone being responsible for the measures of government.
To republican eyes these seem like mild measures of reform, though
they have been most severely condemned by the majority of writers
upon the French Revolution in monarchical Europe. If the nobles had
yielded to these reasonable reforms, the horrors which ensued might
have been avoided. If combined Europe had not risen in arms against
the Revolution, the regeneration of France might, perhaps, have been
peacefully achieved.[216]

In every nation there are thousands of the ignorant, degraded,
miserable, who have nothing to lose and something to hope from anarchy.
The inmates of the dens of crime and infamy, who are only held in check
by the strong restraints of law, rejoice in the opportunity to sack
the dwellings of the industrious and the wealthy, and to pour the tide
of ruin through the homes of the virtuous and the happy. This class
of abandoned men and women was appallingly increasing. They flocked
to the city from all parts of the kingdom, and Paris was crowded with
spectres, emaciate and ragged, whose hideous and haggard features spoke
only of vice and misery. Sièyes expressed to Mirabeau his alarm in view
of the portentous aspect of affairs.

"You have let the bull loose," Mirabeau replied, "and now you complain
that he butts with his horns."[217]

Much has been said respecting the _motives_ which influenced Mirabeau.

Whatever his motives may have been, his conduct was consistent. All
his words and actions were in favor of liberty sustained by strong
law. He wished for the overthrow of aristocratic insolence and
feudal oppression, from which he had so severely suffered. He wished
to preserve the monarchical form of government, and to establish a
constitution which should secure to all the citizens equality of

Feudality was now destroyed, and a free constitution adopted. Still,
business was stagnant, the poor destitute of employment and in a
state of starvation. As an act of charity, seventeen thousand men
were employed by the municipality of Paris digging on the heights of
Montmartre at twenty sous a day. The suffering was so great that the
office of the municipality was crowded with tradesmen and merchants
imploring employment on these terms. "I used to see," writes the mayor,
Bailly, "good tradespeople, mercers and goldsmiths, who prayed to
be admitted among the beggars employed at Montmartre in digging the
ground. Judge what I suffered."

The city government sunk two thousand dollars a day in selling bread
to the poor at less than cost; and yet there were emissaries of the
court buying up this bread and destroying it to increase the public
distress.[219] On the 19th day of August the city of Paris contained
food sufficient but for a single day. Bailly and La Fayette were in an
agony of solicitude. So great was the dismay in Paris, that all the
rich were leaving. Sixty thousand passports were signed at the Hôtel de
Ville in three months.[220]

Armed bands were exploring the country to purchase food wherever it
could be found, and convey it to the city. Six hundred of the National
Guard were stationed by day and by night to protect the corn-market
from attack. It is surprising that when the populace were in such
distress so few acts of violence should have been committed.[221]

The kind heart of the king was affected by this misery. He sent nearly
all his plate to be melted and coined at the mint for the relief of
the poor. This noble example inspired others. General enthusiasm was
aroused, and the hall of the National Assembly was crowded with the
charitable bringing voluntary contributions for the relief of the
poor. Rich men sent in their plate, patriotic ladies presented their
caskets of jewelry, and the wives of tradesmen, artists, and mechanics
brought the marriage gifts which they had received and the ornaments
which embellished their dwellings. Farmers sent in bags of corn,
and even poor women and children offered their mites. A school-boy
came with a few pieces of gold which his parents had sent to him for
spending-money. This overflowing of charity presented a touching
display of the characteristic magnanimity and impulsiveness of the
French people.[222]


But private charity, however profuse, is quite inadequate to the wants
of a nation. These sums were soon expended, and still the unemployed
poor crawled fasting and emaciated about the streets. Necker's plans
for loans were frustrated. No one would lend. To whom should he lend?
The old régime was dying; the new not yet born. In this terrible
emergency Necker proposed the desperate measure of imposing a tax of
one quarter of every man's income, declaring that there was no other
refuge from bankruptcy. The interest upon the public debt could no
longer be paid, the wages of the soldiers were in arrears, and the
treasury utterly empty. The proposal frightened the Assembly, but
Mirabeau ascended the tribune, and in one of his most impassioned
appeals carried the measure by acclamation.[223] The distracted state
of the kingdom, however, prevented the act thus enthusiastically
adopted from being carried into effect.[224]

Thomas Jefferson was at this time, as we have before mentioned, the
American minister in Paris, and was constantly consulted by the leaders
of the Revolution. In his memoirs, speaking of these events, he writes,

"The first question, whether there should be a king, met with no
opposition, and it was readily agreed that the government of France
should be monarchical and hereditary.

"Shall the king have a negative on the laws? Shall that negative
be absolute, or suspensive only? Shall there be two chambers of
legislation, or one only? If two, shall one of them be hereditary, or
for life, or for a fixed term; and named by the king or elected by the

"These questions found strong differences of opinion, and produced
repulsive combinations among the patriots. The aristocracy was cemented
by a common principle of preserving the ancient régime, or whatever
should be nearest to it. Making this their polar star, they moved in
phalanx, gave preponderance on every question to the minorities of
the patriots, and always to those who advocated the least change. The
features of the new constitution were thus assuming a fearful aspect,
and great alarm was produced among the honest patriots by these
dissensions in their ranks.

"In this uneasy state of things I received one day a note from the
Marquis de la Fayette, informing me that he should bring a party of six
or eight friends to ask a dinner of me the next day. I assured him of
their welcome. When they arrived, they were La Fayette himself, Dupont,
Barnave, Alexander Lameth, Blacon, Mounier, Maubourg, and Dagout. These
were leading patriots of honest but differing opinions, sensible of
the necessity of effecting a coalition by mutual sacrifices; knowing
each other, and not afraid therefore to unbosom themselves mutually.
This last was a material principle in the selection. With this view the
marquis had invited the conference, and had fixed the time and place,
inadvertently as to the embarrassment under which he might place me.

"The cloth being removed and wine set on the table, after the American
manner, the marquis introduced the objects of the conference by
summarily reminding them of the state of things in the Assembly, the
course which the principles of the Constitution were taking, and the
inevitable result, unless checked by more concord among the patriots
themselves. He observed that though he also had his opinion, he was
ready to sacrifice it to that of his brethren of the same cause; but
that a common opinion must now be formed, or the aristocracy would
carry every thing, and that, whatever they should now agree on, he, at
the head of the national force, would maintain.

"The discussions began at the hour of four, and were continued till ten
o'clock in the evening, during which time I was a silent witness to a
coolness and candor of argument unusual in the conflicts of political
opinion; to a logical reasoning and chaste eloquence disfigured by no
gaudy tinsel of rhetoric or declamation, and truly worthy of being
placed in parallel with the finest dialogues of antiquity, as handed
to us by Plato, by Xenophon, and Cicero. The result was that the king
should have a suspensive veto on the laws, that the Legislature should
be composed of a single body only, and that to be chosen by the people.
This concordat decided the fate of the Constitution. The patriots
all rallied to the principles thus settled, carried every question
agreeably to them, and reduced the aristocracy to insignificance and


[Footnote 201: "Our Revolution," said Napoleon at St. Helena, "was
a natural convulsion, as irresistible in its effects as an eruption
of Vesuvius. When the mysterious fusion which takes place in the
entrails of the earth is at such a crisis that an explosion follows,
the eruption bursts forth. The unperceived workings of the discontent
of the people follow exactly the same course. In France the sufferings
of the people, the moral combinations which produce a revolution, had
arrived at maturity, and an explosion accordingly took place."]

[Footnote 202: Madame de Genlis, who witnessed the demolition of the
Bastille, in her gossiping yet very interesting memoirs, writes, "I
experienced the most exquisite joy in witnessing the demolition of that
terrible monument, in which had been immured and where had perished,
without any judicial forms, so many innocent victims. The desire to
have my pupils see it led me to take them from St. Leu to pass a few
hours in Paris, that they might see from the garden of Beaumarchais
all the people of Paris engaged in destroying the Bastille. It is
impossible to give one an idea of that spectacle. It must have been
seen to conceive of it as it was. That redoubtable fortress was covered
with men, women, and children, toiling with inexpressible ardor upon
the loftiest towers and battlements. The astonishing number of workmen,
their activity, their enthusiasm, the joy with which they saw this
frightful monument of despotism crumbling down, the avenging hands
which seemed to be those of Providence, and which annihilated with so
much rapidity the work of many ages, all that spectacle spoke equally
to the imagination and the heart."--_Mémoires sur le Dix-huitième
Siècle et la Revolution Française de Madame la Comtesse de Genlis_,
tome iii., p. 261.]

[Footnote 203: Histoire des Montagnards, par Alphonse Esquiros, p. 18.]

[Footnote 204: "Tyranny," said Fauchet, in reference to the skeletons
found in the Bastille, "had sealed them within the walls of those
dungeons, which she believed to be eternally impenetrable to the light.
The day of revelation is come. The bones have arisen at the voice
of French liberty. They depose against centuries of oppression and
death, prophesying the regeneration of human nature and the life of
nations."--_Dussaulx, OEuvre des Sept Jours._]

[Footnote 205: At St. Helena, the subject of conversation one day
turned upon the freedom of the press. The subject was discussed
with much animation by the companions of the emperor, he listening
attentively to their remarks. "Nothing can resist," said one,
"the influence of a free press. It is capable of overthrowing
every government, of agitating every society, of destroying every
reputation." "It is only its _prohibition_," said another, "which is
dangerous. If it be restricted it becomes a mine which must explode;
but if left to itself it is merely an unbent bow, that can inflict no

"The _liberty of the press_," said Napoleon, "is not a question open
for consideration. Its prohibition under a representative government is
a gross anachronism, a downright absurdity. I therefore, on my return
from Elba, abandoned the press to all its excesses, and I am confident
that the press in no respect contributed to my downfall."

In Napoleon's last letter to his son he writes, "My son will be obliged
to allow the liberty of the press. This is a necessity in the present
day. The liberty of the press ought to become, in the hands of the
government, a powerful auxiliary in diffusing through all the most
distant corners of the empire sound doctrines and good principles. To
leave it to itself would be to fall asleep upon the brink of danger. On
the conclusion of a general peace I would have instituted a Directory
of the Press, composed of the ablest men of the country, and I would
have diffused, even to the most distant hamlet, my ideas and my
intentions."--_Las Casas._]

[Footnote 206: Mirabeau, Camille Desmoulins, Brissot, Condorcet,
Mercier, Carra, Gorsas, Marat, and Barrere, all published journals,
and some of them had a very extensive circulation. _L'Ami du Peuple_,
by Marat, was a very energetic sheet. Mirabeau printed ten thousand
copies of his _Courrier de Province_. But by far the most popular and
influential paper was the _Revolutions de Paris_, whose unknown editor
was Loustalot, a sincere, earnest, laborious young man, who died in
1792, at the age of twenty-nine. Two hundred thousand copies of his
paper were frequently sold.--_Michelet_, vol. i., p. 240.]

[Footnote 207: Miguet, p. 64.]

[Footnote 208: M. Rabaud de St. Etienne, a Christian patriot and one
of the most active members of the National Assembly, writes: "It is
possible that all the kings of Europe may form a coalition against a
humble page of writing; but, after a number of cannon-shots, and when
those potentates have destroyed three or four hundred thousand men
and laid waste twenty countries, it will not be the less true that
_men are born free and equal as to their rights, and that the nation
is the sovereign_. And it is possible that their obstinacy may have
occasioned the discovery of other truths which, but for the wrath of
those great princes, mankind would never have thought of."--_Political
Reflections_, p. 176.]

[Footnote 209: "All the wars of the European Continent against the
Revolution and against the Empire were begun by England and supported
by English gold. At last the object was attained; not only was the
ancient family restored to the throne, but France was reduced to its
original limits, its naval force destroyed, and its commerce almost
annihilated."--_Encyclopædia Americana, Art. Great Britain._]

[Footnote 210: "William Pitt," said the Emperor Napoleon at St. Helena,
"was the master of European policy. He held in his hands the moral fate
of nations. He kindled the fire of discord throughout the universe; and
his name, like that of Erostratus, will be inscribed in history amid
flames, lamentations, and tears. The first sparks of our Revolution,
then the resistance that was opposed to the national will, and finally
the horrid crimes that ensued, all were his work. Twenty-five years
of universal conflagration; the numerous coalitions that added fuel
to the flame; the revolution and devastation of Europe; the bloodshed
of nations; the frightful debt of England, by which all these horrors
were maintained; the pestilential system of loans, by which the people
of Europe are oppressed; the general discontent that now prevails--all
must be attributed to Pitt.

"Posterity will brand him as a scourge, and the man so lauded in
his own time will hereafter be regarded as the genius of evil. Not
that I consider him to have been willfully atrocious, or doubt his
having entertained the conviction that he was acting right. But
St. Bartholomew had also its conscientious advocates. The Pope and
cardinals celebrated it by a _Te Deum_, and we have no reason to doubt
their having done so in sincerity. Such is the weakness of human reason
and judgment! Whether it be the effect of admiration and gratitude or
the result of mere instinct and sympathy, Pitt is, and will continue to
be, the idol of the European aristocracy. There was, indeed, a touch of
the Sylla in his character. His system has kept the popular cause in
check and brought about the triumph of the nobles.

"As for Fox, one must not look for his model among the ancients. He
is himself a model, and his principles will sooner or later rule the
world. Certainly the death of Fox was one of the fatalities of my
career. Had his life been prolonged affairs would have taken a totally
different turn. The cause of the people would have triumphed, and we
should have established a new order of things in Europe."]

[Footnote 211: The higher nobility of Great Britain consists of 26
dukes, 35 marquises, 217 earls, 65 viscounts, 191 barons. Each of
these takes the title of _lord_ and is entitled by birth to a seat in
the House of Lords, if we except the peers of Scotland and Ireland,
who have a seat with the lords only by deputation, the Scotch peers
choosing 16 and the Irish 28. There are, besides, six archbishops and
42 bishops, who, by virtue of their office, are styled _lords_ and
have a seat in the House of Lords. The lower nobility, consisting of
baronets and knights, have no privileges but the honor of their title.
They are somewhere between one and two thousand in number. The higher
nobility, including the dignitaries of the Church, six archbishops
and 42 bishops, in 1813 amounted to 554 families. The total revenue
of the _temporal nobility_, according to Colquhoun, was $25,000,000,
which makes an average of about $48,000 a year for each noble family.
According to the same authority, the total revenue of the _spiritual
lords_ was $1,200,000, which would average $25,000 a year for each. The
English say that those nobles are exceedingly valuable. They ought to
be. They cost enough. See Enc. Am., Art. Great Britain.]

[Footnote 212: Michelet. M. Rabaud de St. Etienne says 911 for one, 89
for two. Alison, without giving his authority, states 499 for one, 87
for two.]

[Footnote 213: The French Revolutions from 1789 to 1848, by T.W.
Redhead, vol. i., p. 59.]

[Footnote 214: Souvenirs sur Mirabeau, p. 156.]

[Footnote 215: "What will always astonish those who are acquainted
with the history of other revolutions is, that in this miserable
and famished state of Paris, denuded of all authority, there were,
on the whole, but very few serious acts of violence. One word, one
reasonable observation, occasionally a jest, was sufficient to check
them. On the first days only subsequent to the 14th of July there
were instances of violence committed. The people, full of the idea
that they were betrayed, sought for their enemies hap-hazard, and
were near making some cruel mistakes. M. de la Fayette interposed
several times at the critical moment, and was attended to. On these
occasions M. de la Fayette was truly admirable. He found in his heart,
in his love for order and justice, words and happy sayings above his
nature."--_Michelet_, vol. i., p. 227.]

[Footnote 216: "I hear it sometimes said that the French should
have contented themselves with laying down principles for their own
particular state, without spreading abroad those principles among
other nations. But is it really their fault if their principles
are so general as to be adapted to all men, of all times, and of
all countries? Nay, is it not a proof of the excellence of their
principles, which depend neither upon ages, nor on prejudices, nor on
climates? Have they invented them maliciously, and in order to impose
on kings and on the great? And is there any man so silly as to scruple
to rebuild his shattered dwelling, because others might be tempted
to re-edify theirs? If the French language is understood through all
Europe, are the French to blame? Ought they, through fear of being
listened to and imitated, to observe a strict silence, or speak a
language different from their own?"--_History of the Revolutions of
France, by M. Rabaud de St. Etienne_, p. 180.]

[Footnote 217: Dumont, vol. i., p. 66.]

[Footnote 218: "The particulars of Mirabeau's conduct are not yet
thoroughly known, but they are soon likely to be. I have had in my
hands several important documents, and especially a paper written in
the form of a profession of faith, which constituted his secret treaty
with the court. I am not allowed to give the public any of these
documents, or to mention the names of the holders. I can only affirm
what the future will sufficiently demonstrate, when all these papers
shall have been published.

"What I am able to assert with sincerity is, that Mirabeau never had
any hand in the supposed plots of the Duke of Orleans. Mirabeau left
Provence with a single object, that of combating arbitrary power, by
which he had suffered, and which his reason as well as his sentiments
taught him to consider as detestable. In his manners there was great
familiarity, which originated in a feeling of his strength. Hence it
was that he was frequently supposed to be the friend and accomplice
of many persons with whom he had no common interest. I have said,
and I repeat it, he had no party. Mirabeau remained poor till his
connection with the court. He then watched all parties, strove to make
them explain themselves, and was too sensible of his own importance to
pledge himself lightly."--_Hist, of the Fr. Rev., by M.A. Thiers_, vol.
i., p. 94.]

[Footnote 219: Histoire de la Revolution Française, par Villiaumé, p.

[Footnote 220: Revolutions de Paris, t. 11, No. 9, p. 8.]

[Footnote 221: "Occasionally loads of flour were seized and detained on
their passage by the neighboring localities whose wants were pressing.
Versailles and Paris shared together. But Versailles kept, so it was
said, the finest part, and made a superior bread. This was a great
cause of jealousy. One day, when the people of Versailles had been
so imprudent as to turn aside for themselves a supply intended for
the Parisians, Bailly, the honest and respectful Bailly, wrote to M.
Necker that, if the flour were not restored, thirty thousand men would
go and fetch it on the morrow. Fear made him bold. It often happened
at midnight that he had but half the flour necessary for the morning
market."--_Michelet_, p. 231.]

[Footnote 222: Even the courtesans came forward with their
contributions. The following letter was received by the National
Assembly, accompanied by a purse of gold:

"Gentlemen! I have a heart to love. I have amassed some property
in loving. I place it in your hands, a homage to the country. May
my example be imitated by my companions of all ranks."--_Hist. des
Montagnards, par Alphonse Esquiros_, p. 21.]

[Footnote 223: M. Rabaud de St. Etienne, vol. i., 89.]

[Footnote 224: Alison.]



  Waning Popularity of La Fayette.--The King contemplates
  Flight.--Letter of Admiral d'Estaing.--The Flanders Regiment called
  to Versailles.--Fête in the Ball-room at Versailles.--Insurrection
  of the Women; their March to Versailles.--Horrors of the Night of
  October 5th.--The Royal Family conveyed to Paris.

The press now began to assail Bailly and La Fayette as in league
with the aristocrats. The Assembly at the Palais Royal was becoming
paramount, a terrific power, threatening ruin to all who should
advocate measures of moderation. The most violent harangues roused the
populace, and it was evident that they could be easily turned by their
leaders into any path of destruction. Threatening letters flooded the
National Assembly, and one of great ferocity was signed by St. Huruge.
Though he declared it a forgery, he was arrested and imprisoned. The
municipal authority also forbade farther meetings in the Palais Royal,
and La Fayette, with the National Guard, dispersed the gatherings.

The king now seriously contemplated flight, that, at a safe distance
from Paris and surrounded by chosen troops, he might dictate terms to
his people, or, if they refused, prepare, by the aid of foreign arms,
for war. About one hundred and eighty miles northeast of Paris, on the
frontiers of France, was the city of Metz. The city contained about
fifty thousand inhabitants, and its fortifications, constructed by
Vauban, were of the most extensive and formidable kind. The Marquis de
Bouille, one of the most devoted servants of the king, and subsequently
one of the most active agents in urging the foreign powers to march
against France, commanded, in garrison there, thirty thousand picked
troops, resolute Royalists, and who had been taught to regard the
popular movement with contempt.

The plan was well matured for the king to escape to Metz. There he was
to be joined by the court, the nobles with all their retainers, the
ancient parliaments of the provinces, all composed of the aristocratic
class, and by all the soldiers whom the Royalist officers could induce
to follow them to that rendezvous. Then, by the employment of all
the energies of fire and blood, France was to be brought back into
subjection to the old régime.

La Fayette knew of this plan, and yet he did not dare to divulge it to
the people, for he knew that it would provoke a fierce and terrible
outbreak. He saw the peril in which the royal family was involved,
and he wished for their protection. He saw the doom with which the
liberties of France were menaced, and the liberty for which he was
struggling was dearer to him than life. If the king had been either
a merciless despot or a reliable friend of liberty, then would La
Fayette's path of duty have been plain. But the king was an amiable,
kindly-intentioned, weak-minded, vacillating man, quite the tool of the
inexorable court.

It is difficult to conceive of a situation more embarrassing than that
in which La Fayette was now placed. He was at the head of the National
Guard and was informed of all the plots of the court. He wished to be
faithful to his sovereign, and wished also to be true to his country.
Without the connivance, or at least secret assent of La Fayette, it was
hardly possible for the king to escape.

The old admiral D'Estaing was commander of the National Guard at
Versailles. He was a man of noble birth, of magnanimous character, and,
though with true patriotism he espoused the popular cause, he was,
like La Fayette, in favor of a monarchy, and was sincerely friendly to
the king. On the 13th of September he dined with La Fayette at Paris.
Here the marquis unfolded to the amazed admiral the terrible secret in
all its details; that the Baron Breteuil, one of the most implacable
enemies of the Revolution, was arranging with the Austrian embassador
for the co-operation of Austria; that eighteen regiments had already
taken the oath of fidelity to the court; that the Royalists, in large
numbers, were already congregating at Metz; that the nobles and the
clergy had combined in raising funds, so that fifteen hundred thousand
francs ($300,000) a month were secured; that measures were already
adopted to besiege Paris, cut off all supplies, and starve the city
into subjection; and that more than sixty thousand of the clergy and
nobility were pledged to rally around the king.

D'Estaing was appalled by the tidings. He knew that if the populace
were informed of the conspiracy it would rouse them to phrensy, that
no earthly power could protect the royal family from their fury, and
that instantly the fiercest civil war would blaze from the Rhine to the
Pyrenees. Aware of the imbecility of the king, and that the queen was
the author of every vigorous measure, he immediately addressed a very
earnest letter to her. He wrote as follows in a letter long, earnest,
and imploring:

"It is necessary--my duty and my loyalty require it--that I should lay
at the feet of the queen the account of the visit which I have paid to
Paris. I am praised for sleeping soundly the night before an assault or
a naval engagement. I venture to assert that I am not timorous in civil
matters, but I must confess to your majesty that I did not close my
eyes all night.

"I was told--and, gracious heaven! what would be the consequence if
this were circulated among the people--I was told that the king was to
be carried off to Metz. La Fayette told me so in a whisper at dinner. I
trembled lest a single domestic should overhear him. I observed to him
that a word from his lips might become the signal of death. I implore
your majesty to grant me an audience some day this week."[226]

Such a secret could not long be kept. It soon began to be openly spoken
of in the streets as a suspicion, a rumor. Under pretense of protecting
the National Assembly from any violence by the mob from Paris, the king
called a regiment to Versailles from Flanders. This was a regiment in
whose officers and soldiers he could rely, and which was to aid him in
his flight. The troops marched into the city with an imposing array
of artillery and infantry, exciting increasing suspicion, and were
assembled as a guard around the palace.

It was on the 23d of September that this Flanders regiment entered
Versailles, and were stationed around the regal chateau, thus doubling
the body-guard of the king. It was also observed that a very unusual
number of officers crowded the streets of Versailles, estimated at
from a thousand to twelve hundred.[227] A dinner was given to these
officers on the 1st of October, in the hall of the Opera at the palace.
No expense was spared to add splendor to the _fête_, to which all were
invited who could probably be led to co-operate with the court. Wine
flowed freely, and, deep in the hours of the night, when all heads
were delirious, the king and queen, with the young dauphin, entered
the banqueting-hall. They were received with almost phrensied acclaim.
The boxes of the Opera were thronged with ladies of the court, adding
to the enthusiasm. The king, the queen, the dauphin, were toasted
with delirious shouts. When some one proposed "the nation," the toast
was scornfully rejected. As the royal family made the tour of the
tables, the band struck up the air, "O Richard, O my king, the world
is all forsaking thee." The officers leaped upon the chairs and the
tables, drew their swords, and vowed eternal fidelity to the king.
And now ensued a scene which no language can describe. The officers
clambered into the boxes, and received the cordial greetings of the
ladies; the revolutionary movement was cursed intensely; the tricolored
cockade, the badge of popular rights, was trampled under foot, and
the white cockade, the emblem of Bourbon power, was accepted in its
stead from the hands of the ladies. The next day there was another
similar entertainment in the palace, to which a still larger number of
guests were invited, and the convivialities were still more exciting
and violent. The courtiers, with that fatuity which ever marked their
conduct, were now so encouraged, that they began with insolent menaces
to manifest their exultation.


The tidings of these _fêtes_ spread rapidly through Versailles and
Paris, exciting intense indignation. The court was feasting; the
people starving. Versailles was filled with rejoicing; Paris with
mourning. Despotism was exulting in its anticipated triumph, while
the nation was threatened with the loss of its newly-acquired rights.
The king had thus far delayed giving his assent to the Constitution.
Disquietude pervaded the National Assembly, and confused murmurs filled
the thoroughfares of Paris--terrible rumors of the approaching war, of
the league with the German princes, of the increasing famine, and the
threatened blockade of Paris. "We must bring the king to Paris," all
said, "or the court will carry him off, and war will immediately be

The morning of the 5th of October dawned, dark, cold, and stormy.
A dismal rain flooded the streets. There were thousands in Paris
that morning who had eaten nothing for thirty hours.[228] The women,
in particular, of the humbler class, were in an awful state of
destitution and misery. The populace of Paris were actually starving.
An energetic woman, half delirious with woe, seized a drum, and strode
through the streets beating it violently, occasionally shrieking,
"Bread! bread!" She soon collected a crowd of women, which rapidly
increased from a few hundred to seven or eight thousand. The men gazed
with wonder upon this strange apparition, such as earth had, perhaps,
never seen before. Like a swelling inundation the living flood rolled
through the streets, and soon the cry was heard, "To Versailles!" As by
a common instinct, the tumultuous mass rushed along by the side of the
Tuileries and through the Elysian Fields toward Versailles. A few of
the more fierce and brutal of the women had guns or pistols. Chancing
to find a couple of cannon, they seized them, and also horses to drag
the ponderous engines, upon which female furies placed themselves
astride, singing revolutionary songs.


La Fayette gazed appalled upon the strange phenomenon. The troops of
the National Guard refused to arrest their course, declaring that they
could not resist starving women, who were going to implore bread of
their king. La Fayette was powerless. He had under arms that morning
thirty-five thousand troops, cavalry, infantry, and artillery. He could
only follow the women, to watch the opening of events. Behind these
troops advancing in all the glittering panoply of war, followed a
straggling mass of, no one can tell how many thousands of the populace
of Paris, of all classes, characters, conditions. The city seemed
emptied of its inhabitants, as the road to Versailles, ten or twelve
miles in length, was filled with the tumultuous multitude. No one,
apparently, had any definite object, but each one was going to see what
the others would do.

Couriers were sent forward to warn the king and queen of the impending
peril. The good-natured, silly king had gone to Meudon to amuse
himself in chasing hares. Nothing can more conclusively show his utter
incapacity to govern a great kingdom, than that he should have been so
employed at such an hour. The king was sent for, and speedily returned
to Versailles. Marie Antoinette had all the energy and heroism of her
mother, Maria Theresa. When entreated immediately to secure her escape
with her two children, she replied,

"Nothing shall induce me to be separated from my husband. I know that
they seek my life; but I am the daughter of Maria Theresa, and have
learned not to fear death."

The king was entreated to escape, but he was fearful that his flight
might embolden the Assembly to declare the throne vacant, and to place
the crown upon the head of the Duke of Orleans, who had, with that
object probably in view, vociferously espoused the popular cause.
From the windows of Versailles the royal family soon descried the
vast multitude plodding along through the mud and the rain as they
approached Versailles. It is said that there were some men in the
mob, disguised as women, who gave impulse and direction to the mass.
A man by the name of Maillard, of gigantic stature, and possessed of
wonderful tact, succeeded in obtaining the post of leader. In this
alarming state of affairs, the king sent to the Assembly a partial
acceptance of the Constitution. As the Assembly were discussing this
question, the women arrived at the hall. Maillard entered, and the
women crowded after him. Respectfully, but earnestly, on behalf of the
women, he represented the starving condition of Paris, and complained
of the insult which the nation had received in the fête at the palace.

It was now three o'clock in the afternoon. The rain was still falling.
A dark, stormy night was at hand, and the streets of Versailles were
filled with countless thousands of the most desperate men and women,
utterly destitute of shelter. The Assembly, in alarm, requested their
president, M. Mounier, to go to the palace and petition for fresh
measures of relief. M. Mounier was compelled to allow twelve women to
accompany him. The king received them kindly. The women had adroitly
selected, as the leader of their deputation, a very beautiful young
flower-girl, but seventeen years of age, of remarkably graceful form
and lovely features. The girl, overcome by her sensations, endeavored
in vain to speak, and fainted. The king took her in his arms,
embraced her as if she had been his child, and was so paternal that
he completely won the hearts of all the women. They left the palace
with such enthusiastic accounts of the goodness of the king, that the
Amazons on the outside accused them of having been bribed, and, in
their rage, were ready to tear them in pieces. The poor flower-girl
would have been hanged with garters to a lamp-post had not the soldiers
rescued her.

The king now summoned a council, which continued in session until ten
o'clock. Still, by some unpardonable neglect, no measures were adopted
to provide for the wants of the famished mob. It was nearly seven
o'clock in the evening before La Fayette arrived with the National
Guard.[229] The soldiers of the guard, intelligent citizens, were
only to be controlled by the _personal influence_ of their general.
_Authority_ is only established by time and consolidated institutions.
La Fayette hastened to the palace to assure the royal family that every
thing in his power should be done to secure their safety. The king,
however, would not intrust the guard of the palace to La Fayette, as
he thought he could place more reliance in the Flanders regiment, the
Swiss mercenaries, and his own Life-Guard, than in the National Guard,
who were all devoted to the popular cause.

In the confusion of those dreadful hours, all the entrances to the
palace had not been defended. La Fayette, however, stationed an
effectual guard at all the outposts which had been assigned to him.
Through all the hours of the night, until five o'clock in the morning,
La Fayette was sleeplessly engaged sending out patrols and watching
over the public peace. Then, finding all tranquil, he threw himself
upon a sofa for rest, having been constantly and anxiously employed
for the last twenty-four hours. Groups of shivering, famished people
were gathered around large fires, which they had built in the streets,
and in one place they were devouring the half-roasted flesh of a horse
which they had killed. The queen, worn out with sleeplessness, had
retired to her chamber. The king had also gone to his chamber, which
was connected with that of the queen by a hall, through which they
could mutually pass. Two soldiers guarded the door of the queen's
chamber. Some of the mob, prowling around the palace, found a gate
unguarded, and, entering the palace without any obstruction, ascended
the stairs, and, pressing blindly on, came to the door of the queen's
apartment. The soldiers heroically resisted them, and shouted to others
to save the queen. She heard the cry, and, springing from her bed,
rushed in her night-clothes to the king's room. The brigands pushed
resolutely forward, and found the royal bed forsaken. A number of the
Life-Guards hastened to the spot, and arrested their farther progress;
and the soldiers of La Fayette, who had been stationed at a little
distance, hearing the tumult, hastened to their aid.

The noise roused the mob, and a conflict immediately ensued between
the soldiers and the phrensied multitude. La Fayette, who had not yet
fallen asleep, sprung from his couch, and, hastening to the palace,
found several of the king's troops on the point of being slaughtered.
One of the brigands aimed a musket at La Fayette, but the mob seized
him and dashed out his brains upon the pavement. The Life-Guards and
the Grenadiers of La Fayette soon cleared the palace; and the whole
court acknowledged that they were indebted to La Fayette for their
lives. Madame Adelaide, the queen's aunt, threw her arms around him,
exclaiming "General, you have saved us."[230]

CORPS, OCT. 5, 1789.]

The morning of the 6th was now dawning, and the whole multitude,
swarming around the palace, demanded as with one voice that the king
should go to Paris. A council was held, and it was decided by the court
that the king should comply. Slips of paper announcing the decision
were thrown to the people from the windows. Loud shouts now rose of
"Long live the King!" But threatening voices were raised against the
queen, who was hated as an Austrian, and as one who was endeavoring to
bring the armies of Austria to crush liberty in France.

"Madame," said La Fayette to the queen, "the king goes to Paris; what
will you do?"

"Accompany the king," was the queen's undaunted reply.

"Come with me, then," rejoined the general.

He led the queen upon a balcony, from whence she looked out upon the
multitude, agitated like the ocean in a storm. All eyes were speedily
fixed upon her as she stood by the side of La Fayette, and held by
the hand her little son, the dauphin. The murmurs of the crowd were
immediately succeeded by expressions of admiration. La Fayette took her
hand, and, raising it to his lips, respectfully kissed it. An almost
universal shout of "Long live the Queen!" was the response of the
multitude to this graceful and well-timed act. The queen then stepped
back into the room, and said to La Fayette, "My guards, can you not
do something for them?" "Give me one," said La Fayette, and, leading
the soldier to the balcony, he presented him to the people, and handed
him the tricolored cockade. The guard kissed it, and placed it on his
hat. The people were satisfied, reconciled, and cheered with hearty
plaudits. Many of the garde du corps had been taken prisoners, and they
all would have been murdered by the mob but for the vigorous efforts of
La Fayette to rescue them from their hands.


The Assembly, being apprised of the king's intention to go to Paris,
passed a resolution that the Assembly was inseparable from the person
of the king, and nominated a hundred deputies to accompany him to the
metropolis. Two of the king's body-guard had been killed, and some
wretches had cut off their heads, and were parading them about on


It was one o'clock when the carriages containing the royal family left
Versailles.[232] The whole mob of Paris, men and women, a tumultuous,
clamorous multitude, went in advance. Following immediately the
carriages of the court came the hundred deputies, also in coaches. Then
came the National Guard. Carts laden with corn and flour, escorted by
Grenadiers, followed the immense train. None were so malignant and
merciless as the degraded women who composed so large a part of this
throng. "We shall now," they exclaimed, "have bread, for we have with
us the baker, the baker's wife, and the baker's boy."

It required seven hours for this unwieldy mass to urge its slow
progress to Paris. The king was conducted to the Hôtel de Ville, where
he was received by M. Bailly, the mayor. The royal family descended
from their carriages by torch-light, and entered the great hall,
where they were received with acclamations. After the ceremony of
reception by the municipality of Paris was over, the king and his
family were conducted to the Tuileries. The vast palace had not been
the residence of the royal family for a hundred years, and its spacious
and poorly-furnished apartments presented but a cheerless aspect. The
National Guard were stationed around the palace, and thus La Fayette
was made responsible for the safe-keeping of the person of the king.
Thus terminated the eventful days of the 5th and 6th of October, 1789.
The king was now virtually a prisoner, and the nobles could no longer
avail themselves of his name in enforcing, by the aid of foreign
armies, despotism upon France.


[Footnote 225: Mounier, who was strongly in favor of two chambers and
an absolute veto, in his _Report to his Constituents_, writes, in
reference to some private and friendly conferences held at this time:

"These conferences, twice renewed, were unsuccessful. They were
recommenced at the house of an American known for his abilities and his
virtues, who had both the experience and the theory of the institutions
proper for maintaining liberty. He gave an opinion in favor of my

This American was unquestionably Thomas Jefferson. He saw the peril
with which the Revolution was menaced, and that freedom needed as
strong a guard against the blind impulses of the populace as against
the encroachments of the court. Two houses might perhaps have checked
the rush to ruin, but could hardly have averted the disaster. For ages
the nobles had been "sowing the wind." It was the decree of God that
they should "reap the whirlwind." "He visiteth the iniquities of the
fathers upon the children."]

[Footnote 226: Brouillon: le Lettre de M. d'Estaing à la Reine (in
Histoire Parlementaire, vol. iii., p. 24).]

[Footnote 227: "Le ministre de la guerre multiplia les congés de
semestre, afin d'avoir un corps de volontaires royaux, composé de douze
cent cents officiers."--_Villiaumé_, p. 34.]

[Footnote 228: Moniteur, vol. i., p. 568. Histoire de Deux Amis de la
Liberté, t. iii.]

[Footnote 229: Thiers, vol. i., p. 106.]

[Footnote 230: "M. de la Fayette has been so calumniated, and his
character is nevertheless so pure, so consistent, that it is right
to devote at least one note to him. His conduct during the fifth
and sixth of October was that of continual self-devotion, and yet
it has been represented as criminal by men who owed their lives to
it. The spirit of party, feeling the danger of allowing any virtues
to a Constitutionalist, denied the services of La Fayette, and then
commenced that long series of calumnies to which he has ever since been
exposed."--_Thiers_, vol. i., p. 108.]

[Footnote 231: Thiers, vol. i., p. 111.]

[Footnote 232: "I saw her majesty in her cabinet an instant before her
departure for Paris. She could scarcely speak. Tears poured down her
face, to which all the blood in her body seemed to have mounted. She
did me the favor to embrace me, and gave her hand to M. Campan to kiss,
saying to us, Come immediately to take up your abode in Paris. We are
utterly lost; dragged probably to death. Captive kings are always very
near it."--_Madame Campan_, vol. ii., p. 84.]



  Kind Feelings of the People.--Emigration receives a new
  Impulse.--The National Assembly transferred to Paris.--The
  Constituent Assembly.--Assassination of François.--Anxiety of the
  Patriots.--Gloomy Winter.--Contrast between the Bishops and the
  laboring Clergy.--Church Funds seized by the Assembly.--The Church
  responsible for the Degradation of the People.--New Division of
  France.--The Right of Suffrage.--The Guillotine.--Rabaud de St.

The royal family was now in Paris. The poor were, however, still
perishing of famine. The night of the 6th of October passed without
disturbance. It was dark even to blackness, and torrents of rain
deluged the streets. Early in the morning of the 7th a vast multitude
thronged the garden of the Tuileries, eager to catch a glimpse of the
king. They all seemed animated by the kindest feelings toward their
sovereign. The king, in response to reiterated calls, showed himself
upon the balcony, and was received with universal acclamations. All
the members of the royal family appeared to share in this popularity.
Madame Elizabeth, sister of the king, a princess of rare loveliness
both of person and character, caused her window to be opened, and sat
partaking of refreshments in the presence of thousands of spectators.
Men, women, and children, a vast multitude, gathered around the window,
and words of kindness, love, and joy were on all lips.

"We have now our king restored to us," they said. "He is taken away
from his bad advisers, and will now be, as he has always wished to be,
our good father."

This generous, confiding spirit had taken such full possession of the
public mind--the people, notwithstanding the intolerable wrongs they
had endured for so many ages, were so ready to forgive--that not a word
of disrespect was uttered, even to the foreign body-guard of the king,
or to the haughty lords and aristocratic ladies who had accompanied
the court to Paris. The people even cheered these nobles, against
whom they had been so long contending, and addressed them in words of


The nobles were, however, so alarmed by this triumph of the people
that emigration received a new impulse. One hundred and fifty of
the Royalist deputies of the National Assembly immediately obtained
passports and left the kingdom. Some of the nobles repaired to Turin.
The Comte d'Artois (Charles X.) took up his residence with his
father-in-law, the King of Sardinia. The emigrants, thus scattered
through all the courts of Europe, were busy in endeavors to rally the
aristocratic courts to crush popular liberty in France. The emigration
throughout the country was so extensive that sixty thousand, it was
said, went to Switzerland alone.

The king, on the contrary, appeared pleased with the affection of his
people. He walked, without guards, through the crowds which thronged
the Elysian Fields, and was every where treated with respect. On the
9th of October, three days after his arrival in the city, he sent a
letter to the Assembly at Versailles, informing that body that the
testimonials of affection and fidelity which he had received from
the city of Paris had determined him to fix his ordinary residence
there.[234] He accordingly invited the Assembly to transfer its sitting
to Paris. Incredible as it may seem, the imbecile king sent for his
smith tools, put up his forge, and amused himself with file and hammer
tinkering at locks.[235]

The Archbishop of Paris had fled with the emigrants. On the 19th
of October the National Assembly left Versailles and held its
first sitting in Paris, in a room of the archbishop's palace, from
which room it soon removed to the riding-hall of the Tuileries,
a much more commodious apartment which had been prepared for its
accommodation.[236] As the great object of the Assembly was now to
reorganize the government upon the basis of a free constitution, it
dropped the name of National Assembly on leaving Versailles, and
assumed in Paris the name of Constituent Assembly. Thus the same body
in the course of five months was called by three different names. It
was first the States-General, from the period of its meeting on the
5th of May until the union of the three orders on the 27th of June. It
was then the National Assembly until its removal from Versailles to
Paris, on the 19th of October. It then took the name of the Constituent
Assembly, and continued in existence for nearly two years, until
the 30th of September, 1791, when it expired, and a new body, the
Legislative Assembly, commenced its session.

The storm of revolution for a time seemed to lull, and there were
but few acts of violence. The people of Paris were still in a state
of fearful suffering from famine, and on the 21st of October a few
half-starved wretches seized a baker named François, whom they accused
of holding back his bread, and in a moment of phrensy, before the
police could interfere, strung him up at a lamp-post, and then cut off
his head.

The deed was denounced by even the most violent of the revolutionists,
and the Assembly took advantage of the feeling which the outrage
excited to pass a martial law against tumultuous assemblies of the
people. This law, which was almost a repetition of the English riot
act, was assailed by many of the journals as a gross infringement of
the rights of the people. Robespierre in the Assembly and Marat in his
wide-spread journal were conspicuous in denouncing it.

The atrocious murder of François, who was a generous and a charitable
man, and entirely innocent of the crime of which he was accused,
produced a profound impression. It was indicative of the rapid and
fearful rise of mob violence. The king and queen sent to his young
widow a letter of condolence, with a gift in money amounting to
about twenty-five hundred dollars. The city government of Paris sent
a committee of its members to visit and console her. La Fayette,
mortified and indignant at the outrage, scoured the faubourgs in search
of the miscreants who perpetrated the deed. Two of the ringleaders were
arrested and handed over to immediate trial.

They were condemned to death, and the next morning were hanged in the
same Place de Grêve which had been the scene of the outrage. This was
the only murder, perpetrated by a Parisian mob, during the Revolution,
which the law was sufficiently powerful to punish.[237]


In other parts of the kingdom there were occasional acts of violence.
Bread was so enormously dear that the corn-dealers were accused of
hoarding up immense stores for the sake of speculation. The ignorant
mob in some instances seriously maltreated those suspected of this
crime. The innocent were thus often punished, for the violence of the
mob is as likely to fall upon the innocent as upon the guilty.

Many of the most intelligent friends of reform began now to fear that
the nation was going "too fast and too far." The scenes of the 5th of
October, and the omnipotence of the mob as evinced on that day, had
inspired fearful apprehensions for the future. Even La Fayette felt
that the salvation of the cause of liberty depended upon strengthening
the power of the king. He induced the king to send the Duke of Orleans
from Paris, and when the duke wished to return he sent him word that,
the day after his return, he would have to fight a duel with him.

Mirabeau united with La Fayette in these endeavors to stop the nation
in its headlong rush, and to secure constitutional liberty by giving
strength to the monarchical arm. They were both of the opinion that
France, surrounded by powerful and jealous monarchies, and with
millions of peasants unaccustomed to self-government, who could neither
read nor write, and who were almost as uninstructed as the sheep they
tended, needed a throne founded upon a free constitution.[238] Even
in the Assembly Mirabeau ventured to urge _that it was necessary to
restore strength to the executive power_.[239] But the court hated both
La Fayette and Mirabeau, and were opposed to any diminution of their
own exclusive privileges. They would accept of no compromise, and all
the efforts of the moderate party were unavailing.

Gloomy winter now commenced, and there was no money, no labor, no
bread. The aristocratic party all over the realm were packing their
trunks, and sending before them across the frontiers whatever funds
they could collect. They wished to render France as weak and miserable
as possible, that the people might be more easily again subjugated to
the feudal yoke by the armies of foreign despots. Hence there was a
frightful increase of beggary. In Paris alone there were two hundred
thousand. It is one of the greatest of marvels that such a mass of men,
literally starving, could have remained so quiet. The resources of the
kingdom were exhausted during the winter in feeding, in all the towns
of France, paupers amounting to millions. All eyes were now directed to
the National Assembly for measures of relief.


The wealth of the clergy was enormous. Almsgiving, which has filled
Europe with beggary, has ever been represented by the Catholic Church
as the first act of piety. During long ages of superstition, the dying
had been induced, as an atonement for godless lives, to bequeath their
possessions to the Church, to be dispensed in charity to the people.
Thus many a wealthy sinner had obtained absolution, and thus the
ecclesiastics held endowments which comprised one fifth of the lands
of the kingdom, and were estimated at four thousand millions of francs

Notwithstanding this immense opulence of the Church, nearly all the
parish pastors, the hard and faithful workers for Christianity--and
there were many such, men of true lives and of unfeigned religion--were
in the extreme of poverty. The bishops were all _nobles_, for even
Louis XVI. would elect no other. These bishops were often the most
dissolute and voluptuous of men, and reveled in incomes of a million
of francs ($250,000) a year. The working clergy, on the contrary, who
were from the people, seldom received more than two hundred francs
($40) a year. They were so poor as to be quite dependent upon their
parishioners for charity.[241]

The Assembly assumed that these treasures had been intrusted to the
Church for the benefit of the people; that the luxurious ecclesiastics,
by unfaithfulness to their trust, had forfeited the right of farther
dispensing the charity. After a very fierce strife, a motion was made
by Mirabeau, that the possessions of the Church were _at the disposal_
of the state. Many of the lower clergy voted for the resolution, and it
was adopted by a majority of 568 against 346. Forty deputies refused to
vote. This measure placed at once immense resources in the hands of the
Assembly, and necessarily exasperated tenfold the privileged classes,
and rolled a wave of alarm over the whole wide-spread domain of the
Pope. It was the signal for Catholic Europe to rise in arms against
the Revolution. As it was impossible, under the pressure of the times,
to force the sale of the enormous property of the Church without an
immense sacrifice, bonds were issued, called _assignats_, assigned or
secured on this church property.

Thus was the haughty Gallican Church deprived of its ill-gotten and
worse used wealth. The dignitaries of this Church had ever been the
most inveterate foes of popular elevation. Treasure which had been
wrested from the poor and extorted from the dying, as a gift to God for
the promotion of human virtue, they were using to forge chains for the
people, and were squandering in shameless profligacy.

Nearly all the nobles were infidels, disciples of Voltaire. For years,
while reveling in wine and debauchery, they had held up religion to
contempt. But they now suddenly became very devout, espoused the cause
of their boon companions, the bishops, and remonstrated against laying
unholy hands upon the treasury of the Lord. All over Europe the two
most formidable forces, secular and religious aristocracy, were now
combined against popular reform. It was this principle which led the
Protestant English noble and the papal Austrian bishop to make common
cause against the regeneration of France.

There were some French nobles and French bishops who recognized,
whatever may have been their motives, the rights of the people, and
espoused their side. Talleyrand, the Bishop of Autun, introduced the
measure, and Mirabeau supported it with all the energy of his eloquence.

The degradation of the people is the condemnation of the papal Church.
For many centuries the office of elevating the people had devolved
upon the clergy. Instead of instructing their congregations, the forms
of worship had been converted into a senseless pantomime; the prayers
were offered in an unknown tongue; the word of God was excluded from
their sight. The rich became infidels and atheists, and by robbing the
poor luxuriated in profligacy. The poor became brutalized and savage,
and were held under restraint only by the terrors of a soul-hardening

There is no hope of peace for the world but in that doctrine of
Christ which promotes the brotherhood of man. Where this fraternity
is recognized and its sympathies circulate, there is peace. The
aristocratic Church in France had been the tool of the court in
degrading and enslaving the people. The awful day of retribution
was but the inevitable progress of the divine law. Man, crushed and
trampled upon by his brother man, may endure it for an age, for a
century, but the time will come when he will endure it no longer, and
the ferocity of his rising will be proportionate to the depth and the
gloom of the dungeon in which he has been immured.[242] The progress of
the world is toward justice, equality, and nature. If that progress be
not peaceful it will be violent and bloody. The vital energies of the
soul of man can not forever be repressed.

France had for some time been divided into thirteen large provinces,
incorporated at different periods and possessing different immunities
and a diversity of customs and laws. The Assembly broke down all these
old barriers that a character of unity might be given to the nation.
The kingdom was divided into eighty-three departments, each department
being about fifty-four miles square. These departments were divided
into districts, and the districts into communes. This division somewhat
resembled that of the United States, into states, counties, and towns.

The right of suffrage was extended to all male citizens twenty-five
years of age, who had resided in the electoral district one year, who
had paid a direct tax amounting to the value of three days' labor,
about sixty cents, who were not in the condition of servants, and
who were enrolled in the National Guard. These were called _active_
citizens. The rest of the population were deemed _passive_ citizens.
To be eligible to _office_ either as a magistrate or a representative,
it was required that one should pay a direct tax of about ten dollars,
and also be a landholder. The aristocrats considered this extension of
the right of suffrage as awfully radical and democratic. On the other
hand the democracy, from its lower depths, exclaimed with the utmost
vehemence and indignation against the restriction of the right of
suffrage and of office to tax-payers and property-holders.

"There is but one united voice," cried Camille Desmoulins, "in the city
and in the country, against this ten-dollar decree (_le décret du marc
d'argent_). It is constituting in France an aristocratic government,
and it is the most signal victory which the aristocrats have yet
gained in the Assembly. To demonstrate the absurdity of the decree it
is necessary but to mention that Rousseau, Corneille, Mably, under
it could not have been eligible. As for you, ye despicable priests,
ye lying cheating knaves, do you see that you make even your God
ineligible?[243] Jesus Christ, whom you recognize as divine, you thrust
out into the ranks of the mob. And do you wish that I should respect
you, ye priests of an ignominious God (_d'un Dieu proletaire_), who is
not even an active citizen? Respect that poverty which Jesus Christ has

Such fierce appeals produced a profound and exasperating impression
upon the army of two hundred thousand beggars in Paris and upon the
millions utterly impoverished in France. "We have overthrown the
aristocracy of birth," the orators of the populace exclaimed, "only
to introduce the still more hateful aristocracy of the purse." The
working clergy, who were among the foremost in favor of reform, were
almost to a man efficient members of the moderate party, and cordially
co-operated with La Fayette in the endeavor to prevent liberty from
being whelmed in lawlessness. The clergy had great influence, and
hence the venom of the popular speakers and writers was perseveringly
directed against them.[245]

The Assembly then abolished the oppressive duty upon salt.[246] The
old parliaments of the old provinces, as corrupt bodies as have
perhaps ever existed, and the subservient instruments of aristocratic
oppression, were suppressed, and new courts of a popular character
substituted in their place. All trials were ordered to be public; no
punishment, on accusation for crime, could be inflicted unless by a
vote of two thirds of the court. The penalty of death required a vote
of four fifths. The revocation of the Edict of Nantes was blotted out,
and thus some thousands of Protestants who had long been banished
from France were permitted to return and to enjoy all their political
rights. It was decreed that all citizens, of whatever condition, should
be subject to the same laws and judged by the same tribunals. Those
accused of crime were to be tried by jury, but not till a court had
previously determined that the evidence against them was sufficiently
strong to warrant their arrest. It is remarkable that both Robespierre
and Marat were most earnest in their endeavors to abrogate the
death-penalty. During this discussion Dr. Guillotin urged the adoption,
in capital punishment, of a new machine which he had invented.

"With my machine," said the doctor, "I can clip off your head in the
twinkling of an eye without your feeling it."

These words, most earnestly uttered, caused a general burst of laughter
in the Assembly. But a few months passed ere many of those deputies
were bound to the plank and experienced the efficiency of the keen
blade. The introduction of the guillotine was intended as a measure of
humanity. The unfortunate man doomed to death was thus to be saved from
needless suffering.[247]

The measures adopted by the Constituent Assembly seem to republican
eyes just and moderate. Experience, it is true, has proved that it is
safer to have two houses of legislation, a senate and a lower house,
than one, but the subsequent decrees passed by this one house were
manifestly dictated, not by passion, but by patriotism and a sense of

The clergy now made immense efforts to rouse the peasantry all over
the kingdom to oppose the Revolution. Religious fanaticism exhausted
all its energies. The parliaments also of the old provinces, composed
exclusively of the nobles, roused themselves anew and were vehement in
remonstrances and protests. They became active agents in organizing
opposition, in maligning the action of the Assembly, and in inciting
the credulous multitude to violence. The Assembly punished the
parliaments by abolishing them all.

The court bitterly accused the Assembly of a usurpation of power, which
called from Mirabeau a reply which electrified France.

"You ask," he said, "how, from being deputies, we have made ourselves
a convention. I will tell you. The day when, finding our assembly-room
shut, bristling and defiled with bayonets, we hastened to the first
place that could contain us, and swore that we would perish rather
than abandon the interests of the people--on that day, if we were
not a convention, we became one. Let them now go and hunt out of the
useless nomenclature of civilians the definition of the words National
Convention! Gentlemen, you all know the conduct of that Roman who, to
save his country from a great conspiracy, had been obliged to outstep
the powers conferred upon him by the laws. A captious tribune required
from him the oath that he had respected them. He thought, by that
insidious proposal, to leave the consul no alternative but perjury or
an embarrassing avowal. 'I swear,' said that great man, 'that I have
saved the republic.' Gentlemen, we also swear that we have saved the

This sublime apostrophe brought the whole Assembly to its feet. The
charge of usurpation was not repeated.

A great effort was at the same time made to compel the Assembly to
adopt the resolution that the "Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman religion
is, and shall ever be, the religion of the nation, and that its worship
is the only one authorized." As one of the court party was urging this
resolve, and quoting, as a precedent, some intolerant decree of Louis
XIV., Mirabeau sent dismay to the heart of the court by exclaiming,

"And how should not every kind of intolerance have been consecrated in
a reign signalized by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes?"

Then, pointing to a window of the Louvre, he continued, in deep and
solemn tones which thrilled through every heart,

"Do you appeal to history? Forget not that from this very hall I behold
the window whence a king of France, armed against his people by an
execrable faction that disguised personal interest under the cloak of
religion, fired his musket and gave the signal for the massacre of St.

The effect was electric, and the spirit of intolerance was crushed.

The true Christian charity which the Assembly assumed was cordially
accepted by the mass of the nation. We love to record the fact that
the great majority of the Catholic population were delighted to see
the Protestants restored to their civil and religious rights. Even
Michelet, hostile as he is to all revealed religion, testifies: "The
unanimity was affecting, and one of the sights the most worthy to call
down the blessing of God upon earth. In many parts the Catholics went
to the temple of the Protestants, and united with them to return thanks
to Providence together. On the other hand the Protestants attended at
the Catholic _Te Deum_. Far above all the altars, every temple and
every church, a divine ray had appeared in heaven."[249] In every place
where the Protestants were in the majority they presented the most
affecting spectacle of fraternity.

A Protestant, M. Rabaud de St. Etienne, was chosen president of the
Assembly--a position at that time higher than that of the throne. He
was the son of the celebrated Protestant martyr of Cevennes, who for
long years had been hunted like a wild beast, as he hid in dens in
the forest, escaping from the ferocity of religious persecution. The
venerable parent was still living, and received from his son a letter
containing the declaration, "The president of the National Assembly is
at your feet."

The higher ecclesiastics were, however, exasperated by this triumph
of religious liberty. They succeeded, in Montauban and in Nimes, in
exciting a Roman Catholic mob against the Protestants. The ignorant
populace, roused by superstition, seized their arms, shouted "Down
with the nation!" and fell with the most cruel butchery upon the
Protestants. The violent insurrection was, however, soon quelled,
and without any acts of retaliatory vengeance.[250] The bishops
anathematized every priest friendly to the Revolution, and designated
all such to the hatred and contempt of the fanatic populace. The bishop
who, under the old régime, had enjoyed an income of eight hundred
thousand francs ($160,000), and was rejoicing in his palaces, horses,
and concubines, invoked the wrath of God upon the curate who was now
receiving twelve hundred francs ($240) from the nation. The power of
the papal ecclesiastics was so strong that most of the humble curates
were eventually compelled to abandon the Revolution and rally again
around the sceptre of the Pope.

The air was still filled with rumors of plots to disperse the Assembly
and carry the king off to the protection of the royalist army at Metz,
where he could be forced by the nobles to sanction their course, in
invading France with foreign armies. On the 25th of December the
Marquis of Favrus was arrested, accused of forming a plot to seize
the king with an army of thirty thousand men, and to assassinate La
Fayette and Bailly. It was said that twelve hundred horse were ready at
Versailles to carry off the king, and that a powerful force, composed
of Swiss and Piedmontese, was organized to march upon Paris. The king's
brother, the Count of Provence, subsequently Louis XVIII., was reported
as in the plot, and to have supplied the conspirators with large sums
of money. Louis was willing to be abducted as if by violence, but was
not willing to assume any responsibility by engaging in measures for
escape. He assumed the attitude of contentment, and with such apparent
cordiality professed co-operation in the measures of the Assembly for
the regeneration of France that many supposed that he had honestly
espoused the popular cause.


[Footnote 233: For overwhelming evidence that such was the state of the
public mind, see Weber, vol. i., p. 257; Beaulieu, vol. ii., p. 203;
Amis de la Liberté, vol. iv., p. 2-6; Michelet, vol. i., p. 284.]

[Footnote 234: Weber, an eye-witness of the king's reception in Paris,
though a zealous Royalist, testifies that the reception was most kind
and affectionate on the part of the masses of the people. See Weber,
vol. ii., p. 228. See also Arthur Young, vol. i., p. 264-280.]

[Footnote 235: Le Chateau des Tuileries, par Roussel, in Hist. Parl.,
vol. iv., p. 195.]

[Footnote 236: That hall has since been destroyed. It stood upon the
place now occupied by the houses No. 36 and 38 Rue de Rivoli.]

[Footnote 237: Even the most zealous of the revolutionary journals
denounced with unmeasured severity the murder of François. Loustalot
exclaimed, "Des Français! des Français! non, non de tels monstres
n'appartiennent à aucun pays; le crime est leur element, le gibet leur

[Footnote 238: On the 15th of March, M. de Lamarck took to Mirabeau
the overtures of the court, but found him very cool. When pressed by
Lamarck, he said that the throne could only be restored by establishing
it upon a basis of liberty; that, if the court wanted any thing else,
he would oppose instead of serving it.--_Michelet_, p. 328.]

[Footnote 239: In attestation of the correctness of these remarks, see
the statements of Mirabeau, La Fayette, and Alexander de Lameth.]

[Footnote 240: Michelet, vol. i., p. 290.]

[Footnote 241: In the army there was the same inequality. According to
the budget for war in 1784, the officers received forty-six millions
of francs, and the whole body of soldiers but forty-four. "It is
true," says Michelet, "that, under Louis XVI., another pay was added,
settled with the cudgel. This was to imitate the famous discipline of
Prussia, and was supposed to contain the whole secret of the victories
of Frederick the Great: man driven like a machine, and punished like
a child." The soldiers under the Empire knew how to appreciate the

[Footnote 242: "Every body was acquainted with the morals of the
prelates and the ignorance of the inferior clergy. The curates
possessed some virtues but no information. Wherever they ruled they
were an obstacle to every improvement of the people, and caused them
to retrograde. To quote but one example, Poitou, civilized in the
sixteenth century, became barbarous under their influence; they were
preparing for us the civil war of Vendée."--_Michelet_, p. 222.]

[Footnote 243: Some curious facts were elicited during the progress
of this discussion respecting the manner in which a portion of the
vast revenues of the Church had been obtained. The clergy of Condom
promised the simple, kind-hearted peasants, in consideration for a
large quantity of grain, that they would every year conduct two hundred
and fifty souls from purgatory directly to Paradise. In some places a
regular tariff of prices had been established for the pardon of crimes.
Absolution for incest could be purchased for one dollar, arson required
one dollar and a quarter, parricide one dollar, and absolution could be
obtained for all sins united for about sixteen dollars. These prices
seem very moderate. But it must be remembered that the peasants were
_excessively_ poor, and could not, even to escape from purgatory, pay
large sums.--_Villiaumé_, p. 52.]

[Footnote 244: Histoire des Montagnards, par Alphonse Esquiros, p. 25.]

[Footnote 245: In the Faubourg St. Antoine, which contained a
population of thirty thousand, it is said that there were but two
hundred _active citizens_. Marat, in his addresses to the "unfortunate
citizens of the faubourgs," urged them to vote, notwithstanding the
decree of the Assembly. "No power under the sun," said he, "can deprive
you of the right of suffrage, which is inherent in society itself."]

[Footnote 246: The price of salt immediately fell from fourteen sous a
pound to less than one sou.--_Villiaumé._]

[Footnote 247: It was not until the month of March, 1792, that the
guillotine was first used,]

[Footnote 248: "The government of the Revolution was rapidly becoming
established. The Assembly had given to the new régime its monarch,
its national representation, its territorial division, its armed
force, its municipal and administrative power, its popular tribunals,
its currency, its clergy; it had made an arrangement with respect
to its debt, and had found means to reconstruct property without
injustice."--_Miguet_, p. 87.]

[Footnote 249: Michelet's French Revolution, p. 358.]

[Footnote 250: "What was the National Assembly doing at this
time in Paris? Its more than Christian meekness is a surprising
spectacle."--_Michelet_, p. 365.]



  The King visits the Assembly.--His Speech.--The Priests rouse
  the Populace.--The King's Salary.--Petition of Talma.--Views
  of Napoleon.--Condemnation and Execution of the Marquis of
  Favrus.--Spirit of the New Constitution.--National Jubilee.--The
  Queen sympathizes with the Popular Movement.--Writings of Edmund

On the 4th of February the king, without any previous announcement,
to the surprise of all, entered the hall of the Assembly. A burst of
welcome greeted his entrance. The tidings of this movement spread with
electric speed through Paris, and thousands of spectators speedily
filled all parts of the hall to listen to the king's speech. The king
stood upon the platform, and addressed the Assembly with words of
dignity and eloquence which seemed above his nature. There was such an
air of sincerity pervading every sentence that no one could doubt that
he was giving utterance to his real opinions. This remarkable speech
contained the following expressions:[251]

"Gentlemen, the critical circumstances in which France is placed
bring me among you. A grand goal is presented to your view, but it is
requisite that it be attained without any increase of agitation, and
without any new convulsions. It was, I must say, in a more agreeable
and a more quiet manner that I had hoped to lead you to it, when I
formed the design of assembling you, and of bringing together for the
public welfare the talents and the opinions of the representatives of
the nation; but my happiness and my glory are not the less connected
with the success of your labors.

"I think that the time is come when it is of importance to the
interests of the state that I should associate myself, in a more
express and manifest manner, in the execution and success of all
that you have planned for the benefit of France. I can not seize a
more signal occasion than when you submit to my acceptance decrees
destined to establish a new organization in the kingdom, which must
have so important and so propitious an influence on the happiness of my
subjects and on the prosperity of this empire.

"You know, gentlemen, it is more than ten years ago, at a time when the
wishes of the nation relative to provincial assemblies had not yet been
expressed, I began to substitute that kind of administration for the
one which ancient and long habit had sanctioned. You have improved upon
these views in several ways, and the most essential, no doubt, is that
equal and wisely-calculated subdivision which, by breaking down the
ancient partitions between province and province, and establishing a
general and complete system of equilibrium, more intimately unites all
parts of the kingdom in one and the same spirit, in one and the same
interest. This grand idea, this salutary design, is all your own. I
will promote, I will second, by all the means in my power, the success
of that vast organization on which depends the welfare of France.

"Let it be known every where that the monarch and the representatives
of the nation are united in the same interest, in the same wish.
Some day, I fondly believe, every Frenchman, without exception, will
acknowledge the benefit of the total suppression of the differences
of order and condition. No doubt those who have relinquished their
pecuniary privileges--those who will no longer form, as of old, an
order in the state, find themselves subjected to sacrifices, the
importance of which I fully appreciate; but I am persuaded that they
will have generosity enough to seek an indemnification in all the
public advantages of which the establishment of national assemblies
holds out a hope.

"I will defend, therefore, I will uphold constitutional liberty, the
principles of which the public wish, in accordance with mine, has
sanctioned. I will do more, and, in concert with the queen, who shares
all my sentiments, I will early adapt the mind and heart of my son
to the new order of things which circumstances have brought about. I
will accustom him from his very first years to seek happiness in the
happiness of the French, and ever to acknowledge that, in spite of the
language of flatterers, a wise constitution will preserve him from the
dangers of inexperience, and that a just liberty adds a new value to
the sentiments of affection and loyalty of which the nation has, for so
many ages, given such touching proofs to its kings."

These noble words, which were uttered with as much sincerity as a weak
and vacillating mind was capable of cherishing, were received with
the most enthusiastic expressions of pleasure and gratitude. Thunders
of applause filled the house, in which the galleries tumultuously
joined. All past jealousies seemed forgotten forever, and the queen and
the dauphin shared in the transporting acclaim. The multitude, with
shouts of applause, conducted the king back to the Tuileries, while the
Assembly voted thanks to him and to the queen.

The king had thus publicly accepted the Constitution even before it was
completed, and promised to support it. Each deputy took the oath to
uphold the "Constitution decreed by the National Assembly and accepted
by the king." The example was contagious, and the oath was repeated,
with festivities and illuminations, in every district of Paris, and
through all the cities and villages of France.

Thus far the reforms adopted had been, on the whole, most eminently
wise, and such as the welfare of the nation imperiously demanded. Had
the privileged classes acceded, as they ought to have done, to these
measures of justice, and contributed their influence in favor of law
and order, all might have been well, and the Iliad of woes which
succeeded might never have been known. But the nobles and the higher
clergy did every thing in their power to stimulate the mob to violence,
to fill France with lawlessness and blood, that they might more
effectually appeal to religious fanaticism at home and to despotism
abroad to forge chains and rivet them anew upon the enfranchised people.

Every effort was now made to combine the clergy against the
Revolution--to rouse the ignorant and superstitious masses with the cry
that religion was in danger, and to march the armies of surrounding
monarchies in a war of invasion upon France. The nobles of the Church
and the State were responsible for that terrific outburst of the mob,
which might easily have been repressed if they would have united with
the true patriots in favor of liberty and of law.[252]

In many of the rural districts the priests roused the fanatic populace
to forcible resistance. Many of the priests had been in a condition
of almost compulsory subservience to the higher clergy. Trained to
_obedience_ as the primal law of the Church, they combined their
efforts with those of the exasperated nobility, and thus, in several
of the remote sections of France, mobs were instigated against the
Revolution. Here commenced the conflict between the people and the
clergy. Pure democracy and true Christianity meet and embrace. They
have but one spirit--fraternity, charity. Despotism and ecclesiasticism
are also natural congenial allies. The pope and the king, the cardinal
and the duke, all over Europe became accomplices.

The Assembly, with much delicacy, invited the king himself to fix the
income necessary for the suitable support of the crown. He fixed it at
twenty-five millions of francs ($5,000,000). This enormous salary, two
hundred times as much as the President of the United States receives,
was instantly voted by acclamation. There were but four votes in
opposition. Nothing can more conclusively show than this the kindly
feelings of the people toward the monarch, and the _then_ desire merely
to ingraft the institutions of liberty upon the monarchy.

The Revolution had humanely extended its helping hand to all the
debased and defrauded classes, to the Protestants, the Jews, the
negroes, the slaves, the play-actors. The relentless proscription of
play-actors is one of the most remarkable of the contradictions and
outrages of the old régime. They were doubtless a very worthless set
of men and women; but that the Church should have refused them either
marriage or burial is indeed extraordinary. "Oh, barbarous prejudices!"
exclaimed Michelet. "The two first men of England and France, the
author of _Othello_ and of _Tartufe_, were they not comedians?"

Notwithstanding the general decree of democratic enfranchisement
pronounced by the Assembly, the world-renowned Talma, having applied
to the Church for the rite of marriage, which the Church alone could
solemnize, met with a peremptory refusal. He sent the following
characteristic petition to the National Assembly:

"I implore the succor of the constitutional law, and claim the rights
of a citizen, from which rights the Constitution does not exclude me
because I am a member of the theatrical profession. I have chosen a
companion to whom I wish to be united by the ties of marriage. My
father has given his consent. I have called upon the curé of St.
Sulpice for the publication of the banns. After a first refusal I
have served upon him a judicial summons. He replies to the sheriff
that he has referred the matter to his ecclesiastical superiors, and
is instructed by them that the Church refuses to perform the rites of
marriage for a play-actor unless he first renounces that profession.
I can, it is true, renounce my profession, be married, and resume
my profession again the next day. But I do not wish to show myself
unworthy of that religion which they invoke against me, and unworthy of
the Constitution in thus accusing your decrees of error and your laws
of powerlessness."[253]

It was in such ways as these that the Romish Church began to throw
every possible obstacle in the way of liberty, and to exasperate the
people, rejoicing in their new enfranchisement.

It was a long stride which Napoleon took when he subsequently conferred
the Cross of the Legion of Honor upon an illustrious tragedian. "My
object," says Napoleon, "was to destroy the whole of the feudal system
as organized by Charlemagne. I sought for true merit among all ranks
of the great mass of French people, and was anxious to organize a true
and general system of equality. I was desirous that every Frenchman
should be admissible to all the employments and dignities of the
state, provided he was possessed of talents and character equal to the
performance of the duties, whatever might be his family. In a word, I
was eager to abolish to the last trace the privileges of the ancient
nobility, and to establish a government which, at the same time that
it held the reins of government with a firm hand, should still be a
_popular government_. The oligarchs of every country in Europe soon
perceived my design, and it was for this reason that war to the death
was carried on against me by England. The noble families of London, as
well as those of Vienna, think themselves prescriptively entitled to
the occupation of all the important offices in the state. Their birth
is regarded by them as a substitute for talents and capacities."

Soon after Napoleon's attainment of the consulship he restored to
France the Christian religion, which revolutionary fury had swept away.
In consistency with his unvarying principles, he established perfect
freedom of opinion and of worship. Some of the reinstated priests began
to assume much of their former arrogance. A celebrated actress died in
Paris. A priest, adopting the intolerance of the old régime, refused
her remains Christian burial. Napoleon caused the following article to
be inserted the next day in the Moniteur, expressive of his emphatic

"The curate of St. Roche, in a moment of hallucination, has refused
the rites of burial to Mademoiselle Cameroi. One of his colleagues, a
man of sense, received the procession into the church of St. Thomas,
where the burial service was performed with the usual solemnities. The
Archbishop of Paris has suspended the curate of St. Roche for three
months, to give him time to recollect that Jesus Christ commanded us
to pray even for our enemies. Being thus called by meditation to a
proper sense of his duties, he may learn that all these superstitious
observances, the offspring of an age of credulity or of crazed
imaginations, tend only to the discredit of true religion, and have
been proscribed by the recent Concordat of the French Church."

The trial of Marquis Favrus was continued. On the 18th of February
he was adjudged guilty of plotting the crime of assassinating Bailly
and La Fayette, of seizing and abducting the king, and of exciting
insurrection and civil war. He was sentenced to be taken by the
executioner to the principal door of the Cathedral of Nôtre Dame, in a
tumbrel, barefooted, bareheaded, and dressed simply in his night-robe,
with a rope round his neck, a blazing torch in his hands, and with a
label on his breast and back inscribed with the words "Conspirator
against the State." After having on his knees asked pardon of God,
the nation, the king, and justice, he was to read aloud his own
death-warrant, and then to be taken to the Place de Grève and hanged.
This cruel sentence was immediately executed, the court, conscious of
its powerlessness, making no attempts to save him.

This was the first time that a nobleman had been hanged, and the mob,
deeming him an infamous conspirator against the rights of the people,
rejoiced in his execution. They witnessed with delight this indication
that the reign of _equality_ had really commenced; that the sword
of retribution would hereafter fall as surely upon the head of the
_high-born_ as upon that of the _low-born_ offender.

It was now nearly a year since the fall of the Bastille, and France,
even in the midst of famine, and almost starvation, had passed from the
reign of the most execrable despotism to the reign of constitutional
liberty. Never before had so vast a revolution been effected so
peaceably. The enslaved people had broken and thrown away their
fetters, and were enfranchised. Instead of falling upon their past
oppressors in indiscriminate massacre, they had spared them, wresting
from them only the exclusive privileges of tyranny. The Assembly sought
only constitutional liberty and peace with all the world. The decrees
enacted by the Constituent Assembly were essentially the same with
those adopted by republican America.


Free principles had been infused into the government; _lettres de
cachet_, the most infamous instruments of oppression the world has ever
known, abolished; feudal impediments and oppressions of every kind
removed; the right of suffrage established and made almost universal;
the offices of honor and emolument in the state thrown open to merit,
with but the slightest limitations; religious liberty proclaimed, the
Protestant, the Jew, the negro, and the play-actor enfranchised; law
made uniform, criminal jurisprudence reformed, monasteries, those
haunts of indolence and vice, abolished, and the military force of the
country intrusted to the citizens of the country. Such a transformation
from the slavery, corruption, and horror of the old régime was
translation from the dungeon to the blaze of day. All this was done
almost without violence. The court here and there shot down a few
hundred, some chateaux were burned, and there were a few acts of mob
violence; but that a nation of twenty millions of people should have
been able to accomplish so vast a change so bloodlessly must ever be a

But the armies of aristocratic opposition were gathering to crush this
liberty, which threatened to spread to other states. Despotic Europe
combined, and with all her accumulated armies fell upon the people of
France. The recently emancipated people fought to protect themselves
from new chains with all the blind fury and ferocity of despair. Then
ensued scenes of blood and woes which appalled the world.[254]

The French people, unconscious of the terrific storm which was
gathering, prepared for a great national jubilee. It was to be held
on the 14th of July, the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille.
All France was to be represented at the festival. The Field of Mars,
a vast parade-ground in Paris, a mile in length and half a mile in
width, extending from the military school to the banks of the Seine,
was the selected theatre for this national festivity. The centre
was made smooth as a floor, and the removed earth was placed on the
sides so as to create slopes in the form of an amphitheatre capable
of accommodating nearly half a million of spectators. But so immense
was the work to be performed, that at length apprehensions were felt
that the field could not be in readiness in season for the appointed
fête. No sooner was this idea suggested than all Paris, in a flame of
enthusiasm, volunteered to aid in the toil.

A more extraordinary scene of enthusiasm earth has never witnessed.
All heads and hearts were electrified. Men, women, and children, of
all ages and ranks, spread over the field and shared in the toil. The
Carthusian monk and the skeptical philosopher, the hooded nun and the
brawny fish-woman, merchants, lawyers, students, scholars, gray-haired
patriots, and impetuous boys, matrons and maidens, delicate ladies and
the rugged daughters of toil, blended harmoniously together in immense
groups, ever varied, incessantly moving, yet guided by engineers
with almost military order and precision. Moving tents and portable
restaurants, decorated with tricolored ribbons, added to the gayety
of the spectacle. Trumpets sounded the charge against banks of earth,
and willing hands wielded energetically all the potent enginery of
wheel-barrows, hoes, and spades. Bands of music animated and enlivened
the scene, blended with shouts of joy and songs of fraternal sympathy.
Three hundred thousand persons were thus seen at once laboring upon
this spacious arena to rear an altar for the great sacrament of French
liberty. It was a work of love. The long twilight allowed them to labor
until the clock struck nine. Then the groups separated. Each individual
repaired to the station of his section, and marched in procession,
accompanied by triumphal music and with the illumination of torches,
to his home. Even the Marquis of Ferrières, inveterate Royalist as
he was, can not withhold his tribute of admiration in view of this
astonishing drama. "The mind felt sinking," says he, "under the weight
of a delicious intoxication at the sight of a whole people who had
descended again to the sweet sentiments of a primitive fraternity."


The field was thus prepared, and the long-expected day arrived.
Numerous delegates from all the eighty-three departments of France
had come up to Paris to share in the celebration of the nation's
enfranchisement. The morning of the 14th dawned dark and stormy. Heavy
clouds curtained the sky and the rain fell in torrents. Regardless
of the unpropitious weather, at an early hour four hundred thousand
spectators had taken their seats in the vast amphitheatre three miles
in circuit.

The delegates, twenty thousand in number, ranged beneath eighty-three
banners, emblematic of the departments of France, formed in line on the
site of the demolished Bastille, and, with a very magnificent array of
troops of the line, sailors of the royal navy, and the National Guard,
marched through the thronged and garlanded streets of St. Martin,
St. Denis, and St. Honoré, and by the _Cours la Reine_ to a bridge
of boats constructed across the river. All the way they were greeted
with acclamations, and the ladies regaled them sumptuously by letting
down in baskets from the windows wine, ham, and fruits. The country
members shouted "Long live our Parisian brothers!" and the Parisians
responded with accordant greetings and with exuberant hospitality and

To the patriot La Fayette this was an hour of inexpressible triumph. As
he rode along the lines on a noble charger he was every where greeted
with shouts of heartfelt affection. A man whom nobody knew pressed
through the crowd, and, approaching the general, with a bottle in one
hand and a glass in the other, said,

"General, you are hot. Take a glass."

Raising the bottle he filled the tumbler and presented it to La
Fayette. The marquis took the glass, fixed his eye for a moment upon
the stranger, and drank the wine at a draught. This confidence of La
Fayette in the multitude gave rise to a burst of applause.[255]

Just as the procession had entered the field, and the shouts of the
congregated thousands were ringing through the air, the rain ceased to
fall, the clouds broke, and the sun came out in glorious brilliance.
The spectacle now assumed an aspect of unparalleled sublimity. Near the
centre of the field there was constructed an immense altar of imposing
and antique architecture, upon whose spacious platform, twenty-five
feet high, three hundred priests were assembled, in white surplices and
broad tricolored sashes. Near this altar a majestic throne was reared,
where the king sat, the acknowledged sovereign of France, attended by
the queen, the court, and all the deputies of that Constituent Assembly
which had conferred the inestimable boon of a free constitution upon

An awning, decorated with golden _fleurs de lis_, embellished and
protected the throne. Fifty thousand of the National Guard, in new and
brilliant uniform, with waving banners, martial bands, glittering arms,
and richly-caparisoned horses, filled the spaces around the altar and
the throne. Then four hundred thousand spectators crowded the ascending
seats which, in thirty concentric rows, encircled this vast inclosure.
Every house-top and steeple in the vicinity swarmed with the rejoicing
multitude; and even the distant heights of Montmartre, St. Cloud,
Meudon, and Sevres, seemed alive with the masses assembled to witness
the magnificent spectacle. Tear-drops from the passing storm, pendent
from the leaves, and trembling on every blade of grass, glittered in
the sun, as if betokening that the day of darkness and sorrow had
passed, and that light had dawned, in which tears were to be dried from
every eye.

All hearts thrilled with emotion. Mass was performed, and the
oriflamme, the national banner of France, and the banners of the
eighty-three departments, were blessed by Talleyrand, Bishop of Autun.
Gratitude to God was then expressed in the majestic _Te Deum_, chanted
by twelve hundred musicians. A peal of thunder from the assembled
cannon uttered the national Amen to these solemn services.

La Fayette, as the representative of the military forces of the
kingdom, both by land and sea, now ascended the altar, and, in the
presence of more than half a million of spectators, in behalf of the
army and of the navy, took the oath of allegiance. Breathless silence
pervaded the assembly, and every eye was riveted upon this patriot of
two continents, while he uttered the solemn words,

"We swear eternal fidelity to the nation, the law, and the king; to
maintain, to the utmost of our power, the Constitution decreed by the
National Assembly and accepted by the king, and to remain united with
every Frenchman by the indissoluble ties of fraternity."

When he closed, every banner waved, every sabre gleamed, and sixty
thousand voices shouted, as with thunder peal, "We swear it!"

The president of the National Assembly then repeated the oath, and all
the deputies and the four hundred thousand spectators responded, "We
swear it."

The king then rose in front of his throne. In a loud, distinct voice,
which seemed to vibrate through the still air to the remotest part of
the vast and thronged amphitheatre, he repeated the solemn oath,

"I, King of the French, swear to the nation to employ all the powers
delegated to me by the constitutional law of the state in maintaining
the Constitution decreed by the National Assembly and accepted by me."


A more sublime moment never occurred in a nation's history. Every
heart throbbed, and thousands of eyes were dimmed with tears. Even
the queen was roused by the enthusiasm of the scene. Inspired by the
impulse which glowed in every bosom, she rose, stepped forward into
the presence of the people, and, raising her beautiful boy, the little
dauphin, in her arms, said, in a loud voice,

"See my son! he joins, as well as myself, in the same oath."

Every eye beheld the act, and the words she uttered were repeated
with electric speed along the lines. Enthusiasm burst all bounds. The
spectators rose from their seats, and the air was filled with the
roar of five hundred thousand voices, as every man, woman, and child
shouted, "Vive le Roi! Vive la Reine! Vive le Dauphin!" The crowds
on Montmartre, St. Cloud, Sevres, and Meudon caught the shout, and
re-echoed it in tumultuous reverberations. And then came another peal
still louder, as battery after battery of artillery, on the field, on
the bridges, in the streets, and on the heights, simultaneously mingled
their majestic voices with the clash of martial bands and the acclaim
of regenerated France.

God seemed to smile upon this jubilee of his enfranchised children. The
clouds had all disappeared. The sun shone brilliantly, and the Majesty
of heaven apparently condescended to take a prominent part in the
ceremonies of the eventful day. In conclusion, the _Te Deum_ was again
chanted by the vast choir, and the deep-voiced cannon proclaimed "Peace
to the nation and praise to the Lord."

At the same hour all France, assembled in the eighty-three departments,
took the same oath of fidelity to the nation, the law, and the king.
Discord seemed to have passed away. No murmurs were heard. No man
raised a voice of opposition. The general tide of rejoicing swept
resistlessly over the land. From mountain to mountain the roar of
cannon transmitted the tidings, from valley to valley chimes from
the church bells caught and re-echoed the joyful sound, and from
central Paris to the ocean, to the Rhine, to the Alps, and to the
Pyrenees, twenty-four millions of people in one hour raised the shout
of emancipation. Such a shout never before or since has ascended from
earth to the ear of God.

For a week these rejoicings were continued in Paris. The Field of Mars
was converted into an immense ball-room, where thousands listened to
enchanting music, and with the overflowings of fraternal love engaged
in feasting, dancing, and all manner of games. At night the city blazed
with illuminations, and the flame of fireworks turned darkness into
day. The trees of the Elysian Fields were festooned with brilliant
lamps, shedding a mild light upon the most attractive of scenes. There
was no intoxication, no tumult, no confusion. All classes intermingled,
with kind words on every lip and kind looks beaming from every face. No
carriages were permitted to enter these avenues, that the rich and the
poor might share the festivities alike. Pyramids of fire were placed at
intervals in the midst of the mass of foliage. The white dresses of the
ladies who were sauntering through those umbrageous alleys, the music,
the dances, the games, the shouts of laughter, led almost every one to
the delusive hope that the old world of care and sorrow had vanished to
give place to a new era of universal love and joy.[256]

The site of the Bastille was converted into an open square, and at
the entrance of the inclosure was an inscription "_Ici l'on danse_"
(Dancing here). For centuries the groans of the captive had resounded
through the vaults of that odious prison. The groans had now ceased,
and happy hearts throbbed with the excitement of the song and the dance.

La Fayette gave a splendid review of the National Guard. The king, the
queen, and the dauphin attended the review, and were warmly greeted
by the people. The queen assumed the attitude of reconciliation, and
graciously presented her hand to the delegates to kiss.

The delegates from the departments, before they left Paris, went in a
body to present their homage to the king. With one voice they expressed
to him their respect, gratitude, and affection. The chief of the
Bretons dropped on his knee and presented to the monarch his sword.

"Sire," said he, "I deliver to you, pure and sacred, the sword of the
faithful Bretons. It shall never be stained but with the blood of your


The heart of the kind-hearted king was touched. He returned the sword,
and, throwing his arms around the neck of the chief of the Bretons,
said, in tones broken with emotion,

"That sword can not be in better hands than those of my dear Bretons.
I have never doubted their fidelity and affection. Assure them that I
am the father, the brother, the friend of all the French."

For a moment there was silence, and all alike were moved by the
affecting scene. The chief of the Bretons then rejoined,

"Sire, all the French, if I may judge from our hearts, love and will
love you because you are a citizen-king."

Many of the most influential men in England contemplated with
admiration this immense reform, in which, to use the language of
Professor William Smyth, one of the most candid of English writers,
"the Constituent Assembly was supposed to have freed the country from
temporal and spiritual thraldom; the government had been rested on
free principles; the Bastille had been destroyed, _lettres de cachet_
abolished, feudal impediments and oppressions of every kind removed,
religious liberty established, the system of law made uniform, the
criminal jurisprudence reformed, monasteries abolished; and by making
the military force consist of the citizens of the country, freedom, and
all those new and weighty advantages, seemed to be forever secured from
the machinations of arbitrary power."

The _aristocracy_, however, of England and Europe were struck with
alarm. The emancipation of the _people_ in France threatened their
emancipation throughout the civilized world. Edmund Burke espoused the
cause of the aristocracy. With eloquence quite unparalleled he roused
England and Europe to war. In view of his fierce invectives Michelet
exclaims, in language which will yet be pronounced by the world as not
too severe,

"Mr. Pitt, feeling sure of the European alliance, did not hesitate
to say in open parliament that he approved of every word of Burke's
diatribe against the Revolution and against France--an infamous book,
full of calumny, scurrilous abuse, and insulting buffoonery; in which
the author compares the French to galley-slaves breaking their chains,
treads under foot the declaration of the rights of man, tears it in
pieces and spits upon it. Oh! what a cruel, painful discovery. Those
whom we thought our friends are our most bitter enemies."[257]

Thirty thousand copies of Burke's memorable "Reflections" were sold
almost in a day. The sovereigns of Europe were so highly elated that
they transmitted to him their thanks. The nobles and the higher clergy
of France wrote to him letters of acknowledgment, and the nobility of
England lavished upon him their applause. These "Reflections" combined
aristocratic Europe against popular rights, and the people had no
resource left them but to defend their liberties with the sword.


[Footnote 251: For the speech in full, see Thiers, vol. i., p. 126.]

[Footnote 252: M. Fromont, in his memoirs entitled "_Recueil de divers
Ecrits relatifs à la Revolution_," very frankly writes, "I repaired
secretly to Turin (January, 1790), to the French princes, to solicit
their approbation and their support. In a council which was held on my
arrival, I demonstrated to them that, if they would arm the partisans
of the altar and of the throne, and make the interests of religion
go hand in hand with those of royalty, it would save both. The real
argument of the revolutionists being force, I felt that the real
answer was force. Then, as at present, I was convinced of this great
truth--that _religious zeal alone can stifle the Republican mania_.

"In consequence of this dread (of the new order of things), they
secretly set at work the most efficacious means for ruining the
internal resources and for thwarting the proposed plans, several of
which were calculated to effect the re-establishment of order, if they
had been wisely directed and supported."]

[Footnote 253: "There is no country in the world," says Voltaire,
"where there are so many contradictions as in France. The king gives
the actors wages, and the curé excommunicates them."]

[Footnote 254: "The whole of Europe--on the one hand Austria and
Russia, on the other England and Prussia--were gradually gravitating
toward the selfsame thought, the hatred of the Revolution. However,
there was this difference, that liberal England and philosophical
Prussia needed a little time in order to pass from one pole to the
other--to prevail upon themselves to give themselves the lie, to abjure
and disown their principles, and avow that they were the enemies of
liberty."--_Michelet_, p. 327.]

[Footnote 255: Memoirs of the Marquis of Ferrières.]

[Footnote 256: No one familiar with the writings of that day will
affirm that this description is too highly drawn. Upon this point
Patriots and Royalists agree. See Ferrières, t. ii., p. 89, on the part
of the Royalists, and Alphonse Esquiros, p. 38, on the part of the

[Footnote 257: Michelet's French Revolution, p. 415.]



  Riot at Nancy.--Prosecution of Mirabeau.--Issue of
  Assignats.--Mirabeau's Interview with the Queen.--Four
  political Parties.--Bishops refuse to take the Oath to the
  Constitution.--Character of the Emigrants.--The King's Aunts attempt
  to leave France.--Debates upon Emigration.--Embarrassment of the
  Assembly.--Death of Mirabeau.--His Funeral.--The King prevented
  from visiting St. Cloud.--Duplicity of the King.--Conference of the
  Allies.--Their Plan of Invasion.--Measures for the Escape of the
  King.--The Flight.

The grand gala days, in the Field of Mars, celebrating the formation of
the Constitution, soon passed. The twenty thousand delegates, having
been fêted even to satiety, returned to their homes; the Constituent
Assembly resumed its labors.[258] The cares and toils of life again
pressed heavily upon the tax-exhausted and impoverished millions of

The Belgians, in imitation of France, had commenced a struggle for
freedom. The King of France permitted Austria to send her troops across
the French territory into Belgium to crush the patriots. Many of the
most influential of the opponents of the Revolution were still leaving
France and uniting with the armed emigrants on the frontiers. England,
Austria, Sardinia, and Prussia were manifestly forming an alliance to
punish the French patriots, and to restore the tyranny of the execrable
old régime. The court, emboldened by these proceedings, were boasting
of the swift destruction which was to overwhelm the advocates of
reform, and commenced a prosecution of Mirabeau, the Duke of Orleans,
and others of the popular party, for instigating the movement of
the 5th and 6th of October, when the royal family were taken from
Versailles to Paris. These movements created much alarm, and even the
royal troops at Metz and Nancy, who were mostly composed of Swiss and
Germans, fraternized with the populace.

A new issue of eight hundred millions of bonds or _assignats_ was
decreed, which quite abundantly replenished the treasury. There was
never a paper currency created upon so valuable a pledge, or sustained
by security more ample and undoubted. The assignats represented the
whole public domain, and could at any time be exchanged for the most
valuable landed property. Still, Talleyrand with singular precision
predicted the confusion which eventually resulted from these issues.

In the majestic march of events, Necker had for some time been passing
into oblivion. The king had been forced to recall him. Hated by the
court, neglected by the Assembly, forgotten by the people, he soon
found his situation insupportable, and, sending in his resignation,
retired to Switzerland, from which safe retreat he watched the
terrific gatherings of the revolutionary storm.

Civil war was sure to break out the moment the court could obtain
possession of the person of the king. The pliant nature of the monarch
would immediately yield to the influences which surrounded him, and the
court, under such circumstances, could find no difficulty in inducing
him to sanction any acts of violence to regain their power. But while
the king was in Paris, in the hands of the Assembly, he would sanction
the decrees of the Assembly, and thus the aristocrats could not wage
war against the patriots without at the same time waging war against
the king. Foreign monarchies could not be induced to take this step.
Thus the retention of the king was peace; his escape, civil war.
The court were plotting innumerable plans to effect his escape. La
Fayette, at the head of the National Guard, was fully awake to the
responsibility of guarding him with the utmost vigilance. The king was
apparently left at perfect liberty, but he was continually watched.
The queen was exceedingly anxious for flight. The king was ever
vacillating, but generally, influenced by such advisers as Mirabeau
and La Fayette, inclined to accept the Revolution. He was also haunted
with the idea that his cousin, the Duke of Orleans, wished to frighten
him into flight, that the Assembly might declare the throne vacant, and
place the sceptre in the duke's hand as the sworn friend and supporter
of the Revolution.

Mirabeau had commenced his career as one of the most ardent
advocates of reform, but he now wished to arrest the progress of the
revolutionary chariot, as he affirmed that it had passed beyond its
proper goal. His course was attributed by some to bribery on the part
of the court. His friends say that he was only influenced by his own
patriotic intelligence. At St. Cloud there is a retired summer-house,
embowered in foliage, at the summit of a hill which crowns the highest
part of the park. The queen appointed an interview with Mirabeau at
this secluded spot.

The statesman of gigantic genius, who seemed to hold in his hand
the destinies of France, left Paris on horseback one evening, under
pretense of visiting a friend. Avoiding observation, he turned aside
into a by-path until he reached a back gate of the park. Here he
was met in the dark by a nobleman, who conducted him to the retreat
of the queen, who was waiting to receive him. His constitution was
already undermined by dissipation and unintermitted labors. His cheeks
were sunken, his eyes inflamed, his complexion sallow, and a flabby
corpulency announced the ravages of disease; but, notwithstanding all
these defects, his genial spirit and courtly bearing made him one of
the most fascinating of men.[259]

The queen was then thirty-five years of age. Care and grief had sadly
marred her marvelous beauty. Her proud spirit was chagrined in being
compelled to look for support to one of the leaders of the people. But
little is known respecting what passed at this private interview. At
its close Mirabeau said to the queen,

"Madam, when your august mother admitted one of her subjects to the
honor of her presence, she never dismissed him without allowing him to
kiss her hand."

The queen, responding to the gallantry, graciously presented her hand.
Mirabeau, bowing profoundly, kissed it, and then, raising his head,
said proudly,

"Madam, the monarchy is saved."[260]

Suddenly Mirabeau became rich, set up a carriage, furnished his house
sumptuously, and gave magnificent entertainments. He immediately
commenced a course of cautious but vigorous measures to overthrow the
Constitution and establish one less democratic, which should give more
stability and efficiency to the royal power. He affirmed that this was
essential to the peace and prosperity of France, and that, instead of
being bought over by the court, he had bought the court over to his

"But suppose the court refuses," said one of his friends, "to adopt
your plans?"

"They have promised me every thing," Mirabeau replied.

"But suppose they should not keep their word?" it was rejoined.

"Then," said Mirabeau, "I will overthrow the throne and establish a

It can hardly be denied that the Constitution was too democratic for a
monarchy and hardly democratic enough for a republic. In the natural
course of events public opinion would sway either to strengthening
the throne or to diminish still more its prerogatives. There were now
four parties in France. The first consisted of the old aristocratic
classes of the clergy and the nobles, now mostly emigrants, and busy
in effecting a coalition of surrounding monarchies to quell the
Revolution, and by fire and sword to reinstate the rejected despotism
of the Bourbons.

The second class was composed of the king and Mirabeau, with the queen
reluctantly assenting to its principles, and others of the nobles
and priests who were disposed, some from choice and others from the
consciousness of necessity, partially to accept the Revolution. They
were willing to adopt a constitution which should seriously limit
the old prerogatives of the crown. But they wished to repudiate the
constitution now adopted, and to form one less democratic, which would
still grant many prerogatives to the king.

The third party consisted of the great majority of the Assembly, headed
by sincere and guileless patriots like La Fayette, and sustained
probably by the great majority of the purest and best men in the
kingdom, who were in favor of the constitution which the nation had
accepted. While they did not regard it as perfect, they felt that it
was a noble advance in the right direction, and that the salvation
of the liberties of France now depended upon allegiance to this

There was a fourth class, restless, tumultuous, uninformed, composed of
the lowest portion of the populace, who could ever be roused to phrensy
by the cry of "Aristocracy," who were ripe for any deeds of violence,
and who regarded that firmness of law which protected order, property,
and life as tyranny. They occupied the lowest possible platform of

Such was the condition of France as the Constituent Assembly now
endeavored to consolidate the new institutions and to bring harmony
from the chaos into which the nation had been plunged. While in these
circumstances of unparalleled peril, combined Europe was watching for
an opportunity to pounce upon the distracted nation.

All public functionaries were required to take oath to the new
constitution. The clergy, as bound by the laws of the Romish Church,
appealed to the Pope for instructions. At the same time the opposing
bishops and nobles wrote to the Pope urging him to withhold his
assent.[261] The king had sanctioned the decrees. The Pope, under
various pretexts, postponed an answer. Many of the bishops and curates
consequently refused to take the oath. The Assembly was not disposed
to wait for the decision of a foreign potentate, and, accepting those
bishops and curates who took the oath, immediately nominated new
bishops and curates to take the place of those who refused. Justly
and frankly the Assembly declared that it wished to do no violence to
conscience, but that it could not appoint as public functionaries those
men who refused to take the oath of allegiance to the Constitution
of the kingdom. This increased exasperation, and enabled many of the
bishops to appeal to the fanatic populace to rise in defense of the
endangered Church.

The emigrants now made a general rendezvous at Coblentz, in the
territory of the Elector of Treves, and at other points of the
frontier.[262] These men, composing what was called the court,
consisted mainly of the higher nobles who had long been pampered with
the favors of the monarchy, and who looked with contempt upon the
nobles of the rural districts. Haughty, dissolute, and frivolous, they
scorned any appeal to the popular arm, even to popular fanaticism for
support. The only recourse to which they would condescend were the
armies of England, Austria, and Prussia. The rural nobles, on the
other hand, and the rural bishops, were secretly organizing their
friends within the kingdom to fall fiercely in civil war upon the
patriots so soon as the solid battalions of the allies should cross the

In this state of things the king's aunts decided to leave France.
They had proceeded in their carriage on the way to Rome as far as
Arnay-le-Duc, when they were arrested. The feverish state of the public
mind led to suspicions that their emigration might accelerate impending
perils. The Assembly took the matter into deliberation whether the
ladies should be permitted to depart. The question was settled by a
keen sally of Menou.


"All Europe," said he, "will be astonished to learn that a great
Assembly has spent several days in deciding whether two old ladies
shall hear mass at Paris or at Rome."

The worthy ladies continued the journey without interruption. The
king's next elder brother, usually called Monsieur, subsequently Louis
XVIII., remained with the king in Paris. The next brother, however, the
Count d'Artois, subsequently Charles X., was actively participating
with the emigrants at Coblentz. The very difficult question respecting
emigration was now brought forward in the Assembly. It seemed to be a
gross act of tyranny to prohibit French citizens from withdrawing from
or entering France at their pleasure. On the other hand the enemies
of regenerated France were daily leaving the kingdom with all the
resources they could collect; and from the frontier, where they were
plotting foreign and civil war, they were continually entering the
kingdom to make preparations for the invasion.

Mirabeau, who was at this time conspiring for the escape of the king,
with his accustomed vehemence and his overpowering audacity, opposed
any law against emigration.[264]

"I admit," said he, "that a bad use is made of this liberty at the
present moment. But that by no means authorizes this absurd tyranny. I
beg you to remember that I have all my life combated against tyranny,
and that I will combat it wherever I find it. That popularity to which
I have aspired, and which I have enjoyed, is not a feeble reed. I will
thrust it deep into the earth, and will make it shoot up in the soil
of justice and of reason. And I now solemnly swear, if a law against
emigration is voted, I swear to disobey you."[265]

The Assembly was truly in a dilemma. They could not prohibit emigration
without grossly violating that declaration of rights which they had
just adopted with solemnities which had arrested the attention of the
world. They could not permit this flood of emigration without exposing
France to ruin; for it was well known that the nobles, with all the
wealth they could accumulate, were crossing the frontiers merely to
organize themselves into armies for the invasion of France.

Mirabeau never displayed more power than on this occasion, in overawing
and commanding the Assembly. He succeeded in arresting the measure.
This, however, was his last triumph. Disease was making rapid ravages,
his frame was exhausted, and death approached. A sudden attack of
colic confined him to his chamber, and soon all hope of recovery was
relinquished. He was still the idol of the people, and crowds, in
breathless silence, thronged around his abode, anxious to receive
bulletins of his health. The king and the people alike mourned, for
both were leaning upon that vigorous arm.

He could not repress an expression of satisfaction in view of his
labors and his accomplishments. To his servants he said, "Support this
head, the greatest in France." "William Pitt," he remarked, "is the
minister of preparations. He governs with threats. I would give him
some trouble if I should live."[266] On the morning of his death he
said to an attendant,

"Open the window. I shall die to-day. All that can now be done is to
envelop one's self in perfumes, to crown one's self with flowers,
to surround one's self with music, that one may sink quietly into
everlasting sleep."

Soon, in a paroxysm of extreme agony, he called for opium, saying, "You
promised to save me from needless suffering."

To quiet him a cup was presented, and he was deceived with the
assurance that it contained the desired fatal opiate. He swallowed
the draught, and in a moment expired, in the forty-second year of his
age. It was the 2d of April, 1791. His death caused profound grief.
All parties vied alike in conferring honor upon his remains. The
nation went into mourning, a magnificent funeral was arranged, and the
body was deposited in the tomb with pomp surpassing that which had
accompanied the burial of the ancient kings of France. Suspicions are
still cherished that Mirabeau died the victim of poison.[267]

The funeral of Mirabeau was the most imposing, popular, and extensive
of any recorded in history, always excepting that unparalleled display
of a nation's gratitude and grief which accompanied the transfer of the
remains of Napoleon from St. Helena to the Invalides. It is estimated
that four hundred thousand men took a part in the funeral pageant of
Mirabeau. The streets were draped in mourning, and pavements, windows,
balconies, and house-tops were thronged with sad and silent spectators.

La Fayette headed the immense procession, and was followed by the
whole Constituent Assembly, and by the whole club of Jacobins, who,
in a dense mass, assumed to be chief mourners on the occasion, though
Mirabeau had for some time held himself aloof from their tumultuous
meetings. It was eight o'clock in the evening before the procession
arrived at the Church of Saint Eustache, where a funeral oration was
pronounced by Cérutti. The arms of twenty thousand of the National
Guard were then discharged at once. The crash caused the very walls of
the church to rock, shivering to atoms every pane of glass.

It was now night, and, by the light of a hundred thousand torches,
the procession resumed its course. New instruments of music had been
invented, which were then heard for the first time--the trombone and
the tamtam. As the vast procession traversed the streets through the
gloomy shades of night, illumined by the glare of flickering torches,
with the tolling of bells, blending, now with the wail of the chant and
now with the pealing requiems of martial bands, all the elements of
sublimity seemed combined to affect the heart and overawe the soul. It
was near midnight when the sarcophagus was deposited in its tomb at the
Church of Saint Geneviève, over whose portal was inscribed these words,


Mirabeau was the master-spirit of the Revolution. After his death
there were multitudes struggling for the leadership, with no man of
sufficient prominence to attain and retain it. The funeral of Mirabeau
was the funeral of emancipated France. From that hour the Revolution
was on the rush to ruin.

"Time," writes Michelet, "which reveals every thing, has revealed
nothing that really proves the reproach of treason to be well founded.
Mirabeau's real transaction was an error, a serious, fatal error, but
one that was then shared by all in different degrees. At that time all
men, of every party, from Cazalès and Maury down to Robespierre, and
even to Marat, believed France to entertain Royalist opinions. All
men wanted a king. The number of Republicans was truly imperceptible.
Mirabeau believed that it was necessary to have a king with power,
or no king at all. It is true that Mirabeau appears to have received
sums to defray the expense of his immense correspondence with the
Departments--a sort of ministry that he was organizing at his own
house. He makes use of this subtle expression--this excuse which does
not excuse him--that he had not been bought; _that he was paid, not

[Illustration: FUNERAL OF MIRABEAU.]

The death of Mirabeau seemed to paralyze the hopes of the king, and
he now resolved to spare no endeavors to secure his escape. On the
18th of April the king took his carriage at Versailles, intending
to ride to St. Cloud. A rumor spread through the city that he was
contemplating flight. The populace collected and stopped the horses. La
Fayette immediately hastened to the spot with a company of the guards,
dispersed the mob, who offered no other violence than to obstruct
the departure of the king, and cleared a passage. The king, however,
who now wished to have it appear that he was held a prisoner, as most
certainly he virtually was, refused to go, and returned indignantly
into the palace.

By the advice of his ministers he repaired to the Assembly, and
complained warmly of the insult he had encountered. The king was
received with the utmost kindness by the Assembly, cordially greeted,
and was assured that every thing should be done to prevent the possible
occurrence of another similar outrage.

To disarm suspicion and appease the public mind the king, on the 23d of
April, sent a letter to the foreign embassadors declaring that he had
no intention of leaving France, that he was resolved to be faithful to
the oath which he had taken to the Constitution, and that all those who
intimated any thing to the contrary were his enemies and the enemies
of the country. He soon after, however, declared to an envoy sent to
him from the Emperor Leopold, that this letter by no means contained
his real sentiments, but that it was wrung from him by the peril of his

A conference of the foreign powers was held on the 20th of May, 1791,
at Mantua, in Italy, where Leopold, Emperor of Austria, and brother of
Marie Antoinette, then chanced to be. At this conference Count d'Artois
appeared in behalf of the emigrants. Prussia was represented by Major
Bischofverder, England by Lord Elgin, and Louis XVI. by the Count de
Durfort. Several other of the kingdoms and principalities of Europe
were represented on the occasion. The Count de Durfort returned from
this conference to Louis XVI. in Paris, and brought him the following
secret declaration in the name of the Emperor Leopold:[270]

Austria engaged to assemble thirty-five thousand men on the frontiers
of Flanders. At the same time fifteen thousand men from the smaller
German States would attack Alsace. Fifteen thousand Swiss troops were
to be marched on Lyons, and the King of Sardinia, whose daughter
the Count d'Artois had married, was to assail Dauphiné. The king of
Spain, cousin of Louis XVI., was to gather twenty thousand troops
upon the slopes of the Pyrenees, to fall like an avalanche down upon
southern France. Prussia engaged to co-operate cordially. The King of
England, notwithstanding the eloquence of Burke's pamphlet, could not
yet venture to call upon the liberty-loving English to engage in this
infamous crusade against the independence and the liberty of a sister
kingdom. But the king, as Elector of Hanover, engaged to take an active
part in the war. A protest against the Revolution was to be drawn up
in the name of the whole house of Bourbon, whose _divine right_ to
despotism in France had been questioned by the French people, and this
protest was to be signed by those branches of the Bourbons who were
occupying the thrones of Spain, Naples, and Parma.[271]

Plans for the invasion having been thus arranged, Louis XVI. resolved
immediately to effect his escape to the frontier. He could then place
himself at the head of these foreign armies, and lash France into
obedience, and consign those patriots who had been toiling for liberty
to the dungeon and the scaffold.

Never was the condition of a nation more full of peril, or apparently
more hopeless. This impending destruction was enough to drive any
people into the madness of despair. It is hard to wear the fetters of
bondage even when one has never known any thing better. But, after
having once broken those chains and tasted the sweets of liberty, then
to have the shackles riveted anew is what few human spirits can endure.

It was not the intention of the king immediately to leave France.
He arranged to go to Montmedy, about two hundred miles from Paris,
taking the very retired Chalons road through Clermont and Varennes.
The Marquis of Bouillé, a general entirely devoted to the court party,
formed a camp at Montmedy to receive the king, under the pretense of
watching hostile movements on the frontiers. Small detachments of
cavalry were also very quietly posted at different points on the road
to aid in the flight. All the arrangements were made for starting on
the 20th of June.[272]

The king, though on the whole a worthy man, and possessing some
excellent traits of character, was in some points weak almost to
imbecility. All the energy of the family was with the queen, and she,
with the Marquis of Bouillé, planned the escape. They were often
thwarted, however, in their wishes by the obstinacy of the king. La
Fayette was entirely deceived, and but few even of the court were
intrusted with the secret. Still, rumors of flight had been repeatedly
circulated, and the people were in a state of constant anxiety lest
the court should carry off the king. They hardly believed that the
king himself wished to join the emigrants, and to urge war against the
Constitution which he had sworn to accept.

The Swiss Guards still surrounded the Tuileries. They were stationed,
however, only at the exterior posts. The interior of the palace, the
staircases, and the communications between the rooms were occupied by
the National Guard, in whom the nation could place more reliance. It
was a long-established custom that troops should be thus stationed
throughout the palace, that the royal family might be protected from
impertinence or from any irruption of popular violence. Since the
terrible scenes of the 5th and 6th of October it became more important
than ever that a strong guard should encircle the royal family. But
while the ostensible duty of this guard was only to protect the king
from insult, it had also a secret mission to prevent the king's escape.


[Footnote 258: "I have read many histories of revolutions, and can
affirm what a Royalist avowed in 1791, that never had any great
revolution cost less bloodshed and weeping. In reality, only one
class, the clergy, was able, with any appearance of truth, to call
itself robbed; and, nevertheless, the result of that spoliation was,
that the great bulk of the clergy, starved under the old system
for the emolument of a few prelates, had at length a comfortable
livelihood."--_Michelet_, p. 417.]

[Footnote 259: "If I had never lived with Mirabeau," says Dumont, "I
should never have known what a man can make of one day--what things may
be placed within the interval of twelve hours. A day for this man is
more than a week or a month is for others. The mass of things he guided
on together was prodigious; from the scheming to the executing, not a
moment lost."--_Dumont_, p. 311.]

[Footnote 260: Michelet, p. 333.]

[Footnote 261: Thiers, vol. i., p. 166. Ferrières, t. ii., p. 198.]

[Footnote 262: "Many of the emigrants had joined the army in a state
of complete destitution. Others were spending improvidently the last
relics of their fortunes. All were in good spirits, for the camp life
was free and joyous. They confidently believed that the end of autumn
would find them restored to their splendid homes, to their groves, to
their forests, and to their dove-cots."--_Chateaubriand's Memoirs of
the Duke de Berri._]

[Footnote 263: See Recueil de divers Ecrits relatif à la Revolution, p.
62; also Chateaubriand's Memoirs of the Duke de Berri.

In reference to England Michelet remarks, with much truth: "The
first power is aristocracy, the second aristocracy, and the third
aristocracy. This aristocracy goes on incessantly recruiting its body
with all those who grow rich. To be rich in order to be noble is the
absorbing thought of the Englishman. Property, specially territorial
and feudal, is the religion of the country."--_Michelet's French
Revolution_, p. 432.]

[Footnote 264: "The meeting ended at half past five, and Mirabeau went
to the house of his sister, his intimate and dear confidante, and said
to her, 'I have pronounced my death-warrant. It is now all over with
me, for they will kill me.'"--_Michelet_, p. 461.]

[Footnote 265: The peculiar character of Mirabeau is illustrated by
the following well-authenticated anecdote. He was, on one occasion,
reading a report to the Assembly upon some riots in Marseilles, which
he affirmed were fomented by the partisans of the court. He was
incessantly interrupted by the aristocratic party with such abusive
epithets as "calumniator, liar, assassin, scoundrel." He stopped
a moment, looked at them with an imperturbable smile, and, in his
most honeyed tones, said, "Gentlemen, I wait till these amenities be
exhausted."--_Dumont, Souvenirs_, p. 278.]

[Footnote 266: The English _people_ were at this time generally in
sympathy with the Revolution. The aristocratic _government_ of England
was in deadly hostility to it. In 1792, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, then
head scholar in Jesus College, Cambridge, wrote an Ode to France,
commencing with the words,

 "When France, in wrath, her giant limbs upreared,
 And, with that oath which smote air, earth, and sea,
 Stamped her strong foot, and said she would be free,
 Bear witness for me how I hoped and feared."

In consequence of this ode, and his avowed attachment to the
principles of the Revolution, he became so obnoxious to his superiors
that he was constrained to leave the college abruptly, without a
degree.--_Cyclopædia of English Literature, Article S.T. Coleridge._]

[Footnote 267: M. Thiers, in the impetuosity of his narrative, is not
always accurate in details. He gives the 20th of April as the date of
Mirabeau's death. Mignet assigns it to the 2d of March. Nearly all
other authorities agree upon the 2d of April. It is indeed wonderful
that upon such a subject there should be such a diversity of statement.
The event at the time was deemed so momentous, that the Jacobin Club
voted that the anniversary of his death should, through all future
time, be celebrated with funereal pomp.]

[Footnote 268: Mirabeau claims, and his friends claim for him, and
probably with justice, that he wished to be the mediator between the
Revolution and the monarchy--to save royalty and liberty, believing
that, under the circumstances, royalty was essential to liberty. But
the folly of the court thwarted every endeavor. They would not accede
to any measure of justice and moderation. The court wished only to make
him unpopular. Mirabeau saw his position, from which no struggles could
extricate him, and he died of disappointment and grief. Had he not then
died, he would, in a few months, have inevitably perished upon the
scaffold. See _Mémoires de Mirabeau_, vol. viii.]

[Footnote 269: Bertrand de Moleville.]

[Footnote 270: Mignet, p. 101. Villiaumé, p. 91.]

[Footnote 271: Fox and others of the most illustrious of the English
commoners had in the parliament expressed their sympathy for the French
patriots. A very strenuous effort was made to unite the Whig party
in opposition to liberty in France. A meeting was held at Burlington
House. Mr. Burke was the organ of the aristocracy. The animated
discussion was continued from ten o'clock at night until three in the
morning. But the differences of opinion were found irreconcilable,
and only resulted in the permanent alienation of Fox and Burke.--_See
Lectures on the French Revolution, by Prof. Wm. Smyth_, vol. i., p.

La Fayette, to whom the whole business was intrusted, oppressed with
the responsibility of his office, was continually, by night and by day,
visiting the posts. To the officers who had charge of the night-watch
he had given secret orders that the king was not to be permitted to
leave the palace after midnight. Thus the king was truly a prisoner,
and he was fully conscious of it, though every possible effort was
adopted to conceal from him the humiliating fact.

M. Bouillé and the queen were compelled to yield to the whims of the
king, and to adopt measures which threatened to frustrate the plan. The
king insisted upon having an immense carriage constructed which could
take the whole party, though the unusual appearance of the carriage
would instantly attract all eyes; he insisted upon traveling a very
unfrequented route, which would excite the curiosity of every one who
should see the carriage pass; he insisted upon stationing military
detachments along the route, though Bouillé urged that such detachments
if small could render no service, and if large would excite suspicion;
he insisted upon taking the governess of the children, because the
governess said that she loved the children too much to be separated
from them, though Bouillé urged that instead of the incumbrance of a
governess they should take in the carriage an officer accustomed to
traveling, and who could aid in any unexpected emergency. The king,
though fickle as the wind upon questions of great moment, was, like all
weak men, inflexible upon trifles.[273]

At midnight of the 20th of June, the king, the queen, Madame Elizabeth,
the sister of the king, the two royal children, and Madame Tourzel
their governess, carefully disguised themselves in one of the interior
rooms of the Tuileries. Creeping cautiously down, in three successive
parties, an obscure flight of stairs, and emerging by a gate which
was contrived to be left unguarded, the fugitives, mingling with the
groups of people who ever at that time were leaving the chateau,
crossed the Carrousel, and, taking different streets, groped along
through the darkness until they all met on the Quai des Théatins, where
two hackney-coaches awaited them. In breathless silence they took
their seats. The Count de Fersen, a Prussian noble, young, handsome,
enthusiastic, who was inspired with a chivalric admiration of Marie
Antoinette, had made all the arrangements for the escape from the
city. Disguised as a coachman, he conducted the king, who led the
young dauphin by the hand. The count immediately mounted the box of
the coach which contained the royal family, and drove rapidly some
twelve miles to the little town of Bondy, where the capacious carriage
constructed for the king was waiting before the door of an Englishman,
Mr. Crawford. At the same hour in a similar manner the king's brother,
Monsieur the Count of Provence, subsequently Louis XVIII., left the
Palace of the Luxembourg, and with his family traveled all night toward
Flanders, where he crossed the frontiers in safety.

At Bondy the king, the queen, Madame Elizabeth, the two children,
Maria Theresa being about ten years of age and Louis seven, with
their governess, took their seats in the large carriage. One of the
body-guard of the king, disguised as a servant, sat on the box, and
another, as footman, sat behind. M. de Vallory rode on horseback, that
he might gallop forward and order the relays of horses. The waiting
women of the queen, who, by the strangest infatuation, had been
included in the party, took the other carriage.

The Marquis of Bouillé, an energetic, heroic man, finding that he could
not control the arrangements of the king, did every thing in his power
to avert the suspicion which the strange-looking cortège would be
likely to excite. He had a passport prepared, in which the governess
was represented as a German baroness, Madame de Korff, traveling
with her two children. The king was her valet-de-chambre, the queen
her waiting-maid. The proverbial wealth of the German barons and the
peculiar style of the equipage to which they were accustomed happily
favored this idea.[274]

The morning was just beginning to dawn as Count Fersen kissed the
hands of the king and queen and left them to prosecute their perilous
journey, while he took flight for the frontier through Flanders. The
coach was drawn by six horses, who were driven at the utmost speed,
relays of horses having been established at short stages. The sun at
length rose bright and cheerful. The country was smiling in all the
verdure of blooming June. Every revolution of the wheels was bearing
them farther from Paris. It was hardly possible that their flight
could be discovered until a late hour in the morning. There were no
telegraphs in those days to send intelligence with lightning speed
to arrest their flight. Having six or eight hours the start of their
pursuers, and being abundantly supplied with fresh horses, escape
seemed now almost certain. Hope began to cheer their hearts.

Some slight interruptions had retarded their progress, and it was about
three o'clock in the afternoon when they entered Chalons, some ninety
miles from Paris. The queen, with an exultant smile, exclaimed, "All
goes well. If we were to have been stopped at all it would have been
before now."

At Chalons they exchanged horses. The king now felt that he was safe,
for the Marquis of Bouillé had posted detachments of troops at every
important point between Chalons and Montmedy. With characteristic
imprudence, as the carriage was surrounded with idlers at Chalons, the
king put his head out of the window, showing his well-known face to the
crowd. The postmaster instantly recognized the king, but, being himself
an ardent Royalist, divulged not his secret, but aided in putting in
the fresh horses, and ordered the postillions to drive on.

About ten miles from Chalons is the bridge of Sommeville, which crosses
a narrow stream, where the Duke of Choiseul and M. Goguelat were
stationed with fifty hussars. They were to secure the king's passage,
and then to remain and block up the road against all pursuers. Faithful
to the plan, they were at the bridge, with the mounted hussars, at the
appointed hour. The strange assemblage of a military force at that spot
excited the curiosity of the peasants, and a great crowd was gathered.
Every mind throughout France was then in a very sensitive state. The
crowd increased, and in the adjoining villages the alarm-bells were
beginning to ring. As the royal carriages did not appear for five or
six hours later than they were expected, the Duke of Choiseul, to
appease the ferment, left the spot, and the people then dispersed.

Soon after the detachment had left the king arrived, and was surprised
to find no troops. It was then between four and five o'clock in the
evening. In great perplexity and anxiety he drove rapidly on two hours
farther to St. Menehould, where he was to find another detachment of
troops; but the Duke of Choiseul had sent forward to St. Menehould and
Chalons, informing the detachments there that he had waited six hours
for the arrival of the king; that the plan had probably miscarried;
that excitement was rapidly rising among the people; and that the
detachments had better retire.

The king, unaware of all this, was astonished and bewildered in still
finding no troops, and naturally, but imprudently, again looked out of
the window. The excited crowd which was gathered around the carriages
suspected that they contained the royal family. A young man named
Drouet, son of the postmaster, instantly recognized the king, from
his resemblance to the imprint on the coins in circulation. Without
communicating his discovery to any one, he mounted a horse, and, taking
a cross road, galloped some twelve or fifteen miles to Varennes, to
inform the municipality and cause the arrest of the party.


[Footnote 272: "The princes," writes M. Fromont, "conceived the plan
of forming legions of all the loyal subjects of the king. Desiring
to be at the head of those Royalists whom I had commanded in 1789, I
wrote to Count d'Artois, begging his royal highness to grant me the
commission of colonel, worded so that every Royalist who would raise a
legion might hope for a like favor. The members of his council thought
it so strange that a _commoner_ should aspire to a military commission,
that one of them said to me angrily, 'Why did you not ask for a
bishopric?'"--_Recueil de divers Ecrits relatifs à la Revolution_, p.

[Footnote 273: "What grieves us, moreover, among other things, in
this journey to Varennes, and lessens the idea we would like to
entertain of the king's goodness of heart, is the indifference with
which he sacrificed, by his departure, and abandoned to death men
who were sincerely attached to him. By the force of circumstances La
Fayette found himself to be the involuntary guardian of the king, and
responsible to the nation for his person. He had shown in various ways,
and sometimes even in compromising the Revolution, that he desired,
beyond every thing else, the restoration of the kingly power, as the
guarantee of order and tranquillity. There was every reason to suppose
that, at the startling news of the king's departure, La Fayette would
be torn to pieces.

"La Fayette, receiving warnings from several quarters, would believe
nobody but the king himself. He went to him and asked him whether there
was any truth in the reports. Louis XVI. gave such a decided, simple
answer, and in such a good-natured manner, that La Fayette went away
completely satisfied, and it was merely to calm the anxiety of the
public that he doubled his guard."--_Michelet_, p. 573.]

[Footnote 274: The passport was made out as follows: "De par le roi.
Mandons de laisser passer Madame le Baron de Korff, se rendant à
Franckfort avec ses deux enfants, une femme de chambre, un valet de
chambre, et trois domestiques."]



  Arrival at Varennes.--The Party arrested.--Personal Appearance of the
  King.--The Guards fraternize with the People.--Indignation of the
  Crowd.--The Captives compelled to return to Paris.--Dismay of M. de
  Bouillé.--Excitement in Paris.--The Mob ransack the Tuileries.--Acts
  of the Assembly.--Decisive Action of La Fayette.--Proclamation of the
  King.--The Jacobin Club.--Unanimity of France.

The carriages were driven rapidly forward, while the royal family sat
perplexed and silent, yet quite unprepared for the doom which was
impending. An hour's drive brought them to Clermont. Here the king
found two squadrons of horse, under Count de Dumas. But the detachments
of dragoons moving to and fro had excited suspicion, and the populace
of Clermont had been roused, and gathered alarmingly around the

The municipal authorities examined the passports of the travelers,
and, finding all apparently correct, allowed them to proceed, but,
calling out a detachment of the National Guard, forbade the Dragoons to
leave the town. The Dragoons, whose sympathies were with the people,
and who knew not on what mission they had been led by their officers,
immediately fraternized with the Guards, and their commander, Count
Dumas, was indebted to the fleetness of his horse for his escape from
arrest. It was midnight when the carriages arrived at Varennes. This
little town is situated on both banks of a narrow stream united by a
bridge. A tower is at one end of the bridge, supported by a massive and
gloomy arch, which arch must be traversed with care to enter upon the
bridge, and where a very slight obstacle would prevent any advance;
"a relic," says Lamartine, "of the feudal system, in which the nobles
captured the serfs, and where, by a strange retribution, the people
were destined to capture the monarchy."

The royal family, entirely exhausted with sleeplessness, anxiety,
and the travel of twenty-four hours, were all asleep, when the few
scattering lights of the town were perceived. They were to change
horses here, and the king was distinctly informed that they would find
the horses _before crossing the river_. It was, however, afterward
decided, without communicating the change to the king, that the fresh
horses should be stationed on the other side of the bridge. Thus
the carriages could cross the bridge at full speed, and, in case of
any popular tumult, could more easily effect a change of horses and
departure on the other side.

The king and queen, greatly alarmed in finding no relay of horses,
themselves left the carriage, and groped about through the darkened
streets seeking for them in vain. A few lights burned dimly here
and there in the houses, but all else was the silence and gloom of
midnight. The king even knocked at a few doors where lights were seen,
and inquired for the relays. The half-roused sleepers could give him no

In thus traveling by relays of horses in Europe, each relay has its
postillions, who go their appointed stage only. The postillions who had
drawn the carriage from the last post-house, entirely unconscious of
the dignity of their passengers, having fulfilled their appointed task,
weary of waiting, threatened to unharness their horses and leave the
carriage in the street until the relay should arrive. By dint of bribes
the king induced them to cross the bridge and continue the journey.

Just as they entered the arch beneath the tower to cross the bridge,
and when enveloped in almost Egyptian darkness, the horses were stopped
by a cart which obstructed the way. Some men seized the bridles of the
leaders, and one man on horseback shouted at the window of the carriage
the appalling words,

"In the name of the nation, stop! You are driving the king."

Drouet had effectually accomplished his design. Taking a shorter
road than that which the carriage pursued, he rode directly to a
stable, communicated his secret to the inn-keeper and sent him to give
the alarm, while he, with a few comrades whom he hastily gathered,
barricaded the bridge with the cart and such other heavy articles as
they could lay their hands upon. The delay upon the other side just
gave them time to do this before the carriage entered the vaulted

The king and queen were thunderstruck, and their hearts sank in
dismay. Immediately they perceived the signs of a great tumult. The
village bells were ringing. Lights were flashing through the gloom.
An undefined uproar seemed to increase in the streets, while crowds
were collecting on the bridge. One man with a lantern in his hand half
entered the carriage and cast the light full upon the faces of each one
of the inmates. The travelers were then commanded to alight and exhibit
their passports. Drouet, taking the passports, conducted the captives
in their carriage back again from the bridge to the door of the mayor
of the little town, a grocer by the name of Sausse.

Here there was quite a debate. The passports were made out correctly.
The party corresponded with the description. They all declared that
they were the Baroness de Korff with her attendants. Sausse appeared
to be satisfied. But Drouet, a young man of unusual intelligence and
energy, demanded,

"Why is not the passport signed by the President of the National
Assembly? And if you are foreigners, how is it that you have influence
to procure fifty dragoons to escort you at St. Menehould, and as many
more at Clermont? And why is there a detachment of hussars waiting for
you at Varennes?"


In the eagerness of the altercation it became very evident that
the counterfeit servants were not menials, and that the assumed
baroness was not accustomed to exercise authority over her pretended
maid-servant and valet de chambre. By this time a sufficient number
of the National Guard had assembled to prevent the possibility of the
rescue of the captives by the Hussars. The queen, seeing that all
farther attempts at deception were useless, and indignant at the
disrespect with which her husband was treated, exclaimed,

"Since you acknowledge him to be your king, speak to him with the
respect which you owe him!"

[Illustration: SCENE AT VARENNES.]

The whole party had thus far remained in the carriage. The tumult was
rapidly increasing. The bells were ringing, guns firing, drums beating,
and a crowd of men and women, in disordered dresses and eagerly
vociferating, was fast gathering around the captives. Lights in the
distance were seen hurrying to and fro, and armed men in tumultuous
bands of excitement and consternation were rushing from all directions.
Respectfully Sausse, who appears to have been a very humane man, urged
them to alight, and for their own protection to enter the door of the
grocery. They did so, and sat down upon the boxes, barrels, and bags
which were scattered around. The king now, to save himself from farther
insults, appealed to the loyalty of his subjects. He rose, and with
dignity said to the crowd,

"Yes! I am your king. Behold the queen and my children. We entreat you
to treat us with the respect which the French have always shown to
their sovereigns."

With the exception of that courtliness of manners which is almost the
inheritance of high birth, there was nothing in the king's personal
appearance to inspire deference. Though a somewhat educated and
accomplished man, he was totally destitute of any administrative skill
or of any initiative powers. He would have embellished almost any
situation in private life, as a kind-hearted, conscientious, exemplary
man. The costume of a servant, a steward, a tutor, a clerk, was far
more in accordance with his abilities and his character than the
insignia of royalty. His figure was swollen by a flabby obesity, the
result of a ravenous appetite and indolent habits. His legs were too
short for his body; the expression of his countenance unintellectual
and stolid.

As he appeared before the peasants and townsmen of Varennes that night,
exhausted with fatigue and terror, in the mean dress of a _valet_, in
a disordered wig, his fat cheeks pale and shrunken, with livid lips
aghast and speechless, he excited first emotions of surprise, then
of contempt, then of unfeigned pity. "What, that the king! that the
queen!" the crowd exclaimed in amazement. The piteous spectacle brought
tears into the eyes even of many of the most hostile and obdurate.

Varennes was but thirty miles from Montmedy, which, though in France,
was directly on the Germanic frontier. Thus the citizens of Varennes
were at but a few hours' march from those terrible armies of the
Continent which were threatening to sweep over France with flame
and blood. Knowing that their town might be one of the first to
encounter the horrors of war, they had been living in the midst of
the most terrific alarms. They had hoped that the king was, in heart,
in sympathy with the nation, and would place himself at the head of
the nation to resist the invaders. Surprise, grief, and indignation
struggled in their hearts as they found that the king was actually
endeavoring to escape from France to join their enemies. None but those
who live on the frontier at such a time can fully realize the terrible
significance of the words _the enemy_.

"What!" exclaimed the multitude, "the king running away, abandoning us,
his children, and becoming a traitor to the nation; going over to the
_enemy_, to aid them to burn our homes and massacre us all!"

Some wept; others execrated; others threatened to shoot the king upon
the spot. The simple-hearted peasants were, in intelligence, mere
children. They had been educated to regard the monarchy as paternal
and the king as their father. Choiseul and Goguelat, who, it will be
remembered, were stationed at the bridge of Sommeville with fifty
hussars, now came clattering into the streets of Varennes with their
detachment. At the same time Count Dumas arrived, who had escaped alone
from his dragoons, they having abandoned him at St. Menehould.

The grocer's shop was surrounded with a crowd armed with muskets,
pitchforks, and axes. Notwithstanding many fierce threats, the officers
forced their way through the crowd and entered the shop. There they
found the royal family in a deplorable condition. The little boy,
Louis, the dauphin, was happily asleep on a low cot bed. His sister,
Maria Theresa, three years older, in great terror, was sitting on
a bench between her governess and her aunt Elizabeth, clinging
tremblingly to their hands. The king and queen were standing by the
side of M. Sausse, imploring him to permit them to continue on their

Choiseul, grasping significantly the hilt of his sword, said boldly to
the king, "Sire, please give immediate orders to depart. I have forty
hussars. No time is to be lost. In one hour they will be gained over by
the people."

This was true. The hussars were Germans. Blindly obeying their
officers, they had no idea of the commission upon which they had been
sent. They were now surrounded by the populace, and were listening,
with surprise and sympathy, to their narrative of the events. At
this critical moment the municipality of Varennes, accompanied by
the officers of the National Guard in that place, entered the shop.
Accustomed as they had long been to revere and almost to adore royalty,
for the rural districts had by no means kept pace with Paris in
disregard of the throne, the officers threw themselves upon their knees
before the king and said,

"In God's name, sire, do not forsake us; do not quit the kingdom."

"It is not my intention," the king replied, "to leave France. The
insults I have suffered force me to leave Paris. I am going only to
Montmedy, and I invite you to accompany me thither; only give orders, I
pray you, for my carriages to be got ready."

The municipal authorities departed to deliberate, begging the king to
wait till the light should dawn. It was now two o'clock in the morning.
The chances of escape were every moment diminishing. The crowd, armed
with such weapons as they could on the moment seize, had become
formidable; the bridge was so barricaded that it could not be passed;
and but little reliance could be placed in the fidelity of the hussars.
There was, however, a ford near by, where the stream could be passed
on horseback. Choiseul and Goguelat entreated the king and queen, with
the ladies, immediately to mount on horseback, the king holding the
dauphin on the saddle, and, protected by the forty hussars, to cross
the stream, and attempt to effect their escape.

The queen, whose personal heroism never forsook her, looked at her
children, thought of the bullets which might be showered upon them,
and, yielding to a mother's love, hesitated. The king also, who never
dishonored himself by an act of cowardice, thought only of the peril of
those who were dearer to him than life, and said,

"But can you assure me that in this struggle a shot may not strike the
queen, my sister, or the children? Besides, the municipality does not
forbid to let us pass; it merely requests me to wait till daybreak.
Moreover, the Marquis de Bouillé is at Stenay, but twenty-four miles
distant. He can not fail to learn of my detention, and he will be here
with his troops in the morning."

Another weary hour of agitation, tumult, and gathering excitement
passed away, and the clock struck three. The hussars were now
completely gained over by the people, and were drinking with them "To
the Nation."

The municipal authorities, having briefly deliberated, returned to the
king with this short but terrible announcement,

"The people, being absolutely opposed to the king continuing his
journey, have resolved to dispatch a courier to the National Assembly
in order to be informed of its intentions."

M. de Goguelat now went out into the surging crowd to judge if it were
possible to fight their way through. Mounting his horse he rode slowly
around, when Drouet approached him and said, "You want to carry off the
king, but you shall not have him alive."

The carriage was surrounded by a body of the National Guard. Goguelat
approached the carriage with a few hussars who still hesitatingly
obeyed his orders, when the major in command of the detachment of the
National Guard said to him, "One step farther, and I shoot you."

Goguelat spurred his horse on, when a pistol was discharged. Two
bullets struck him, and he fell bleeding to the ground. He was,
however, able to rise and enter the shop, but the hussars immediately
with acclaim avowed themselves the soldiers of the nation. Goguelat
had observed also that at the end of the street there were two cannons
planted which seemed ready to fire upon them. There was no longer the
possibility of escape by force, unless M. de Bouillé should chance to
arrive in season with his well-trained dragoons.

As Goguelat, wounded and covered with blood, again entered the presence
of the royal family, they presented a heart-rending spectacle. The
queen was sitting upon a bench between two boxes of candles, piteously
pleading with the grocer's wife to intercede with her husband in their

"You are a mother, madame," said the queen; "you are a wife; the fate
of a wife and mother is in your hands. Think what I must suffer for
these children, for my husband. At one word from you I shall owe them
to you. The Queen of France will owe you more than her kingdom, more
than life."

There is an instinct, unreflecting, in the human heart, which says that
it would have been _noble_ in the woman to have periled every thing
to save the queen. The universal heart does homage to disinterested
benevolence, even when it is unthinking and mistaken. But in this case
the good woman, with very natural and prosaic common sense, said,

"I wish it were in my power to help you. But bless me! you are thinking
of your husband and I am thinking of mine. Every woman for her own

This speech certainly did not indicate a heroic nature. But it is
obvious that M. Sausse had now no power to save the king. Matters had
proceeded far beyond his control. If he could by any stratagem have
facilitated the flight, his own life would have been the inevitable
forfeit. It would have been treason to the nation. Humanity also seemed
imperiously to demand that the king should be stopped. His escape would
place him at the head of foreign and hostile armies to ravage France
with the horrors of war, and to quench the kindling flame of liberty in

The queen, whose energetic mind foresaw the awful future, was
overwhelmed and burst into tears. The king had now lost all
self-possession, and was bewildered as a child. The people, who began
to be apprehensive that the troops of Bouillé might come to the
rescue, were crowding the door and shouting, "Back, back to Paris."

The king was urged to show himself, that he might tranquilize the
people. He went to a window and looked out upon the excited multitude,
over whom a few torches shed a lurid light. The sight of the king at
first produced profound silence. The people then, as versatile as
children, were so affected by the appearance of the king in his servile
dress, and with his woe-worn countenance, that many wept; and while not
one word of insult was heard, many cried out, in compassionate tones,
_Vive le Roi_!

The day was then just beginning to dawn. Gradually the sun rose, and
shone upon a strange spectacle. The guns, the drums, the alarm-bells
had roused the whole country around. Ten thousand men had already
assembled in Varennes, choking the narrow street where the grocery
stood. From all directions the country people were seen hurrying to the
town, as the strange tidings of the attempted flight and arrest were
spreading far and wide. As the crowd increased in the streets, and the
gloom of night was dispelled by the bright blaze of day, the tumult
rose higher and higher. All sympathy for the royal family seemed to
give place to a feeling of indignation, that they should be stealing
away to lead foreign armies to make war upon the liberties of France.

At seven o'clock the door opened, and the king beheld, to his surprise,
an officer of the National Guard of Paris. His dress was disordered,
and he was dusty and worn with hurried travel. The man was greatly
agitated when he found himself in the presence of the king, and could
only stammer, in broken and almost incoherent phrase, the words,

"Sire, all Paris is being murdered; our wives and children are perhaps
assassinated; you shall not go any farther; sire, the interests of the
state; yes, sire, our wives and our children."

The queen seized the hand of the officer, and, leading him to a humble
bed in the corner, where the two royal children, Maria and Louis,
utterly exhausted, were sleeping, said to him, as she pointed to the

"Am I not a mother also?"[275]

The king, interrupting her, turned abruptly to the officer, and said,

"What do you want?"

"Sire," he replied, "I have a decree of the Assembly."

"Where is it?" inquired the king.

"My comrade has it," was the reply.

Just then the door opened, and M. de Romeuf entered. He was an
aide-de-camp of the Marquis de la Fayette and a true patriot, while at
the same time he was well known by the royal family as a friend of the
king. He entered, holding the decree in his hand, greatly agitated;
and, as he beheld the humiliating condition of the sovereign of France,
and was conscious of the most painful duty devolving upon himself, he
could not restrain his emotions, but bowed his head and wept bitterly.
There is not a generous heart on earth which will not be in sympathy
with that grief.

As the queen raised her eyes and saw M. de Romeuf enter, she exclaimed,
with surprise and indignation,

"What, sir, is it you? Oh! I could never have believed it possible."
Romeuf replied sadly, "We have done only our duty; but we hoped not to
have overtaken your majesties."[276]

The king took from the hand of Romeuf the decree of the Assembly
and hastily read it. It was an order enjoining upon all public
functionaries "to stop, by all the means in their power, _the abduction
of the king_, and to prevent the continuance of the journey."

The king indignantly threw the decree upon the bed where the children
were sleeping, and exclaimed, in words whose truth he then by no means
fully realized,

"_There is no longer any King in France_."

The queen, with pardonable but very injudicious passion, picked up the
decree of the National Assembly and threw it upon the floor, saying

"It shall not defile my children."

"Madame," said Romeuf sorrowfully to the queen, to whom he was much
attached, "in the name of your safety, your glory, I entreat you to
control your grief. Would you rather have any one but me witness these

The gentle reproach recalled the queen to herself, and she nerved
herself to endurance, calmness, and dignity. The mental agony of
that dreadful night had already turned her hair from auburn into the
whiteness of snow.

It was greatly feared that the troops of Bouillé might come and rescue
the king. Preparations for the departure were therefore hastened.
Six horses were harnessed into the carriage, and the royal family,
notwithstanding they did every thing in their power to cause delay,
were forced to take their seats. The queen would not allow any one to
touch her son, but carried him in her own arms to the carriage.

The melancholy cortège now commenced its slow progress toward Paris,
escorted by four thousand of the National Guard.

M. de Bouillé, as we have mentioned, was at Stenay, at but the distance
of eight leagues from Varennes, with several regiments of soldiers
under his command, waiting the arrival of the king. Had the king but
reached that stage he would have been safe. Bouillé was in a state of
great anxiety, and during the night had rode forward to within six
miles of Varennes, hoping to meet the king. Perplexed by the delay,
and anxious lest he should be abandoned by his soldiers, in whom he
could place but little confidence, he rode back to Stenay, and had just
arrived there, at half past four in the morning, when he received the
intelligence that the king was arrested, that the alarm-bells were
ringing, that the whole country was aroused, and the National Guard
in Stenay, Metz, and Verdun were rapidly forming in defense of the

Under these circumstances there was but one regiment in whom M. Bouillé
could repose any confidence--the Royal German--and but one officer, his
own son, in whom he could confide.

Bouillé was an energetic and brave man. He immediately called out the
German regiment, and by the influence of impassioned language and
enormous bribes to every man induced them to start for the rescue.
Almost with the speed of the whirlwind these strongly mounted dragoons
swept the space intervening between Stenay and Varennes. It was a
quarter of nine o'clock before they reached the town. The National
Guard, anticipating this movement, was strongly posted to repel them.
As Bouillé was reconnoitring in preparation for an attack, he was
informed that the king had been gone more than an hour and a half;
that the bridge was broken down, the streets barricaded; that M. de
Choiseul, M. de Goguelat, and M. de Dumas were prisoners; that their
hussars had fraternized with the people; that the garrisons of Metz
and Verdun were rapidly approaching to attack him, and that the whole
country around was swarming with troops and National Guards roused by
the peril of the nation.

The horses of the dragoons were entirely exhausted by the forced drive
of twenty-four miles; the soldiers themselves gave manifest symptoms of
hesitation. All hope was gone. Bouillé slowly, sadly, silently retraced
his steps. At Stenay popular enthusiasm had gained all hearts. His
soldiers abandoned him, and he narrowly escaped with his life across
the frontier to Luxembourg.

We must now return to Paris to record the scenes which transpired
there after the flight of the king. At seven o'clock in the morning
of the 21st of June the servants at the Tuileries, on entering the
apartments of the king and queen, found the beds undisturbed and the
rooms deserted. The alarm was speedily spread through the palace, and
flew from the chateau like wild-fire through the streets and into the
faubourgs. "The king has escaped!" was upon all lips. The crowd, in
countless thousands, rushed to the Tuileries. They pressed in at the
doors and up the stairs, and explored all the mysterious interior of
the palace. The most vile and degraded of the population of the city
are always foremost on such occasions. The awe which they at first felt
soon gave place to derision.

A portrait of the king was taken from his bed-chamber and hung up at
the gate of the chateau. A fruit-woman emptied her basket of cherries
upon the queen's bed, and sat down upon the bed to sell her venture,
saying "It is the Nation's turn to-day to take their ease." Some one
placed a cap from the queen's wardrobe upon the head of a young girl.
She threw it contemptuously on the floor and trampled upon it, saying
"It will sully my forehead."

For several hours the whole city was in a state of intense
consternation. The departure of the king was associated in all minds
with the approach of foreign armies, the bombardment of Paris, the
sweep of dragoons through the streets, the assassination of the
patriots, and the extinction of liberty. The alarm-bells rang, drums
beat to arms, minute-guns were fired, and the National Guard rallied at
all their rendezvous. But in the midst of these alarms there appeared
an apparition which excited intense alarm in the bosoms of all the
friends of enlightened liberty and order.

It consisted of vast gatherings of haggard, wretched-looking men, the
most worthless and abandoned of the population of a great city, under
their own fierce leaders, armed with pikes and all wearing a red cap,
the _bonnet rouge_. Santerre, a brewer, an uneducated man, of vast
energies, and of great power to lead the passions of the populace,
led a band of two thousand of these red-caps through the streets. The
indignation of the people was now roused to the highest pitch against
the king, and against all who were supposed to have connived at his
flight. La Fayette was loudly accused of treason in having allowed the
king to escape. His coolness and presence of mind alone saved him from
the fury of the mob.

At nine o'clock the Constituent Assembly met, calm, yet fully conscious
of the momentous state of affairs. The president immediately informed
them that M. Bailly, the Mayor of Paris, had come to acquaint them that
the king and royal family had been _carried off_, during the night, by
some enemies of the nation. These noble men conducted, in this crisis,
with their accustomed moderation and dignity. Hesitating to assume that
the king had perjured himself by violating the oath he had so solemnly
taken to sustain the Constitution, they adopted the more generous idea
of his abduction.

La Fayette, at eight o'clock, had been informed of the escape, and
immediately hastened to the Tuileries, where he found M. Bailly, the
Mayor of Paris, and M. Beauharnais, President of the National Assembly.
They were both oppressed in view of the momentous posture of affairs,
and were lamenting the hours which must elapse before the Assembly
could be convoked and a decree issued authorizing pursuit. The course
pursued by La Fayette upon this occasion was worthy of his heroic and
noble nature. He proved himself a consistent disciple of his great
friend and model, Washington.

"Is it your opinion," inquired La Fayette, "that the arrest of the king
and royal family is absolutely essential to the public safety, and can
alone preserve us from civil war?"

"No doubt can be entertained upon that subject," both replied.

"Well, then," returned La Fayette, "I take upon myself all the
responsibility of this arrest."

He immediately issued an order to the National Guard throughout France
for the arrest of the king.[277] It was placed in the hands of two of
his officers, who set out instantly on the pursuit.

Leaving the Tuileries, La Fayette hastened on horseback to the Hôtel de
Ville. He passed excited crowds, who inveighed bitterly against him,
accusing him of traitorous complicity in the king's flight. Arriving at
the Place de Grève, in front of the Hôtel de Ville, he found one of his
officers, the Duke d'Aumont, in the hands of the infuriate mob, who
were on the point of massacring him.

La Fayette instantly plunged into the crowd, by his authoritative voice
and gesture overawed them, and at the imminent peril of his own life
rescued his friend. A moment's hesitation, an emotion of cowardice, and
both would inevitably have perished. An infuriate man, almost delirious
with rage, approached La Fayette, and, shaking his fist in his face,

"You are a traitor. You have permitted the king to escape, and now
France is ruined."

"How ruined?" La Fayette replied, serenely smiling. "France has
twenty-five millions of inhabitants; the salary of the king is
twenty-five millions of francs. Every one of us gains twenty sous by
Louis XVI. relieving us of this payment."

This pleasantry created a general laugh, and the words, repeated
through the crowd, soon restored good-nature. The heroism of La Fayette
also struck their imaginations, and he was greeted with applause as he
rode away.

He then hastened to the Assembly, which was now convened. Some of
the deputies had suspected him as conniving at the flight, and as he
entered a few murmurs arose. He, however, ascended the tribune and
gained a hearing. He proposed that his second officer in command, M.
de Gouvion, to whom had been especially intrusted the guard of the
Tuileries, should be examined by the Assembly.

"I will answer for this officer," said he, "and take upon myself the
responsibility of his acts."

M. de Gouvion was summoned to their bar, and testified that all the
ordinary outlets from the palace were carefully guarded. The king could
only have escaped in disguise and through some unusual mode of egress.
M. Bailly confirmed this testimony, and La Fayette was reinstated in
the confidence of the patriots.

The people, who had suspected La Fayette, refused to allow the _aides_
whom he had dispatched to pass the barriers. The Assembly immediately
issued an order sanctioning the measures of La Fayette, and the
officers were permitted to depart. The ministers of the king were then
summoned, and a decree passed that all orders were to be received
from the Assembly alone. With calmness truly majestic, and with
unanimity which apparently pervaded every act, thought, and resolution,
preparations were adopted to meet the fearful invasion which was

It was decreed at every hazard to defend the Constitution. The Assembly
assumed the Regency. Couriers were dispatched on every road toward
the frontiers to arrest every individual leaving the kingdom. Guns
were ordered from the arsenals more effectually to arm the National
Guard. These measures were so manifestly just and vital, that the most
interested partisans of the old despotism ventured no opposition.

While engaged in passing these decrees, M. de la Porte, superintendent
of the civil list, entered, bringing with him a private note and
a memorial which he had received from the king. The memorial was
dated the 20th of June, and was written and signed by the king. It
was entitled "_Proclamation of the King to all the French upon his
Departure from Paris_."

In this long recital of his grievances the king complained that he
had only a _suspensive veto_; that his salary was cut down to five
millions of dollars annually, which was not sufficient to support
him comfortably; that he was very badly lodged in the palace of the
Tuileries; that he had been incessantly annoyed by the National
Assembly, the clubs, and the journals, and that he was not properly
applauded when he appeared in public. He bitterly censured the decrees
of the National Assembly, and avowed that of his own free will he left
Paris, that he might at a safe distance from Paris regain his lost

M. de la Porte placed this memorial and the private note to him, which
accompanied it, upon the table, stating, however, his wish that the
private note might not be read. With delicacy and honor worthy of
commemoration it was returned to him unopened. The memorial was read
and was listened to in respectful silence. The Assembly pitying the
weakness of the king took no action upon it whatever.


When the National Assembly was in session at Versailles there was a
club organized by the deputation from Bretaigne, called the Breton
Club. It was composed of the patriotic members of the Assembly. After
the removal of the Assembly to Paris this club held its meetings in
an old smoky convent of the Jacobin monks, and was hence called the
Jacobin Club. It rapidly increased, admitting members not belonging to
the Assembly, until it numbered twelve hundred members in Paris alone.
Its affiliated clubs were established all over the kingdom, and were
filled with the most ardent advocates of reform. In less than two years
they numbered two thousand four hundred societies in as many towns.

The Jacobin Club soon became so intensely and fiercely democratic,
that La Fayette, who was one of its original members, and others of
the more conservative of the patriots, withdrew from its tumultuous
gatherings. This club was now rapidly assuming the reins of government,
and marshaling the mob as its resistless and terrific arm of defense,
a weapon wielded by the Revolution of incalculable and terrible power.
It soon became the relentless and despotic sovereign of France, more
relentless and more despotic than any single sovereign who ever sat
upon a throne.

La Fayette, upon leaving the Assembly, hastened to the club of the
Jacobins, which already in numbers and influence rivaled the Assembly.
He was here also successful in stemming the torrent of obloquy which
was beginning to roll against him. As he left the club he met, on the
Quai Voltaire, Camille Desmoulins. The impetuous journalist, in a state
of intense excitement, hastened toward the white horse on which La
Fayette rode, and exclaimed:

"Monsieur de la Fayette, for more than a year I have constantly spoken
ill of you. This is the moment to convict me of falsehood. Prove that I
am a calumniator. Cover me with infamy by saving the state."

La Fayette grasped the hand of Desmoulins, whose patriotism he
respected, and replied,

"I have always recognized you as a good citizen. You will see that you
have been deceived. Our common oath is to live free or to die. All goes
well. There is but one feeling in the Assembly. The common danger has
united all parties."

"But why," rejoined Desmoulins, "does the Assembly affect to speak of
the _carrying off_ (enlévement) of the king in its decrees, when the
king himself writes that he escaped of his own free will? What baseness
or what treason in the Assembly to use such language, when we are
threatened by three millions of bayonets!"

"The word _carrying off_," La Fayette replied, "is a mistake in
dictation, which the Assembly will correct. This conduct of the king is

The news of the flight of the king created consternation through all
the departments of France. It was regarded as the signal for both
foreign and civil war, and all expected immediately to hear the tramp
of hostile legions. With singular unanimity the people of France
rallied to meet the crisis. From the Gironde a message was sent to the
Assembly, saying,

"We have eighty thousand men enrolled in the National Guard, who are
all ready to march. But we have not as many guns as we have intrepid
and patriotic men. Send us arms."

The municipality of Villepaux sent word, "We are all ready to be torn
into ribbons rather than allow the integrity of the Constitution to be

"Our fields," wrote the citizens of Allier and Nivernais, "are covered
with harvests and men. Men and harvests are alike at the service of the
country, if she needs them."

"We are but few, but we are determined," wrote the inhabitants of
a little town in Normandy. "We have but two hundred men capable of
bearing arms, but they are young, strong, and courageous. They are all
ready to rush upon any foe who shall invade the soil of France."

Bordeaux assured the Assembly that it would immediately send two
thousand four hundred men to meet the foe. The whole kingdom was in
this blaze of patriotic enthusiasm. The ladies, ever participating
in devotion to a noble cause, sent in their jewelry to the Assembly,

"Change these ornaments into arms. It is not in our power to combat for
our country; but we can at least aid in arming our brave defenders."

Merchants left their shops, artisans their benches, and laborers the
fields, to toil as volunteers in throwing up fortifications around the
exposed towns. All hearts seemed to vibrate with the same hopes and
fears, and all hands united in the same patriotic toils. The partisans
of the court, few in numbers, were silent, waiting for the approach of
foreign armies before they should throw off the mask and avow their


[Footnote 275: Mirabeau, after his interview with Marie Antoinette,
remarked in confidence to a friend, "You know the queen. Her force of
mind is prodigious. She is a man for courage."--_Dumont_, p. 211.]

[Footnote 276: Napoleon, at St. Helena, speaking in the light of
subsequent events, said, "The National Assembly never committed so
great an error as in bringing back the king from Varennes. A fugitive,
and powerless, he was hastening to the frontier, and in a few hours
would have been out of the French territory. What should they have
done in these circumstances? Clearly have facilitated his escape, and
declared the throne vacant by his desertion. They would thus have
avoided the infamy of a regicide government, and attained their great
object of republican institutions. Instead of which, by bringing him
back, they encumbered themselves with a sovereign whom they had no just
reason for destroying, and lost the inestimable advantage of getting
quit of the royal family without an act of cruelty."]

[Footnote 277: Our readers will not generally sympathize with Lamartine
in the exclamation, "This was a dictatorship, and the most personal of
all dictatorships, that a single man, taking the place of the Assembly
and the whole nation, thus assumed. He, on his private authority and
the right of his civic foresight, struck at the liberty and perhaps at
the life of the lawful ruler of the nation. This order led Louis XVI.
to the scaffold, for it restored to the people the victim who had just
escaped their clutches."--_History of the Girondists, by Alphonse de
Lamartine_, vol. i., p. 75.]

[Footnote 278: Histoire de la Rev. Fr., par Villiaumé, p. 13.]



  Proclamation of Marat.--Three Commissioners sent to meet the
  King.--Address to the Nation from the Assembly.--The slow and painful
  Return.--Conversation between Barnave and the Queen.--Brutality of
  Pétion.--Sufferings of the Royal Family.--Reception of the King in
  Paris.--Conduct of the Queen.--Noble Avowal of La Fayette.--Statement
  of the King.--Menace of Bouillé.

Almost immediately after the flight of the king the club of the
Jacobins became the most formidable power in France. It embraced all
the desperate and the reckless advocates of reform. Marat, one of its
most popular and energetic members, the morning after the flight of the
king, issued the following proclamation to the populace of Paris:[279]

"People! behold the loyalty, the honor, the religion of kings. Remember
Henry III. and the Duke of Guise. At the same table with his enemy
did Henry receive the sacrament, and swear on the same altar eternal
friendship. Scarcely had he quit the table than he distributed poniards
to his followers, summoned the duke to his cabinet, and there saw him
fall, pierced with wounds. Trust then to the oaths of princes!

"On the morning of the 19th, Louis XVI. laughed at his oath and enjoyed
beforehand the alarm his flight would cause you. The Austrian woman has
seduced La Fayette. Louis XVI., disguised in a priest's robe, fled with
the dauphin, his wife, his brother, and all the family. He now laughs
at the folly of the Parisians, and will soon swim in their blood.
Citizens! this escape has been long prepared by the traitors of the
National Assembly. You are on the brink of ruin; hasten to provide for
your safety. Instantly choose a dictator. Let your choice fall upon the
citizen who has, up to the present, displayed most zeal, activity, and
intelligence, and do all he bids you to do to strike at your foes. This
is the time to lop off the heads of Bailly, La Fayette, and all the
scoundrels of the staff, all the traitors of the Assembly. A tribune, a
military tribune, or you are lost without hope."

Similar impassioned appeals were issued from all the Jacobin journals,
and the nation was roused to phrensy. The popularity of the king was
now gone, and he was almost universally regarded as a traitor, plotting
to deluge the kingdom in blood.

At ten o'clock in the evening of the 22d of June a courier arrived
in Paris with a letter from the municipality of Varennes announcing
the arrest of the king. The cry resounded from street to street, "He
is arrested! he is arrested!" Three commissioners were immediately
appointed, Latour Maubourg, Pétion, and Barnave, invested with
authority to secure the return of the king and the royal family, and
they were enjoined to observe all the respect due to their rank. The
Assembly also issued an address to the French nation, containing the
following sentiments:

"The king swore, on the 14th of July, to protect the Constitution;
he has therefore consented to perjure himself. The changes made in
the Constitution of the kingdom are attributed to a _few_ of the
factious. We are _twenty-six millions_ of factious. We have preserved
the monarchy because we believe it useful to France. We have doubtless
reformed it, but it was to save it from its abuses and its excesses. We
have granted the yearly sum of fifty millions of francs ($10,000,000)
to maintain the legitimate splendor of the throne. We have reserved to
ourselves the right of declaring war, because we would not that the
blood of the people should belong to the ministers.[280] Frenchmen, all
is organized. Every man is at his post. The Assembly watches over all.
You have naught to fear save from yourselves, should your just emotion
lead you to commit any violence or disorders. The people who seek to be
free should remain unmoved in great crises.

"Behold Paris, and imitate the example of the capital. All goes on
as usual. The tyrants will be deceived. Before they can bend France
beneath their yoke, the whole nation must be annihilated. Should
despotism venture to attempt it, it will be vanquished; or even though
it triumph, it will triumph over naught but ruins."

Let us now return to Varennes, and accompany the royal family on their
melancholy route to Paris. We left the royal carriages, under the
escort of the National Guard, just starting from Varennes on their
return. It was eight o'clock in the morning. The progress toward
Chalons was slow, for the carriages could only keep pace with the
guards. The heat was intense, and clouds of dust almost suffocated
the captives. For a time emotions were too deep for utterance, and
not a word was spoken. But often torrents of abuse fell upon the ears
of the king from the crowds who seemed to line the way. At times the
crowd was so dense that with some difficulty the guards forced their
way through. But for the protection of their bayonets, the whole royal
family would probably have fallen victims to the popular fury.

The commissioners from the Assembly met the carriages between Dormans
and Epernay, and immediately assumed the command of the troops, and
took the royal family under their charge. The whole populace, excited
as it was, respected the orders of the Assembly. Latour Maubourg, a
gentleman of noble character and an intimate friend of La Fayette, was
ardently attached to the Constitution, while at the same time he was
anxious to save the monarchy. The tendencies of both of his colleagues
were to a more radical democracy. Hoping to excite their sympathy in
behalf of fallen greatness, he yielded to his companions the honor of
being with the royal family in their carriage, while he took the second
coach, with Madame de Tourzel and some other ladies of the party.
Barnave and Pétion entered the king's carriage to share his danger and
to shield him from insult. Barnave sat on the back seat, between the
king and the queen. Pétion sat in front, between Maria Theresa, the
daughter of the king, and Madame Elizabeth, his sister. The little
dauphin, seven years of age, sat on the lap now of one, then of another.

Barnave was a young lawyer of distinguished abilities and generous
impulses. He was a man of polished manners, of attractive person, and
of accomplished education. His generous heart was saddened by the
pitiable condition of his captives. He did every thing he could, by
kindness and respectful attentions, to mitigate their woe. An obnoxious
priest at one time approached the carriage with an ostentatious
demonstration of his attachment to the court party, now threatening
France with invasion. The exasperated people fell upon him, and he
would probably have been massacred but for the energetic interposition
of Barnave.

"Frenchmen!" he exclaimed, "will you, a nation of brave men, become a
nation of murderers?"

He would have sprung out of the carriage to have rescued the priest
had not Madame Elizabeth, who had already appreciated his noble
character, held him in by the skirt of his coat. She feared that he
also, now almost their sole defender, might be torn in pieces. At
first the queen sat closely veiled and maintained unbroken silence.
But gradually the character of Barnave won the esteem of the whole
party. The king entered calmly into conversation with Barnave upon
the momentous questions of the day. Barnave replied with courtesy and
sympathy, though still faithful in his devotion to liberty and sincere
in his advocacy of a constitutional throne. The queen, much mollified,
at length withdrew her veil and gradually became social and almost

Barnave spoke of the great mistakes which the Royalists had made in
refusing to accept a _constitutional monarchy_, thus exposing the
throne to entire overthrow and the nation to democratic anarchy.

"What were the means," inquired the queen, "which you would have
advised me to resort to?"

"Popularity, madam," was the reply.

"But how," continued the queen, "could I have obtained popularity? It
was all taken from me."

"Ah, madam," said Barnave, "it was much easier for you to conquer it
than for me to obtain it."[281]

The queen subsequently remarked to Madame Campan that Barnave "was a
young man full of intelligence and noble sentiments, and one every way
worthy to inspire esteem. A feeling of pride," she continued, with
candor which honors her memory, "has caused him to applaud all that
tends to smooth the way to honors and glory for the class in which he
was born. If power should ever again fall into our hands the pardon of
Barnave is written before in our hearts."

The royal family only occasionally alighted for a moment at an inn as
the horses were being changed. By day and by night they continued their
slow progress, taking all their refreshments in the carriage. Barnave,
with that delicacy which is instinctive in noble natures, never for a
moment forgot the rank of his august captives. Being pressed by the
queen to take some refreshment, he replied,

"Madam, the deputies of the National Assembly, under circumstances so
solemn, ought to trouble your majesty solely with their mission, and by
no means with their wants."

Pétion was a very different character. He was one of those coarse and
vulgar demagogues who have done so much to cast dishonor upon the
word _democracy_. His brutality disgusted the whole party. Equality
of rights was with him but social insolence. He affected a rude
familiarity with the royal family, munching his food like a boor and
throwing the rind of fruit and the bones of fowls out of the window,
at the risk of hitting the king in the face. The king made a slight
attempt, by introducing conversation with him, to awaken some sympathy.

"It was my wish," said the king, "to increase the force of the
executive power. I did not think that this constitutional act could
be maintained without more power being placed in the hands of the
sovereign, since France does not wish to be a republic."

"Not yet, to be sure," Pétion brutally replied; "the French are not yet
quite ripe enough for a republic."

No more conversation was held with Pétion. The movement of the
carriages, encumbered by the escort and the immense crowds who thronged
the way, was very slow. Four days were occupied in the return. It was
seven o'clock in the evening of the 25th when the long procession
entered Paris. As the carriages approached the suburbs the crowd
increased in density. It had been a day of intense heat. The blaze
of the sun, reflected by the pavements and by the bayonets which
surrounded the carriage, was almost intolerable. The carriages were
continually enveloped in a dense cloud of dust. The inmates panted for
breath and were bathed in perspiration. One of the children suffered so
much that the queen, alarmed, appealed to the compassion of the crowd.

"See, gentlemen," she said, letting down one of the windows, "in what a
state my poor children are; one is choking."

A brutal wretch exclaimed, in an under tone, "We will soon choke you,
after another fashion."

Generally the crowd looked on in amazement and silence. Feelings of
pity and humanity triumphed over indignation. Great eagerness was
of course manifested to catch a sight of the king and queen, but
well-armed guards on horseback surrounded the carriages. La Fayette
came out of the city to meet the cortège at a few miles distance and
to assume the command. Apprehensive of violence from the infuriate
populace of Paris, if the immense cortège, now numbering nearly three
hundred thousand and rapidly increasing, were to pass through the
narrow streets of the city, the carriages were ordered to take a
circuit and enter by the broad avenue of the Elysian Fields, which
conducted directly to the Tuileries. As an additional precaution he
placed troops in a deep line on both sides of the avenue from the
Barrier de l'Etoile to the palace.

It was resolved that the king should be received in silence, without
applause and without abuse. Placards were posted every where with the
laconic announcement,

"Whoever applauds the king shall be flogged; whoever insults him shall
be hanged."[282]

The procession now entered the city amid the clashing of sabres, the
trampling of horses, and the confused, suppressed murmurs of half
a million of men. It was another sublime act in that most terrible
tragedy of time. It can not be described; it can not be fully
conceived; it has never been paralleled.

The crowd-encompassed, dust-enveloped carriages entered the city at the
close of one of the most lovely of June afternoons. The cloudless sun,
still an hour above the horizon, shone brilliantly upon the spectacle,
gilding steeples and domes as with rejoicing light. The whole military
array of Paris, horsemen, artillery, and infantry, lined that majestic
avenue. Behind them the whole population of Paris seemed to flood the
field, filling windows, balconies, house-tops, steeples, trees, and
every point of observation.

La Fayette and his staff first made their appearance as the vast
procession commenced its entrance. A numerous cavalcade of mounted
guards then succeeded. These were followed by the two royal carriages,
each drawn by six horses, and surrounded by dragoons whose sabres
gleamed in the rays of the setting sun. Several regiments of artillery
and infantry, in compact order, ensued, and then came a motley mass of
three hundred thousand stragglers, men, women, and children, whom the
strange event had gathered from all the suburbs of the metropolis.

Almost perfect silence reigned. It was like a procession of the shades
of the departed in the spirit land. There was no ringing of bells, no
explosion of cannon, no plaudits of the multitude, no bursts of martial
bands in requiems or jubilata. The king, humiliated, sunk back in his
carriage, and concealed himself as far as possible from observation.
The bayonets of the soldiers held in check the ferocious and brutal
wretches who would gladly have assailed the monarch with execrations.
The same power closed the lips of the Royalists, who would have greeted
their sovereign with applause.

Thousands gazed upon the scene in silent sympathy, with their eyes
bathed in tears. They loved the cause of constitutional liberty; they
wept over the infatuation and folly of the king. The reception was
sublime in its appropriateness. No honors were conferred upon the king,
for surely he deserved none. No abuse assailed him, for that would but
have degraded those who offered it.


The crowd grew more and more dense as the carriages entered the garden
of the Tuileries, and the way became so obstructed by the throng that
it was with no little difficulty that a passage was secured. As soon as
the carriages arrived at the door of the palace, near the end of the
terrace, the royal family alighted and passed through a double file
of the National Guard drawn up for their protection. In this hour of
misfortune, those who had been most hostile to the despotism of the
court vied with each other in their endeavors to protect fallen royalty
from indignities. The Viscount of Noailles, a warm friend of reform,
and a humane, magnanimous man, approached the queen, who was the
last to alight from the carriage, and offered her his arm to conduct
her into the palace. The queen, with imprudent but perhaps pardonable
pride, haughtily rejected the aid of the friend of the people, and,
seeing one of the partisans of the court near by, asked his arm.

The hall of the Assembly, since destroyed, looked out upon the garden
of the Tuileries. The excitement of the hour suspended the sitting, but
it was immediately resumed when the king had safely entered the palace.
The king seemed perfectly calm. La Fayette, with profound respect and
with his sympathies most deeply moved, presented himself at the king's
apartment, and, making no allusion to the unprecedented scene which had
transpired, said, "Has your majesty any orders to give me?"

"It appears to me," replied the king with a smile, "that I am much more
under your orders than you are under mine." The conduct of the queen
in this trying hour was peculiarly unfortunate. The royal family then
needed every friend it could win. But the queen, losing the control of
her passions, seemed to bid defiance to all who were not the partisans
of the court, and endeavored to gratify her resentment in goading those
she deemed her foes by those taunts of action which are even more
exasperating than words.

Assuming that La Fayette was her jailer, she approached that noble
patriot, who was willing to shed the last drop of his blood to save her
from indignities, and handed him the keys of her trunks. La Fayette,
wounded by conduct so ungenerous, and commiserating the condition of
the queen, bowed, refusing to receive them, and, in tones saddened by
pity and sorrow, declared that no one would think of interfering with
her private property.

The unhappy queen so far forgot herself as peevishly to throw the keys
into La Fayette's hat, which was upon the table. This was the conduct
of a spoiled child. Such was Marie Antoinette. It was this spirit which
accelerated her passage to the scaffold. The compassion of La Fayette
triumphed over resentment. Overlooking the insult, he calmly replied,

"Madam, you must pardon me the trouble I give you in returning these
keys. I certainly can not touch them."

"Well, then," replied the queen, pettishly, "I shall find other persons
less scrupulous than you are."[283]

Such conduct on the part of the queen was ever adding to her
unpopularity. The king was much more considerate. Though by no means
equal to the queen in energy, he had a far more comprehensive view
of the real attitude of affairs. Had the spirit of the queen been
dominant, it is possible that the Revolution in its infancy might
have been crushed with an iron hand. All the disciplined armies of
Europe were ready to fall upon the unorganized and unarmed populace
of France, and to chastise them into submission. Had the moderate
and humane spirit of the king prevailed, the Constitution might have
been accepted; the king might have been revered and beloved as a
constitutional monarch, and France might have passed from despotism to
free institutions without bloodshed. But the discordant union of the
defiant energies of the one and the yielding moderation of the other
rendered ruin inevitable.

The king entered into a brief conversation with La Fayette, in which
the devoted patriot said to his monarch,

"Your majesty is well aware of my attachment to your royal person, but
at the same time, you were not ignorant that, if you separated yourself
from the cause of the people, I should side with the people."

"This is true," replied the king. "You follow your principles. And I
tell you frankly that until lately I had believed you had surrounded
me by a turbulent faction of persons of your own way of thinking, but
that yours was not the real opinion of France. I have learned during my
journey that I was deceived, and that the general wish is in accordance
with your views."

The conduct of the Assembly in this momentous crisis, when the
liberties of France were so fearfully imperiled, was firm and noble. On
the day of the king's return they passed decrees suspending him from
his functions, until they should have heard, through a committee of
three, the declarations of the king and queen. With that delicacy which
had ever, thus far, characterized the action of the Assembly, these
decrees were passed in terms of studied decorum, and the king and queen
were shielded from answering before the whole Assembly, which would
have been required of any offenders of less exalted rank. A guard was
placed over the royal family, and was made responsible for its safe

Barnave, covered with the dust of his journey, hastened to the
Assembly, and gave the official announcement of the return of the king.
Both the king and the queen had learned to repose great confidence in
this noble young man, and Barnave assisted the king in composing the
declaration to be presented to the commissioners of the Assembly in
extenuation of his flight.[285] The king could hardly have expected
that the assertions which he made in this document could be credited
by the Assembly. "Never was it my intention," said he, "to leave
the kingdom. I had no concert either with foreign powers, or with
my relatives, or with any of the French emigrants. I had selected
Montmedy, because, being near the frontiers, I should have been better
able to oppose every kind of invasion of France, had a disposition been
shown to attempt any. One of my principal motives for quitting Paris
was to set at rest the argument of my non-freedom, which was likely to
furnish occasion for disturbances."

He concluded this declaration in words characteristic of his whole
course. "I have ascertained during my journey that public opinion
is decidedly in favor of the Constitution. I did not conceive that
I could fully judge of this public opinion in Paris. As soon as I
had ascertained the general will, I hesitated not, as I have never
hesitated, to make a sacrifice of every thing that is personal to me.
I will gladly forget all the crosses that I have experienced, if I can
but ensure the peace and felicity of the nation."[286]

Thus the king pledged himself anew to support the Constitution. The
Assembly received these asseverations in respectful silence, though it
was no longer possible for them to give the king credit for sincerity.
While the king was thus apologizing, Bouillé, who had fled to the
protection of foreign armies, sent a menacing letter to the Assembly,
in the name of the allied sovereigns of Europe, containing the
following declarations:

"I know your means of defense," he wrote. "They are nothing; and your
chastisement shall be an example to other people. Listen to the words
of a man who regards you and your people but with indignation and
horror. I know the roads. I will guide the foreign armies which will
assail you. There shall not rest one stone upon another in Paris, if
you dare to touch a hair of the head of my king."[287]

If Bouillé had wished to provoke the nation to throw down the head of
the king as a gauntlet of defiance to the foes of the liberties of
France, he could have done nothing more effectual than the utterance of
such a menace. Both parties were now preparing vigorously for war. The
emigrants at Coblentz, proclaiming that the king was a prisoner, and
could no longer have any will of his own, declared monsieur the king's
elder brother (Louis XVIII.) to be Regent of France. The most vigorous
measures were adopted for accumulating troops and munitions of war for
the great invasion.


[Footnote 279: Marat, who edited "The Friend of the People," was, says
Lamartine, "the fury of the Revolution. He had the clumsy tumblings of
the brute in his thought and its gnashings of teeth in his style. His
journal smelt of blood in every line."--_History of the Girondists_,
vol. i., p. 115.]

[Footnote 280: The Constitution conferred upon _the king and the
Assembly_ the right of making peace and war. The king complained
bitterly that he was no longer authorized alone to declare war and make

[Footnote 281: Mémoires de Madame de Campan, t. ii., p. 150.]

[Footnote 282: "Quiconque applaudira le roi sera bâttonné; quiconque
l'insultera sera pendu."]

[Footnote 283: La Fayette's Memoirs.]

[Footnote 284: Robespierre was opposed to this act of special respect,
and exclaimed,

"What means this obsequious exception? Do you fear to degrade royalty
by handing over the king and queen to ordinary tribunals? A citizen,
a _citoyenne_, any man, any dignity, however elevated, can never be
degraded by the law."]

[Footnote 285: Thiers, vol. i., p. 185.]

[Footnote 286: Even Lamartine says, "The king addressed to the
commissioners of the Assembly a reply, the bad faith of which called
for the smile rather than the indulgence of his enemies."--_Lamartine's
Hist. of the Girondists_, vol. i., p. 105.

"The Assembly accepted the declaration of the king, although it
was evident to them that the king did not intend merely to go to
Montmedy, where no preparations had been made to receive him, but
that he intended to go to the magnificent monastery of Orval, three
leagues beyond the frontier, in Luxembourg, then occupied by the
Austrians. Troops, commanded by the Prince of Condé, were there
awaiting his arrival. The flight of the king was the signal for the
loyalist officers to desert. All those of a regiment in garrison at
Dunkirk fled to the Austrians, carrying with them the banners of the
regiment."--_Hist. de la Rev. Française, par Villiaumé_.]



  The Remains of Voltaire removed to the Pantheon.--Decision of
  the Assembly on the Flight of the King.--Thomas Paine.--Views
  of the Constitutional Monarchists.--Message from La Fayette
  to the King of Austria.--The Jacobins summon the Populace to
  the Field of Mars.--Mandate of the Jacobins.--The Crowd on the
  Field of Mars dispersed by the Military.--Completion of the
  Constitution.--Remarkable Conversation of Napoleon.--The King
  formally accepts the Constitution.--Great, but transient, Popularity
  of the Royal Family.

In the midst of these stormy scenes the Assembly voted to remove
the remains of Voltaire, which had slumbered for thirteen years in
the obscure abbey of Scellières in Champagne, to the Pantheon in
Paris. On the 11th of July his coffin was received with great pomp
at the barriers, and conducted to a pedestal on the ancient site of
the Bastille, constructed from one of the foundation-stones of the
fortress. Voltaire had once been imprisoned in that gloomy citadel.
Upon the pedestal which supported the coffin were engraved the words,

"Receive on this spot, where despotism once fettered thee, the honors
decreed thee by thy country."

The next day a brilliant sun invited the whole population of Paris to
the fête. The car which bore the coffin to the Pantheon was drawn by
twelve white horses, harnessed four abreast. They were very richly
caparisoned, and led by postillions in antique attire. An immense body
of cavalry headed the procession. The wail of requiems and the roar of
muffled drums blended with the booming of minute guns from the adjacent
heights. The sarcophagus was preceded, surrounded, and followed by
the National Assembly, the municipal authorities of the city, and by
deputations from all the illustrious and dignified bodies of France.
Scholars, laborers, artists, and, conspicuously, all the actors and
actresses of Paris, took part in the pageant. Arches, with garlands of
leaves and wreaths of roses, spanned the streets. Groups of beautiful
girls, dressed in white, carpeted the path with flowers. At intervals,
bands of music were placed, saluting the car as it approached with
bursts of melody. Before each of the principal theatres the procession
stopped, and a hymn was sung in commemoration of the achievements of
the great dramatist. It was ten o'clock at night before the immense
procession reached the Pantheon. The coffin was deposited between those
of Descartes and Mirabeau.


It was the pen of Voltaire which overthrew despotism in France. It was
also the pen of Voltaire which banished for so long from human hearts
thoughts of God and of future responsibility. Thus then sprung up,
in the place of the despotism he had overthrown, another despotism
a thousand fold more terrible. With consummate genius and utter
destitution of all moral principle, he was the demon of destruction,
sweeping the good and the bad alike into indiscriminate ruin. He
could fawn upon the infamous Frederic, and palliate his vices. He was
ever ready to bow the knee to the paramours of Louis XV. There was no
prostitution of genius which could cause him to blush. The venomous
spirit with which he pursued the religion of Christ is fully expressed
by his motto, "_Crush the wretch_." The genius of Voltaire induced
France to attempt to establish liberty without religion. The terrific
result will probably dissuade from any future repetition of that

The club of the Jacobins was greatly roused by the moderation of the
Assembly, and began to clamor for the entire overthrow of the monarchy
and the establishment of a republic. On the evening of the 15th of July
a meeting of the club was held at which four thousand persons were
present. It was a scene of wild enthusiasm. La Fayette, Barnave, and
others who were in favor of a constitutional monarchy were denounced
as traitors. Robespierre and Danton were the orators of the evening,
and they were greeted with thunders of applause. A petition was sent to
the Assembly, which assumed the tone of an order, demanding that the
king should be deposed as a perfidious traitor to his oaths. It was a
meeting of the mob virtually repudiating the Assembly, and assuming for
itself both legislative and executive power. The tumultuous gathering
was not dispersed until after midnight. Here originated that spirit of
lawless violence which subsequently transformed Paris into a field of

On the 16th the commissioners made their report to the Assembly on
the flight of the king. Both the commissioners and the Assembly
were disposed to be lenient. They were already very anxious in view
of popular tumult and menacing anarchy. They had still no wish to
overthrow the monarchy and establish a republic. Such a measure
would be full of danger to France in its distracted state, and would
exasperate a thousand fold the surrounding monarchies. There was no
one for whom they wished to exchange their present king. He was the
legitimate monarch, which gave him vast power over all the aristocracy
of Europe. He had sworn to defend the Constitution, and it was so
manifestly for his interest now to consent to be a constitutional
monarch that it was hoped that he would sincerely accept that popular
cause which would secure for him popular support. Though no one doubted
that it had been the intention of the vacillating monarch to throw
himself into the midst of foreign armies, and by the aid of their
artillery and swords to force the Old Régime again upon France, a very
generous report, exculpating the king from blame, was presented and

Influenced by these views, it was argued that the king had committed
no crime. He surely had a right, if he wished, to take a journey to
Montmedy. There was no proof that he intended any thing more, he had
violated no law. The Assembly therefore decreed that "in the journey
there was nothing culpable."[288]

The Jacobin press now became very bold. "No more king," exclaimed
Brissot in the _Patriot_; "let us be Republicans. Such is the cry at
the Palais Royal, and it does not gain ground fast enough."

"No king! no protector! no regent!" shouted Fauchet in the _Bouche de
Fer_ (the Mouth of Iron).

An address was read to the Jacobin Club openly demanding the
annihilation of royalty; and though this address was received at first
with murmurs--for the majority, even of the Jacobins, were not then
prepared for such a step--the new doctrine with marvelous rapidity
spread through the lower orders of Paris, and very speedily gained the
ascendency in the club. Danton mounted the tribune of the Jacobin Club
on the 23d of June, and demanded the forfeiture of the throne. "Your
king," said he, "is either a knave or an idiot. If we must have one of
the two, who would not prefer the latter?"

The Jacobin Club had now become very formidable. It already numbered
eighteen hundred members in Paris alone, each of whom was admitted to
its meetings by a ticket. Two hundred and fifty affiliated clubs were
scattered throughout the principal cities. It occupied the large chapel
of the Convent, and had its president, its secretaries, its tribune,
its regular order of business, and its journal, in which its debates
and resolutions were published. Many of the ablest members of the
Assembly were members of the club, and their most powerful efforts of
eloquence were addressed to the club, regarding its voice as beginning
to be more potent than that of the Assembly. The Jacobin Club was
rapidly becoming the great power of the kingdom, with an excitable mob
ever at its disposal as its military arm.

The Journal of the Jacobins, edited by Laclos, a confidant of the Duke
of Orleans, overwhelmed the monarch with a torrent of insults and
objurgations. Thomas Paine, the notorious reviler of Christianity, was
then in Paris, and one of the most violent of the Jacobin Club. He
wrote an inflammatory address, which was posted on all the walls of
Paris, urging the peremptory dethronement of the king.

The views entertained by La Fayette and the Constitutional Monarchists
can not be better conveyed than in the eloquent language of Barnave, in
a speech addressed to the Assembly on this occasion.

"I will not dilate," said he, "on the advantages of monarchical
government. You have proved your conviction by establishing it in
your country. Some men, whose motives I shall not impugn, seeking
for examples to adduce, have found in America a people occupying a
vast territory with a scanty population, nowhere surrounded by very
powerful neighbors, having forests for their boundaries, and having
for customs the feelings of a new race, and who are wholly ignorant
of those factitious passions and impulses which effect revolutions of
government. They have seen a republican government established in that
land, and have thence drawn the conclusion that a similar government
was suitable for us.

"But if it be true that in our territory there is a vast population;
that we have a multitude of men exclusively devoted to those
intellectual speculations which excite ambition and the love of fame;
that powerful neighbors compel us to form one compact body in order
to resist them--if these circumstances are wholly independent of
ourselves, then it is undeniable that the sole existing remedy lies in
a monarchical government.

"When a country is populous and extensive, there are but two modes
of assuring to it a solid and permanent existence. Either you must
organize those parts separately, placing in each section of the empire
a portion of the government, thus maintaining security at the expense
of unity, strength, and all the advantages which result from a great
and homogeneous association, or else you will be forced to centralize
an unchangeable power, which, never renewed by the law, presenting
incessant obstacles to ambition, resists with advantage the shocks,
rivalries, and rapid vibrations of an immense population, agitated by
all the passions engendered by long-established society.

"These facts decide our position. We can only be strong through a
_federative government_, which no one here has the madness to propose,
or by a _monarchical government_ such as you have established. You have
intrusted to an _inviolable_ king the exclusive function of naming the
agents of his power, but you have made those agents responsible.

"Immense damage is done us when that revolutionary impetus, which has
destroyed every thing there was to destroy, and which has urged us to
the point where we must at last pause, is perpetuated. The Revolution
can not advance one step farther without danger. In the line of
_liberty_ the first act which follows is the annihilation of royalty.
In the line of _equality_ the first act which must follow is an attempt
on all property. It is time to end the Revolution. It ought to stop
when the nation is free, and all men have equal rights. If it continue
in trouble it is dishonored, and we with it. Yes! all the world ought
to agree that the common interest is involved in now closing the

"Those who have lost ought to perceive that it is impossible to make
the Revolution retrograde. Those who fashioned the Revolution should
see that it has attained its consummation. Kings themselves--if from
time to time profound truths can penetrate the councils of kings,
if occasionally the prejudices which surround them will permit the
sound views of a great and philosophical policy to reach them--kings
themselves must learn that there is for them a wide difference between
the example of a great reform in government and that of the abolition
of royalty; that if we pause here, where we are, they are still kings!
But, be their conduct what it may, let the fault come from them and not
from us. Regenerators of the empire, follow straightly your undeviating
line. You have been courageous and potent--be to-day wise and moderate.
In this will consist the glorious termination of your efforts. Then
again returning to your domestic hearths you will obtain, if not
blessings, at least the silence of calumny."

Though these views of moderation were opposed alike by the aristocrats
and the Jacobins, they were accepted with applause by the great
majority of the Assembly. Aristocrats and Jacobins now combined to
disturb in every possible way the action of the Assembly. They both
hoped through tumult and anarchy to march into power. Mobs began to
reassemble in the streets of Paris, and cries of treason were uttered
against La Fayette and his fellow-constitutionalists. Already in the
market-place, at the Palais Royal, and in the hall of the Jacobins,
individuals denounced that Constitution as tyrannical which the nation
had so recently, with unutterable enthusiasm, sworn to support.[289]

La Fayette, Barnave, the Lameths, Talleyrand, and other illustrious
friends of a constitutional monarchy, sent a confidential note to the
Emperor of Austria, assuring him that the Constitution conferred as
much power upon the king as it was possible now to obtain from the
French nation; that any invasion of France by the allies would only
exasperate the people, bring the Jacobins into power, endanger the
life of the king, and that it could not be successful in restoring the
Old Régime. The king was consulted upon this measure, and gave it his

Notwithstanding these warnings, the monarchs of Europe, who were
trembling lest the spirit of liberty, rising in France, should
undermine their despotic thrones, resolved to crush the patriots
beneath the tramp of their dragoons. Leopold of Austria, Frederick
William of Prussia, and Count d'Artois, with Bouillé and other of
the emigrants, met at Pilnitz, and on the 27th of August signed
an agreement that the French Revolution was an "open revolt," "a
scandalous usurpation of power," and that all the governments of Europe
were bound to unite to abate the nuisance.[291]

The Jacobin Club, it will be remembered, in a stormy midnight debate,
had drawn up a petition to the Assembly demanding the deposition of the
king as a perjured traitor. They wished, by a demonstration of popular
enthusiasm, to terrify the Assembly into obedience to their mandate.
Accordingly, the whole populace of Paris were summoned to meet on the
Field of Mars, to sign, with much parade, the petition on the Altar of
Federation, which had not yet been taken down.

At an early hour on the morning of the 17th of July the multitude
began to congregate. It was the Sabbath-day. Every scene in the drama
of the Revolution seems to have been arranged on the sublimest scale.
Soon from fifty to one hundred thousand, including the lowest of the
population of Paris, were thronging the field, and clambering over the
gigantic altar.[292] Two men were seized, under the absurd accusation
that they were intending to blow up the altar and all upon it by means
of a barrel of gunpowder. The cry of "Aristocrats!" which passed like a
tornado through the crowd, precluded any trial, and settled their doom.
The two unhappy men were literally torn to pieces, and their heads
were borne about on pikes by brutal wretches who were now beginning to
emerge from dens of obscurity into confidence and power.

The rumor of these murders and of the threatening attitude of the mob
spread through the city and reached the ears of the Assembly. The
principal ringleaders of the Jacobins were nowhere to be found, and it
was asserted and generally believed that they were in a secret place,
that they might escape responsibility, while, through their agents,
they were rousing the mob to a demonstration which should overawe the
Assembly. In the midst of the wildest imaginable scene of tumult and
uproar, the _mandate_ of the Jacobins--for it could with no propriety
be called a _petition_--was placed upon the altar upon many separate
sheets of paper, and speedily received six thousand signatures. This
was a new order, drawn up at the moment, for the original document
could not be found. It read as follows:

"Representatives of the people! your labors are nearly ended. A great
crime has been committed. Louis has fled, abandoning his post. The
country is on the verge of ruin. The king has been arrested, brought
back to Paris, and the people demand that he be tried. You declare that
he shall be king. The people do not wish it, and therefore annul your
decree. The king has been carried off by the two hundred and ninety-two
_aristocrats_ who have themselves declared that they have no longer a
voice in the National Assembly. Your decree is annulled, because it is
in opposition to the voice of the people, your sovereign. Repeal it.
The king has abdicated by crime. Receive his abdication."

Nothing could be more execrable than this usurpation of authority
by the mob. The Assembly was composed of the representatives of
twenty-five millions of people, acting under the calm deliberation
which the forms of law exacted. And here six thousand men, women, and
boys, belched forth perhaps from the dens of infamy in Paris, and
arming themselves with a mob of fifty thousand of the most degraded
of the populace of a great city, assumed to be _the nation_--the law
makers and the law executors of the kingdom of France.[293]

The municipality ordered La Fayette, with a detachment of the National
Guard, to proceed to the scene of tumult and disperse the rioters. The
moment the soldiers appeared they were received with hisses, shouts,
and a shower of stones from the populace. Several of the stones struck
La Fayette, and he narrowly escaped death from a pistol-shot fired
at him. The attitude of the mob was so threatening that La Fayette
retired for a stronger force. He soon returned, accompanied by Bailly,
the mayor of the city, and all the municipal authorities, and followed
by ten thousand of the National Guard. The red flag, which proclaimed
that the city was placed under martial law, was now floating from the
Hôtel de Ville. The tramp of ten thousand men,[294] with the rolling
of artillery and the beating of four hundred drums, arrested the
attention of the throng. The troops, debouching by three openings which
intersected the glacis, were, as by magic, drawn up facing the throng.
M. Bailly, upon horseback, displayed the red flag, in accordance with
the Riot Act law, and ordered the mob to disperse.[295]

The response was a shout from fifty thousand men, women, and boys of
"Down with the red flag! Down with Bailly! Death to La Fayette!" The
clamor became hideous, and a shower of mud and stones fell upon La
Fayette and the mayor, and several pistol-shots from a distance were
discharged at them. The crowd, accustomed to lawlessness, did not
believe that the municipal government would dare to order the soldiers
to fire.

17, 1791.]

La Fayette, with mistaken humanity, ordered the advance guard to fire
into the air. The harmless volley was followed by shouts of derision
and defiance. It now became necessary to give the fatal order. One
volley swept the field. The crash was followed by a shriek, as four
hundred dead or wounded fell upon the plain, and as the smoke passed
away the whole tumultuous mass was seen flying in terror over the
embankments and through the avenues. The artillerymen, with the
coolness of trained soldiers, were just upon the point of opening their
fire of grapeshot upon the panic-stricken fugitives, when La Fayette,
unable to make his voice heard through the uproar, heroically threw
himself before the cannon, and thus saved the lives of thousands. The
National Guard, saddened by the performance of a duty as painful as
it was imperious, returned in the evening through the dark streets of
Paris and dispersed to their homes.[296]

The next day M. Bailly appeared before the Assembly, and, in terms of
dignity and manly sorrow, reported the triumph of the law. Both the
National Assembly and the municipality of Paris voted their cordial
approval of the conduct of Bailly and La Fayette. The Jacobin press,
however, gave utterance to the fiercest invectives. Bailly and La
Fayette were denounced as murderers, and every effort was made to
exasperate the passions of the populace.

Amid such scenes of agitation and violence the Assembly concluded
its task of forming a constitution. The important document, which
was but partially finished at the great celebration on the 14th of
July, 1790, was now completed. None were, however, fully satisfied
with the Constitution. The aristocratic party abhorred the democratic
spirit with which it was pervaded, and yet wished to make it still
more obnoxiously democratic, that monarchical Europe might be more
thoroughly exasperated. The Jacobins held it up to derision and
execration because it was not democratic enough. The moderate party,
represented by such men as La Fayette and Barnave, wished to invest
the king with more power, but dared not attempt any revision of the
Constitution, with the aristocrats and the Jacobins both ready to
combine against them.

Napoleon was at this time a young officer in the army, twenty-three
years of age. His brother Joseph was studying law in Italy. The whole
family had warmly espoused the popular cause. From the beginning
Napoleon was the ardent advocate of equal rights, and the determined
foe of mob violence. At this early period of the Revolution, he
expressed the views to which he adhered through the whole of his career.

There was about this time a large party given by M. Necker. All the
illustrious men and women of Paris were present. The youthful Napoleon,
then quite a boy in appearance, and almost a stranger in Paris, was
introduced to this brilliant assembly by his friend the Abbé Raynal.
The genius of Napoleon, and his commanding conversational eloquence,
soon drew around him quite a group.

"Who is that young man," inquired the proud Alfieri, "who has collected
such a group around him?"

"He is," replied the abbé, "a protégé of mine, and a young man of
extraordinary talent. He is very industrious, well read, and has made
remarkable attainments in history, mathematics, and all military

The Bishop of Autun commended the soldiers for having refused to obey
their officers, who had ordered them, on a certain occasion, by a
discharge of musketry, to disperse a mob.

"Excuse me, my lord," said Napoleon, in tones of earnestness which
arrested general attention, "if I venture to interrupt you, but, as I
am an officer, I must claim the privilege of expressing my sentiments.
It is true that I am young, and it may appear presumptuous in me to
address so many distinguished men. But during the past three years
I have paid intense attention to our political troubles. I see with
sorrow the state of our country, and I will incur censure rather than
pass unnoticed principles which are not only unsound, but which are
subversive of all government.

"As much as any I desire to see all abuses, antiquated privileges,
and usurped rights annulled. Nay, as I am at the commencement of my
career, it will be my best policy, as well as my duty, to support the
progress of popular institutions, and to promote reform in every branch
of the public administration. But as, in the last twelve months, I have
witnessed repeated alarming popular disturbances, and have seen our
best men divided into factions which threaten to be irreconcilable, I
sincerely believe that now, _more than ever_, a strict discipline in
the army is absolutely necessary for the safety of our constitutional
government and for the maintenance of order.

"Nay, if our troops are not compelled unhesitatingly to obey the
commands of the executive, we shall be exposed to the blind fury of
democratic passions which will render France the most miserable country
on the globe. The ministry may be assured that, if the daily-increasing
arrogance of the Parisian mob is not repressed by a strong arm and
social order rightly maintained, we shall see not only this capital
but every other city in France thrown into a state of indescribable
anarchy, while the real friends of liberty, the enlightened patriots
now working for the best good of our country, will sink beneath a set
of demagogues who, with louder cries for freedom on their tongues, will
be in reality but a horde of savages, worse than the Neros of old."[297]

The whole future career of Napoleon was in consistency with the spirit
of these remarks. "I frankly declare," said Napoleon, subsequently,
"that if I were compelled to choose between the old monarchy and
Jacobin misrule, I should infinitely prefer the former."

On the 3d of September the Constitution was presented to the king for
his acceptance with imposing ceremonies.[298] At nine o'clock in the
evening a deputation left the chamber of the Assembly, and, escorted
by a numerous and brilliant guard of honor, entered the Chateau of
the Tuileries. The multitudes who thronged the way applauded loudly.
The king, surrounded by his ministers and other high officers of the
kingdom, received the deputation in his council-chamber. M. Thouret,
president of the commission, presented the Constitution to the king,

"Sire! the representatives of the nation come to present to your
majesty the constitutional act which consecrates the indefeasible
rights of the French people, which gives to the throne its true
dignity, and regenerates the government of the empire."

The king, with a countenance expressive of satisfaction, received the
document, and replied that he would examine it, and, after the shortest
possible delay, communicate his decision to the Assembly. On the 13th
he sent a message to the Assembly, which Barnave had assisted him in
drawing up, and which contained the following conciliatory and noble

"I have examined the Constitution. I accept it and will carry it into
execution. The will of the people is no longer doubtful to me, and
therefore I accept the Constitution. I freely renounce the co-operation
I had claimed in this work, and I declare that when I have renounced
it no other but myself has any right to claim it. Let the absent who
are restrained by the fear of persecutions return to their country
in safety. Let us consent to a mutual forgiveness of the past and
obliterate all accusations arising from the events of the Revolution
in a general reconciliation. I do not refer to those which have been
caused by an attachment to me. Can you see any guilt in them? I will
present myself to-morrow at noon to the National Assembly, and take
oath to the Constitution in the very place where it has been drawn up."

This frank and cordial assent was unanticipated. It created a burst of
extraordinary joy. La Fayette, in response to the suggestion of the
king, immediately proposed a general amnesty for all acts connected
with the Revolution. The motion was carried by acclaim. For a moment
all parties seemed again to be united, prisons were thrown open,
captives liberated, and shouts of fraternity and happiness resounded
through Paris.

The next day the king went to the Assembly and took his seat by the
side of the president. He was received by all the members standing, and
they remained standing while he addressed them. With the most earnest
expression of sincerity and satisfaction, the king said,

"I come to consecrate solemnly here the acceptance I have given to
the Constitutional Act. I swear to be faithful to the nation and the
law, and to employ all the powers delegated to me for maintaining the
Constitution and carrying its decrees into effect. May this great and
memorable epoch be that of the re-establishment of peace, and become
the gage of the happiness of the people and the prosperity of the

As the king withdrew the whole Assembly enthusiastically escorted him
to his palace. But it was a bitter trial for the once absolute monarch
to lay aside his unlimited power and become a constitutional king. The
monarch, though feeling humiliated, was still enabled to maintain his
aspect of smiles and composure until he reached the privacy of his own
apartment. He then threw himself into a chair, and, losing all control,
burst into tears.[299] A weeping king excites universal sympathy. The
heroic struggles of twenty millions of people to gain their liberties
also secure the sympathy and the admiration of every noble heart.

On the 18th of November the Constitution was proclaimed in the streets
of Paris. Every thing was done which art could devise to invest the
scene with splendor.


Paris was again in a delirium of joy. The bells rang, salvos of
artillery were fired, and the acclamations of hundreds of thousands,
blending with peals of music from martial bands, filled the air with a
confusion of all the sounds of exultation. The people were never weary
of calling the king, the queen, the children, to the windows of the
palace, and whenever they appeared they were greeted with outbursts of
love and joy.[300]

On the 18th there was another magnificent festival on the Field of
Mars. The Constitution was read to the people. It was accepted by them
with the simultaneous shout from three hundred thousand voices of
"_Vive la Nation! Vive le Roi!_" No discordant cry was heard. "After
the tempest, those who have been beaten by it, as well as those who
have not suffered, enjoy in common the serenity of the sky." In the
evening Paris and all France blazed with illuminations and resounded
with the shout of enfranchised millions. Balloons rose, from which
copies of the Constitution were scattered as snow-flakes upon the
multitude. The Elysian Fields, from the Arc de l'Etoile to the
Tuileries, was brilliant with garlands and stars and pyramids of flame.
Every tree blazed with quivering tongues of fire. Majestic orchestras
pealed forth the notes of national triumph, and a multitude which no
man could number filled that most magnificent avenue of Europe with
plays, dances, shouts, and songs of exultation.

La Fayette, on his well-known white charger, rode at the head of his
staff through the almost impenetrable throng, accompanied by the king,
the queen, and their children. Enthusiasm now reached its culminating
point. Hats were thrown into the air, and from the whole mighty mass,
as by electric sympathy, rose the cry "_Vive le Roi! Vive la Reine!
Vive le Dauphin!_"

The king and queen were overjoyed in view of the happiness of the
people, and of the love thus spontaneously and enthusiastically
manifested for the royal family. The queen was bewildered by so
marvelous a change. But four weeks before the royal family were
conducted as captives through that same avenue, surrounded by the same
countless throng, and not a voice bade them welcome. They could then
read in every eye the expression of hatred and defiance. The contrast
led the queen to exclaim, "They are no longer the same people." Even
her proud heart was touched, and she, for the first time, began to feel
some respect for popular rights. Returning to the palace, of her own
accord she stepped out upon the balcony, and presented her children to
the crowd who thronged the terrace. They received such greeting as can
only come from hearts glowing with sincerity and joy. These days of
rejoicing were terminated by an offering of thanksgiving to God, as the
sublime chant of the _Te Deum_ was sung in the cathedral of Nôtre Dame.

The Constituent Assembly, having now completed its task, prepared to
dissolve. As a conclusive reply to all who had accused it of ambitious
designs to perpetuate its powers, and as a magnanimous display of
patriotic disinterestedness, it decreed that none of its members should
be re-eligible to the next Legislature.

At three o'clock in the afternoon of the 30th of September, the king,
surrounded by his ministers, entered the Assembly. He was no longer the
hostage of the nation, but its recognized sovereign; the guard which
the law assigned him being now placed under his own command. Upon his
entrance the applause was so enthusiastic and prolonged that for some
time he was unable to commence speaking. He then said,

"Gentlemen, after the completion of the Constitution, you have resolved
on to-day for the termination of your labors. I will exercise all the
power confided to me in assuring to the Constitution the respect and
obedience which is its due. For you, gentlemen, who, during a long and
painful career, have evinced an indefatigable zeal in your labors,
there remains a last duty to fulfill, when you are scattered over the
face of the empire. It is to enlighten your fellow-citizens as to the
spirit of the laws you have made; to purify and unite opinions by the
example you will give to the love of order and submission to the laws.
Be, on your return to your homes, the interpreters of my sentiments
to your fellow-citizens. Tell them that the king will always be their
first and most faithful friend; that he desires to be loved by them,
and can only be happy with them and by them."

The king left the hall amid the loudest acclamations. They were
the last with which he was greeted. Thouret, the president of the
Assembly, as soon as the king had retired, said in a loud voice, "The
Constituent Assembly pronounces its mission accomplished, and that its
sittings now terminate." Thus closed the truly patriotic Assembly. It
had accomplished the greatest and the most glorious revolution ever
achieved in so short a time, and with so little violence. Repressing
alike the despotism of aristocracy and the lawlessness of the mob, it
established a constitution containing the essential elements of liberty
protected by law. Under this constitution France might have advanced
in prosperity. But the aristocrat and the Jacobin combined in its
overthrow. They were fatally successful in their efforts.

It is interesting to observe how differently the same events were
regarded by different minds. Bertrand de Moleville, a warm partisan of
the aristocracy, says,

"Thus terminated this guilty Assembly, whose vanity, ambition,
cupidity, ingratitude, ignorance, and audacity have overturned the most
ancient and the noblest monarchy of Europe, and rendered France the
theatre of every crime, of every calamity, and of the most horrible
catastrophe. Can these treacherous representatives ever justify
themselves in the eyes of the nation for having so unworthily abused
their confidence and their powers?"

On the other hand, the democratic historians, the "Two Friends
of Liberty," while regretting that the Constitution was not more
thoroughly democratic, say,

"The Constitution of 1791, with all its faults, forever deserves
the gratitude of the French people, because it has destroyed, never
to return, every trace of feudalism, imposts the most fatal to
agriculture, the privileges of particular persons, the usurpations
of the priesthood over the civil power, and the proud pretensions of
ancient corporations; because it has realized what philosophy for ages
has in vain wished, and what monarchs the most absolute have never
dared to undertake; and because it has established that uniformity
which no one could have ever hoped for in an empire formed by gradual
accretions from time to time, and with which, under a good government,
there is no prosperity which France may not realize."

But whatever may be the estimate which political partisans may place
upon the labors of the Assembly, no intelligent man will now deny that
the great majority of that body were true patriots, sincerely desiring
the welfare of their country. It will be admitted by all that they
abolished judicial torture, placed all men upon the basis of equality
in the eye of the law, annulled obnoxious privileges, introduced vast
reform into commercial jurisprudence, established liberty of worship
and of conscience, suppressed monastic vows, abolished the execrable
system of _lettres de cachet_, rendered personal liberty sacred,
introduced equality of taxation, and swept away those provincial
jealousies and that interior line of custom-houses which had for ages
seriously embarrassed the internal trade of the kingdom. All feudal
rights were abrogated, industry encouraged, and the citizens of the
kingdom were enrolled into a National Guard, for the preservation of
domestic peace and to resist aggression.

This most noble reform combined Europe assailed with all its marshaled
bayonets. The crime deluged the Continent in woe. After nearly a
quarter of a century of conflagration and carnage, French liberty was
trampled into the bloody mire of Waterloo, and the Old Régime was


[Footnote 287: "Je connais vos moyens de defense; ils sont nul. Et
votre châtiment servira d'exemple aux autres peuples. Voilà ce que voit
vous dire un homme qui n'a pour vous et votre peuple qu'indignation et
horreur. Je connais les chemins; je guiderais les armées étrangères qui
vous attaqueront. Si l'on ôte un seul cheven de la tête de mon roi, il
ne restera pas pièrre sur pièrre à Paris. Adieu, messieurs."--_Histoire
de la Revolution Française, par Villaumé_, p. 160.]

[Footnote 288: The Assembly, while exonerating the king, condemned
Bouillé and three _Guards du Corps_ who accompanied the king in his
flight. It is impossible to refute the _logic_ with which Robespierre
opposed this decision. "The measures you propose," he said, "can not
but dishonor you. If you adopt them, I demand to declare myself the
advocate of _all_ the accused. I will be the defender of the three
_Guards du Corps_, the governess, even of Monsieur de Bouillé. By the
principles of your committee, _no crime has been committed_. Where
there is no crime _there can be no accomplices_. Gentlemen, to visit
the weaker culprit when the greater one escapes is cowardice. You must
condemn all or acquit all." To this no reply was made. The Assembly

[Footnote 289: "The Republican party now began to appear. The struggle,
which lay at first between the Assembly and the court, then between
the Constitutionalists and the aristocrats, was now about to commence
between the Constitutionalists and the Republicans."--_Mignet_, p. 104.]

[Footnote 290: Villiaumé, p. 112; Desodoards, p. 42.]

[Footnote 291: Hist. de la Rev. Fr., par Villiaumé, p. 112. "The
Emperor of Austria, the King of Prussia, and the Count d'Artois met
at Pilnitz, where they made the famous declaration of the 27th of
August, which, far from improving the condition of the king, would have
imperiled him, had not the Assembly, in its wisdom, continued to follow
out its new designs, regardless at once of the clamors of the multitude
at home and of the foreign powers."--_Mignet_, p. 107.]

[Footnote 292: Histoire des Montagnards, par Alphonse Esquiros, p. 49.]

[Footnote 293: "It is easy to discern how many a hasty and tremulous
hand has traced the witness of its fury or ignorance upon this
document. Many were even unable to write. A circle of ink with a
cross in the centre marks their anonymous adhesion to the petition.
Some female names are to be seen, and numerous names of children
are discernible from the inaccuracy of their hand, guided by
another."--_History of the Girondists, Lamartine_, vol. i., p. 125.

This document is still preserved in the archives of the municipality
of Paris. On it may be read the names of Chaumette, Maillard, Hebert,
Hauriot, Santerre, and others who subsequently became most conspicuous
in deeds of cruelty and infamy.]

[Footnote 294: History of the Girondists, Lamartine, vol. i., p. 126.]

[Footnote 295: The Riot Act established by the Constitution was a
great improvement upon the Riot Act of England. It declared that
the municipal officers, if the public peace is endangered, shall
declare that military force must be produced; and the signal of this
declaration shall be a red flag upon the Hôtel de Ville, and then
carrying before them a red flag through the streets, wherever they,
with their armed force, go. On the appearance of the red flag, all
crowds refusing instantly to disperse shall be held criminal, and
shall be liable to be dispersed by force. In a crowd a _voice_ can not
always be heard, but a _red flag_ can always be seen. The crowd, though
thus dispersed, were authorized to depute six persons to state their
grievance to the government.]

[Footnote 296: There are many conflicting partisan accounts of this
event. The most careful and thorough investigation has led me to the
statement given above. When the Jacobins came into power they sent
Bailly to the guillotine for this noble deed. La Fayette would have
perished with him had he not been sheltered in the dungeons of Olmutz.
Bailly, in his narrative of this affair, says that there were but
twelve killed and about as many wounded.]

[Footnote 297: The narrative of this interview is given in full in
Chambers' Edinburgh Journal. It was communicated to that journal by
an Italian gentleman, a pupil of Condorcet, who was present on the

[Footnote 298: The Constitution was commenced the 17th of June, 1789,
and completed the 3d of September, 1791.]

[Footnote 299: Madame Campan's Memoirs, vol. ii., p. 157.]

[Footnote 300: All contemporary history unites in testifying to the
enthusiasm displayed on this occasion.]



  Sentiments of the King and Queen upon the Constitution.--The
  Legislative Assembly.--Its democratic Spirit.--The King's
  Speech.--Painful Scene.--The Queen plans Escape.--Riot in the
  Theatre.--Infatuation of the Aristocrats.--Insult to the Duke
  of Orleans.--Embarrassment of the Allies.--Replies to the King
  from the European Powers.--The Emigrants at Coblentz.--The King's
  Veto.--Letters of the King to his Brothers.--Their Replies.--Cruel
  Edicts.--Pétion chosen Mayor.--The King visits the Assembly.--Rise of
  the Republican Party.

The monarch of France, though deprived of absolute power, was still in
the enjoyment of extensive prerogatives. The Assembly had conferred
upon him the title of King of the French, an annual income of five
millions of dollars, the command of the armies, and the right of
suspending the national decrees. The king and queen were probably at
this time sincere in their resolve to be resigned to the change, and
to accept the Constitution. In the first interview which Bertrand de
Moleville, a Royalist whom the king had appointed Minister of Marine,
had with the king, the following remarks were made by the monarch:

"In my opinion the Constitution has serious defects, and if I had
been at liberty to address some observations to the Assembly, very
beneficial reforms might have resulted from them. But now it is too
late, and I have accepted it, such as it is. I have sworn to cause it
to be executed, and I ought to be, and will be, strictly faithful to my

"But may I be permitted," inquired the minister, "to ask your majesty
if the queen's opinion on this point agrees with the king's?"

"Yes, precisely," said the king; "she will tell you so herself."

"I went down stairs," continues Bertrand de Moleville in his
interesting narrative, "to the queen, who, after declaring with extreme
kindness that she, as well as the king, felt under much obligation to
me for having accepted the ministry under such critical circumstances,
added these words:

"'The king has acquainted you with his intentions relative to the
Constitution. Do you think that the only plan he has to follow is to
adhere to his oath?'

"'Most certainly, madam,' I replied.

"'Well, then,' said the queen, 'be assured that nothing shall induce
us to change. Come, M. Bertrand, courage! I hope that with patience,
firmness, and perseverance, all is not yet lost.'"[301]

Just before the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, elections had
been held, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, to
choose the first _Legislative Assembly_. This legislature was to be
renewed every two years. No member of the Constitutional Assembly was
eligible. The Legislative Assembly, consequently, was composed mostly
of obscure men with but little political experience. They numbered
seven hundred and forty-five.

The Legislative Assembly was convened the 1st day of October, the day
after the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, and in the hall
which had been occupied by that body.[302] At its first sitting it was
observed that the exterior aspect of the Assembly had greatly changed;
that nearly all the white heads had disappeared; and that France had
fallen into the hands of young men. Sixty of the deputies were under
twenty-six years of age. The spirit of the new Assembly was developed
in its first decrees. A deputation was sent to inform the king that the
Assembly was organized. The president of the deputation, in conformity
with court etiquette, approached the king, and, when at four paces
distance, bowed and said,

"Sire, the Assembly is formed, and has deputed us to inform your

Upon reporting the result of their mission, some of the deputies were
offended that the ancient titles of royalty had been retained.

"I demand," cried one, "that this title of _majesty_ be no longer

"I demand," exclaimed another, "that this title of _Sire_ be abolished.
It is only an abbreviation of Seigneur, which recognizes a sovereignty
in the man to whom it is given. There is no other majesty here than
that of the law and the people. Let us leave the king no other title
than that of King of the French."

In the room there was a gilded chair, raised above the seat of the
president, which was occupied by the king when he attended the
Assembly. It had always been a respectful custom for the members to
remain uncovered when the king was present, and to stand while he
addressed them. It was the custom for the king, in addressing the
Assembly, to be seated and to wear his hat.

"Let this scandalous gilded chair be removed," another said. "Let an
equality exist between us and the king as regards ceremony. When he is
uncovered and standing, let us stand and uncover our heads. When he is
covered and seated, let us sit and wear our hats."

These decrees, abolishing the respect due to rank, and the courtesies
so essential to mitigate the ferocity of political strife, were
promptly passed. The Constitutional party throughout France were
generally mortified and alarmed, and the king was deeply wounded. He
declared that the Constitution did not require of him to expose the
monarchical dignity to insult, and that he would not preside at the
opening of the legislative body in person, but would assign the duty
to his ministers.[303] Alarmed by the decision of the king and by the
indications of public disapproval, the Assembly, after a debate of two
days, repealed the obnoxious decrees.

The Jacobins regarded the repeal as a defeat, and in the Assembly,
in their clubs, and in their journals, did what they could to rouse
the indignation of the populace. The royalist journals also united
with them in the attempt to overwhelm this return to moderation with
derision. "See," they cried, "how contemptible is this revolution; how
conscious of its own weakness. See, in two days, how often it has given
itself the lie." The Royalists still persisted in their endeavor to
goad the revolutionary party to every conceivable outrage, that Europe
might be more effectually roused to crush the Revolution.[304]

On the 7th the king proceeded to the Assembly. He was received,
apparently, with unanimous applause, some shouting energetically "_Vive
le Roi!_" and others, still more energetically, "_Vive sa majesté!_"
The king's speech was conciliatory, and was received with warm
approval. The members of the Assembly, however, retained their seats
while the king was addressing them. Louis regarded this as an insult,
and it wounded him most keenly.

The queen attended the sitting in a private box. The disrespect
with which the king was treated pierced her very soul. She sat as
in a stupor of silence, her countenance, pallid and wan, betraying
the bitterness of her anguish. The king, upon leaving the Assembly,
hastened immediately to the private apartment of the queen. He was so
pale and agitated that the queen uttered an exclamation of surprise.
The unhappy monarch threw himself upon a sofa, and, pressing a
handkerchief to his eyes, said,

"All is lost! Ah! madam, and you are witness to this humiliation. What!
you are come to France to see--"

"These words," writes Madame Campan, "were interrupted by sobs. The
queen threw herself upon her knees before him, and pressed him in her
arms. I remained with them, not from any blamable curiosity, but from
a stupefaction which rendered me incapable of determining what I ought
to do. The queen said to me, '_Oh go, go_,' with an accent which
expressed, 'Do not remain to witness the dejection and despair of your
sovereign.' I withdrew, struck with the contrast between the shouts
of joy without the palace, and the profound grief which oppressed the
sovereigns within."

The queen resolved immediately to leave Paris and to return to her
friends in Vienna, that from the heart of Austria she might plan for
the recovery of the throne. The king so far fell in with this plan
as to write a letter which M. Goguelat was to take to the emperor.
During the whole day the garden and court-yard of the Tuileries were
thronged, and the rejoicing shouts of the people filled the air. The
ignorant populace, believing that the king and the queen shared their
joy, called loudly for them to take an airing in their carriage in the
Elysian Fields. It was not deemed prudent to decline. With heavy hearts
they entered their carriage, and rode slowly along the magnificent
avenue, escorted by the officers of the Parisian army. Here a new
insult awaited them. Though they were repeatedly greeted with shouts
of "_Vive le Roi!_" a gigantic man, with stentorian voice, kept near
the carriage window, ever interrupting those shouts with the cry, "_No,
don't believe them_. _Vive la Nation!_" This one ill-omened voice,
incessantly reiterated, sank deep into their hearts, and obliterated
all impressions of public acclaim. In the deepest dejection they
returned to the palace.[305]

That night Paris blazed with illuminations, and the shouts of joyful
revelry filled all the streets; but in these resounding plaudits the
queen heard but the death-knell of the monarchy, and, in the retirement
of her boudoir, she was at midnight planning her escape from France.

It was deemed by the king and queen of the utmost importance to assume
publicly the appearance of content. A few evenings after this, the
royal family attended the Théâtre Italien. As Madame Duguzon sang the
words, "_Ah! how I love my mistress_," she turned to the royal box,
and gracefully courtesied to the queen. Immediately many Jacobins
in the pit shouted, "No mistress! no master! liberty!" This caused
others to shout, "Long live the king! long live the queen!" Still
more energetically the Jacobins replied, "No king! no queen!" In an
instant the theatre was thrown into a Babel of tumult. The infuriated
antagonists from words proceeded to blows, and a fierce fight took
place under the eyes of the royal family. News of the affray spread
rapidly through Paris, and the excitable mob was rapidly gathering,
when the royal guards surrounded the king and queen and bore them
safely to the palace. This was the last time the royal family ventured
into the theatre.[306]

The queen was all this time carrying on a private correspondence with
the foreign powers in cipher, and through her agents was conferring
with William Pitt in London. "The queen told me," writes Madam Campan,
"that her secret envoy was returned from London, and that all he had
been able to wring from Pitt, whom he found alarmingly reserved, was,
that _he would not suffer the French monarchy to fall_; that to suffer
the revolutionary spirit to erect an organized republic in France would
be a great error as regarding the tranquillity of Europe."[307]

The queen complained that she herself was greatly embarrassed by the
arrogance of the nobles. "When I do any thing," she said to Madame
Campan, "which the _noblesse_ do not like, I am treated with marked
neglect. No one will come to my card-parties, and the king is left in

The Royalists, indeed, seem to have been abandoned to utter
infatuation. They did every thing in their power to insult and
exasperate those who were not their political confederates. The Duke
of Orleans went to the Tuileries to attend the king's levee. The
courtiers who thronged the anterooms, as soon as he entered, crowded
around him, hustled him about, trod on his toes, and punched him with
their elbows. "Gentlemen," they shouted to each other, "watch the
dishes!" implying that the duke was provided with poison to sprinkle
upon the refreshments. The duke was at last compelled to retire without
seeing the royal family. The crowd followed him to the staircase,
and, as he descended, spit upon him, covering his head and clothes
with saliva. The duke supposed, though erroneously, that the king and
queen instigated this unpardonable outrage. It is not strange that
this man, when his hour of power came, voted to send the king to the

The queen was unrelenting in her hostility to La Fayette, and often
treated him with the most irritating rudeness. "Her aversion," says
Madame Campan, "for the general increased daily, and grew so powerful
that when, toward the end of the Revolution, he seemed willing to
support the tottering throne she could never bring herself to incur
so great an obligation to him."[310] On one occasion La Fayette met
the queen in a private interview, while his aids waited for him in the
saloon. Some of the ladies of the court, to insult La Fayette and his
aids, said loudly, "_It is very alarming to see the queen alone with a
rebel and a brigand_."

The feelings of the king were now so outraged that he could not
cheerfully persevere in his resolves to maintain the new order of
affairs. The allied sovereigns were, however, so embarrassed by the
acceptance of the Constitution by the king, and by the reiterated
declaration of the king that he accepted and adopted the whole system
of governmental reform, that they hesitated for a time to carry into
execution the declaration of Pilnitz. Louis XVI. notified all the
courts of Europe of the change which had been introduced into the
government of France, and sent to them all, with much ceremonial pomp,
a copy of the Constitution elegantly engrossed upon satin paper. The
allies could no longer pretend that they were waging war against a
_revolted people_. It was now necessary, if they continued hostile, to
assail the legitimate king, and to deny, in the face of the world, that
the government of France had any right to mitigate the severity of its

The courts of Europe were quite bewildered by the new aspect which
affairs thus assumed. It was necessary for them to take some notice
of the courteous communication which had been transmitted to them.
Leopold of Austria seemed disposed to give up the conflict, thinking
that the safety of his sister Marie Antoinette would be promoted by
peace. He therefore returned a pacific answer. Prussia and England sent
back courteous replies with assurances of their amicable intentions.
Holland, the Italian principalities, and Switzerland assumed a friendly
attitude. Russia was cold, haughty, and reserved. Gustavus of Sweden
returned the insulting reply that the King of France was a prisoner,
and that his assent to the Constitution was obtained upon compulsion,
and therefore deserved no respect from the foreign powers.[311] The
Electors of Treves and of Mentz, in whose territories the emigrants
had mostly taken refuge, returned evasive and unsatisfactory replies.
Spain, also, while declaring that she had no wish to disturb the
internal tranquillity of France, could not conceal her displeasure that
free institutions were established so near her borders.

The emigrants, however, were still rallying at Coblentz and making
formidable preparations for war. The king was vacillating. It is
certain that he sent, apparently, the most sincere injunctions to the
emigrants at Coblentz to disband and to return to France, accepting the
new order of things. It is equally certain that he kept up a private
correspondence with the emigrants, encouraging them to persevere and to
march to his rescue.[312]

This hostile gathering at Coblentz, ever threatening the kingdom with
invasion, kept France in a continual state of ferment. The Minister of
War reported to the Assembly that nineteen hundred of the officers of
the army had deserted their posts and joined the menacing foe. After a
long and very anxious debate, a decree was passed declaring that the
French emigrants assembled at Coblentz were believed to be conspiring
against France; that if, on the 1st of January next, they still
continued assembled, they should be declared guilty of conspiracy,
prosecuted as such, and punished with death; and that the revenues of
those who refused to comply with this decree should be levied, during
their lives, for the benefit of the nation, without prejudice to the
rights of wives, children, and lawful creditors.[313]

The king, on the 10th of November, returned this law with his _veto_.
It was an imposing scene. All the ministers of the king, in a body,
went to the Assembly. It was generally understood that the power of the
_veto_ was to be exercised. Breathless silence pervaded the Assembly.
The bill was returned to the president with the official formula,
"_The king will examine it_." Loud murmurs immediately rose from all
parts of the house, and the ministers retired, leaving the Assembly in
deep irritation. The conviction was strengthened that the king was in
sympathy with the conspirators.

To efface this impression the king the next day issued a proclamation
to the emigrants exhorting them to cease to harass France by their
threatening attitude, and like good citizens to return and respect
the established laws of their country. He entreated them not to compel
him to employ severe measures against them. As to the charge that he
was deprived of his liberty, he said that the _veto_ which he had just
interposed in their favor was sufficient proof of the freedom of his
actions. At the same time he published two very decisive letters to his
two brothers. To Louis he wrote as follows:

 "Paris, November 11, 1791.

  "To Louis Stanislas Xavier, French Prince, the King's Brother,--I
  wrote to you, my brother, on the 16th of October last, and you ought
  not to have had any doubt of my real sentiments. I am surprised that
  my letter has not produced the effect which I had a right to expect
  from it. In order to recall you to your duty I have used all the
  arguments that ought to touch you most. Your absence is a pretext for
  all the evil disposed; a sort of excise for all the deluded French,
  who imagine that they are serving me by keeping all France in an
  alarm and agitation, which are the torment of my life.

  "The Revolution is finished. The Constitution is completed. France
  wills it; I will maintain it. Upon its consolidation now depends the
  welfare of the monarchy. The Constitution has conferred rights upon
  you; it has attached to them one condition which you ought to lose no
  time in fulfilling. Believe me, brother, and repel the doubts which
  pains are taken to excite in you respecting my liberty. I am going
  to prove to you, by a most solemn act, and in a circumstance which
  interests you, that I can act freely. Prove to me that you are my
  brother and a Frenchman by complying with my entreaties. Your proper
  place is by my side; your interests, your sentiments alike urge you
  to come and resume it. I invite you, and, if I may, I order you to do
  so.     (Signed),                   Louis."

In a similar strain he wrote to his brother Charles. But neither the
proclamation to the emigrants nor the letters to his brothers produced
any effect. The Count of Provence (Louis XVIII.), in his reply, said,

"The order which the letter contains for me to return and resume my
place by your majesty's person is not the free expression of your will.
My honor, my duty, nay, even my affection alike forbid me to obey."

The Count of Artois (Charles X.) replied,

"The decisions referred to in this letter have furnished me with a
fresh proof of the moral and physical captivity in which our enemies
dare to hold your majesty. After this declaration your majesty will
think it natural that, faithful to my duty and the laws of honor, I
should not obey orders evidently wrung from you by violence."

Another very serious difficulty now arose. The Constitution established
freedom of conscience and of worship. It, however, justly required that
all governmental officers should take the oath of allegiance to the
Constitution. The Church had been so long in intimate alliance with the
State, that that alliance was not severed, and the clergy, as public
functionaries who received their salaries from the national treasury,
were consequently required to take the oath. Any one was at liberty to
refuse to take this oath. By so doing he merely forfeited employment
by the nation. He was still permitted to perform the functions of the
ministry for any who were disposed to support him as their pastor.

In the Province of Vendée the majority of the clergy refused to take
the oath, and carried with them the immense majority of the simple and
superstitious peasants. The churches in which they had ministered were
immediately assigned to other priests who had taken the oath. The great
mass of the people abandoned the churches and followed their nonjuring
pastors to private houses, barns, and into the fields. Great enthusiasm
was excited, and the nonjuring priests endeavored to excite the people
against their colleagues who had taken the oath, and against the people
who accepted their ministrations. Acts of violence were frequent and
civil war was imminent.

The Legislative Assembly was alarmed, and endeavored to meet the
difficulty by adopting measures totally hostile to the free spirit of
the Constitution. They resolved that the nonjuring priests should again
be called upon to take the oath of allegiance to the Constitution;
that, if they refused, they should be not only deprived of all salary,
but should be removed from their parishes, and even imprisoned, if need
be, that they might not excite their former parishioners to civil war.
They were also forbidden to exercise the privilege of private worship.
The administrative bodies were required to transmit a list of such
priests to the Assembly, with notes relative to the conduct of each one.

These decrees were surely unconstitutional. The bishops and the priests
who were endangered by them sent to the king an earnest remonstrance
against them. Many of the most influential of the Constitutionalists
were opposed to them as both tyrannical and cruel. The king was so
moved that he said to his ministers, who coincided with him in opinion,
"They shall take my life before they shall compel me to sanction such

The king returned the bill with his _veto_, and aggravated the odium
this would naturally excite by retaining, contrary to the solicitations
of his best friends, nonjuring ecclesiastics to perform the religious
services of his chapel. Though we can not commend the _prudence_ we
must respect the _spirit_ which impelled him to say,

"The Constitution decrees freedom of religious worship for every body.
The king is surely entitled to that liberty as much as his subjects."

All argument was on one side, but peril, more powerful than argument,
on the other. "The nonjuring priests," it was exclaimed, "are exciting
civil war. The law of self-defense renders it imperative that we should
strike them down."

Upon the completion of the Constitution, La Fayette, emulating the
character of Washington, resigned the command of the National Guard
and retired to his estates. Bailly also resigned his post as mayor of
Paris. The command of the Guard was intrusted to six generals, who were
to exercise it in rotation. A new mayor of Paris was to be chosen. La
Fayette was the candidate of the Constitutionalists, and Pétion of
that radical portion of the Republicans who were termed Jacobins. The
aristocracy, with their accustomed infatuation, supported Pétion with
their influence and with a large outlay of money. They feared that a
constitutional monarchy might be sustained, but they believed that the
Jacobins would introduce such anarchy as might secure the recall of the
old monarchy.

"The Marquis de la Fayette," said the queen, "only desires to be Mayor
of Paris that he may be _mayor of the palace_. Pétion is a Jacobin and
a Republican; but he is a fool, incapable of ever being the leader of
a party. He will be a nullity of a mayor. Besides, it is possible that
the knowledge of the interest we take in his election may bring him
over to the king."[314]

Pétion was chosen by a large majority. Bitterly did the king and queen
afterward bewail his election. But thus through all this tragedy did
they spurn those who alone had the heart and the ability to help them.

In the midst of these troubles the most alarming rumors were every day
reaching Paris respecting the threatening aspect of the emigrants. All
along the Germanic frontiers, at Strasbourg, Coblentz, Worms, they
were marshaling their battalions and collecting munitions of war.
Exasperated by these persistent and audacious threats, the Assembly
sent a deputation of twenty-four members to the king with a decree
declaring that the Electors of Treves and Mentz, and other princes
of the Germanic empire should be required to break up these hostile
assemblages formed within their territories for the invasion of France.
M. de Vaublanc, who headed the deputation, said to the king,

"Sire, if the French who were driven from their country by the
revocation of the Edict of Nantes had assembled in arms on the
frontiers, and had been protected by Germanic princes, we ask you,
sire, what would have been the conduct of Louis XIV.? Would he have
suffered these assemblages? That which he would have done for the
sake of his authority, your majesty can not hesitate to do for the
maintenance of the Constitution."

The king, anxious to regain the ground he had lost by his _veto_,
decided to go to the Assembly and reply in person to their message. On
the evening of the 14th of December, his coming having been previously
announced, he entered the hall. He was received with the most frigid
silence. His speech, however, soon enkindled enthusiasm and applause.

He assured the Assembly that he warmly sympathized with them in all
their solicitude for the honor of France, that he had already signified
to the Electors of Treves and Mentz that the continued assemblage of
troops within their borders for the invasion of France would be deemed
cause for war. He said that he had written to Leopold, the Emperor
of Germany, demanding his interference to prevent the gathering of
troops, hostile to France, within the limits of the Germanic empire,
and concluded with the declaration that he would faithfully guard the
Constitution, and that he appreciated the glory of being the king of a
free people.[315]

This speech was received with great applause, and it was immediately
voted that it should be sent to each of the eighty-three departments
of the empire. Immediately upon the king's retiring, the Count Louis
de Narbonne, minister of war, entered, and informed the Assembly that
one hundred thousand men were immediately to be assembled, by order of
the king, upon the Rhine, to repel invasion; that three generals were
appointed to command them--Luckner, Rochambeau, and La Fayette; that
he was about to set out immediately to inspect the fortresses on the
frontiers. At the same time all the diplomatic agents who were accused
of favoring the aristocratic party were removed, and more democratic
officers were appointed in their place. These measures were so popular,
and gave such evidence that the king sincerely intended to defend the
Constitution, that even the obnoxious _vetos_ were accepted without
farther murmurs.

These measures were prosecuted with vigor. Luckner and Rochambeau,
having been appointed marshals of France, hastened to the frontiers. La
Fayette soon followed them. Battalions of the National Guard escorted
him as he left Paris, and he was greeted every where with shouts of

The emigrants were unanimous in their desire for the invasion of
France, for the entire overthrow of the Constitution, and the
restoration of the Old Régime. Leopold of Austria, however, anxious
for the safety of his sister Marie Antoinette, and embarrassed by the
king's acceptance of the Constitution, was desirous of effecting some
compromise by which a constitution should be permitted to France, but
one much more aristocratic in its provisions. Gustavus of Sweden and
Catherine of Russia were eager for prompt and energetic war. Catherine
wrote a strong letter to Leopold to rouse him to action.

"The King of Prussia," she wrote, "for a mere incivility offered to
his sister, sent an army into Holland to punish the affront. And will
the Emperor of Austria patiently suffer insults and affronts to be
heaped upon his sister, the Queen of France, the degradation of her
rank and dignity, and the overthrow of the throne of a king who is his
brother-in-law and his ally?"[316]

Under this state of affairs, the French embassador, in January, 1792,
was instructed to inform the Austrian government that there was reason
to apprehend that a coalition was being formed against the sovereignty
and independence of France, and to inquire of Leopold whether he
did or did not intend to interfere against the French Revolution.
Thus pressed, the Austrian cabinet returned an answer containing the
following avowal:

"When France gave to Europe the spectacle of a lawful king forced by
atrocious violence to fly, protesting solemnly against the acquiescence
which they had extorted from him, and a little afterward stopped and
detained prisoner by his subjects--yes, it then _did_ concern the
brother-in-law and the ally of the king to invite the other powers
of Europe to join with him in a declaration to France that they all
view the cause of his most Christian majesty as their own; that they
demand that this prince and his family be set at liberty and have power
to go where they please; and they require for these royal personages
inviolability and due respect, which by the law of nature and nations
are due from subjects to their princes; that they will unite to avenge
in the most signal manner every farther attempt that may be committed,
or may be suffered to be committed, against the liberty, the honor, and
the safety of the king, the queen, and the royal family; and that,
finally, they will not acknowledge as constitutional and legally
established in France any laws but those which shall have the voluntary
acquiescence of the king, enjoying perfect liberty. But if, on the
other hand, these demands are not complied with, they will in concert
employ all the means in their reach to put a stop to the scandalous
usurpation of power which bears the appearance of an open rebellion,
and which, from the dangers of the example, it concerns all the
governments of Europe to repress."

The Republican party in the Legislative Assembly were called the
Girondists because their leaders were generally from the department
of the Gironde. The evidence to them was conclusive, and is now
universally admitted, that the king, instead of sustaining the
Constitution, was conspiring with the emigrants and the foreign powers
for its overthrow. The Girondists, thus assured that the king was
hostile to constitutional liberty while pretending that he was its
friend that he might more effectually assail it, were anxious for his
dethronement and for the establishment of a republic. Candor surely
can not censure them. Twenty-five millions of men were not bound to
place their liberties in the hands of a monarch who was conspiring with
foreign foes to enslave them anew.

The Republican party increased so rapidly and swayed such an influence
that the king was compelled early in 1792 to dismiss his Royalist
ministers, and to call into his cabinet the leaders of the Republicans,
Dumouriez, Roland, and others. He was compelled very reluctantly to
take this step, and soon by them he was compelled, with still greater
reluctance, to declare war against Austria.


[Footnote 301: Bertrand de Moleville, t. vi., p. 22. See also Mémoires
de Madame Campan, t. ii., p. 161.]

[Footnote 302: "This Assembly (the Constituent) had consisted of the
most imposing body of men that had ever represented, not only France,
but the human race. The men of the Constituent Assembly were not
Frenchmen, they were universal men. They were, and they felt themselves
to be, workmen of God, called by him to restore social reason, and
found right and justice throughout the universe. The declaration of
the Rights of Man proves this. Thus there was not one of its apostles
who did not proclaim peace among the nations. Mirabeau, La Fayette,
Robespierre himself, erased war from the symbol which they presented to
the nation."--_Hist. of the Girondists, by Lamartine_, vol. i., p. 250.]

[Footnote 303: Lamartine, in cautious apology for these decrees, says,
"The people was a slave, freed but yesterday, and who still trembled at
the clank of his chains."--_Hist. of the Girondists_, vol. i., p. 210.]

[Footnote 304: "The aristocratic party preferred any thing, even the
Jacobins, to the establishment of the constitutional laws. The most
unbridled disorders seemed preferable, because they buoyed up the hope
of a total change; and, twenty times over, upon occasions when persons
but little acquainted with the secret policy of the court expressed the
apprehensions they entertained of the popular societies, the initiated
answered that a sincere Royalist ought to favor the Jacobins."--_Madame
Campan_, vol. ii., p. 162.]

[Footnote 305: "What King Louis is, and can not help being, readers
already know. A king who can not take the Constitution, nor reject the
Constitution, nor do any thing at all but miserably ask, 'What shall I
do?'"--_Carlyle, History of the French Revolution_, vol. ii., p. 22.]

[Footnote 306: The king's government hired hand-clappers and
applauders. Fifty thousand dollars a month were devoted to
paragraph-writers and journalists. Two hundred and eighty applauders
were hired at three shillings each a day to clap and shout whenever the
king made his appearance, and to crowd the galleries of the Legislative
Assembly whenever the king presented himself there. The account-books
of this expenditure still exist.--_Montgaillard_, vol. iii., p. 141.]

[Footnote 307: Madame Campan, vol. ii., p. 189.]

[Footnote 308: Id., 174.]

[Footnote 309: Bertrand Moleville, vol. i., p. 177. Bertrand was an
eye-witness of this scene, which he graphically describes.]

[Footnote 310: Madame Campan, vol. ii., p. 127.]

[Footnote 311: The Empress Catharine of Russia wrote to Marie
Antoinette a letter with her own hand, containing the following
sentence: "Kings ought to proceed in their career, undisturbed by the
cries of the people, as the moon pursues her course unimpeded by the
howling of dogs."--_Madame Campan_, vol. i., p. 207.]

[Footnote 312: Mémoires de Madame Campan, t. ii., p. 172.]

[Footnote 313: Thiers, vol. i., p. 204.]

[Footnote 314: Bertrand's Private Memoirs, vol. v., p. 106.]

[Footnote 315: There was an earnest debate in February, 1800, in the
British House of Commons as to who were the aggressors in this war. Mr.
Pitt denounced the French as the aggressors. Mr. Fox, on the contrary,
affirmed that the war was unavoidable on the part of France from the
menacing conduct of the German powers.]

[Footnote 316: Mémoires de Bouillé, p. 314.]



  Death of Leopold.--Assassination of Gustavus.--Interview between
  Dumouriez and the Queen.--Discussion in the Assembly.--The Duke
  of Brunswick.--Interview of Barnave with the Queen.--Interview
  between Dumouriez and the King.--Dismissal of M. Roland.--The Palace
  invaded.--Fortitude of the King.--Pétion, the Mayor.--Affecting
  Interview of the Royal Family.--Remarks of Napoleon.

On the 1st of March, 1792, the Emperor Leopold died. His son, Francis
II., a young man twenty-four years of age, ascended the throne. The
court of Leopold had been a harem of unblushing sensuality and sin. He
did not condescend to spread any veil over his amours. His attachments
were numerous and fugitive, and his guilty favorites associated with
each other and braved the frowns of the humiliated queen amid the
voluptuousness of the palace. At the time of his death there dwelt with
him Donna Maria, a young girl from Tuscany, whose surpassing charms had
given her celebrity throughout Europe as "the beautiful Florentine;"
a Polish girl of great attractions, Mademoiselle Prokache; and the
Countess of Walkenstein, whose charms of person and fascination of
manners gave her celebrity through all the European courts. Upon this
latter favorite alone he lavished gifts, in drafts on the Bank of
Vienna, to the amount of two hundred thousand dollars. There were also
various other of these favorites of infamy, inferior in notoriety
and rank. The annals of Roman story may be searched in vain to find a
monarch more utterly profligate. Immediately after his death his widow
said to her son Francis,

"My son, you have before you the sad proofs of your father's disorderly
life and of my long afflictions. Remember nothing of them except my
forgiveness and his virtues. Imitate his great qualities, but beware
lest you fall into the same vices, in order that you may not, in your
turn, put to the blush those who scrutinize your life."

Marie Antoinette doubted not that her cousin Francis would be as
devoted to her interests as her brother Leopold had been. Fifteen days
after the death of Leopold, Gustavus III. of Sweden was assassinated
at a masked ball by the nobles of his court. His death momentarily
embarrassed the movements of the emigrants, for he was actively engaged
in raising an army for the invasion of France.[317]

The allies were now vigorously raising troops and directing their march
towards the frontiers of France. Some hoped that the demonstration
would overawe the French and frighten them into submission. Others were
eager, by prompt invasion, to submit the question to the arbitrament
of battle. The Assembly speedily dispatched to the threatened frontier
three armies of defense. Rochambeau was placed in command of the army
of the north, at Flanders, consisting of 63,000 men; La Fayette was
sent to the army of the centre, at Metz, which was 52,000 strong;
Luckner occupied Alsace, with 48,000 troops.[318]

In calling the Girondists into the ministry, General Dumouriez, a brave
and veteran soldier, was appointed to the ministry of foreign affairs.
With great vigor he prosecuted arrangements for the defense of France.
In addition to the troops, amounting to 163,000, stationed along the
northwestern frontier from Dunkirk to Besançon, he raised a fourth army
to repel invasion from Spain through the passes of the Pyrenees.

Dumouriez had acquired great popularity in the club of the Jacobins
by frequenting their meetings, and by wearing the red cap of liberty,
an emblem borrowed from the Phrygians. The queen was highly indignant
that one in sympathy with the Jacobins should be called into the
ministry, and, as she was now heartily in sympathy with the emigrants
and the allies, she was provoked by the vigorous measures adopted to
repel them. Dumouriez was a soldier, not a statesman; a man of heroic
character, brave, impulsive, and generous. He had great power over
the mind of the king; and the queen, anxious to see him, appointed
an audience. In the memoirs of Dumouriez we find a narrative of this
interview. Upon being ushered into her apartment, he found the queen,
with flushed cheeks, rapidly pacing the floor, and giving every
indication of extreme excitement. Dumouriez, embarrassed by this aspect
of affairs, advanced in silence to a corner of the fire-place, when
the queen turned toward him and abruptly said, with an air and tone of

"Sir, you are all-powerful at this moment, but it is through the favor
of the people, who soon break their idols in pieces. Your existence
depends upon your conduct. It is said that you possess great abilities.
You must be aware that neither the king nor myself can endure these
innovations, nor the Constitution. This I tell you frankly. Choose your

"Madame," Dumouriez replied, "I am deeply pained by the secret which
your majesty has just imparted to me. I will not betray it. But I
stand between the king and my nation, and I belong to my country.
Permit me to say that the welfare of the king, your own, and that of
your children, are linked with the Constitution. You are surrounded
by enemies who are sacrificing you to their private interests. The
Constitution, when once in vigor, so far from bringing misery upon
the king, will constitute his happiness and glory. It is absolutely
necessary that he should concur in establishing it solidly and

The queen could never endure contradiction. Losing all self-control,
she exclaimed, in a loud and angry tone, "The Constitution will not
last. Take care of yourself."

Dumouriez quietly and firmly replied, "Madame, I am past fifty; my life
has been crossed by many perils; and, in accepting the ministry, I was
thoroughly sensible that _responsibility_ was not the greatest of my

The queen, in the blindness of her passion, saw fit to interpret this
remark as an insinuation that she might cause him to be assassinated.
With inflamed cheeks and tears gushing into her eyes, she replied,

"Nothing more was wanting but to calumniate me. You seem to think me
capable of causing you to be murdered."

The scene had now become painful in the extreme, and Dumouriez, greatly
agitated, answered,

"God preserve me, madame, from doing you so cruel an injury. The
character of your majesty is great and noble. You have given heroic
proofs of it which I have admired, and which have attached me to you.
Believe me, I have no interest in deceiving you. I abhor anarchy and
crime as much as you do. But this is not a transient popular movement,
as you seem to think. It is an almost unanimous insurrection of a
mighty nation against inveterate abuses. Great factions fan this flame.
In all of them there are villains and madmen. In the Revolution I keep
in view only the king and the entire nation; all that tends to part
them leads to their mutual ruin. I strive as much as possible to unite
them. If I am an obstacle to your designs, tell me so. I will instantly
send my resignation to the king, and hide myself in some corner to
mourn over your fate and that of my country."[319]

This conversation restored Dumouriez to the confidence of the queen,
and she conversed frankly and with a friendly spirit with him upon her
griefs and perils.

"You see me," she said, "very sad. I dare not approach the window which
looks into the garden. Yesterday evening I went to the window toward
the court just to take a little air. A gunner of the guard addressed me
in terms of vulgar abuse, adding, 'How I should like to see your head
on the point of my bayonet!' In this horrid garden you see on one side
a man, mounted on a chair, reading aloud the most abominable calumnies
against us; on the other, a military man or an abbé dragged through
one of the basins, overwhelmed with abuse, and beaten, while others
are playing at ball, or quietly walking about. What an abode! what a

The Austrian monarchy, supported by the other powers of Europe, now
sent to France the insolent demand that the French monarchy should
be restored almost to its pristine despotic power; that the three
estates of the realm--the clergy, the nobles, and the _tiers état_,
should be re-established, and that there should be the restitution of
Church property. It is not surprising that an independent nation of
twenty-five millions should have resented such impertinence. There was
a general cry of indignation from the Assembly, which was re-echoed
by the people, and new vigor was infused on both sides into the
preparations for the war.

The king was sorely perplexed. In the event of war, victory would but
strengthen the Revolutionary party; defeat would expose him to the
charge of treason in feebly conducting hostilities. But France would
not yield to this insulting foreign dictation, and the pressure of
public opinion fell so strong upon the king that he was constrained,
much against his will, to issue a declaration of war. Pale and
care-worn the king entered the Assembly, and, after presenting through
his minister a report of the demands of Austria, with a faltering voice
read his speech.

"Gentlemen," said he, "you have heard the result of the negotiation in
which I have been engaged with the court of Vienna. The conclusions of
the report have been unanimously adopted by my council. I have myself
adopted them. All would rather have war than see the dignity of the
French people any longer insulted and the national security threatened.
Having employed all possible means to obtain peace, I come now,
agreeably to the terms of the Constitution, to propose to the National
Assembly war against the King of Hungary and Bohemia."[320]

The proposal was received with shouts of "_Vive le Roi_," and the
decree was passed by a great majority.[321] In the debates which the
question of war had excited, great eloquence was displayed in the
Assembly. M. Isnard spoke in terms of enthusiasm which brought the
whole Assembly to their feet.


"Capitulations," said he, "are proposed to you. It is proposed to
increase the power of the king--of a man whose will can paralyze that
of a whole nation--of a man who receives thirty millions ($6,000,000)
while thousands of citizens are perishing from want. It is proposed to
bring back the nobility. Were all the nobles on earth to attack us, the
French, holding their gold in one hand, and their sword in the other,
would combat that haughty race, and force it to endure the punishment
of equality.

"Tell Europe that you will respect the Constitutions of all other
countries, but that, if a war of kings is raised against France, you
will raise a war of people against kings. The battles which nations
fight at the command of despots are like the blows which two friends,
excited by a perfidious instigator, strike at each other in the dark.
The moment a light appears they embrace and take vengeance on him who
deluded them. In like manner, if, at the moment when the hostile armies
shall be engaged with ours, the light of philosophy bursts upon their
sight, the nations will embrace each other before the face of dethroned
tyrants, of consoled earth, and of delighted heaven."[322]

Vergniaud, the illustrious leader of the Gironde, said eloquently, "Our
resolution has spread alarm among all thrones, for it has given an
example of the destruction of the despotism which sustains them. Kings
hate our Constitution because it renders men free, and they would reign
over slaves. This hate has been manifested on the part of the Emperor
of Germany by all the measures he has adopted to disturb us or to
strengthen our enemies and encourage those Frenchmen who have rebelled
against the laws of their country.

"Let us demand that the _emigrants_ be dispersed. I might demand that
they be given up to the country they insult and to punishment. But
no. If they have been greedy for our blood, let us not show ourselves
greedy for theirs. Their crime is having wished to destroy their
country. Let them be vagrants and wanderers on the face of the earth,
and let their punishment be never to find a country."

The most vigorous preparations were now made on both sides for the
prosecution of the war. Francis of Austria and Frederick of Prussia
met the Duke of Brunswick, Generallissimo of the Confederation, at
Frankfort. The duke, who had married a sister of George III. of
England, was an energetic, veteran soldier, fifty years of age. His
head-quarters were at Coblentz, a town at the confluence of the Moselle
and the Rhine, in the state of the Elector of Treves. Twenty-two
thousand French emigrants had assembled there in arms. Seven French
princes of the House of Bourbon were marshaling them for battle against
their native land--to crush the people struggling for liberty--to rivet
anew the fetters of the most execrable despotism. These princes were
the two brothers of the king, Louis and Charles, the one subsequently
Louis XVIII., the other Charles X.; the Duke of Berri and the Duke of
Angoulême, sons of Charles; the Prince of Condé, cousin of the king,
his son, the Duke of Bourbon, and his grandson, the Duke d'Enghien.
All the military noblesse of the kingdom, with the exception of the few
who had accepted the Constitution, had deserted their garrisons and
united in the most atrocious act of treason. They were not only ready
to march themselves, but were combining despotic Europe to march with
them to crush the liberties of their country.

The peril of the king was now hourly increasing, for he was playing
a double part. While publicly declaring war he was secretly carrying
on a correspondence with the emigrants and with the foreign powers,
encouraging them to make war upon France. This was known by some, and
suspicions of the king's sincerity were spreading rapidly among the
people. He had many papers in his possession, which, if discovered,
would cause his ruin. To conceal them he had an iron chest built
into the thick wall of one of his apartments. This was done by the
confidential locksmith who had been his companion at the forge for ten
years. The wall was painted to resemble large stones. The openings of
the panel were masked in the brown grooves. But after constructing this
safe the king was apprehensive that his locksmith would betray him,
and he consequently intrusted a portfolio containing many of his most
important papers to the care of Madame Campan.

On the 28th of April, one week after the declaration of war, a very
ill-advised attack was made by the French in three detachments upon
three separate positions of the Austrians. But the Austrians, minutely
informed of the plan, were prepared, in stronger numbers, to meet their
foes. The undisciplined French troops were driven back in confusion and
shame. They thought that the king had treacherously ordered them to be
led into a snare. The populace generally adopted the same belief. After
this the troops, on both sides, widely dispersed and poorly provided
with ammunition, provisions, and camp-equipage, could only observe each
other for several weeks, and make preparation for the opening of the

Suspicions of the insincerity of the king were rapidly spreading among
the people, while those acquainted with the royal family saw plainly
that they were placing all their reliance in hopes of assistance from
the armed emigrants. Barnave, who, since the return from Varennes, had
periled his influence and his life in his endeavor to save the royal
family, finding all his efforts rejected, and that the king and queen
were rushing to ruin, solicited a last audience with the queen.

"Your misfortunes," said he, "and those which I anticipate for France
determined me to sacrifice myself to serve you. I see that my advice
does not agree with the views of your majesties. I augur but little
advantage from the plan you are induced to pursue; you are too remote
from your succors; you will be lost before they reach you. Most
ardently do I wish I may be mistaken in so lamentable a prediction. But
I am sure to pay my head for the interest your misfortunes have raised
in me and the services I have sought to render you. I request for my
sole reward the honor of kissing your hand."

The queen, her eyes suffused with tears, presented her hand to Barnave,
and he, with much emotion imprinting a kiss upon it, took his leave.
His devotion to the queen, however, cost him his life. Hardly a year
elapsed ere he was led to the scaffold.

Two decrees had been passed by the Assembly which were quite obnoxious
to the king. One decree enacted that any nonjuring priest who should be
denounced by twenty citizens as endeavoring to excite faction should be
banished the kingdom. The other established a camp of twenty thousand
men[323] under the walls of Paris for its protection. The king,
expecting that the foreign armies would soon arrive and rescue him, put
his veto upon both of these measures. Dumouriez entreated the king to
sanction these decrees, but in vain, and he was compelled to resign his
post in the ministry. He was immediately commissioned to the frontiers
to aid in the war against the invaders. As he entered the cabinet of
the king to render in his accounts and to take leave, the king said,

"You go, then, to join the army of Luckner?"

"Yes, sire," replied Dumouriez, "and I am delighted to leave this
tumultuous city. I have but one regret--your majesty is in danger."

"Yes," replied Louis, with a sigh, "I certainly am."

"Ah! sire," returned the minister, "you can no longer suppose that I
spoke from any interested motive. Let me implore you not to persist in
your fatal resolution."

"Speak no more of it," said the king, "my part is taken."

"Ah! sire," rejoined Dumouriez, "you said the same when in this very
chamber in the presence of the queen you gave me your word."

"I was wrong then," replied the king, "and I repent that I did so."

"It is now, sire, that you are wrong," continued Dumouriez, "not then.
I shall see you no more. They abuse your religious scruples. They are
leading you to a civil war. You are without force, and you will be
overpowered. History will accuse you of having caused the calamities of

"God is my witness," said Louis in tones of the deepest affliction,
and at the same time placing his hands affectionately upon those of
Dumouriez, "that I wish the happiness of France."

Tears gushed into the eyes of Dumouriez, and his voice was broken with
emotion as he replied, "I do not doubt it, sire; but you are answerable
to God, not only for the purity but for the enlightened direction of
your intentions. You think that you are protecting religion, and you
are destroying it. The priests will be massacred. You will lose your
crown, perhaps your wife, your children."

There was a moment of silence, during which the king pressed the hand
of his faithful friend; Dumouriez then continued:

"Sire, if all the French knew you as I know you, our calamities would
soon be at an end. You wish the happiness of France. You have been
sacrificing yourself to the nation ever since 1789. Continue to do so,
and our troubles will soon cease, the Constitution will be established,
the French will return to their natural character, and the remainder of
your reign will be happy."

"I expect my death," the king rejoined mournfully, "and I forgive my
enemies. I thank you for the sensibility you have shown. You have
served me well, and you have my esteem, and you shall have proofs of it
if I am ever to see a better day."

The king then rose, and, to conceal his emotion, went hastily to a
window. Dumouriez gathered up his papers slowly that he might have time
to regain his composure. As he was leaving the room the king again
approached him, and in a tremulous tone said "Adieu! may all happiness
attend you." They parted, both in tears.[324]

M. Roland, Minister of the Interior, presented a letter to the king,
urging him to sanction the decrees, and to adopt a course more in
accordance with the spirit of constitutional liberty. This letter has
obtained world-wide celebrity. It was written by Madame Roland, the
wife of the minister, one of the most extraordinary women of that or
any other age. She was, in fact, the soul of the Republican party. The
leaders of that party met every evening in her saloon, and her sagacity
originated the measures which they adopted. She was a woman of heroic
mould, and endowed with wonderful powers of intellect and eloquence.
The letter contained a lively exposition of the peril to which the king
was exposed by opposing the establishment of constitutional liberty in
France. The indignation of the king was aroused by its plain utterance,
and he instantly dismissed the Republican minister, Roland, with his
associates, Servan and Clavieres. Roland presented to the Assembly the
letter which had caused his dismission. It roused the indignation of
the Assembly against the king, and fanned Paris into almost a flame
of fury. The letter was printed and copies sent to the eighty-three
departments, and a vote was passed that the three ministers whom the
king had rejected retained the entire confidence of the nation. This
was another accusation against the king, which greatly increased his

The vetos of the king and the dismissal of the popular ministers roused
a new storm of indignation. Neither the king nor queen could appear
at the windows of the palace without exposing themselves to the most
atrocious insults of language and gesture from the brutal men who ever
thronged the garden.[325]

The king lost all heart, and sank into the most deplorable condition
of mental and physical weakness. For ten days he wandered restlessly
through his apartments with a bewildered, vacant stare, without
uttering a single word even to his wife and children, and scarcely
making any reply to questions addressed to him. His sister, Madame
Elizabeth, endeavored to interest him in a game of backgammon. He sat
listlessly at the board, mechanically throwing the dice, and simply
repeating the words which belong to the game.

"The queen," says Madame Campan, "roused him from this state, so fatal
at a critical period, when every minute increased the necessity for
action, by throwing herself at his feet, urging every idea calculated
to excite alarm, and employing every affectionate expression. She
represented, also, what he owed to his family, and went so far as
to tell him that, if they were doomed to fall, they ought to fall
honorably, and not to wait to be both smothered upon the floor of their

On the 20th of June there was an immense gathering of the populace
of Paris, and of delegates from other parts of the kingdom, to
celebrate the anniversary of the meeting in the tennis-court, and to
present a petition to the king urging him to withdraw his vetos. Deep
apprehensions were felt in several quarters respecting the results of
the day. Pétion, who was then mayor of the city, did not venture to
prohibit the celebration, but adopted the precaution of doubling the
guard of the Tuileries.


Early in the morning the whole city was in commotion, and vast crowds
were hurrying to the various points of concentration. The Assembly met
at eleven o'clock, and was alarmed in view of the possible issues of
the day, and agitated by discordant councils. The session soon became
tumultuous, the Constitutionalists wishing to repress the disorder
which the Jacobins were ready to foment. In this state of affairs a
letter was brought into the Assembly from Santerre, a brewer, who had
become notorious as a leader of the populace.[327] It stated that the
citizens were merely celebrating the anniversary of the 20th of June;
that they were calumniated in the Assembly; and that they beg to be
admitted to the bar of the Assembly that they might confound their

The reading of this letter vastly increased the tumult. In the midst
of cries of order, and a scene of indescribable confusion, it was
announced that the petitioners, with arms and banners, in a prolonged
procession of thirty thousand men, were approaching the hall. All power
of law seemed paralyzed, and bewilderment and consternation reigned.
Soon the head of the procession, like a lava-flood, crowded in at the
door, and, pressed by the resistless mass behind, was forced slowly
through the hall, and made its egress at an opposite portal. They bore
enormous tables, upon which were placed the Declaration of Rights.
Around these tables danced women and boys waving olive-branches and
brandishing pikes, thus emblematically declaring themselves ready for
peace or war.

The enormous procession filed slowly through the hall, shouting in
deafening chorus the famous "_Ça ira_" (bravely it goes), armed
with every conceivable weapon, and waving banners inscribed with
revolutionary devices. Several bore ragged breeches upon poles, while
the crowd around shouted, "_Vivent les sans culottes!_" One man bore on
the point of a pike a calf's heart, with the inscription beneath, "_The
heart of an aristocrat_."[328]

For three hours this extraordinary scene continued. The Assembly,
agitated with grief and indignation, had no resource but submission.
The mob, having passed through the hall of the Assembly, now attempted
to enter the garden of the Tuileries, but the gates were closed and
defended by numerous detachments of the National Guard. The king,
however, perhaps hoping, by a show of confidence, to disarm the
mob, ordered the garden gates to be thrown open. The mob, like an
inundation, rushed in, and with their mighty mass soon filled the whole
inclosure. Some cried out for the king to show himself. Others shouted,
"Down with the _veto_!" A few voices kindly gave utterance to the old
excuse, "The king means well, but he is imposed upon."

The mob, which now appeared countless and almost limitless, flowing
out from the garden by the gate leading to the Pont Royal, proceeded
along the quay and through the wickets of the Louvre into the Place du
Carrousel. They were soon gathered in a dense mass before the royal
gate of the palace. A strong guard there refused them admittance.
Santerre brought up two pieces of cannon to blow down the gate. Two
municipal officers then strangely ordered the gates to be thrown open.

The multitude rushed impetuously into the court, filling it in an
instant, and crowding into the vestibule of the palace. It was now four
o'clock in the afternoon. They clambered the magnificent staircase,
even dragging a piece of cannon up to the first floor, and poured in
locust legions into every part of the palace. Wherever they found a
door barred against them they speedily, with swords and hatchets, hewed
it down.

The king was in one of the interior apartments, surrounded by some of
the servants of his household and by several officers of the National
Guard. His sister, Madame Elizabeth, happened to be with him; but the
queen, who was in another room with her children, had not been able to
join her husband, so sudden had been the irruption. The crowd arrested
her in her flight in the council-chamber. She begged earnestly to be
led to her husband, but the throng pouring by was so dense that it
was impossible. Her friends placed her in a corner, and rolled the
council-table before her as a barrier.

There she stood stupefied with horror, and her eyes suffused with
tears, while the low and brutal masses, with no apparent exasperation,
end, or aim, crowded by. Her daughter clung to her side, terrified and
weeping. Her son, but seven years of age, too young to understand the
terrible significance of such an inundation, gazed upon the spectacle
with half alarmed, half pleased wonder. Some of the palace-guard
gathered around the group for its protection. Occasional scowls and
mutterings of defiance and insult alarmed the queen in behalf of her
children rather than herself. Some one handed her son the red cap of
the Jacobins. The queen, hoping that it might appease the mob, placed
it upon his head.

Just then Santerre came along, forcing his way with the crowd. He spoke
kindly to the queen, repeating the only excuse which could be made for
her, "Madame, you are imposed upon." Seeing the red cap upon the head
of the dauphin, he, with a sense of delicacy hardly to be expected in
so coarse a man, took it and threw it aside, saying, "The child is
stifling." He then urged the people to treat the queen with respect.

A young girl stopped before the queen and assailed her with an
incessant volley of imprecations.

"Have I ever," said the queen, calmly, "done you any wrong?"

"No," replied the girl, "not me personally; but you are the cause of
the misery of the nation."

"You have been told so," answered the queen; "but you are deceived.
As the wife of the King of France and mother of the dauphin, I am a
Frenchwoman. I shall never see my own country again. I can be happy
only in France. I was happy when you loved me."

These words touched the heart of the passionate but not hardened girl,
and she began to weep, saying,

"I ask your pardon. It was because I did not know you. I see that you
are good."

While these scenes were transpiring in the council-chamber, the cries
of the mob were heard at the door of the king's apartment, and blows
from a hatchet fell heavily upon the panels. As a panel, driven by a
violent blow, fell at the king's feet, he ordered the door to be thrown
open. A forest of pikes and bayonets appeared, and the crowd rushed in.
The king, with that courage of resignation which never forsook him,
stepped forward with dignity to meet the rabble, and said, "Here I am."

His friends immediately threw themselves around him, forming a rampart
with their bodies. The mob, who seemed to have no definite object
in view, fell back, and the friends of the king placed him in the
embrasure of a window, where he could more easily be protected from the
pressure. There was a moment's lull, and then came renewed clamor and
uproar. Some said that they had a petition which they wished to present
to the king. Others shouted, "No veto! No priests! No aristocrats! The
camp near Paris."

The king stood upon a bench, and with marvelous serenity gazed upon the
unparalleled spectacle. Légendre, the butcher, one of the leaders of
the mob, stepped up, and with a firm voice demanded in the name of the
people the sanction of the two decrees which the king had vetoed.[329]

"This is not the place, neither is this the time," answered the king,
firmly, "to grant such a request. I will do all the Constitution

This bold answer seemed to exasperate the crowd, and they shouted, as
it were defiantly, "_Vive la Nation!_"

"Yes," replied the king, heroically, "_Vive la Nation!_ and I am its
best friend."

"Prove it, then," cried one of the rabble, thrusting toward him, on the
end of a pike, the red cap of the Jacobins.

The king took the cap and placed it upon his head. The mob responded
with shouts of applause. The day was oppressively hot, and the king,
who was very corpulent, was almost suffocated with the heat and the
crowd. A drunken fellow, who had a bottle and a glass, staggered up to
the king, and offered him a tumbler of wine, saying, "If you love the
people, drink to their health."

Though the king had long been apprehensive of being poisoned, he took
the glass and without hesitation drank its contents. Again he was
greeted with shouts of applause. Some of the crowd, as they caught
sight of Madame Elizabeth, cried out, "There is the Austrian woman!"
The unpopularity of the queen excited murmurs and imprecations, and the
princess was in great danger of violence. Some of her friends around
her endeavored to undeceive the mob.

"Leave them," said the generous and heroic princess, "leave them to
think that I am the queen, that she may have time to escape."

The Assembly was immediately informed of the invasion of the palace.
The Constitutionalists were indignant. The Jacobins were satisfied,
for they wished to see the king and the king's party frightened into
obedience. An angry and almost furious altercation ensued in the
Assembly. A deputation of twenty-four members was, however, immediately
sent to surround the king, and this deputation was renewed every half
hour. But the deputies could not force their way through the crowd.
Hoisted upon the shoulders of the grenadiers they endeavored in vain to
harangue the mob to order. It was half past five o'clock, an hour and a
half after the attack upon the Tuileries had commenced, before Pétion,
the Mayor of Paris, made his appearance in the presence of the king.
He attempted an apology for coming so late, saying,

"I have only just learned the situation of your majesty."


"That is very astonishing," replied the king, "for it is a long time
that it has lasted."

"It was half past four," Pétion rejoined, "when I heard of the attack.
It took me half an hour to get to the palace; and I could not overcome
the obstacles which separated me from your majesty until the present
moment. But fear nothing, sire; you are in the midst of your people."

Louis XVI., taking the hand of a grenadier who stood by his side,
placed it upon his heart, saying, "Feel whether it beats quicker than

This noble answer again elicited applause. The mayor then, mounting the
shoulders of four grenadiers, addressed the mob, urging them to retire.

"Citizens, male and female," said he, "you have used with moderation
and dignity your right of petition. You will finish this day as you
begun it. Hitherto your conduct has been in conformity with the law,
and now, in the name of the law, I call upon you to follow my example
and to retire."

The crowd obeyed and slowly moved off through the long suite of
apartments of the chateau. As soon as they began to retire the king
and his sister threw themselves into each other's arms, and neither
was able to repress a flood of tears. Locked in an embrace they left
the room to find the queen. She, with her children, had just regained
her apartment. The meeting of the royal family, after these scenes
of violence, insult, and terror, drew tears into the eyes of all
the beholders. One of the deputies, Antoine Merlin of Thionville,
though one of the most virulent of the Jacobins, could not refrain
from weeping. Marie Antoinette observing it, and knowing his bitter
hostility to the court, said,

"You weep to see the king and his family treated so cruelly by a people
whom he has always wished to render happy."

"It is true, madam," replied Merlin, "I weep over the misfortunes of
a beautiful, tender-hearted woman and mother of a family. But do not
mistake; there is not one of my tears for the _king_ or the _queen_; I
hate kings and queens."

At this moment the king, from the reflection of a mirror, saw the _red
bonnet_ still upon his head. A crimson glow flushed his face and he
hastily threw the badge of the Jacobin from him. Sinking into a chair
he for a moment buried his face in his handkerchief, and then, turning
a saddened look to the queen, said,

"Ah, madame, why did I take you from your country to associate you with
the ignominy of such a day!"

It was eight o'clock in the evening before the apartments and corridors
of the palace ceased to echo with the voices and the footsteps of
the barbarian invaders. Detachments of the National Guard gradually
assembled, the court-yard and the garden were cleared, and night
with its silence and darkness again settled down over the wretched
royal family in the halls of their palace, and the wretched famishing
outcasts wandering through the streets. Such was the 20th of June, 1792.

Napoleon Bonaparte, then twenty-two years of age, was in Paris, and
with indignation witnessed this spectacle of lawlessness. Bourrienne
thus describes the event: "In the month of April, 1792, I returned to
Paris, where I again met Bonaparte, and renewed the friendship of our
youthful days. I had not been fortunate, and adversity pressed heavily
upon him. We passed our time as two young men of three and twenty may
be supposed to have done who had little money and less occupation. At
this time he was soliciting employment from the Minister of War, and I
at the office of foreign affairs.

"While we were thus spending our time the 20th of June arrived,
a sad prelude of the 10th of August. We met by appointment at a
restaurateur's, in the Rue St. Honoré, near the Palais Royal. On going
out we saw a mob approaching in the direction of the market-place,
which Bonaparte estimated at from five to six thousand men. They were
a parcel of blackguards, armed with weapons of every description, and
shouting the grossest abuse, while they proceeded at a rapid rate
toward the Tuileries. This mob appeared to consist of the vilest and
most profligate of the population of the suburbs.


"'Let us follow the rabble,' said Bonaparte. We got the start of them,
and took up our station on the terrace bordering on the river. It was
there that he was an eye-witness of the scandalous scenes which ensued,
and it would be difficult to describe the surprise and indignation
which they excited in him. Such weakness and forbearance, he said,
could not be excused. But when the king showed himself at the window
which looked out upon the garden, with the red cap which one of the
mob had just placed upon his head, he could no longer repress his

"'What madness!' he loudly exclaimed. 'How could they have allowed that
rabble to enter? Why did they not sweep away four or five hundred of
them with the cannon? The rest would then have speedily taken to their


[Footnote 317: At the moment of Leopold's death all was ready for
hostilities. Two hundred thousand men were under arms for the invasion.
The Duke of Brunswick, who was placed in command, was at Berlin
receiving the final commands of the king. Another Prussian general was
at Vienna receiving from Leopold advice as to the time and point of
attack. Leopold, whose constitution was shattered by debauchery, was
taken suddenly sick, and, after two days of excruciating pain, died
in convulsions. His death was probably caused by an immoderate use of
drugs to recruit his system, enervated by dissipation. This event for a
short time paralyzed the energies of the coalition. See History of the
Girondists, by Lamartine, vol. i., p. 364.]

[Footnote 318: Memoirs of Count Mathieu Dumas, vol. i., p. 190.]

[Footnote 319: Dumouriez's Memoirs, book iii., ch. vi. Madame Campan
gives an account of this interview with a little different coloring.
"One day," she writes, "I found the queen in extreme agitation. She
told me that she knew not what to do; that the leaders of the Jacobins
had offered themselves to her through Dumouriez, or that Dumouriez,
forsaking the party of the Jacobins, had come and offered himself to
her; that she had given him an audience; that, being alone with her, he
had thrown himself at her feet, and told her that he had put on the red
cap, and even pulled it down over his ears, but that he neither was,
nor ever could be, a Jacobin; that the Revolution had been suffered to
roll on to that mob of disorganizers, who, aspiring only to pillage,
were capable of every thing. While speaking with extreme warmth, he had
taken hold of the queen's hand and kissed it with transport, saying,
'Allow yourself to be saved.' The queen told me that it was impossible
to believe the protestations of a traitor; that all his conduct was so
well known that the wisest plan was not to trust in him, and, besides,
the princes earnestly recommended that no confidence should be placed
in any proposal from the interior."--_Madame Campan_, vol. ii., p. 202.]

[Footnote 320: Francis was not yet elected Emperor of Germany.]

[Footnote 321: Condorcet, in a paper which he drew up in exposition of
the motives which led to this strife, says, "The veil which concealed
the intentions of our enemy is at length torn. Citizens, which of you
could subscribe to these ignominious proposals? Feudal servitude and
a humiliating inequality; bankruptcy and taxes which you alone would
pay; tithes and the Inquisition; your possessions, bought upon the
public faith, restored to their former usurpers; the beasts of the
chase re-established in their right of ravaging your fields; your blood
profusely spilled for the ambitious projects of a hostile house--such
are the conditions of the treaty between the King of Hungary and
perfidious Frenchmen! Such is the peace which is offered to you! No!
never will you accept it!"--_Exposition of the motives which determined
the National Assembly to decree, on the formal proposal of the King,
that there is reason to declare war against the King of Hungary and
Bohemia, by M. Condorcet._]

[Footnote 322: Prof. Wm. Smyth, of the University of Cambridge,
England, though cherishing no sympathies with the revolutionary party
in France, in his admirable lectures upon the French Revolution, with
his accustomed candor, says,

"The question then is, Was this (the conduct of Austria) an
interference in the internal affairs of France that justified a
declaration of war on the part of France or not? This is a point on
which, under the extraordinary circumstances of the case, reasoners
may differ, but I conceive that it was. The rulers of France, at the
time, saw themselves menaced, stigmatized, and, as nearly as possible,
proscribed by a foreign power on account of their conduct to their
own king, in their own country. They could expect nothing but exile,
imprisonment, and death if these foreign powers invaded their country
in defense of the monarchy and succeeded; and not only this, but, in
that case, a counter-revolution was inevitable.

"I must confess that, with all my horror of war, of counsels of
violence, of enthusiastic and furious men like these Girondists, and
of dreadful and guilty men like these Jacobins, I must confess that
upon this particular point of the Austrian war I am, on the whole,
compelled to agree with them. I see not how, upon any other principle,
the peace of the world can be maintained, or the proper sovereignty
and independence of nations be preserved, nor, finally, upon any other
principle, what chance there can ever be for the general cause of the
freedom of mankind."]

[Footnote 323: Dumas, vol. i., p. 213.]

[Footnote 324: Memoirs of Dumouriez.]

[Footnote 325: "The most menacing cries were uttered aloud, even in the
Tuileries. They called for the destruction of the throne and the murder
of the sovereign. These insults assumed the character of the very
lowest of the mob. The queen, one day, hearing roars of laughter under
her windows, desired me to see what it was about. I saw a man, almost
undressed, turning his back toward her apartments. My astonishment and
indignation were apparent. The queen rose to come forward. I held her
back, telling her it was a very gross insult offered by one of the
rabble."--_Memoirs of Marie Antoinette, by Madame Campan_, vol. ii., p.

[Footnote 326: Madame Campan, vol. ii., p. 206.]

[Footnote 327: Montjoie, one of the most decided of Royalist writers,
thus describes Santerre: "The muscular expansion of his tall person,
the sonorous hoarseness of his voice, his rough manners, and his easy
and vulgar eloquence, of course made him a hero among the lower rabble.
And, in truth, he had gained a despotic empire over the dregs of the
faubourgs. He moved them at will, but that was all he knew how to do,
or could do, for, as to the rest, he was neither wicked nor cruel. He
engaged blindly in all conspiracies, but he never was guilty of the
execution of them, either by himself or by those who obeyed him. He
was always concerned for an unfortunate person, of whatever party he
might be. Affliction and tears disarmed his hands."--_History of Marie
Antoinette, by Montjoie_, p. 295.]

[Footnote 328: Madame Campan says, "There was one representing a
gibbet, to which a dirty doll was suspended; the words '_Marie
Antoinette à la lanterne_' were written beneath it. Another was a board
to which a bullock's heart was fastened, with an inscription round it,
'_Heart of Louis XVI._;' and then a third showed the horns of an ox,
with an obscene legend."--_Madame Campan_, vol. ii., p. 212.]

[Footnote 329: Léegendre was a butcher of Paris. He was one of the most
violent leaders of the mob. In 1791 he was deputed by the city of Paris
to the National Convention. In 1793 he voted for the king's death,
and, the day before his execution, proposed to the Jacobins to cut
him into eighty-four pieces, and send one to each of the eighty-four
departments. He died at Paris in 1797, aged forty-one, and bequeathed
his body to the surgeons, "in order to be useful to mankind after his
death."--_Biographie Moderne._]



  Angry Interview between the King and the Mayor.--Decisive
  Action of La Fayette.--Expectations of the Queen.--Movement of
  the Prussian Army.--Efforts of the Priests.--Secret Committee
  of Royalists.--Terror in the Palace.--The Queen's View of the
  King's Character.--Parties in France.--Energetic Action of the
  Assembly.--Speech of Vergniaud.

The next day after the fearful scenes of the 20th of June, the Assembly
held a very tumultuous sitting. Various measures were proposed to
prevent a repetition of armed petitions, and the filing of processions
through the hall. The Jacobins were, however, in sympathy with the
mob; and the Royalists, waiting the approach of foreign armies, had
no wish to introduce order but by the sword of invasion. It was
apprehended that the mob, who had now risen above the power of law,
might again invade the palace. In the afternoon of the 21st, crowds
began to assemble at various points, but the mayor, Pétion, succeeded
in inducing them to disperse. He then hastened to the king, and said to

"Sire, there is no longer cause for alarm. Order is restored. The
people have become tranquil and satisfied."

The king, who now appreciated the peril of his position, was
exasperated, and replied, with suppressed emotion, "That is not true."

"Sire--" rejoined Pétion.

"Be silent," said the king sternly, interrupting him.

"It befits not the magistrate of the people," replied Pétion, "to be
silent when he does his duty and speaks the truth."

"The tranquillity of Paris rests on your head," added the king.

"I know my duty," Pétion replied, "and shall perform it."

The king could no longer restrain himself, and passionately exclaimed,
"Enough; go and perform it. Retire."

Pétion, thus summarily turned out of doors, bowed and left. The report
of the angry interview was speedily spread through Paris. It was
rumored _through the palace_ that the mob were preparing to rise to
murder the king and all the royal family. It was rumored _through the
streets_ that the Royalists were endeavoring to provoke the people to
rise, that they might shoot them down with artillery. The mayor issued
a proclamation urging the people not to allow themselves to be excited
to fresh commotions. The king issued a proclamation, spirited and
defiant in its tone, and yet calculated only to exasperate those whom
he had no power to restrain.[330]

La Fayette, who was at this time with his division of the army on the
frontiers, heard these tidings from Paris with intense alarm. Had the
court not prevented his election as mayor, the outrages of the 20th
of June could not have occurred. His only hope for France was in the
Constitution. The invasion of the Legislative Assembly by the mob, the
irruption into the palace, and the outrages inflicted upon the royal
family, impressed him with shame and horror. He saw the terrific reign
of anarchy approaching, and was fully conscious that no one could
attempt to resist the popular torrent but at the peril of his life.
He wrote a very earnest letter of remonstrance to the Assembly, and
resolved to hasten immediately to Paris, and to brave every possible
danger in endeavoring to restore to his country the dominion of law.
Making all the arrangements in his power, that his temporary absence
might not be detrimental to the military operations then in progress,
he set out for the capital, and arrived there on the 28th of June.[331]
He thought that he might rely upon the National Guard to aid him in
maintaining the Constitution, and that, throwing himself into the
breach to save the monarchy and the king, he might place some reliance
upon the co-operation of the court. But the court hated La Fayette
and constitutional liberty, and wished for no assistance but from the
armies of the allies, through whom they might dictate terms to the
re-enslaved people.

La Fayette, immediately upon his arrival in Paris, sent a message
to the Assembly that he wished for permission to address them.
At half-past one of the 28th of June, he entered the hall. The
Constitutionalists received him with plaudits. The Republicans, both
the Girondists and the Jacobins, were silent. The general, in his bold
and spirited address, spoke of the disgrace which the outrages of the
20th of June had brought upon the nation, and the indignation which it
had excited in the army, and urged that the instigators of the riot
should be prosecuted; that the Jacobin Club, ever urging violence and
revolution, should be suppressed; and that the Constitution and the
laws should be maintained by all the armed force of the government.

This speech introduced an angry debate, in which La Fayette was
reproached with neglecting his own duties in the army to meddle with
matters in which he had no concern. La Fayette left the Assembly in the
midst of the debate, and repaired to the palace to see what assistance
he could render to the king and queen. The courtiers surrounding the
monarch, with their wonted infatuation, assailed La Fayette with the
most abusive epithets. The king and queen received him with great
coldness, and refused to accept from him of any sympathy or aid.

"If the court and the people attached to the king," writes the Marquis
de Ferrières, a decided Royalist, "had but resolved to support La
Fayette, there was force to have annihilated the two factions. But the
queen recoiled from any idea of owing her safety to a man whom she
had resolved to ruin. They refused to enter into his views, and they
thus rejected the only means of safety that Providence offered them.
Inexplicable blindness, if an explanation were not afforded by the
approaching entry of the foreign troops and the confidence reposed in

The historian Toulongeon, describing these events, says, "Retired to
his hotel, La Fayette set himself to consider what was the force of
which he could avail himself. A review of the first division of the
National Guard was fixed for the next morning at break of day. The king
was to pass along the line, and La Fayette was then to harangue the
troops. But the mayor, Pétion, _was advertised of their movements by
the queen_, who feared the success of La Fayette even more than that of
the Jacobins, and a counter-order was given, and the review did _not_
take place."

La Fayette returned to the army thwarted and disheartened. His
retirement in despair from Paris was the last expiring sigh of the
Constitutional party. From this moment the Jacobins resolved upon his
destruction, and that very evening his effigy was burned at the Palais
Royal. Bertrand de Moleville, one of the most false and envenomed of
the Royalist writers, condemns La Fayette for thus leaving Paris. But
even Professor Smyth, whose English sympathies are strongly with the
court, exclaims,

"M. Bertrand de Moleville may surely be asked, on this occasion, what
resource was left for La Fayette but to move away from Paris, if the
king and the court, for whom he was hazarding both his fame and his
safety, would not honor him with the slightest countenance? Was it
to be endured that they were to seem neutral and indifferent, at the
least, and sitting with folded arms, while he was to be left to rush
into a combat in the Assembly and in the streets of Paris with their
furious and murderous enemies, and with the men who had just been
assailing the king in his palace, and who evidently only waited for an
opportunity to rob him of his crown and take away his life; was this,
I repeat, to be endured? Many are the sensations by which the heart
of man may be alienated and imbittered, but there are few more fitted
for that purpose than to find indifference to services offered, and
ingratitude for sacrifices made."[332]

Both the king and the queen knew that Prussia had already combined with
Austria, and was secretly marching an army of eighty thousand men under
the Duke of Brunswick to unite with the emigrants at Coblentz. The
queen thought that the allies would be in Paris in six weeks. She was
minutely informed of their contemplated movements; when they would be
at Verdun, when at Lille; and she, in confidence, informed her ladies
that she expected to be rescued in a month.[333]

The peril of France was now truly great, and the patriots were deeply
agitated. Foreign armies were approaching. The king not only was taking
no effectual measures for the defense of the kingdom, but had vetoed
the decrees of the Assembly raising an army for the protection of the
capital, and was also believed to be in sympathy and in traitorous
correspondence with the foe. France was threatened with invasion, and
the court of France was virtually guiding the march of the invading
armies, weakening every point of defense, and striving to betray the
patriot forces into the hands of the enemy. The only excuse which
history can offer for the king is, that he was the tool of others, and
so weak and characterless that he was unconscious of the enormity of
his crime. But this excuse, which ought to have commended him to pity,
could not be an argument for maintaining him upon his throne.

Though it was well known to all intelligent men that the Prussian
armies were marching to unite with the Austrian for the invasion of
France, yet the king, in grossest violation of duty, had made no
communication of the fact to the Legislative Assembly. All the great
roads were crowded with priests, nobles, and their partisans, hastening
to join the emigrants at Coblentz. Couriers were every where traversing
Europe, from St. Petersburg to Rome, from Stockholm to Madrid, from
Berlin to Naples, openly announcing the coalition of all Europe to
crush the revolution in France, and declaring that the armies would
move in such force that the French would not be able to resist them
for a single month. The allies were not unwilling to have their plans
known and even exaggerated, for some of them hoped that the terror
of the threat might be sufficient to drive the French patriots to

It was consequently proclaimed, not officially, but with great
soundings of trumpets, that Spain was to indemnify herself for the
war by taking possession of the four beautiful southern provinces
of France which lean against the Pyrenees--Navarre, Roussillon,
Languedoc, and Guienne. The King of Sardinia was to receive the
provinces adjacent to his kingdom, whose romantic valleys penetrated
the lower Alps--Dauphiny, Provence, Lyonnois, and Bretagne. The
Stadtholder of Holland was to extend his sway over the Provinces of
Flanders and Picardy. Austria was to grasp the provinces adjoining the
Rhine--Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne. The Swiss were offered Franche
Comte if they would join the coalition. And, finally, England was
to regain her old possession of Normandy, and was to seize all the
colonial possessions of France in the two Indies.[335]

Though the British _government_ was at this time strongly in sympathy
with the coalition, it did not venture openly to join the alliance,
for the masses of the British _people_ were cordially with the French
patriots and rejoiced in the establishment of constitutional liberty in
France. These extravagant threats filled Europe. It was every where
assumed that only a small minority of the French people were opposed to
the Old Régime, and that the mass of the nation would at once arise and
welcome the invading armies.

With this terrific storm from without menacing the liberties of France,
a large number of priests who had refused to accept the Constitution
were plying all the energies of the most potent superstition earth
has ever known to rouse the ignorant peasantry against civil and
religious liberty. They were told that eternal damnation was their
inevitable doom if they were not willing to lay down their lives in
defense of the king and the Pope; and that eternal blessedness was
the sure inheritance of all who should labor and pray for holy mother
Church. The queen, it was well known, was in constant conference with
the enemy, counseling, encouraging, and aiding with all the pecuniary
means she could obtain from the revenues of France. The king was a
weak-minded, fickle man, with no decision of his own, and entirely at
the disposal of those who surrounded him. Being quite in subjection
to the imperial mind of the queen, he delayed adopting any vigorous
measure to repel the approaching foe, thwarted the decrees of the
Assembly, and allowed his own enormous salary of six millions of
dollars to be appropriated by the queen and her counselors to hasten
the march of foreign invaders upon Paris.

In the very palace of the Tuileries a secret committee of old Royalists
were in session every day, planning for the enemy, informing them
of all the movements in Paris, advising them as to the best points
of attack, and organizing, in different parts of the empire, their
partisans to rise in civil war the moment the first thunderings of
hostile artillery should be heard upon the plains of France. Here
surely was a combination of wrong and outrage sufficient to drive any
people mad.[336]

During the whole month of July the interior of the palace was the abode
of terror. The inmates, apprehensive every hour of attack, had no
repose by day or night. Almost daily there was an alarm that the mob
was gathering. "During the whole month," writes Madame Campan, "I was
never once in bed. I always dreaded some night attack. One morning,
about one o'clock, footsteps were heard in the anteroom of the queen's
chamber, and then a violent struggle and loud outcries, as the groom
of the chambers grasped a man who was stealthily approaching with a
dagger, apparently to assassinate the queen."

"I begin to fear," said the queen one day, "that they will bring the
king to a trial. Me they will assassinate. But what will become of our
poor children? If they assassinate me, so much the better; they will
rid me of an existence that is painful."

"One morning, at about four o'clock, near the close of July," writes
Madame Campan, "a person came to give me information that the Faubourg
St. Antoine was preparing to march against the palace. We knew that at
least an hour must elapse before the populace, assembled upon the site
of the Bastille, could reach the Tuileries. It seemed to me sufficient
for the queen's safety that all about her should be awakened. I went
softly into her room. She was asleep. I did not awaken her.

"The king had been awakened, and so had Madame Elizabeth, who had gone
to him. The queen, yielding to the weight of her griefs, slept till
nine o'clock on that day, which was very unusual with her. The king had
already been to know whether she was awake. I told him what I had done,
and the care I had taken not to disturb her rest. He thanked me, and

"'I was awake, and so was the whole palace. She ran no risk. I am very
glad to see her take a little rest. Alas! her griefs double mine.'

"What was my chagrin, when the queen, awaking and learning what had
passed, began to weep bitterly from regret at not having been called.
In vain did I reiterate that it was only a false alarm, and that she
required to have her strength recruited.

"'My strength is not exhausted,' said she; 'misfortune gives us
additional strength. Elizabeth was with the king, and I was asleep!
I, who am determined to perish by his side. I am his wife. I will not
suffer him to incur the smallest risk without my sharing it.'"

The queen appears to have understood very perfectly the character of
her dejected, spiritless, long-suffering husband. "The king," said
she, "is not a coward. He possesses abundance of passive courage, but
he is overwhelmed by an awkward shyness, a mistrust of himself, which
proceeds from his education as much as from his disposition. He is
afraid to command, and, above all things, dreads speaking to assembled
numbers. He lived like a child, and always ill at ease, under the eyes
of Louis XV., until the age of twenty-one. This constraint confirmed
his timidity. Circumstanced as we are, a few well-delivered words
addressed to the Parisians would multiply the strength of our party
a hundred-fold. He will not utter them. What can be expected from
those addresses to the people which he has been advised to post up?
Nothing but fresh outrages. As for myself, I could do any thing, and
would appear on horseback if necessary; but, if I really were to begin
to act, that would be furnishing arms to the king's enemies. The cry
against _the Austrian_, and against the sway of a female, would become
general in France, and, moreover, by showing myself I should render
the king a mere nothing. A queen who is not regent ought, under these
circumstances, to remain passive or to die."[337]

There were now three prominent parties in France. First, the Royalists,
with the queen and the court, controlling the ever-vacillating king,
at their head. They were plotting, through foreign armies and civil
war, to restore the political and ecclesiastical despotism of the Old
Régime. This party would have been utterly powerless but for the aid of
foreign despots. Second came the Constitutional party, with La Fayette
at its head. The king _professed_ to belong to this party, and at
times, perhaps, with sincerity, but, overruled by others, he conducted
with a degree of feebleness and fickleness which amounted to treachery.
This party had originally embraced nearly the whole nation. Never did
a nobler set of men undertake national reform than were the leaders
of the French Revolution. They sought only the happiness of France,
were anxious for peace with all nations, were decidedly conservative
in their views. They had no desire to overthrow the French monarchy,
but wished only to limit that monarchy by a Constitution which should
secure to the nation civil and religious liberty.

But the Constitutional party was now daily growing weaker, simply
because its best friends saw that it was impossible to maintain the
Constitution while the king himself was co-operating with foreign
armies for its overthrow. Why should the people sustain a king, and
furnish him with a salary of five millions of dollars a year, only to
enable him to overthrow the Constitution and reinstate the rejected
despotism? Thus were thousands of the purest men in France driven with
great reluctance to the conviction that constitutional liberty could
only be preserved by dethroning the king and establishing a republic.
They were originally decidedly in favor of a constitutional monarchy.
They felt that the transition was altogether too great and too sudden
from utter despotism to republican freedom. The vast mass of the
peasant population in France could neither read nor write. They were
totally unacquainted with the forms of popular government. They were
as ignorant as children, and almost entirely under the tutelage of the
priests, to whom they believed that the keys of heaven and of hell had
been intrusted. The establishment of republican forms would render
France still more obnoxious to surrounding monarchies, and therefore
they had wished to maintain the monarchy, and they took the British
Constitution and not the American republic as their model, wishing,
however, to infuse more of the popular element into their Constitution
than has been admitted into the aristocratic institutions of England.

But now they found, to their surprise and grief, that all Europe was
combining against their liberties, and that the king, instead of
being grateful that his throne was preserved to him, was lamenting
his loss of despotic power, and was co-operating with combined Europe
for the re-enslavement of France. This left the friends of liberty
no alternative. They must either hold out their hands to have the
irons riveted upon them anew, or they must dethrone the king, rouse
the nation to repel invasion, and attempt the fearful experiment
of a republican government with a nation turbulent, unenlightened,
and totally unaccustomed to self-control. In the old despotism
there was no hope. It presented but poverty, chains, and despair.
In republicanism, with all its perils, there was at least _hope_.
Hence arose republicanism. It was the child of necessity. In the
Constituent Assembly not an individual was to be found who advocated a
republic.[338] But after the flight of the king to Varennes, republican
sentiments, as the only hope of the nation, rapidly gained ground, and
at the very commencement of the Legislative Assembly we see that a
republican party is already organized. From the beginning there were
two divisions of this party--the conservative republicans, called
Girondists, because their leaders were from the department of the
Gironde; and the radical democrats, called Jacobins from the hall where
the club held its meeting.

All France was now in a state of alarm. The Assembly passed a very
solemn decree announcing that _the country is in danger_. It declared
its sitting to be permanent, that the king might not dissolve it. All
the citizens were required to give up their arms that they might be
suitably distributed to the defenders of the country. Every man, old
and young, capable of bearing arms was ordered to be enrolled in the
National Guards for the public defense. M. Vergniaud, the leader of
the Girondists, a man of exalted virtue and of marvelous powers of
eloquence, concluded a speech which roused the enthusiasm of the whole
Assembly by proposing a firm but respectful message to Louis XVI.,
which should oblige him to choose between France and foreigners, and
which should teach him that the French were resolved to perish or
triumph with the Constitution.

"It is in the name of _the king_," said Vergniaud, "that the French
princes have endeavored to raise up Europe against us. It is to
avenge the _dignity of the king_ that the treaty of Pilnitz has been
concluded. It is to come to the _aid of the king_ that the sovereign
of Hungary and Bohemia makes war upon us, and that Prussia is marching
toward our frontiers. Now, I read in the Constitution,

"'If the king puts himself at the head of an army and directs its
forces against the nation, or if he does not oppose by a formal act an
enterprise of this kind, that may be executed in his name, he shall be
considered as having abdicated royalty.'

"What is a formal act of opposition? If one hundred thousand Austrians
were marching toward Flanders, and one hundred thousand Prussians
toward Alsace, and the king were to oppose to them ten or twenty
thousand men, would he have done a formal act of opposition? If the
king, whose duty it is to notify us of imminent hostilities, apprised
of the movements of the Prussian army, were not to communicate any
information upon the subject to the National Assembly; if a camp of
reserve necessary for stopping the progress of the enemy into the
interior were proposed, and the king were to substitute in its stead
an uncertain plan which it would take a long time to execute; if the
king were to leave the command of an army to an intriguing general
(La Fayette) of whom the nation was suspicious. If another general
(Luckner) familiar with victory were to demand a re-enforcement, and
the king were by a refusal to say to him, _I forbid thee to conquer_,
could it be asserted that the king had performed a formal act of

"If while France were swimming in blood the king were to say to you,
'It is true that the enemies pretend to be acting for me, for my
dignity, for my rights, but I have proved that I am not the accomplice.
I have sent armies into the field; these armies were too weak, but
the Constitution does not fix the degree of their force. I have
assembled them too late; but the Constitution does not fix the time
for collecting them. I have stopped a general who was on the point of
conquering, but the Constitution does not order victories. I have had
ministers who deceived the Assembly and disorganized the government,
but their appointment belonged to me. The Assembly has passed useful
decrees which I have not sanctioned, but I had a right to act so.
I have done all that the Constitution enjoined me. It is therefore
impossible to doubt my fidelity to it.'

"If the king were to hold this language would you not have a right to
reply, 'O king, who, like Lysander, the tyrant, have believed that
truth was not worth more than falsehood, who have feigned a love for
the laws, merely to preserve the power which enabled you to defy
them--was it defending us to oppose to the foreign soldiers forces
whose inferiority left not even uncertainty as to their defeat? Was it
defending us to thwart plans tending to fortify the interior? Was it
defending us not to check a general who violated the Constitution, but
to enchain the courage of those who were serving it? No! no! man, in
whom the generosity of the French has excited no corresponding feeling,
insensible to every thing but the love of despotism, you are henceforth
nothing to that Constitution which you have so unworthily violated,
nothing to that people which you have so basely betrayed.'"

This was the first time any one had ventured to speak in the Assembly
of the forfeiture of the crown, though it was a common topic in the
journals and in the streets. The speech of Vergniaud was received with
vehement applause. The king, alarmed, immediately sent a message to
the Assembly informing them that Prussia had allied her troops with
those of Austria in their march upon France. This message, thus tardily
extorted, was received by the Assembly with a smile of contempt.

It was now manifest, beyond all dispute, that the foe of French liberty
most to be dreaded was the king and the court. M. Brissot, who had been
the bosom friend and the ardent eulogist of La Fayette, could no longer
sustain the king. Ascending the tribune he gave bold utterance to the
sentiment of the nation.

"Our peril," said he, "exceeds all that past ages have witnessed. The
country is in danger, not because we are in want of troops--not because
those troops want courage. No! it is in danger because its force is
paralyzed. And who has paralyzed it. A man--_one man_, the man whom
the Constitution has made its chief, and whom perfidious advisers have
made its foe. You are told to fear the Kings of Prussia and Hungary; I
say the chief force of those kings is _at the court_, and it is _there_
we must first conquer them. They tell you to strike at the dissentient
priests. I tell you to strike at the _Tuileries_, and fell all the
priests with a single blow. You are told to persecute all factious and
intriguing conspirators. They will all disappear if you knock loud
enough at the door of the _Cabinet of the Tuileries_; for that cabinet
is the point to which all these threads tend, where every scheme is
plotted, and whence every impulse proceeds. This is the secret of our
position; this is the source of the evil, and here the remedy must be


[Footnote 330: "Immediately after the 20th of June," writes Madame
Campan, "the queen lost all hope but from foreign succors. She wrote to
implore her own family, and the brothers of the king; and her letters
became probably more and more pressing, and expressed her fears from
the tardy manner in which the succors seemed to approach."--_Memoirs of
Marie Antoinette, by Madame Campan_, vol. ii., p. 214.]

[Footnote 331: "Marshal Luckner blamed extremely the intention La
Fayette announced of repairing to Paris, 'because,' said he, 'the _sans
culottes_ (ragamuffins) will cut off his head.' But as this was the
sole objection he made, the general resolved to set out alone."--_La
Fayette's Memoirs._]

[Footnote 332: Lectures on the French Revolution, vol. ii., p. 296.
"The queen and the court," writes Prof. Smyth, "could never endure La
Fayette, as having been the first great mover and originator of the
Revolution; the cause, as he thought, of the liberties of his country,
but a cause with which they unfortunately had no sympathy."

"The queen said to me," writes Madame Campan, "that La Fayette was
offered to them as a resource, but that it would be better for them to
perish than to owe their safety to a man who had done them the most
mischief, or to place themselves under the necessity of treating with
him."--_Mémoires of Marie Antoinette, by Madame Campan_, vol. ii., p.

[Footnote 333: Thiers, vol. i., p. 278.]

[Footnote 334: "The king had committed himself, on the subject of
the Constitution, to the allied powers, in the instructions he had
given to Mallet du Pan, and was no longer at liberty, even if he had
been disposed, on account of any such object as the Constitution, to
have united himself with La Fayette, not even though La Fayette was
endeavoring to accomplish the great point, of all others to be most
desired, the overthrow of the Girondists and the Jacobins. On the
whole, the court must be considered as now preferring the chance of
the invasion of the allied powers, and the king the chance of some
mediation between them and the people of France, that is, the chance
of better terms than the Constitution offered. This must, I think, be
supposed the line of policy that was now adopted. It was one full of
danger, and, on the whole, a mistake; but with the expectation that
was then so generally entertained of the certain success of the allied
powers, a mistake not unnatural."--_Prof. Smyth's Lectures_, vol. ii.,
p. 295.]

[Footnote 335: Hist. Phil. de la Rev. de Fr., par Ant. Fantin
Desodoards, t. ii., p. 45.]

[Footnote 336: "A court apparently in concert with the enemy resorted
to no means for augmenting the armies and exciting the nation, but,
on the contrary, employed the _veto_ to thwart the measures of the
legislative body, and the _civil list_ (the king's salary) to secure
partisans in the interior."--_Thiers_, vol. i., p. 280.]

[Footnote 337: Madame Campan, vol. ii., p. 230.]

[Footnote 338: "It becomes evident that a republic was desired only
from despair of the monarchy, that it never was a fixed fact, and that,
on the very eve of attaining it, those who were accused of having long
paved the way to it, would not sacrifice the public weal for its sake,
but would have consented to a constitutional monarchy, if it were
accompanied with sufficient safeguards."--_Thiers_, vol. i., p. 308.]

[Footnote 339: M. Brissot was a lawyer of considerable literary
distinction, who, when but twenty years of age, had been imprisoned in
the Bastille for some of his political writings. He was a passionate
admirer of the Americans, and despairing, in consequence of the
fickleness or treachery of the king, of a constitutional monarchy,
endeavored to secure for France a republic. About a year from the time
of the above speech he perished with the rest of the Girondists upon
the scaffold.--_Biographe Moderne._]



  The Country proclaimed in Danger.--Plan of La Fayette for the
  Safety of the Royal Family.--Measures of the Court.--Celebration
  of the Demolition of the Bastille.--Movement of the Allied
  Army.--Conflicting Plans of the People.--Letter of the Girondists to
  the King.--Manifesto of the Duke of Brunswick.--Unpopularity of La
  Fayette.--The Attack upon the Tuileries, Aug. 10th.--The Royal Family
  take Refuge in the Assembly.

The danger to which the country was exposed had now united
Constitutionalists and Republicans, or rather had compelled most of
the Constitutionalists to become Republicans. A patriotic bishop,
whose soul was glowing with the spirit of true Christian fraternity,
addressed the Assembly in an appeal so moving, that, like reconciled
brothers, the two parties rushed into each other's arms to unite in the
defense of that liberty which was equally dear to them all.

On the 11th of July the solemn proclamation was made with great pomp
through the streets of Paris and of France, that _the country was in
danger_. Minute guns were fired all the day. The bells tolled, and the
reveille was beat in all quarters of the city summoning the National
Guard to their posts. A cavalcade of horse paraded the streets with
a large banner containing the inscription, _Citizens, the country is
in danger_. At all the principal places the cortège? halted and the
legislative decree was read. Rendezvous were established in all parts
of the city for the enlistment of volunteers. Unparalleled enthusiasm
pervaded all classes. In Paris alone fifteen thousand were enrolled the
first day.

Petitions were poured in upon the Assembly from all parts of the empire
declaring that the king had forfeited the crown, and demanding his
dethronement. This sudden change, these bold utterances, threw the
court into consternation. The king's life now was in imminent peril,
and he resolved if possible to effect his escape. Several plans were
suggested which seemed to him, with his constitutional feebleness of
purpose, too hazardous to be undertaken. La Fayette, with generous
credulity, still tried to believe the king sincere in his acceptance
of constitutional liberty, and he proposed a plan which would have
saved the king and would have saved France had there been a particle
of sincerity in the bosom of the monarch. It was most noble in La
Fayette thus to forget the insults he had received from the court, and
to peril his life in the endeavor to save a family who had only loaded
him with injuries. His plan, boldly conceived, was as patriotic as it
was humane, and needed but sincerity on the part of the king to secure
its triumphant execution. It was an amiable weakness on the part of La
Fayette still to believe that the king could by any possibility be led
to espouse the Revolution. His proposition was briefly this:


"General Luckner and I," said he to the king, "will come to Paris to
attend the celebration of the demolition of the Bastille on the 14th
of July. In company with us, the next day, the king with his family
shall visit Compiègne, fifty miles north of Paris. The people will
have sufficient confidence in us to make no opposition. Should there
be opposition we will have a sufficient force of dragoons at hand to
strike by surprise and release you. Ten squadrons of horse-artillery
shall there receive the monarch and conduct him to the army on
the frontiers. The king shall then issue a decided proclamation
forbidding his brothers and the emigrants to advance another step
toward the invasion of France, declaring, in terms which can not be
misinterpreted, his determination to maintain the Constitution, and
announcing his readiness to place himself at the head of the army to
repel the enemy. This decisive measure will satisfy France that the
king is its friend not its foe. The allies can make no headway against
France united under its monarch. The king can then return triumphant to
Paris, amid the universal acclamations of the people, a constitutional
monarch beloved and revered by his subjects."[340]

This was the wisest course which, under the circumstances, could
possibly have been pursued. It was constitutional. It would have been
the salvation of the king and of France. Many of the king's personal
friends entreated him, with tears, to repose confidence in La Fayette,
and to comply with the counsels of the only man who could rescue him
from destruction. But the fickle-minded king was now in the hands
of the queen and the courtiers, and was guided at their pleasure.
All their hopes were founded in the re-establishment of despotism by
foreign invasion. The generous plan of La Fayette was rejected with a
cold and almost insulting repulse.

"The best advice," replied the king, "which can be given to La Fayette
is to continue to serve as a bugbear to the factions by the able
performance of his duty as a general."

The queen was so confident that in a few weeks the allied armies
would be in Paris, and that any acts of disrespect on the part of the
people would only tend to hasten their march, that when Colombe, the
aid-de-camp of La Fayette, remonstrated against the infatuation of so
fatal a decision, she replied, "We are much obliged to your general for
his offer, but the best thing which could happen to us would be to be
confined for two months in a tower."

When La Fayette was thus periling his life to save the royal family he
knew that, by the queen's orders, pamphlets filled with calumny were
composed against him, and were paid for out of the king's salary.[341]

The court was secretly and very energetically recruiting defenders
for the approaching crisis. They had assembled at the Tuileries a
regiment of Swiss mercenaries, amounting to about a thousand men,
who, under rigid military discipline, would be faithful to the king.
A large number of general and subaltern officers, strong royalists,
were provided with lodgings in Paris, awaiting any emergence. Several
hundred royalist gentlemen from the provinces, in chivalrous devotion
to the monarchy, were residing in hotels near the Tuileries, always
provided with concealed weapons, and with cards which gave them
admission at any hour into the palace. Secret bodies of loyalists were
organized in the city, who were also ready to rush, at a given signal,
to the defense of the inmates of the Tuileries. The servants in the
chateaux were very numerous, and were all picked men. There were also
in garrison in Paris ten thousand troops of the line who were devoted
to the king.

With such resources immediately at hand, and with nearly all the
monarchies of Europe in alliance to march to their rescue, it is not
surprising that the king and queen should have felt emboldened to brave
the perils which surrounded them.[342] The Royalists were exultant,
and already, in the provinces of La Vendée and on the Rhone, they had
unfurled the white banner of the Bourbons, were rallying around it by
thousands, and had commenced the slaughter of the patriots who, in
these provinces, were in the minority.


Such was the state of affairs when the 14th of July arrived, the day
for the great celebration of the demolition of the Bastille. The king
and queen could not avoid participating in the ceremonies, though it
was greatly feared that attempts might be made for their assassination.
A breast-plate, in the form of an under waistcoat, was secretly made
for the king, consisting of fifteen folds of Italian silk, strongly
quilted, which was found, upon trial, to be proof against dagger or
bullet. Madame Campan wore it for three days before an opportunity
could be found for the king to try it on unperceived. The king, as he
drew it on, said,

"It is to satisfy the queen that I submit to this inconvenience."

A corset of similar material was also prepared for the queen. She,
however, refused to wear it, saying, "If the rebels assassinate me it
will be a most happy event. It will release me from the most sorrowful
existence, and may save from a cruel death the rest of the family."

The Field of Mars was the site for the festival. Eighty-three gorgeous
tents were reared, representing the eighty-three departments of
France. Before each of these was planted a tree of liberty, from the
tops of which waved the tricolored banner. On one side of this vast
parade-ground there was an immense tree planted, called the tree of
feudalism. Its boughs were laden with memorials of ancient pride and
oppression--blue ribbons, tiaras, cardinals' hats, St. Peter's keys,
ermine, mantles, titles of nobility, escutcheons, coats of arms, etc.
It was in the programme of the day that the king, after taking anew the
oath of fidelity to the Constitution, was to set fire to the tree of
feudalism with all its burden of hoary abuses.

The king and royal family joined the procession at the Tuileries,
and with saddened hearts and melancholy countenances performed their
part in the ceremonies. "The expression of the queen's countenance,"
says Madame de Staël, "on this day will never be effaced from my
remembrance. Her eyes were swollen with tears, and the splendor of her
dress and the dignity of her deportment formed a striking contrast with
the train that surrounded her."

When the procession arrived at the Field of Mars, where an immense
concourse was assembled, the queen took her station upon a balcony
which was provided for her, while the king was conducted slowly through
the almost impenetrable throng to the altar where the oath was to be
administered. The queen narrowly and anxiously watched his progress
with a glass. In ascending the altar the monarch took a false step, and
seemed to fall. The queen, thinking he had been struck by a dagger,
uttered a shriek of terror, which pierced the hearts of all around her.
The king, however, ascended the altar, and took the oath.

The people wished him then to set fire to the feudal tree. But he
declined, very pertinently remarking that there was no longer any
feudalism in France. Some of the deputies of the Assembly then lighted
the pile, and as it was wreathed in flames the shoutings of the
multitude testified their joy. The partisans of the king succeeded in
raising a few shouts of _Vive le Roi_, which lighted up a momentary
smile upon the wan face of the king. But these were the last flickering
gleams of joy. The royal family returned in deepest dejection to the
palace. They were conscious that they had but performed the part of
captives in gracing a triumph, and they never again appeared in the
streets of Paris until they were led to their execution.

The alarming decree of the Assembly that _the country was in
danger_, and the call for every man to arm, had thrown all France
into commotion. The restless, violent, and irresponsible are ever
the first to volunteer for war. These were rapidly organized in the
departments into regiments and battalions, and sent on to Paris.
Thus, notwithstanding the veto of the king, an immense force was fast
gathering in the capital, and a force who felt that the king himself
was the secret treacherous foe from whom they had the most to fear.
The Assembly, dreading conspiracy at home more than open war from
abroad, now sent the king's troops, upon whose fidelity to the nation
they could not rely, to the frontiers. The court opposed this measure,
as they did not wish to strengthen even the feeble resistance which
they supposed the allies would have to encounter, and also wished to
retain these troops for their own protection against any desperate
insurrection of the people. The king consequently wished to interpose
his veto, but was advised that he could not safely adopt that measure
in the then exasperated state of the public mind. The removal of these
troops very decidedly weakened the strength of the Royalists in Paris.

Such was the state of affairs on the 28th of July, when the allied
army, amounting in its three great divisions to one hundred and
thirty-eight thousand men, commenced its march upon France.


The Duke of Brunswick was to pass the Rhine at Coblentz, ascend the
left bank of the Moselle, and march upon Paris by the route of Longwy,
Verdun, and Chalons. His immense force of cavalry, infantry, and
artillery, with its enormous array of heavy guns and its long lines
of baggage and munition wagons, covered a space of forty miles. The
Prince of Hohenlohe, marching in a parallel line some twenty miles on
his left, led a division of the emigrants and the Hessian troops. His
route led him through Thionville and Metz. The Count de Clairfayt,
an Austrian field-marshal, who has been esteemed the ablest general
opposed to the French during the Revolutionary war, conducted the
Austrian troops and another division of the emigrants along other
parallel roads upon the right, to fall upon La Fayette, who was
stationed before Sedan and Mézieres. It was supposed that he would
easily scatter the feeble forces which Louis XVI. had permitted to be
stationed there; and then he was to press rapidly upon Paris by Rheims
and Soissons.[343]

The friends of liberty now saw no possible way of rescuing France
from its peril and of saving themselves from the scaffold, but by
wresting the executive power from the king and the court, who were in
co-operation with the foe. This could only be done by a _revolution_,
for the Constitution conferred no right upon the Assembly to dethrone
the king. The Girondists or moderate Republicans, detesting the
Jacobins and appalled in view of the anarchy which would ensue from
arming the mob of Paris, wished to have the _Assembly_ usurp the power
and dethrone the king. The Jacobins, who hoped to ride into authority
upon the waves of popular tumult, deliberately resolved to demolish the
throne by hurling against it the infuriate masses of the people. It was
calling into action the terrible energies of the earthquake and the
tornado, knowing that their ravages, once commenced, could be arrested
by no earthly power.

The plan first formed was to rouse the people in resistless numbers,
march upon the Tuileries, take the king a prisoner, and hold him in the
Castle of Vincennes as a hostage for the good conduct of the emigrants
and the allies. The appointed day came, and Paris was thrown into a
state of terrible confusion. But the court had been admonished of the
movement. The palace was strongly defended, and in consequence of some
misunderstanding it was found that there was not sufficient concert of
action to attempt the enterprise.

A new scheme was now formed, energetic and well-adapted to the
effectual accomplishment of its purpose. At the ringing of the tocsin
forty thousand men were to be marshaled in the faubourg St. Antoine.
Another immense gathering of the populace was to rally in the faubourg
St. Marceau. All the troops in the metropolis from the provinces were
to be arrayed at the encampment of the Marseilles battalion. They were
then to march simultaneously to the palace, fill the garden and the
court of the Carrousel, and invest the Tuileries on all sides. Here
they were to encamp with all the enginery of war, and fortify their
position by ditches, barricades, and redoubts. No blood was to be shed.
There was to be no assault upon the palace, and no forcible entry. The
king was to be blockaded, and the Assembly was to be informed that the
populace would not lay down their arms until the king was dethroned,
and the Legislature had adopted measures to secure the safety of the
country.[344] In this plan there was something generous and sublime. It
endeavored to guard carefully against disorder, pillage, and blood. It
was the majestic movement of the people rising in self defense against
its own executive in combination with foreign foes. Barbaroux, the
leader of the Marseillese, sketches this plan in pencil. It was copied
by Fournier, and adopted by Danton and Santerre.[345]

Several of the leaders of the Girondists, anxious to avert the fearful
crisis now impending, wrote a noble letter to the king containing
considerations just and weighty, which ought to have influenced him to
corresponding action. The letter was written by Vergniaud, Gaudet, and
Gensonné, three of the brightest ornaments of the Legislative Assembly.

"It ought not to be dissembled," said these men to the king, "that it
is the conduct of the executive power that is the immediate cause of
all the evils with which France is afflicted, and of the dangers with
which the throne is surrounded. They deceive the king who would lead
him to suppose that it is the effervesence of the clubs, the manoeuvres
of particular agitators and powerful factions that have occasioned and
continued those disorderly movements, of which every day increases the
violence, and of which no one can calculate the consequences. Thus to
suppose is to find the cause of the evil in what are only the symptoms.
The only way to establish the public tranquillity is for the king to
surround himself with the confidence of his people. This can only be
done by declaring, in the most solemn manner, that he will receive
no augmentation of his power that shall not be freely and regularly
offered him by the French nation without the assistance or interference
of any foreign powers.

"What would be, perhaps, sufficient at once to re-establish confidence
would be for the king to make the coalesced powers acknowledge the
independence of the French nation, cease from all farther hostilities,
and withdraw the troops that menace our frontiers. It is impossible
that a very great part of the nation should not be persuaded that the
king has it in his power to put an end to the coalition; and while that
coalition continues and places the public liberty in a state of peril,
it is in vain to flatter the king that confidence can revive."

The court regarded this letter as insolent, and the king returned an
answer which declared that he should pay no attention whatever to its

On the 30th of July the troops from Marseilles had arrived, five
hundred in number, composed of the most fiery and turbulent spirits
of the South. The clubs and journals and shouts of the people had for
some time been demanding of the Assembly the suspension of the king.
But the Assembly, restrained by respect for the Constitution, hesitated
in the adoption of a measure so revolutionary and yet apparently so
necessary. The insurrection now planned, unless it could be quelled by
the king's forces, was sure to accomplish its end. If the Assembly did
not in its consternation pronounce the throne vacant, or if the king
did not in his terror abdicate, the whole royal family was to be held
in a state of blockade, and it could not be disguised that they were
in danger of falling victims to the rage of the ungovernable mob. This
was the plan deliberately formed and energetically executed. It was
patriotism's last and most terrible resort. Humanity is shocked by the
measure. Yet we must not forget that foreign armies were approaching,
and the king was in complicity with them, and thwarting all measures
for effectual resistance. The court was organizing the partisans of the
king to unite with the foreigners in all the horrors of civil war. A
nation of twenty-five millions of freemen were again to be enslaved.
All the patriots who had been instrumental in securing liberty for
France were to be consigned to exile, the dungeon, and the scaffold.
If ever a people were excusable in being thrown into a state of blind
ungovernable fury, it was the people of France in view of such threats.

Paris was in this state of panic when the atrocious proclamation of
the Duke of Brunswick reached the city. The king had sent a secret
embassador, Mallet du Pan, to the allies, suggesting the tone of
the manifesto he wished them to issue. Some of his suggestions they
adopted, and added to them menaces as cruel and bloody as any deeds
ever perpetrated by a mob.

"Their majesties," said the duke in this manifesto, "the emperor,
and the king of Prussia, having intrusted me with the command of the
combined armies, assembled by their orders on the frontiers of France,
I am desirous to acquaint the inhabitants of that kingdom with the
motives which have determined the measures of the two sovereigns, and
the intentions by which they are guided."

He then stated that one object which the sovereigns had deeply at heart
was "to put an end to the anarchy in the interior of France; to stop
the attacks directed against the throne and the altar, to re-establish
the regal power, to restore to the king the security and liberty of
which he is deprived, and to place him in a condition to exercise the
legitimate authority which is his due."

He then declared, in violation of all the rules of civilized warfare,
that "such of the national guards as shall have fought against the
troops of the two allied courts, and who shall be taken in arms, shall
be punished as rebels against their king." This doomed every French
patriot who should resist the invaders to be shot or hanged.

"The inhabitants of cities, towns, and villages," continued this savage
declaration, "who shall dare to defend themselves against the troops of
their imperial and royal majesties, and to fire upon them either in the
open field or from their houses, shall be instantly punished with all
the rigor of the laws of war, and their houses demolished or burned.

"The city of Paris and all its inhabitants without distinction, are
required to submit immediately to the king, to set him at entire
liberty, to insure to him, as well as to all the royal personages,
the inviolability and respect which subjects owe their sovereigns.
Their imperial and royal majesties hold the members of the National
Assembly, of the department, of the district, of the municipality, and
of the National Guard of Paris, the justices of the peace, and all
others whom it may concern, personally responsible with their lives
for all that may happen; their said majesties declaring, moreover, on
their faith and word as emperor and king, that if the palace of the
Tuileries is forced or insulted, that if the least violence, the least
outrage is offered to their majesties the king and queen and to the
royal family, if immediate provision is not made for their safety,
their preservation, and their liberty, they will take an exemplary and
ever-memorable vengeance, _by giving up the city of Paris to military
execution and total destruction, and the rebels guilty of outrages to
the punishments they shall have deserved_."[346]

This ferocious document was printed in all the Royalist papers in
Paris on the 28th of July. The king immediately issued a message
disavowing any agency in the manifesto. But the people no longer had
any confidence in the word of the king. Paris was thrown into a state
of terrible agitation. The forty-eight sections of Paris met, and
commissioned the mayor, Pétion, to appear before the General Assembly,
and petition, in their name, the dethronement of the king. On the 3d
of August, Pétion, at the head of a numerous deputation, presented
himself before the Assembly. In an address, calm, unimpassioned, but
terrible in its severity, he retraced the whole course of the king from
the commencement of the Revolution, and closed with the solemn demand
for the dethronement of Louis XVI., as the most dangerous enemy of the
nation. The Assembly was embarrassed by its desire to adhere to the
Constitution which it had sworn to obey. The dethronement of the king
was not a _constitutional_ but a _revolutionary_ act. A long and stormy
debate ensued, during which the hall was flooded with petitions against
the king. The king's friends were again intensely anxious to secure his
escape. But the king would not listen to their plans, for he was so
infatuated as to believe that the Duke of Brunswick would soon, by an
unimpeded march, be in Paris for his rescue.

The sympathy which La Fayette had manifested for the royal family
had now ruined him in the esteem of the populace. He was every where
denounced as a traitor, and a strong effort was made to compel the
Assembly to indite a bill of accusation against him. But La Fayette's
friends in the chamber rallied, and he was absolved from the charge of
treason by a vote of four hundred and forty-six against two hundred
and eighty. The populace was so exasperated by this result that they
heaped abuse upon all who voted in his favor, and several of them were
severely maltreated by the mob. The National Assembly had now become
unpopular. It was ferociously denounced in the club of the Jacobins and
in all the corners of the streets. In the mean time the insurrectionary
committee, formed from the Jacobin club, were busy in preparation for
the great insurrection. All hearts were appalled, for all could see
that a cloud of terrific blackness was gathering, and no one could tell
what limit there would be to the ravages of the storm.

At midnight, on the 9th of August, the dismal sound of the tocsin was
heard. From steeple to steeple the boding tones floated through the
dark air. A thousand drums beat the alarm at the appointed rendezvous,
and the booming of guns shook the city. In an hour all Paris was in
tumult. The clatter of iron hoofs, the rumbling of heavy artillery,
the tramp of disciplined battalions, and the rush and the clamor of a
phrensied mob, presented the most appalling scene of tumult and terror.
A city of a million and a half of inhabitants was in convulsions. The
friends of the king hurried to the palace, announcing with pale lips
that the terrible hour had come. The event needed no announcement, for
the whole city was instantly trembling beneath earthquake throes. The
king, the queen, the two children, and Madame Elizabeth had assembled
tremblingly in one of the rooms of the palace, as lambs huddle together
when wolves are howling round the fold. Marie Antoinette was imperially
brave, but she could not in that hour look upon her helpless son and
daughter and not feel her maternal heart sink within her. Louis XVI.
had the endurance of a martyr, but he could not, unmoved, contemplate
the woes of his family.

The friends of the king speedily rallied, and brought up all their
forces for his defense. The apartments of the palace were filled with
Royalist gentlemen armed with swords, pistols, and even with shovels
and tongs. Nine hundred Swiss guards, upon whom it was thought reliance
could be reposed, were placed on the stairs, in the halls, and the
large saloons. Six or eight hundred mounted dragoons were in one of the
court-yards. Several battalions of the National Guard, who were most
friendly to the king, were stationed in the garden with twelve pieces
of artillery.[347] The defenders of the palace amounted in all to about
four or five thousand men. But many of these were very lukewarm in
their loyalty, and might at any moment be expected to fraternize with
the populace.[348]

Pétion, the mayor, was sent for. He came, and after an awkward
interview retired, leaving Mandat, who was general-in-chief of the
National Guard, commander of the troops at the Tuileries. It was a
sultry night. Every window at the Tuileries was thrown open, and the
inmates listened anxiously to the uproar which rose from every part
of the city. The queen and Madame Elizabeth ascended to a balcony
opening from one of the highest stories of the palace. The night was
calm and beautiful, the moon brilliant in the west, and Orion and the
Pleiades shining serenely in the east.[349] There the queen and the
princess stood for some time, trembling and in silence as the peal of
bells, the clangor of drums, the rumbling of artillery wheels, and the
shouts of the advancing bands, filled the air. From every direction,
the east, the west, the north and the south, the portentous booming
of the tocsin was heard, and infuriated insurgents, in numbers which
could not be counted, through all the streets and avenues, were pouring
toward the palace. The bridges crossing the river echoed with their
tread, while the blaze of bonfires and the gleam of torches added to
the appalling sublimities of the scene.[350]

The queen broke the silence. Pointing to the moon she said, "Before
that moon returns again, either the allies will be here and we shall be
rescued, or I shall be no more. But let us descend to the king."

The spectacle seemed but to have aroused the energies of Marie
Antoinette. The spirit of her imperial mother glowed in her bosom.[351]
Her cheeks were pale as death, her lips were compressed, her eyes
flashed fire, and, as she returned to the room where her husband stood
bewildered and submissive to his lot, she approached a grenadier, drew
a pistol from his belt, and, presenting it to her husband, said,

"Now, sire! now is the time to show yourself a king."

But Louis XVI. was a quiet, patient, enduring man, with nothing
imperial in his nature. With the most imperturbable meekness he took
the pistol and handed it back to the grenadier. The mayor, Pétion, an
active member of the Jacobin Club, had manifested no disposition to
render effectual aid in the defense of the palace. But lest it should
seem that he was heading the mob, he had reluctantly signed an order,
as he left the Tuileries, authorizing the employment of force to repel

The insurgents had organized an insurrectional committee at the Hôtel
de Ville, and immediately sent a summons for Mandat to present himself
before them. Mandat, misinformed, understood that the summons came
from the municipal government, and, as in duty bound, promptly obeyed.
He had hardly left the palace ere word was brought back to the king
that he had been assassinated by the mob. There was no longer any
leader at the palace; no one to organize the defense; no one to issue
commands. The soldiers in the court of the Tuileries and in the Garden
were looking listlessly about and bandying jokes with the mob who were
crowding against the iron railing.[352]

It was, however, now decided that the king should descend into the
courts of the Carrousel, in the rear of the palace, and into the
Garden, in front, to review the troops and ascertain the spirit with
which they were animated.

The king was very fat, had an awkward hobbling gait, and a countenance
only expressive of a passionless nature. He was dressed in a plain
mourning-suit, with silk stockings, and buckles in his shoes. His dress
was quite disarranged. In the early part of the night he had thrown
himself upon a sofa for rest, and thus his hair, which was powdered and
curled on one side, was without powder and in disorder on the other.
Apprehensive that he might be assassinated before morning, he had
spent some time in devotional exercises with his confessor, and his
cheeks deathly pale, his swollen eyes and his trembling lips, plainly
showed that he had been weeping. Thus he presented the aspect but of
a king in his degradation. Had he been a spirited man, in uniform,
mounted on horseback, he might, perhaps, have rallied the enthusiasm
of the troops. As it was he could excite no other emotion than that of
compassion, blended, perhaps, with contempt.

It was five o'clock of one of the most brilliant of summer mornings
as the king, followed by the queen and his children, and accompanied
by six staff officers, descended the marble stairs of the Tuileries
and entered the royal court. The music of martial bands greeted him,
the polished weapons of the soldiers gleamed in the rays of the sun as
they presented arms, and a few voices rather languidly shouted _Vive le
Roi_. Others, however, defiantly shouted _Vive la Nation_, thus showing
that many of those who were marshaled for his defense were ready to
unite with his assailants. The king stammered out a few incoherent
words and returned to the palace.

The appearance of the queen in this terrible hour riveted every eye and
excited even the enthusiasm of her foes. Her flushed cheek, dilated
nostril, compressed lip, and flashing eye invested her with an imperial
beauty almost more than human. Her head was erect, her carriage proud,
her step dignified, and she looked around her upon applauding friends
and assailing foes with a majesty of courage which touched every heart.
Even the most ardent patriots forgot for the moment their devotion
to liberty in the enthusiasm excited by the heroism of the queen.
Re-entering the palace, the queen, in despair, ascended the stairs to
the saloon, saying,

"All is lost. The king has shown no energy. A review like this has done
us more harm than good."

The king, however, instead of ascending to his apartment, passed
through the palace into the Garden to ascertain the disposition of
the troops stationed there. With his small retinue he traversed the
whole length of the Garden. Some of the battalions received him
with applause, others were silent, while here and there voices in
continually increasing numbers cried, "_Down with the veto; down with
the tyrant_." As the king turned to retrace his steps, menaces and
insults were multiplied. Some of the gunners even left their guns and
thrust their fists in his face, assailing him with the most brutal
abuse. The clamor penetrated the interior of the palace and the queen,
turning pale as death, sank into a chair, exclaiming,

"Great God! they are hooting the king. We are all lost."

The king returned to the palace, pale, exhausted, perspiring at every
pore, and overwhelmed with confusion and shame. He immediately retired
to his cabinet. Roederer,[353] chief magistrate of the Department of
the Seine, who had witnessed the hostile disposition of the troops,
now hastened to the chateau and asked permission to speak to his
majesty in private, with no witnesses but the royal family. He entered
the royal cabinet and found the king with his elbows resting on his
knees and his face buried in his hands. All retired but the royal
family and the king's ministers.

"Sire," said M. Roederer, "you have not a moment to lose. Neither the
number nor the disposition of the men here assembled can guarantee your
life or the lives of your family. There is no safety for you but in the
bosom of the Assembly."

The hall of the Assembly was in the old monastery of the Feuillants,
situated on the western side of the Garden, where the Rue de Rivoli
now runs. The royal family could consequently descend into the Garden,
which was filled with troops collected there for their defense, and
crossing the Garden could enter the hall with but little exposure.

But such a refuge to the high-spirited queen was more dreadful than
death. It was draining the cup of humiliation to its dregs.

"Go to the Assembly!" exclaimed the queen; "never! never will I take
refuge there. Rather than submit to such infamy I would prefer to be
nailed to the walls of the palace."

"It is there only," M. Roederer replied, "that the royal family can
be in safety. And it is necessary to escape immediately. In another
quarter of an hour, perhaps, we shall not be able to command a retreat."

"What," rejoined the queen, "have we no defenders? Are we alone?"

"Yes, madame," replied Roederer, "we are alone. The troops in the
Garden and in the court are fraternizing with your assailants and
turning their guns against the palace. All Paris is on the march.
Action is useless. Resistance is impossible."

A gentleman present, who had been active in promoting reform, ventured
to add his voice in favor of an immediate retreat to the Assembly. The
queen turned upon him sternly, and said,

"Silence, sir, silence! It becomes you to be silent here. When the
mischief is done, those who did it should not pretend to wish to remedy

M. Roederer resumed, saying, "Madame, you endanger the lives of your
husband and your children. Think of the responsibility which you take
upon yourself."

The king raised his head, fixed a vacant stare of anguish for a moment
on M. Roederer, and then, rising, said, "Marchons" (_Let us go_).

The queen, unable any longer to shut her eyes to the fatality, turning
to M. Roederer, eagerly added, "You, sir, are answerable for the life
of the king and for that of my son."

"Madame," M. Roederer replied, "we undertake to die by your side, but
that is all we can promise." It was then eight o'clock in the morning.

A guard of soldiers was instantly called in, and the melancholy cortège
left the palace. The Swiss troops and the loyalist gentlemen, who
filled the apartments, looked on in consternation and despair. There
was no apparent escape for them, and they seemed to be abandoned to
their fate. As the king was crossing the threshold he thought of his
friends, and his heart seemed to misgive him. He hesitated, stopped,
and, turning to M. Roederer, said, "What is to become of our friends
who remain behind?" M. Roederer pacified the king by assuring him,
though falsely, that by throwing aside their arms and their uniform
they would be able to escape in safety.

They then entered the Garden and crossed it, unopposed, between the
two files of bayonets. The leaves of autumn strewed the paths, and the
young dauphin amused himself in kicking them as he walked along. It is
characteristic of the mental infirmities of the king that in such an
hour he should have remarked, "There are a great many leaves. They fall
early this year."

When they arrived at the door at the foot of the staircase which led to
the hall of the Assembly, they found an immense crowd of men and women
there blocking up the entrance. "They shall not enter here," was the
cry; "they shall no longer deceive the nation. They are the cause of
all our misfortunes. Down with the veto! Down with the Austrian woman!
Abdication or death!"

"Sire," said one, in compassionate tones to the king, "Don't be afraid.
The people are just. Be a good citizen, sire, and send the priests and
your wife away from the palace."

The soldiers endeavored to force their way through the crowd, and, in
the struggle, the members of the royal family were separated from each
other. A stout grenadier seized the dauphin and raised him upon his
shoulders. The queen, terrified lest her child was to be taken from
her, uttered a piercing shriek. But the grenadiers pressed forward
through the crowd, and, entering the hall with the king and queen,
placed the prince royal on the table of the Assembly.

The illustrious Girondist M. Vergniaud was in the chair. The king
approached him and said,

"I have come hither to prevent a great crime. I thought I could not be
safer than with you."

"You may rely, sire," Vergniaud replied, "on the firmness of the
Assembly. Its members have sworn to die in supporting the rights of the
people and the constituted authority."

The king took his seat. There were but few members present. A mournful
silence pervaded the hall as the deputies, with saddened countenances
and sympathetic hearts, gazed upon the king, the queen, Madame
Elizabeth, the beautiful young princess, and the dauphin, whom the
queen held by the hand. All angry feelings died in presence of the
melancholy spectacle, for all felt that a storm was now beating against
the throne which no human power could allay.


[Footnote 340: La Fayette's Memoirs.

"M. de La Fayette seemed not to have been quite discouraged by the
ill-success of his former embassy; for on the 10th of July M. de Lally
came to me with a long letter written by M. La Fayette from his army,
in which he drew a plan, ready as he said, for execution, to open the
way for the king through his enemies, and to establish him in safety
either in Compiègne or in the north part of France, surrounded by his
constitutional guards and his faithful army,"--_Bertrand de Moleville._]

[Footnote 341: "That there should be no more sympathy," says Professor
Smyth, "expressed by the king or the Royalists ever after, with the
elevated nature of the principles of La Fayette or the steadiness of
his loyalty, whenever he saw, as he thought, the king in danger, is
quite intolerable; and there are no occasions on which the royal party
appear to so little advantage as when it is desirable that they should
show some little candor, some common justice to La Fayette."--_Lectures
on French Revolution_, vol. ii., p. 298.]

[Footnote 342: History of the Girondists, Lamartine, vol. ii., p. 36.]

[Footnote 343: "Russia and England secretly approved the attacks of the
European league, without as yet co-operating with it."--_Mignet_, p.
142. The British _government_ were at this time restrained from active
measures by the British _people_, the great mass of whom sympathized
with the French in their struggle for liberty.]

[Footnote 344: "The chiefs," says Bertrand do Moleville, "of the
Gironde faction, who had planned the insurrection, did not, at that
time, intend to overset the monarchy. Their design was to dethrone
the king, make the crown pass to his son, and establish a council of

[Footnote 345: Lamartine's History of the Girondists, vol. 2, p. 40.
Barbaroux, one of the most active of the leaders in this movement, "a
man of genius, fine affections, and noble sentiments," in his memoirs
writes, "It was our wish that this insurrection in the cause of liberty
should be majestic as is Liberty herself; holy as are the rights which
she alone can ensure, and worthy to serve as an example to every
people, who, to break the chains of their tyrants, have only to show

[Footnote 346: "The greatest sensation was produced in our own country
of Great Britain, and all over Europe, by a manifesto like this, which
went in truth to say, that two military powers were to march into a
neighboring and independent kingdom to settle the civil dissensions
there as they thought best, and to punish by military law, as rebels
and traitors, all who presumed to resist them. No friend to freedom
or the general rights of mankind could, for a moment, tolerate such
a procedure as this. Even the success of the Jacobins and Anarchists
was thought preferable to the triumph of invaders like these."--_Prof.
Smyth's Lectures on the Fr. Rev._, vol. ii., p. 326.]

[Footnote 347: The Garden of the Tuileries includes an area of about
sixty-seven acres. A whole army could encamp there.]

[Footnote 348: One of the officers of the staff said to Madame Campan,
in the midst of this scene of terror and confusion, "Put your jewels
and money into your pockets. Our dangers are unavoidable. The means
of defense are unavailing. Safety might be obtained from some degree
of energy in the king; but that is the only virtue in which he is
deficient."--_Madame Campan_, vol. ii., p. 240.]

[Footnote 349: Roederer, Chronique de Cinquante Jours.]

[Footnote 350: "List! through the placid midnight; clang of the distant
storm-bell. Steeple after steeple takes up the wondrous tale. Black
courtiers listen at the windows opened for air; discriminate the
steeple-bells. This is the tocsin of St. Roch; that, again, is _it_
not St. Jaques, named _de la Boucherie_? Yes, messieurs! or even St.
Germain l'Auxerrois, hear ye it not? The same metal that rang storm two
hundred and twenty years ago; but by a majesty's order then; on St.
Bartholomew's Eve!"--_Carlyle_, vol. ii., p. 138.]

[Footnote 351: "The behavior of Marie Antoinette was magnanimous in the
highest degree. Her majestic air, her Austrian lip and aquiline nose,
gave her an air of dignity which can only be conceived by those who
beheld her in that trying hour."--_Peltier._]

[Footnote 352: Where the iron railing now stands which separates the
spacious court of the Tuileries from the Carrousel, so called because
Louis XIV., in 1662, held a great tournament here, there were, in 1792,
rows of small houses and sheds. The court was then divided by railings
into three divisions. The central one, which was rather larger than the
others, was called the Cour Royale. The king's troops were stationed in
these courts, while the insurgents were filling the Carrousel. These
court-yards, now thrown into one, afforded Napoleon ample space for the
review of his troops.]

[Footnote 353: M. Roederer, a constitutional monarchist, was one of
the most illustrious men of the Revolution. Denounced by the Jacobins
he was compelled, like La Fayette, to seek refuge in flight. Upon
Napoleon's return from Egypt he aided effectually in rescuing France
from anarchy, and in establishing the Consulate and the Empire. He
co-operated cordially with the Emperor in his plans of reform, was the
chief instrument in concluding a treaty between France and the United
States, and took a large share in the regeneration of the Kingdom of
Naples by Joseph Bonaparte. When Napoleon fell beneath the blows of
allied Europe, Roederer, in sadness, withdrew to retirement.--_Enc.

[Footnote 354: Madame Campan, vol. ii., p. 274, note.]



  Tumult and Dismay in the Assembly.--Storming the Tuileries.--Aspect
  of the Royal Family.--The Decree of Suspension.--Night in the
  Cloister.--The Second Day in the Assembly.--The Royal Family
  Prisoners.--Third Day in the Assembly.--The Temple.--The Royal Family
  Transferred to the Temple.

But few of the excited thousands who crowded all the approaches to the
Tuileries were conscious that the royal family had escaped from the
palace. The clamor rapidly increased to a scene of terrific uproar.
First a few gun-shots were heard, then volleys of musketry, then the
deep booming of artillery, while shouts of onset, cries of fury, and
the shrieks of the wounded and the dying filled the air. The hall of
the Assembly was already crowded to suffocation, and the deputies stood
powerless and appalled. A tumultuous mass pressed the door. Blows,
pistol-shots, and groans of death were heard beneath the windows, and
it was every moment apprehended that the assassins would break into
the hall, and that the royal family and all their defenders would
be cut down. Several bullets shattered the windows, and one or two
cannon-balls passed through the roof of the building. Every one was
exposed to fearful peril.

There was no longer any retreat for the king. By the side of the
president's chair there was a space inclosed by an iron railing,
appropriated to the reporters. Several of the members aided the king in
tearing down a portion of this railing, and all the royal family sought
refuge there. At this moment the door of the hall was attacked, and
tremendous blows seemed to shake the whole building. "We are stormed!"
shouted one of the deputies. There was, however, no escape for any one
in any direction, and for some moments there was witnessed a scene of
confusion and terror which no language can describe.

At the same time there was a frightful conflict raging in and around
the palace. Immediately upon the departure of the king, all the
Swiss troops, who were hated as foreign mercenaries hired to shoot
down the French, were drawn into the palace from the court-yard, and
were mingled in confusion through its apartments with the loyalist
gentlemen, the officers, and the domestics. Notwithstanding the vast
dimensions of the palace, it was so crowded that there was scarcely
space to move.

[Illustration: STORMING THE TUILERIES, AUGUST 10, 1792.]

The throng in the Carrousel attacked one of the gates, broke it
down, and rushed into the royal court, which was nearly vacated by
the retirement of the Swiss. The companies of the National Guard in
the Carrousel, instead of opposing, looked approvingly on, and were
evidently quite disposed to lend the assailants a helping hand. A large
piece of timber was placed at the foot of the staircase of the palace
in the form of a barrier, and behind this were intrenched in disorder,
crowding the steps, the Swiss and some of the National Guard who
adhered to the king.[355]

Just then the whole Faubourg St. Antoine came marching along in solid
column. They marched through the Carrousel, entered the court, and
placed six pieces of cannon in battery to open a fire upon the palace.
It was to avoid, if possible, a conflict, that the guards had been
withdrawn from the court into the palace. The shouts of a countless
multitude applauded this military movement of the mob. The Swiss had
received command from the king not to fire. The crowd cautiously
pressed nearer and nearer to the door, and at length, emboldened by the
forbearance of the defenders of the palace, seized, with long poles to
which hooks were attached, one after another of the sentinels, and,
with shouts, captured and disarmed them. Thus five of the Swiss troops
were taken prisoners.

[Illustration: MASSACRE OF THE ROYAL GUARD, AUGUST 10, 1792.]

At last a single shot was fired, no one can tell on which side. It was
the signal for blood. The Swiss, crowded upon the magnificent marble
stairs, rising one above another, occupied a very formidable position.
They instantly opened a deadly fire. Volley succeeded volley, and every
bullet told upon the dense mass crowding the court. At the same moment,
from every window of the palace, a storm of shot was showered down upon
the foe. In a moment the pavement was red with blood, and covered with
the dying and the dead. The artillerymen abandoned their pieces, and
the whole multitude rushed pell-mell, trampling the dead and wounded
beneath them in frantic endeavors to escape from the court into the
Carrousel. In a few moments the whole court was evacuated, and remained
strewed with pikes, muskets, grenadiers' caps, and gory bodies.

The besiegers, however, soon rallied. Following the disciplined troops
from Marseilles, who were led by able officers, the multitude returned
with indescribable fury to the charge. Cannon-balls, bullets, and
grapeshot dashed in the doors and the windows. Most of the loyalist
gentlemen escaped by a secret passage through the long gallery of
the Louvre, as the victorious rabble, with pike, bayonet, and sabre,
poured resistlessly into the palace and rushed through all its
apartments. The Swiss threw down their arms and begged for quarter.
But the pitiless mob, exasperated by the slaughter of their friends,
knew no mercy. Indiscriminate massacre ensued, accompanied with every
conceivable act of brutality. For four hours the butchery continued, as
attics, closets, cellars, chimneys, and vaults were searched, and the
terrified victims were dragged out to die. Some leaped from the windows
and endeavored to escape through the Garden. They were pursued and
mercilessly cut down. Some climbed the marble monuments. The assassins,
unwilling to injure the statuary, pricked them down with their bayonets
and then slaughtered them at their feet. Seven hundred and fifty Swiss
were massacred in that day of blood.

The Assembly during these hours were powerless, and they awaited in
intense anxiety the issue of the combat. Nothing can more impressively
show the weak and frivolous mind of the king than that, in such an
hour, seeing the painter David in the hall, he inquired of him,

"How soon shall you probably have my portrait completed?"

David brutally replied, "I will never, for the future, paint
the portrait of a tyrant until his head lies before me on the

The queen sat in haughty silence. Her compressed lip, burning eye, and
hectic cheek indicated the emotions of humiliation and of indignation
with which she was consumed. The young princess wept, and her fevered
face was stained with the dried current of her tears. The dauphin, too
young to appreciate the terrible significance of the scene, looked
around in bewildered curiosity.

At eleven o'clock reiterated shouts of victory, which rose from the
Garden, the palace, the Carrousel, and all the adjoining streets and
places, proclaimed that the triumph of the people was complete. The
Assembly, now overawed, unanimously passed a decree suspending the
king, dismissing the Royalist ministers, recalling the Girondist
ministry, and convoking a National Assembly for the trial of the king.
As Vergniaud read, in accents of grief, this decree to which the
Assembly had been forced, the king listened intently, and then said
satirically to M. Coustard, who was standing by his side,

"This is not a very _constitutional_ act."

"True," M. Coustard replied; "but it is the only means of saving your
majesty's life."

The Assembly immediately enacted the decrees, which the king had
vetoed, banishing the refractory priests and establishing a camp
near Paris. Danton,[357] whose tremendous energies had guided the
insurrection, was appointed Minister of Justice. Monge, the illustrious
mathematician, by the nomination of his equally illustrious friend
Condorcet, was placed at the head of the Marine. Lebrun, a man of
probity and untiring energy, was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Thus was the whole government effectually revolutionized and
reorganized. During all the long hours of this day the royal family
sat in the crowded Assembly almost suffocated with heat, and enduring
anguish which no tongue can tell. The streets were filled with uproar,
and the waves of popular tumult dashed against the old monastery of the
Feuillans, even threatening to break in the doors. The regal victims
listened to the decrees which tore the crown from the brow of the king,
and which placed his sceptre in the hands of his most envenomed foes.
In the conflict with the defenders of the palace, between three and
four thousand of the populace had perished, in revenge for which nearly
eight hundred of the inmates of the Tuileries had been massacred. The
relatives of the slain citizens, exasperated beyond measure, were
clamorous for the blood of the king as the cause of the death of their
friends. There was no possible covert for the royal family but in the
Assembly. Fifty armed soldiers, with bayonets fixed, surrounded them in
their box, and yet it was every moment feared that the populace would
break in and satiate their rage with the blood of the monarch and his

The king was ever famed for his ravenous appetite. Even in the midst of
these terrific scenes he was hungry and called for food. Bread, wine,
and cold viands were brought to him. He ate and drank voraciously to
the extreme mortification of the queen, who could not but perceive how
little respect the conduct of the king inspired. Neither she, Madame
Elizabeth, nor the children could taste of any food. They merely
occasionally moistened their fevered lips with iced water.

It was now ten o'clock in the evening. The night was calm and
beautiful. The tumult of the day was over, but the terrific excitement
of the scene had brought the whole population of Paris out into
the promenades. Fires were still blazing beneath the trees of the
Tuileries, consuming the furniture which had been thrown from the
windows of the chateau. Lurid flames flashed from the barracks of the
Swiss in the court-yard, which had been set on fire, streaming over the
roof of the palace, and illuminated both banks of the Seine.

The whole number slain during the day, Royalists and Revolutionists,
amounted to over four thousand. Many of the dead had been removed by
relatives, but the ground was still covered with the bodies of the
slain, who were entirely naked, having been stripped of their clothing
by those wretches who ever swarm in the streets of a great city, and
who find their carnival in deeds of violence and blood. By order of the
insurrectional committee at the Hôtel de Ville, who had deposed the
municipal government and usurped its authority, these dead bodies were
collected and piled in vast heaps in the court-yards, in the Garden,
in the Place Louis XV., and in the Elysian Fields. Immense quantities
of wood were thrown upon them, and the whole city was illuminated by
the glare of these funeral fires. The Swiss and the Marsellais, the
Royalists and the Jacobins, were consumed together, and the ashes were
swept clean from the pavement into the Seine.

As these scenes at midnight were transpiring in the streets, the
Assembly sent a summary of its decrees to be read by torch-light to the
groups of the people. It was hoped that these decrees would satisfy
them, and put a stop to any farther acts of violence on the morrow.
It was two o'clock in the morning before the Assembly suspended its
sitting. For seventeen hours the royal family had sat in the reporters'
box, enduring all of humiliation and agony which human hearts can feel.

In the upper part of the old monastery, above the committee-rooms
of the Assembly, there was a spacious corridor, from which opened
several cells formerly used by the monks. These cells, with walls of
stone and floors of brick, and entirely destitute of furniture, were
as gloomy as the dungeons of a prison. Here only could the king and
his family find safety for the night. Some articles of furniture were
hastily collected from different parts of the building, and four of
these rooms were prepared for the royal party. Five nobles, who had
heroically adhered to the king in these hours of peril, occupied one,
where, wrapped in their cloaks and stretched out upon the floor, they
could still watch through the night over the monarch. The king took
the next. It was furnished with a table, and a plain wooden bedstead.
He bound a napkin around his head for a night-cap, and threw himself,
but partially undressed, upon his uncurtained bed. The queen, with her
two children, took the next cell. Madame Elizabeth, with the governess
of the children, Madame de Tourzel, and the Princess Lamballe, who had
joined the royal family in the evening, took the fourth. Thus, after
thirty-six hours of sleeplessness and terror, the royal family were
left to such repose as their agitated minds could attain.

The sun had long arisen when the queen awoke from her fevered slumber.
She looked around her for a moment with an expression of anguish, and
then, covering her eyes with her hands, exclaimed,

"Oh, I hoped that it had all been a dream!"

The whole party soon met in the apartment of the king. As Madame
Tourzel led in the two royal children, Marie Antoinette looked at them
sadly, and said,

"Poor children! how heart-rending it is, instead of handing down to
them so fine an inheritance, to say, it ends with us!"

"I still see, in imagination," writes Madame Campan, "and shall always
see, that narrow cell of the Feuillans, hung with green paper; that
wretched couch where the dethroned queen stretched out her arms to us,
saying that our misfortunes, of which she was the cause, aggravated
her own. There, for the last time, I saw the tears, I heard the sobs
of her whom her high birth, the endowments of nature, and, above all,
the goodness of her heart, had seemed to destine for the ornament of a
throne and for the happiness of her people."

The tumult of the streets still penetrated their cells, and warned them
that they had entered upon another day of peril. The excited populace
were still hunting out the aristocrats, and killing them pitilessly
wherever they could be found. At ten o'clock the royal family were
conducted again to the Assembly, probably as the safest place they
could occupy, and there they remained all day. Several of the Swiss
had been taken prisoners on the previous day, and by humane people had
been taken to the Assembly that their lives might be saved. The mob now
clamored loudly at the door of the hall, and endeavored to break in,
demanding the lives of the Swiss and of the escort of the king, calling
them murderers of the people. Vergniaud, the president, was so shocked
by their ferocity that he exclaimed, "Great God, what cannibals!"

At one time the doors were so nearly forced that the royal family
were hurried into one of the passages, to conceal them from the
mob. The king, fully convinced that the hour of his death had now
come, entreated his friends to provide for their safety by flight.
Heroically, every one persisted in sharing the fate of the king. Danton
hastened to the Assembly, and exerted all his rough and rude energy to
appease the mob. They were at length pacified by the assurance that the
Swiss, and all others who had abetted in the slaughter of the people
on the preceding day, should be tried by a court-martial and punished.
With great difficulty the Assembly succeeded in removing the Swiss and
the escort of the king to the prison of the Abbaye.

At the close of this day the king and his family were again conducted
to their cells, but they were placed under a strict guard, and their
personal friends were no longer permitted to accompany them. This last
deprivation was a severe blow to them all, and the king said bitterly,

"I am, then, a prisoner, gentlemen. Charles I. was more fortunate than
myself. His friends were permitted to accompany him to the scaffold."

Another morning dawned upon this unhappy family, and again they were
led to the hall of the Assembly, where they passed the weary hours of
another day in the endurance of all the pangs of martyrdom.

It was at length decided that the royal family, for safe keeping,
should be imprisoned in the tower of the Temple. This massive, sombre
building, in whose gloomy architecture were united the palace, the
cloister, the fortress, and the prison, was erected and inhabited by
the Knights Templar of the Middle Ages. Having been long abandoned it
was now crumbling to decay. It was an enormous pile which centuries
had reared near the site of the Bastille, and with its palace, donjon,
towers, and garden, which was choked with weeds and the débris of
crumbling walls, covered a space of many acres.

[Illustration: THE TEMPLE.]

The main tower was one hundred and fifty feet high, nine feet thick
at the base, surrounded by a wide, deep ditch, and inclosed by an
immensely high wall. This tower was ascended by a very narrow flight
of circular stairs, and was divided into four stories, each containing
a bare, dismal room about thirty feet square. The iron doors to these
rooms were so low and narrow that it was necessary to stoop almost
double to enter them. The windows, which were but slits in the thick
wall, were darkened by slanting screens placed over them, and were also
secured by stout iron bars.

Such were the apartments which were now assigned to the former
occupants of the Tuileries, Versailles, and Fontainebleau. It was a
weary ride for the royal captives through the Place Vendôme and along
the Boulevards to the Temple. An immense crowd lined the road. All the
royal family, with Pétion, the mayor, occupied one carriage, and the
procession moved so slowly that for two hours the victims were exposed
to the gaze of the populace before the carriages rolled under the
arches of the Temple. It was late in the afternoon when they left the
Assembly, and the shades of night darkened the streets ere they reached
the Temple.

The Assembly had surrendered the safe-keeping of the king to the
Commune of Paris, and appropriated one hundred thousand dollars to
meet the expenses of the royal family until the king should be brought
to trial. Conscious that an army of nearly two hundred thousand men
was within a few days' march of Paris, hastening to rescue the king,
and that there were thousands of Royalists in the city, and tens of
thousands in France, who were ready at any moment to lay down their
lives to secure the escape of the monarch, and conscious that the
escape of the king would not only re-enslave France, but consign every
friend of the Revolution to the dungeon or the scaffold, they found
it necessary to adopt the most effectual measures to hold the king
securely. They, therefore, would no longer allow the friends of the
king to hold free communication with him.

The Temple itself, by outworks, had been promptly converted into a
fortress, and was strongly garrisoned by the National Guard. Twelve
commissioners were without interruption to keep watch of the king's
person. No one was allowed to enter the tower of the Temple without
permission of the municipality. Four hundred dollars were placed in
the hands of the royal family for their petty expenses. They were
not intrusted with more, lest it might aid them to escape. A single
attendant, the king's faithful valet Clery,[358] was permitted to
accompany the captives. It does not appear that the authorities
wished to add unnecessary rigor to the imprisonment. Thirteen cooks
were provided for the kitchen, that their table might be abundantly
supplied. One of these only was allowed to enter the prison and aid
Clery in serving at the table, the expenses of which for two months
amounted to nearly six thousand dollars.[359]

It was an hour after midnight when the royal family were led from the
apartments of the Temple to which they had first been conducted to
their prison in the tower. The night was intensely dark. Dragoons with
drawn sabres marched by the side of the king, while municipal officers
with lanterns guided their steps. Through gloomy and dilapidated
halls, beneath massive turrets, and along the abandoned paths of the
garden, encumbered with weeds and stones, they groped their way until
they arrived at the portals of the tower, whose summit was lost in
the obscurity of night. As in perfect silence the sad procession was
passing through the garden, a valet-de-chambre of the king inquired in
a low tone of voice whither the king was to be conducted.

"Thy master," was the reply, "has been used to gilded roofs. Now he
will see how the assassins of the people are lodged."

The three lower rooms of the tower were assigned to the captives. They
had been accompanied by several of their friends who adhered to them
in these hours of adversity. All were oppressed with gloom, and many
shed bitter tears. Still they were not in _despair_. Powerful armies
were marching for their rescue, and they thought it not possible that
the French people, all unprepared for war, could resist such formidable
assailants. A week thus passed away, when on the 19th the municipal
officers entered and ordered the immediate expulsion of all not of the
royal family. This harsh measure was deemed necessary in consequence
of the conspiracies which were formed by the Royalists for the rescue
of the king. Unfeeling jailers were now placed over them, and, totally
uninformed of all that was passing in the world without, they sank into
the extreme of woe.


[Footnote 355: "Napoleon se trouvait au 10ième Août à Paris; il avait
été présent à l'action. Il m'écrevit une lettre très détaillée, que je
lus à mes collègues du directoire du département; voici les deux traits
principaux. 'Si Louis XVI. se fût montré à cheval la victoire lui fût
restée; c'est ce qui m'a paru, à l'esprit qui animait les groupes le

"'Après la victoire des Marseillais, j'en vis un sur le point de tuer
un garde du corps; je lui dis,

"'Homme du midi, sauvons ce malheureux!

"'Es tu du midi?


"'Eh, bien! sauvons le!'"--_Mémoires du Roi Joseph_, t. i., p. 47.]

[Footnote 356: History of the Girondists, by Lamartine, vol. ii., p.

[Footnote 357: Danton was one of the fiercest of the Jacobins. Madame
Roland, a political opponent, thus describes him: "I never saw any
countenance that so strongly expressed the violence of brutal passions,
and the most astonishing audacity, half disguised by a jovial air,
an affectation of frankness, and a sort of simplicity, as Danton's.
In 1778 he was a needy lawyer, more burdened with debts than causes.
He went to Belgium to augment his resources, and, after the 10th of
August, had the hardihood to avow a fortune of £158,333 ($791,665),
and to wallow in luxury while preaching sans culottism and sleeping
on heaps of slaughtered men." "Danton," says Mignet, "was a gigantic
revolutionist. He deemed no means censurable so they were useful. He
has been termed the Mirabeau of the populace. Mirabeau's vices were
those of a patrician. Danton's those of a democrat. He was an absolute
exterminator without being personally ferocious; inexorable toward
masses, humane, generous even, toward individuals."--_Mignet_, p. 158.]

[Footnote 358: "Clery we have seen and known, and the form and manners
of that model of pristine faith and loyalty ran never be forgotten.
Gentlemanlike and complaisant in his manners, his deep gravity
and melancholy features announced that the sad scenes in which he
had acted a part so honorable were never for a moment out of his
memory."--_Scott's Life of Napoleon._]

[Footnote 359: Thiers's Hist. French Revolution, vol. ii., p. 26.]



  Supremacy of the Jacobins.--Their energetic Measures.--The Assembly
  threatened.--Commissioners sent to the Army.--Spirit of the Court
  Party in England.--Speech of Edmund Burke.--Triumphant March of the
  Allies.--The Nation summoned _en masse_ to resist the Foe.--Murder of
  the Princess Lamballe.--Apology of the Assassins.--Robespierre and
  St. Just.--Views of Napoleon.

The majestic armies of the Allies were now rapidly on the march toward
France, and there was no force on the frontiers which could present any
effectual resistance. La Fayette was at Sedan, about one hundred and
fifty miles northwest of Paris, at the head of twenty thousand troops
who were devoted to him. His opposition to the Jacobins had already
caused him to be denounced as a traitor, and it was feared that he
might go over to the enemy, and by his strong influence carry not only
his own troops, but those of General Luckner with him. The condition of
the Patriots was apparently desperate. The Allies were confident of a
triumphant and a rapid march to Paris, where all who had sacrilegiously
laid hands upon the old despotism of France would be visited with
condign punishment.

The Jacobin Club was now the sovereign power in France. It was more
numerous than the Legislative Assembly, and its speakers, more able
and impassioned, had perfect control of the populace. The Jacobins
had, by the insurrection, or rather revolution of the 10th of August,
organized a new municipal government. Whatever measure the Jacobin Club
decided to have enforced it sent to the committee which the club had
organized as the city government at the Hôtel de Ville. This committee
immediately demanded the passage of the decree by the Legislative
Assembly. If the Assembly manifested any reluctance in obeying, they
were informed that the tocsin would be rung, the populace summoned, and
the scenes of the 10th of August renewed, to make them willing. Such
was now the new government instituted in France.

The _Commune of Paris_, as this municipal body at the Hôtel de Ville
was called, immediately entered upon the most vigorous measures to
break up the conspiracy of the Royalists, that they might not be
able to rise and join the invading armies of the Allies. The French
Patriots had two foes equally formidable to dread--the emigrants with
the Allies marching upon the frontiers, composing an army nearly two
hundred thousand strong, and the Royalists in France, who were ready,
as soon as the Allies entered the kingdom, to raise the standard of
civil war, and to fall upon the Patriots with exterminating hand.
There was thus left for the leaders of the Revolution only the choice
between killing and being killed. It was clear that they must now
either exterminate their foes or be exterminated by them. And it must
on all hands be admitted that the king and the court, by refusing to
accept constitutional liberty, had brought the nation to this direful

To prevent suspected persons from escaping, no one was allowed
to leave the gates of Paris without the most careful scrutiny of
his passport. A list was made out of every individual known to be
unfriendly to the Revolution, and all such were placed under the
most vigilant surveillance. The citizens were enjoined to denounce
all who had taken any part in the slaughter of the citizens on the
10th of August. All writers who had supported the Royalist cause were
ordered to be arrested, and their presses were given to Patriotic
writers. Commissioners were sent to the prisons to release all who had
been confined for offenses against the court. As it was feared that
the army, influenced by La Fayette, might manifest hostility to the
revolutionary movement in Paris, which had so effectually demolished
the Constitution, commissioners were sent to enlighten the soldiers
and bring them over to the support of the people. It was at first
contemplated to assign the palace of the Luxembourg as the retreat
of the royal family. The Commune of Paris, however, decided that the
public safety required that they should be held in custody where escape
would be impossible, and that their safe-keeping should be committed to
the mayor, Pétion, and to Santerre, who had been appointed commander of
the National Guards.

The Assembly, alarmed at the encroachments of the self-constituted
_Commune of Paris_, ordered a re-election of a municipal government
to take the place of that which the insurrection had dissolved. The
Commune instantly dispatched a committee to inform the Assembly that if
they made any farther move in that direction the tocsin should again
be rung, and that the populace, who had stormed the Tuileries, should
be directed against their hall. The deputies, overawed by the threat,
left the Commune in undisputed possession of its power. The Commune
now demanded of the Assembly the appointment of a special tribunal to
punish the Royalists who had fired upon the people from the Tuileries,
and those who "as conspirators and traitors" were ready to join the
Allies as soon as they should enter France. The Assembly hesitated. The
Commune sent Robespierre at the head of a deputation to inform them in
those emphatic terms which he ever had at his command, that the country
was in danger, that the Allies and emigrants were on the march, that no
delay could be tolerated, and that if the decree were not immediately
passed _the tocsin should be rung_. The appalling threat was efficient,
and the decree, though some heroically opposed, was passed.[360] Such
was the origin of the first revolutionary tribunal.


As soon as the commissioners from Paris arrived at the camp of La
Fayette they were by his orders arrested and imprisoned, and the
soldiers took anew the oath of fidelity to the _law_ and the _king_.
The news of their arrest reached Paris on the 17th, and excited intense
irritation. La Fayette was denounced more vehemently than ever, and
a fresh deputation was dispatched to the army. La Fayette was now
ruined. The court was ready to hang him for his devotion to liberty.
The Jacobins thirsted for his blood because he thwarted their plans.
Every hour his situation became more desperate, and it was soon evident
that he could do no more for his country, and that there was no refuge
for him but in flight. On the 20th, accompanied by a few friends, he
secretly left his army, and took the road to the Netherlands. When
he reached the Austrian outposts at Rochefort, he was arrested as a
criminal in defiance of all law. With great secrecy he was taken into
the interior of Austria, and thrown into a dungeon in the impregnable
fortress of Olmutz. His only crime was that he had wished to introduce
_constitutional liberty_ to his country. This, in the eye of despots,
was an unpardonable sin. Here we must leave him to languish five years
in captivity, deprived of every comfort. Many efforts were made in vain
for his release. Washington wrote directly to the Emperor of Austria in
his behalf, but without effect. It was not till Napoleon, thundering at
the walls of Vienna with his invincible legions, demanded the release
of La Fayette, in 1797, that the doors of his dungeon were thrown

The British _people_ sympathized deeply with La Fayette, but the
British _government_ assailed him with unrelenting ferocity. On the
17th of March, 1794, General Fitzpatrick moved an address in the House
of Commons, to his majesty, requesting his interference with the King
of Prussia in behalf of La Fayette. Mr. Fox advocated the measure in a
speech of great eloquence and power. Nothing can more clearly show the
spirit of the court party in England at this time than the speeches
made by them on this occasion. William Pitt assailed La Fayette in the
most unfeeling manner, declaring that "he would never admit that La
Fayette was a true friend of liberty or deserved well of his country
or of Europe." "He said," writes Prof. Smyth, "every thing that it
is painful to read--he was rendered insensible on this occasion to
all the better notions of his education and natural intuitions of
his understanding. There is no pleasure in reading the abstract of
his speech. It might have been made by the most vulgar minister that
ever appeared. Edmund Burke followed in a speech of unmeasured abuse.
In glowing colors he depicted all the scenes of violence which had
occurred in France, and, declaring La Fayette responsible for them
all," concluded with the words, "I would not debauch my humanity by
supporting an application like the present in behalf of such a horrid
ruffian."[362] Mr. Windham followed in the same strain. He expressed
exultation in view of the calamities which had fallen upon this
great patriot. "La Fayette," said he, "has brought himself into that
state into which all fomenters of great and ruinous revolutions must
necessarily fall; he has betrayed and ruined his country and his king.
I am not sorry. I rejoice to see such men drink deep of the cup of
calamity which they have prepared for the lips of others; and I never
will consent to do an act which will put a premium on revolution, and
which will give the example of sanction to treason, and of reward to

Such was the spirit of the court of St. James at this time. These
speeches were made after La Fayette had been languishing for two
years in the dungeons of Olmutz, exposed to almost every conceivable
indignity, the particulars of which Mr. Fox had affectingly narrated.
The debate was concluded by Mr. Dundas, who thanked Mr. Windham for
his admirable speech. When the vote was taken but fifty were found
in sympathy with La Fayette, while one hundred and thirty-two voted
against him.

The two sovereigns of Prussia and Austria were now at Mayence. Sixty
thousand Prussians were marching in single column by Luxembourg upon
Longwy, flanked on the right by twenty thousand Austrians, and on the
left by twenty-six thousand Austrians and Hessians. This majestic force
was strengthened by several co-operating corps of French emigrants,
destined to attack exposed positions, and to afford rallying points
for treason. The invaders crossed the frontiers unimpeded, and after
a short and bloody strife captured Longwy. Onward they rushed. The
feeble, undisciplined patriots, could make no resistance, and fled
rapidly before them. Thionville and Verdun were surrounded, and after
a short but terrific storm of balls and shells capitulated. There were
many Royalists in each of these towns, and they received the invaders
with every demonstration of joy. Their daughters in congratulatory
procession met the King of Prussia at the gates and strewed his path
with flowers.

The garrison of Verdun might have held out for several days, though
they would have eventually been compelled to surrender. General
Beaurepaire urged very strenuously that they should maintain the siege
to the last possible moment. But the defensive council of the city,
with whom rested the decision, voted an immediate capitulation.

"Gentlemen," said Beaurepaire, "I have sworn never to surrender but
with my life. You may live in disgrace, since you wish it; but as for
me, faithful to my oath, behold my last words: _I die free_."

Immediately he discharged a pistol-shot through his brain, and fell
dead before them. The Convention decreed to him the honors of the
Pantheon, and granted a pension to his widow.


The victorious allies, having surmounted these first obstacles, now
plunged into the defiles of the Argonne, and in fierce and bloody
assaults drove before them the troops of Dumouriez, who had hoped in
these forest-encumbered passes to present effectual resistance to the
foe. The invaders were now triumphantly marching on the high-road
to Paris, and fugitives were continually arriving in the metropolis,
declaring that the army of the north was destroyed, and that there was
no longer any obstacle to the advance of the enemy. No language can
describe the consternation which pervaded the capital. The exultation
in the enemy's camp was immense. The "cobblers and tailors," as the
emigrants contemptuously called the Patriots, were running away, it was
said, like sheep.[363]

As each day brought tidings of the fearful strides which the Allies
were making toward the capital, indescribable terror was enkindled. The
Constitutionalists and the Girondists were utterly paralyzed. But the
leaders of the Jacobins--Danton, Robespierre, and Marat--resolved that,
if they were to perish, their Royalist enemies should perish with them.
It was known that the Royalists intended, as soon as the Allies should
be in Paris, to rise, liberate the king, and with the immense moral
force they would attain by having the king at their head, join the
invaders. Nothing would then remain for the Revolutionists but exile,
death, and the dungeon.[364]

It was now with them but a desperate struggle for life. They must
either destroy or be destroyed. The first great peril to be apprehended
was the rising of the Royalists in Paris. The barriers were immediately
ordered to be closed, and guard-boats were stationed on the river that
no one might escape. At the beat of the drum every individual was
enjoined to repair to his home. Commissioners then, accompanied by an
armed force, visited every dwelling. Party lines were so distinctly
drawn that the Royalists could not easily escape detection. At the
knock of the commissioners they held their breath with terror. Many
attempted concealment in chimneys, in cellar-vaults, beneath the
floors, and in recesses covered by pictures of tapestry. But workmen,
accustomed to all such arts, accompanied the commissioners. Chimneys
were smoked, doors burst open, and cellars, floors, and walls sounded.
In one short night five thousand suspected persons were torn from their
homes and dragged to prison. Every man was deemed guilty who could not
prove his devotion to the popular cause.[365]

Still the enemy was approaching. "In three days," rumor said, "the
Prussians will be in Paris." The whole city was in a state of phrensy,
and ready for any deed of desperation which could rescue them from
their peril. Danton entered the Assembly and ascended the tribune with
pallid face and compressed lips. Silence, as of the grave, awaited his

"The enemy," said he, "threatens the kingdom, and the Assembly must
prove itself worthy of the nation. It is by a convulsion that we have
overthrown despotism; it is only by another vast national convulsion
that we shall drive back the despots. It is time to urge the people to
precipitate themselves _en masse_ against their enemies. The French
nation wills to be free, and it shall be."

There was lurking beneath these words a terrible significance then
little dreamed of. Jacobins and Girondists were now united by the
pressure of a common and a terrible danger. A decree was immediately
passed for every citizen in Paris capable of bearing arms to repair to
the Field of Mars, there to be enrolled to march to repel the Allies.
It was the morning of the Sabbath. The _générale_ was beat, the tocsin
rung, alarm-guns fired, and placards upon the walls, and the voice
of public criers, summoned every able-bodied man to the appointed
rendezvous. The philosophic Vergniaud, in a word, explained to Paris
the necessity and the efficacy of the measure.[366]

"The plan of the enemy," said he, "is to march directly to the capital,
leaving the fortresses behind him. Let him do so. This course will be
our salvation and his ruin. Our armies, too weak to withstand him, will
be strong enough to harass him in the rear. When he arrives, pursued
by our battalions, he will find himself face to face with our Parisian
army drawn up in battle array under the walls of the capital. There,
surrounded on all sides, he will be swallowed up by the soil which he
has profaned."

In the midst of the uproar of the multitudes surging through the
streets, as the bells were ringing, drums beating, and the armed
citizens hurrying to the Field of Mars, the rumor was widely circulated
that the Royalists had formed a conspiracy to strike down their
jailers, break from their prisons, liberate the king, take possession
of the city, rally all their confederates around them, and thus throw
open the gates of Paris to the Prussians. It was manifest to all that,
in the confusion which then reigned, and when the thunders of the
Prussian and Austrian batteries were hourly expected to be heard from
the heights of Montmartre, this was far from an impracticable plan.
It was certain that the Royalists would attempt it, whether they had
already formed such a plan or not.

It is, however, probable that shrewd men, foreseeing this peril, had
deliberately resolved to hurl the mob of Paris upon the prisons for the
assassination of all the Royalists, before emptying the city of its
defenders to march to meet the foe. While the bewildered masses were in
this state of terrific excitement, six hackney-coaches left the Hôtel
de Ville, conducting twenty-four Royalist priests, who had refused to
take the oath, to the prisons of the Abbaye. The people crowding around
and following the carriages began to murmur. "Here are the traitors,"
said they, "who intend to murder our wives and children while we are on
the frontiers."

The first carriage reached the door of the prison. One priest alighted.
He was instantly seized, and fell pierced by a thousand poniards. It
was the signal for the slaughter of the whole. The murderers fell upon
every carriage, and in a few moments all but one, who miraculously
escaped, were slain. This hideous massacre roused the populace as the
tiger is roused when he has once lapped his tongue in blood. The cry
was raised, "To the Carmelites, to the Carmelites." In this prison two
hundred priests were confined. The mob broke in and butchered them all.


A man by the name of Maillard headed this mob, which consisted of but a
few hundred men. Having finished the work at the Carmelites and gorged
themselves with wine, Maillard exclaimed, "Now to the Abbaye." The
blood-stained crew rushed after him through the streets, and dashed
in the doors of the prison. The Abbaye was filled with debtors and
ordinary convicts as well as suspected aristocrats. As the mob rushed
into the corridor one of the jailers mounted a stool, and, addressing
the assassins, said, "My friends, you wish to destroy the aristocrats,
who are the enemies of the people, and who meant to murder your wives
and children while you were at the frontiers. You are right no doubt;
but you are good citizens; you love justice; and you would be very
sorry to steep your hands in innocent blood."

"Yes, certainly," one of the leaders replied.

"Well, then," continued the jailer, "when you are rushing like furious
tigers upon men who are strangers to you, are you not liable to
confound the innocent with the guilty?"

These thoughts seemed to impress them, and it was immediately decided
that Maillard should judge each prisoner. He took his seat at a table;
the prison list was placed in his hands, and the prisoners, one by one,
were brought before his prompt and terrible tribunal. It was agreed, in
order to spare unnecessary suffering, that when the judge should say,
"Sir, you must go to the prison of La Force," as soon as the prisoner
was led out into the court-yard he should be cut down.

A Swiss officer was first brought forward. "It was you," said Maillard,
"who murdered the people on the 10th of August."

"We were attacked," the unfortunate man replied, "and only obeyed our
superior officers."

"Very well," said Maillard, "we must send you to the prison of La

He was led into the court-yard and instantly slain. Every Swiss
soldier in the prison met the same fate. Thus the work went on with
terrible expedition until one hundred and eighty were put to death.
All the women were left unharmed. Many who were brought before the
tribunal were acquitted, and the crowd manifested great joy in
rescuing them as their friends. Amid these horrid scenes there were
some gleams of humanity. The Governor of the Invalides was doomed to
death. His daughter clasped her father in her arms and clung to him so
despairingly that the hearts of the assassins were melted. One, in a
strange freak, presented her with a cup of blood, saying, "If you would
save your father drink this blood of an aristocrat." She seized the cup
and drained it. Shouts of applause greeted the act, and her father was

All the night long these horrid scenes were continued. Every prison in
Paris witnessed the same massacres, accompanied with every conceivable
variety of horrors.

The unfortunate Princess Lamballe, bosom friend of Marie Antoinette,
was confined in the prison of La Force. She was brought before the
revolutionary judge, and after a brief interrogation she was ordered
to "swear to love liberty and equality; to swear to hate the king,
the queen, and royalty." "I will take the first oath," the princess
replied; "the second I can not take; it is not in my heart." One of the
judges, wishing to save her, whispered in her ear, "Swear every thing
or you are lost." But the unhappy princess was now utterly bewildered
with terror, and could neither see nor hear. Her youth and beauty
touched the hearts even of many of these brutal men. They desired her
rescue, and endeavored to lead her safely through the crowd. Cry out,
said they, 'long live the nation,' and you will not be harmed. But as
she beheld the pavement strewn with corpses of the slain, she could not
utter a word. Her silence was taken for defiance. A sabre blow struck
her down. The murderers fell upon her like famished wolves upon a lamb.
Her body was cut into fragments, and a band of wretches, with her head
and heart upon pikes, shouted "_Let us carry them to the foot of the
throne_." They rushed through the streets to the Temple, and shouted
for the king and queen to look out at the windows. A humane officer, to
shield them from the awful sight, informed them of the horrors which
were transpiring. The queen fainted. As the king and Madame Elizabeth
bent over her, for hours they were appalled by the clamor of the rabble
around the walls of the Temple.

At last the prisons were emptied, and the murderers themselves became
weary of blood. It is impossible to ascertain the numbers who perished.
The estimate varies from six to twelve thousand. The Commune of Paris,
which was but the servant of the Jacobin Club, issued orders that no
more blood should be shed. Assuming that the assassination was demanded
by the public danger, and that the wretches who had perpetrated it had
performed a patriotic though a painful duty, they rewarded them for
their work. Nothing can more clearly show the terrible excitation of
the public mind, produced by a sense of impending danger, than that
a circular should have been addressed to all the communes of France,
giving an account of the massacre as a necessary and a praiseworthy
deed. In this extraordinary memorial, signed by the Administrators of
the Committee of Surveillance, the writers say,

  "Brethren and Friends,--A horrid plot, hatched by the court, to
  murder all the Patriots of the French empire, a plot in which a great
  number of members of the National Assembly are implicated, having, on
  the ninth of last month, reduced the Commune of Paris to the cruel
  necessity of employing the power of the people to save the nation, it
  has not neglected any thing to deserve well of the country.

  "Apprised that barbarous hordes are advancing against it, the Commune
  of Paris hastens to inform its brethren in all the departments that
  part of the ferocious conspirators confined in the prisons have
  been put to death by the people--acts of justice which appear to
  it indispensable for repressing by terror the legions of traitors
  encompassed by its walls, at the moment when the people were about
  to march against the enemy; and no doubt the nation, after the long
  series of treasons which have brought it to the brink of the abyss,
  will eagerly adopt this useful and necessary expedient; and all the
  French will say, like the Parisians, 'We are marching against the
  enemy, and we will not leave behind us brigands to murder our wives
  and children.'"

The instigators of these atrocious deeds defended the measure as one
of absolute necessity. "We must all go," it was said, "to fight the
Prussians, and we can not leave these foes behind us, to rise and take
the city and assail us in the rear." "If they had been allowed to
live," others said, "in a few days we should have been murdered. It was
strictly an act of self-defense." Danton ever avowed his approval of
the measure, and said, "I looked my crime steadfastly in the face and
I did it." Marat is reproached as having contributed to the deed.[368]
Robespierre appears to have given his assent to the massacre with
reluctance, but it is in evidence that he walked his chamber through
the whole night in agony, unable to sleep.

At eleven o'clock at night of this 2d of September Robespierre and St.
Just retired together from the Jacobin Club to the room of the latter.
St. Just threw himself upon the bed for sleep. Robespierre exclaimed in

"What, can you think of sleeping on such a night? Do you not hear the
tocsin? Do you not know that this night will be the last to perhaps
thousands of our fellow-creatures, who are men at the moment you fall
asleep, and when you awake will be lifeless corpses?"

"I know it," replied St. Just, "and deplore it; and I wish that I
could moderate the convulsions of society; but what am I?" then,
turning in his bed, he fell asleep. In the morning, as he awoke, he saw
Robespierre pacing the chamber with hasty steps, occasionally stopping
to look out of the window, and listening to the noises in the streets.
"What, have you not slept?" asked St. Just.

"Sleep!" cried Robespierre; "sleep while hundreds of assassins murdered
thousands of victims, and their pure or impure blood runs like water
down the streets! Oh no! I have not slept. I have watched like remorse
or crime. I have had the weakness not to close my eyes, but _Danton, he
has slept_."[369]

Paris was at this time in a state of such universal consternation, the
government so disorganized, and the outbreak so sudden and so speedy in
its execution, that the Legislative Assembly, which was not in sympathy
with the mob, and which was already overawed, ventured upon no measures
of resistance.[370]

But there can be no excuse offered in palliation of such crimes.
Language is too feeble to express the horror with which they ever
must be regarded by every generous soul. But while we consign to the
deepest infamy the assassins of September, to equal infamy let those
despots be consigned who, in the fierce endeavor to rivet the chains
of slavery anew upon twenty-five millions of freemen, goaded a nation
to such hideous madness. The allied despots of Europe roused the
people to a phrensy of despair, and thus drove them to the deed. Let
it never be forgotten that it was _despotism_, not _liberty_, which
planted the tree which bore this fruit. If the government of a country
be such that there is no means of redress for the oppressed people
but in the horrors of insurrection, that country must bide its doom,
for, sooner or later, an outraged people will rise. While, therefore,
we contemplate with horror the outrages committed by the insurgent
people, with still greater horror must we contemplate the outrages
perpetrated by proud oppressors during long ages, consigning the people
to ignorance and degradation. They who _brutalize_ a people should be
the last to complain that, when these people rise in the terribleness
of their might, they behave _like brutes_. There is no safety for any
nation but in the education, piety, and liberty of its masses.[371]

The Duke of Brunswick, urging resistlessly on his solid columns,
battering down fortresses, plunging through defiles, anticipated
no check. But on the 20th of September, to his great surprise, he
encountered a formidable army intrenched upon the heights of Valmy,
near Chalons, apparently prepared for firm resistance. Here Dumouriez,
with much military skill, had rallied his retreating troops. All
France had been roused and was rushing eagerly to his support. Paris,
no longer fearing a rise of the Royalists, was dispatching several
thousand thoroughly-armed men from the gates every day to strengthen
the camp at Valmy, which was hardly a hundred miles from Paris.
Dumouriez, when first assailed, had less than forty thousand troops in
his intrenchments, but the number rapidly increased to over seventy

These were nearly all inexperienced soldiers, but they were inspired
with intense enthusiasm, all struggling for national independence, and
many conscious that defeat would but conduct them to the scaffold.
Macdonald,[372] who afterward so gloriously led the columns at Wagram,
and Kellerman, who subsequently headed the decisive charge at Marengo,
were aids of Dumouriez. Louis Philippe also, then the Duke of Chartres
and eldest son of the Duke of Orleans, signalized himself on the
patriot side at the stern strife of Valmy.

The Duke of Brunswick brought forward his batteries and commenced a
terrific cannonade. Column after column was urged against the redoubts.
But the young soldiers of France, shouting _Vive la Nation_, bravely
repulsed every assault. The Prussians, to their inexpressible chagrin,
found it impossible to advance a step. Here the storm of battle raged
with almost incessant fury for twenty days. The French were hurrying
from all quarters to the field; the supplies of the invaders were cut
off; dysentery broke out in their camp; autumnal rains drenched them;
winter was approaching; and they were compelled, in discomfiture and
humiliation, to turn upon their track and retire.

On the 15th of October the Allies abandoned their camp and commenced
a retreat. They retired in good order, and recrossed the frontier,
leaving behind them twenty-five thousand, who had perished by sickness,
the bullet, and the sword. Dumouriez did not pursue them with much
vigor, for the army of the Allies was infinitely superior in discipline
to the raw troops under his command.

Winter was now at hand, during which no external attack upon France was
to be feared. All government was disorganized, and the question which
agitated every heart was, "What shall be done with the king?"

The Duke of Chartres, subsequently Louis Philippe, King of the
French, then a young man but seventeen years of age, after vigorously
co-operating with Dumouriez in repelling the invaders, returned to
Paris. He presented himself at the audience of Servan, Minister of War,
to complain of some injustice. Danton was present, and, taking the
young duke aside, said to him,

"What do you do here? Servan is but the shadow of a minister. He can
neither help nor harm you. Call on me to-morrow and I will arrange your

The next day Danton, the powerful plebeian, received the young
patrician with an air of much affected superiority. "Well, young man,"
said he, "I am informed that your language resembles murmurs; that you
blame the great measures of government; that you express compassion for
the victims and hatred for the executioners. Beware; patriotism does
not admit of lukewarmness, and you have to obtain pardon for your great

The young prince boldly replied, "The army looks with horror on
bloodshed any where but on the battle-field. The massacres of September
seem in their eyes to dishonor liberty."

"You are too young," Danton replied, "to judge of these events; to
comprehend these you must be in our place. For the future be silent.
Return to the army; fight bravely; but do not rashly expose your life.
France does not love a republic; she has the habits, the weaknesses,
the need of a monarchy. After our storms she will return to it, either
through her vices or necessities, and you will be king. Adieu, young
man. Remember the prediction of Danton."[373]

In reference to these scenes Napoleon remarked at St. Helena, on
the 3d of September, 1816, "To-day is the anniversary of a hideous
remembrance; of the massacres of September, the St. Bartholomew of
the French Revolution. The atrocities of the 3d of September were not
committed under the sanction of government, which, on the contrary,
used its endeavors to punish the crime. The massacres were committed
by the mob of Paris, and were the result of fanaticism rather than
of absolute brutality. The Septembriseurs did not pillage, they only
wished to murder. They even hanged one of their own party for having
appropriated a watch which belonged to one of their victims.

"This dreadful event arose out of the force of circumstances and
the spirit of the moment. We must acknowledge that there has been
no political change unattended by popular fury, as soon as the
masses enter into action. The Prussian army had arrived within
one hundred miles of Paris. The famous manifesto of the Duke of
Brunswick was placarded on all the walls of the city. The people had
persuaded themselves that the death of all the Royalists in Paris was
indispensable to the safety of the Revolution. They ran to the prisons
and intoxicated themselves with blood, shouting _Vive la Revolution_.
Their energy had an electric effect, from the fear with which it
inspired one party, and the example which it gave to the other. One
hundred thousand volunteers joined the army, and the Revolution was

"I might have preserved my crown by turning loose the masses of the
people against the advocates of the restoration. You well recollect,
Montholon, when, at the head of your _faubouriens_, you wished to
punish the treachery of Fouché and proclaim my dictatorship. I did not
choose to do so. My whole soul revolted at the thought of being king
of another mob. As a general rule no social revolution can take place
without terror. Every revolution is in principle a revolt, which time
and success ennoble and render legal, but of which terror has been one
of the inevitable phases. How, indeed, can we say to those who possess
fortune and public situations, '_Begone and leave us your fortunes and
your situations_,' without first intimidating them, and rendering any
defense impossible. In France this point was effected by the lantern
and the guillotine."[374]


[Footnote 360: "As a citizen, as a magistrate of the people," said one
of the deputation, "I come to inform you that at twelve o'clock this
night the tocsin will be rung and the alarm beaten. The people are
weary of not being avenged. Beware lest they do themselves justice. I
demand that you forthwith decree that a citizen be appointed by each
section to form a criminal tribunal."--_Thiers_, i, 341.]

[Footnote 361: "However irritated they might be by La Fayette's
behavior at the outset of the Revolution, the present conduct of the
monarchs toward him was neither to be vindicated by morality, the law
of nations, nor the rules of sound policy. Even if he had been amenable
for a crime against his own country, we know not what right Austria or
Prussia had to take cognizance of it."--_Scott's Life of Napoleon._]

[Footnote 362: "Such were the reasonings and expressions of Mr.
Burke on this striking occasion. So entirely was the mind of this
extraordinary man now over excited and overthrown; so entirely
estranged from those elevated feelings and that spirit of philanthropic
wisdom which have made his speeches in the American contest, and many
paragraphs of his Reflections on this Revolution of France, so justly
the admiration of mankind."--_Prof. Smyth's Lectures on the French
Revolution_, vol. ii., p. 409.]

[Footnote 363: Jean Debry, in the Assembly, exclaimed with fervor,
"The most instant and vigorous measures must be adopted in defense
of our country. The expense must not be thought of. Within fifteen
days we shall enjoy freedom or meet with death. If we are conquered
we shall have no need of money, for we shall not exist. If we are
victorious, still we shall not feel the want of money, for we shall be
_free_."--_Journal of John Moore, M.D._, vol. i., p. 116.]

[Footnote 364: "The intelligence of the flight of La Fayette, the
entry of the army of the coalition into the French territory, the
capture of Longwy, and the surrender of Verdun burst like thunder in
Paris, and filled every heart with consternation, for France had never
approached more nearly those sinister days which presage the decay
of nations. Every thing was dead in her save the desire of living;
the enthusiasm of the country and liberty survived. Abandoned by all,
the country did not abandon itself. Two things were required to save
it--time and a dictatorship. Time? The heroism of Dumouriez afforded
it. The dictatorship? Danton assumed it in the name of the Commune of
Paris."--_Lamartine, Hist. Gir._, vol, ii., p. 119.]

[Footnote 365: Dr. John Moore, a very intelligent English physician,
who, in company with Lord Lauderdale, was in Paris during all these
scenes, writes in his journal, "This search was made accordingly in the
course of last night and this morning. The commissioners were attended
with a body of the National Guards, and all avenues of the section were
watched to prevent any persons from escaping. They did not come to our
hotel till about six in the morning. I attended them through every
room, and opened every door of our apartments. They behaved with great
civility. We had no arms but pistols, which lay openly on the chimney.
They admired the nicety of the workmanship of one pair, but never
offered to take them."--Vol. i., p. 116.]

[Footnote 366: "The people are told that there was a horrid plot
between the Duke of Brunswick and certain traitors in Paris; that as
soon as all the new levies were completed, and all the men intended for
the frontiers had marched out of Paris, then those same traitors were
to take command of a large body of men, now dispersed over the capital
and its environs, who have been long in the pay of the court, though
they also are concealed; that these concealed leaders at the head of
their concealed troops were to have thrown open the prisons and to arm
the prisoners, then to go to the Temple, set the royal family free, and
proclaim the king; to condemn to death all the Patriots who remain in
Paris, and most of the wives and children of those who have marched out
of it against the enemies of their country."--_Moore's Journal_, vol.
i., p. 144.]

[Footnote 367: "Some inexplicable and consolatory acts astonish us amid
these horrors. The compassion of Maillard appeared to seek for the
innocent with as much care as his vengeance sought for the guilty. He
exposed his life to snatch victims from his executions."--_Lamartine,
History of the Girondists_, vol. ii., p. 140.]

[Footnote 368: M. Chabot, a patriotic orator, who had been a Franciscan
friar, spoke in the Society of Jacobins as follows of Marat: "Marat is
reproached with being of a sanguinary disposition; that he contributed
to the late massacres in the prisons. But in so doing he acted in the
true spirit of the Revolution, for it was not to be expected that
while our bravest patriots were on the frontiers we should remain here
exposed to the rage of the prisoners, who were promised arms and the
opportunity of assassinating us. It is well known that the plan of the
aristocrats has always been, and still is, to make a general carnage of
the common people. Now, as the number of the latter is to that of the
former in the proportion of ninety-nine to one, it is evident that he
who proposes to kill one to prevent the killing of ninety-nine is not a
blood-thirsty man."]

[Footnote 369: Lamartine, _History of the Girondists_, ii., 132.]

[Footnote 370: Dr. Moore, while denouncing in the strongest terms the
brutality of the populace, says, "In such an abominable system of
oppression as the French labored under before the Revolution, when the
will of one man could control the course of law, and his mandate tear
any citizen from the arms of his family and throw him into a dungeon
for years or for life--in a country where such a system of government
prevails, insurrection, being the sole means of redress, is not only
justifiable, but it is the duty of every lover of mankind and of
his country, as soon as any occasion presents itself which promises

[Footnote 371: "Amid the disorders and sad events which have taken
place in this country of late, it is impossible not to admire the
generous spirit which glows all over the nation in support of its
independency. No country ever displayed a nobler or more patriotic
enthusiasm than pervades France at this period, and which glows with
increasing ardor since the publication of the Duke of Brunswick's
manifesto, and the entrance of the Prussians into the country. None but
those whose minds are obscured by prejudice or perverted by selfishness
will refuse this justice to the general spirit displayed by the French
in defense of their national independence. A detestation of the
excesses committed at Paris, not only is compatible with an admiration
of this spirit, but it is such well-informed minds alone as possess
sufficient candor and sensibility to admire the one, who can have a due
horror of the other."--_Journal of John Moore, M.D._, vol. i., p. 160.]

[Footnote 372: "The young Macdonald, descended from a Scotch family
transplanted to France, was aid-de-camp to Dumouriez. He learned at
the camp of Grandpré, under his commander, how to save a country.
Subsequently he learned, under Napoleon, how to illustrate it. A hero
at his first step, he became a marshal of France at the end of his
life."--_Lamartine, Hist. Gir._, ii., 158.]

[Footnote 373: History of the Girondists, by Lamartine, ii., 185.]



  Assassination of Royalists at Versailles.--Jacobin Ascendency.--The
  National Convention.--Two Parties, the Girondists and the
  Jacobins.--Abolition of Royalty.--Madame Roland.--Battle of
  Jemappes.--Mode of life in the Temple.--Insults to the Royal
  Family.--New Acts of Rigor.--Trial of the King.--Separation of the
  Royal Family.--The Indictment.--The King begs for Bread.

The massacre of the Royalists in Paris was not followed by any general
violence throughout the kingdom, for it was in Paris alone that the
Patriots were in imminent danger. In Orleans, however, there were
a number of Royalists imprisoned under the accusation of treason.
These prisoners were brought to Versailles on the night of the 9th of
September to be tried. A band of assassins from Paris rushed upon the
carriages, dispersed the escort, and most brutally murdered forty-seven
out of fifty-three.[375] They then went to the prison, where twelve
were taken out, and, after a summary trial, assassinated.

In the mean time elections were going on for the National Convention.
The Jacobin Clubs, now generally dominant throughout France, almost
every where controlled the elections. Some sober Patriots hoped that
the Convention would be disposed and able to check the swelling
flood of anarchy. But others, when they saw that the most violent
Revolutionists were chosen as deputies, and that they would be able to
overawe the more moderate Patriots by the terrors of the mob, began to
despair of their country. Paris sent to the Convention Robespierre,
Danton, Marat, Chabot, and others who have attained terrible notoriety
through scenes of consternation and blood. The Girondists in the
Convention, Vergniaud, Condorcet, Barbaroux, Gensonné, though much
in the minority, were heroic men, illustrious in intelligence and
virtue. There was no longer a Royalist party, not even a Constitutional
Royalist party, which dared to avow itself in France. The court and the
Allies had driven France to the absolute necessity of a Republic.

On the 20th of September the Legislative Assembly was dissolved, and at
the same hour and in the same hall the National Convention commenced
its session. The spirit of the Girondists may be seen in their first

"Citizen representatives," said M. Manuel, "in this place every thing
ought to be stamped with a character of such dignity and grandeur as to
fill the world with awe. I propose that the President of the Assembly
be lodged in the Tuileries, that in public he shall be preceded by
guards, that the members shall rise when he opens the Assembly. Cineas,
the embassador of Pyrrhus, on being introduced to the Roman senate,
said that they appeared like an assembly of kings."

This proposition was contemptuously voted down by the Jacobins. Collot
d'Herbois, one of the leading Jacobins, then proposed the immediate
abolition of royalty. "The word king," said he, "is still a talisman,
whose magic power may create many disorders. The abolition of royalty
therefore is necessary. Kings are in the moral world that which
monsters are in the natural. Courts are always the centre of corruption
and the work-houses of crime."

No one ventured to oppose this, and the president declared that by a
unanimous vote _royalty was abolished_. It was then voted the 22d of
September, 1792, should be considered the first day of the first year
of the Republic, and that all documents should follow the date of this
era. It was on the eve of this day that intelligence arrived of the
cannonade of Valmy, in which the Patriot armies had beaten back the
foe. For one short night Paris was radiant with joy.

The most illustrious of the Girondists met that evening in the saloon
of Madame Roland, and celebrated, with almost religious enthusiasm,
the advent of the Republic. Madame Roland, in the accomplishment of
the most intense desire of her heart, appeared radiant with almost
supernatural brilliance and beauty. It was observed that M. Roland
gazed upon her with a peculiar expression of fondness. The noble and
gifted Vergniaud conversed but little, and pensive thoughts seemed to
chasten his joy.

At the close of the entertainment he filled his glass, and proposed to
drink to the eternity of the Republic.

"Permit me," said Madame Roland, "after the manner of the ancients, to
scatter some rose-leaves from my bouquet in your glass."

Vergniaud held out his glass, and some leaves were scattered on the
wine. He then said, in words strongly prophetic of their fate, "We
should quaff, not roses, but cypress-leaves, in our wine to-night.
In drinking to a republic, stained at its birth with the blood of
September, who knows that we do not drink to our own death? No matter;
were this wine my blood, I would drain it to liberty and equality."

To this all responded with the words _Vive la République_. But a few
months elapsed ere almost every individual then present perished on the

[Illustration: BATTLE OF JEMAPPES.]

In the mean time Dumouriez, with thirty-five thousand men, was pursuing
a division of the retreating Allies, consisting of twenty-five thousand
Austrians, under General Clairfayt, through Belgium. On the 4th of
November he overtook them strongly intrenched upon the heights of
Jemappes. One day was consumed in bringing up his forces and arranging
his batteries for the assault. Sixty thousand men were now arrayed for
a deadly strife. One hundred pieces of cannon were in battery to hurl
into the dense ranks destruction and death. On the morning of the 6th
the storm of war commenced. All the day long it raged with pitiless
fury. In the evening ten thousand of the dying and the dead covered
the ground, and the Austrians were every where retreating in dismay.
This new victory caused great rejoicing in Paris, and inspired the
revolutionary party with new courage.

The day at length arrived for the trial of the king. It was the 11th
of December. For four months the royal family, with ever-alternating
hopes and fears, which had been gradually deepening into despair, had
now endured the rigors of captivity. The king, with that wonderful
equanimity which distinguished him through all these days of trial,
immediately upon taking possession of his gloomy abode introduced
system into the employment of his time.

His room was on the third story. He usually rose at six o'clock,
shaved himself, and carefully dressed his hair. He then entered a
small room or closet, which opened from his sleeping-room, and engaged
in devotional reading and prayer for an hour. He was not allowed to
close the door, for a municipal officer ever stationed in his room
was enjoined never to allow the king to leave his sight. He then read
till nine o'clock, during which time his faithful servant, Clery, put
the room in order, and spread the table for the breakfast of the royal
family. At nine o'clock the queen, the children, and Madame Elizabeth
came up from the rooms which they occupied below to breakfast.

The meal occupied an hour. The royal family then all descended to the
queen's room, where they passed the day. The king employed himself
in instructing his son, giving him lessons in geography, which was a
favorite study of the king; teaching him to draw and color maps, and
to recite choice passages from Corneille and Racine. The queen assumed
the education of her daughter, while her own hands and those of Madame
Elizabeth were busy in needle-work, knitting, and working tapestry.

At one o'clock, when the weather was fine, the royal family were
conducted by four municipal officers into the spacious but dilapidated
garden for exercise and the open air. The officials who guarded the
king were frequently changed. Sometimes they chanced to be men of
humane character, who, though devoted to the disinthrallment of France
from the terrible despotism of ages, still pitied the king as the
victim of circumstances, and treated him with kindness and respect. But
more generally these men were vulgar and rabid Jacobins, who exulted
in the opportunity of wreaking upon the king the meanest revenge. They
chalked upon the walls of the prison, "The guillotine is permanent and
ready for the tyrant Louis." "Madame Veto shall swing." "The little
wolves must be strangled." Under a gallows, to which a figure was
suspended, was inscribed the words, "Louis taking an air-bath." From
such ribald insults the monarch had no protection.

A burly brutal wretch, named Rocher, was one of the keepers of
the Tower. He went swaggering about with a bunch of enormous keys
clattering at his belt, seeming to glory in his power of annoying,
by petty insults, a _king_ and a _queen_. When the royal family were
going out into the garden he would go before them to unlock the doors.
Making a great demonstration in rattling his keys, and affecting much
difficulty in finding the right one, all the party would be kept
waiting while he made all possible delay and noise in drawing the
bolts and swinging open the ponderous doors. At the side of the last
door he not unfrequently stationed himself with his pipe in his mouth,
and puffed tobacco-smoke into the faces of the king, the queen, and
the children. Some of the guards stationed around would burst into
insulting laughter in view of these indignities, which the king endured
with meekness which seems supernatural.


The recital of such conduct makes the blood boil in one's veins, and
leads one almost to detest the very name of liberty. But then we must
not forget that it was despotism which formed these hideous characters;
that, age after age and century after century, kings and nobles had
been trampling upon the people, crushing their rights, lacerating their
heart-strings, dooming fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, by
millions upon millions, to beggary, degradation, and woe. It was time
for the people to rise at every hazard and break these chains. And
while humanity must weep over the woes of Louis XVI. and his unhappy
household, humanity can not forget that there are other families and
other hearts who claim her sympathies, and that this very Louis XVI.
was at this very time doing every thing in his power, by the aid of the
armies of foreign despots, to bring the millions of France again under
the sway of the most merciless despotism. And it can not be questioned
that, had kings and nobles regained their power, they would have
wreaked a more terrible vengeance upon the re-enslaved people than the
people wreaked upon them.

For an hour the royal family continued walking in the garden. From the
roofs of the adjacent houses and the higher windows they could be seen.
Every day at noon these roofs and windows were crowded by those anxious
to obtain a view of the melancholy group of captives. Frequently they
were cheered by gestures of affection from unknown friends. Tender
words were occasionally unrolled in capital letters, or a flower to
which a pebble was attached would fall at their feet. These tokens of
love, slight as they were, came as a balm to their lacerated hearts.
So highly did they prize them, that regardless of rain, cold, and
snow, and the intolerable insults of their guards, they looked forward
daily with eagerness to their garden walk. They recognized particular
localities as belonging to their friends, saying, "such a house is
devoted to us; such a story is for us; such a room is loyal; such a
window friendly."

At two o'clock the royal family returned to the king's room, where
dinner was served. After dinner the king took a nap, while the queen,
Madame Elizabeth, and the young princess employed themselves with their
needles, and the dauphin played some game with Clery, whose name should
be transmitted with honor to posterity as faithful in misfortune. When
the king awoke from his nap he usually read aloud to his family for an
hour or two until supper-time. Soon after supper, the queen, with her
children and Madame Elizabeth, retired to their rooms for the night.
With hearts bound together by these terrible griefs, they never parted
but with a tender and sorrowful adieu.[376]

Such was the monotonous life of the royal family during the four months
they occupied the Temple before the trial of the king. But almost every
day of their captivity some new act of rigor was enforced upon them. As
the armies of the Allies drew nearer, and city after city was falling
before their bombardments, and Paris was in a phrensy of terror,
apprehensions of a conspiracy of the king with the Royalists, and of
their rising and aiding the invaders with an outburst of civil war, led
to the adoption of precautions most irksome to the captives.

Municipal officers never allowed any member of the royal family to be
out of their sight, except when they retired to bed at night. They
then locked the doors, and placed a bed against the entrance to each
apartment, and there an officer slept, so as to prevent all possibility
of egress. Every day Santerre, commander of the National Guard, made
a visit of inspection to all the rooms with his staff. At first the
royal family had been allowed pen, ink, and paper, but this privilege
was soon withdrawn, and at last the cruel and useless measure was
adopted of taking from them all sharp instruments, such as knives,
scissors, and even needles, thus depriving the ladies not only of a
great solace, but of the power of repairing their decaying apparel.
It was not the intention of the Legislative Assembly that the royal
family should be exposed to needless suffering. Four hundred dollars
were placed in their hands at the commencement of their captivity
for their petty expenses, and the Governor of the Temple was ordered
to purchase for them whatever they might need, five hundred thousand
francs ($100,000) having been appropriated by the Convention for their

They were not allowed to see the daily journals, which would have
informed them of the triumphant march of the Allies, but occasionally
papers were sent to them which recorded the victories of the Republic.
Clery, however, devised a very shrewd expedient to give them some
information of the events which were transpiring. He hired a newsman
to pass daily by the windows of the Temple, under the pretense of
selling newspapers, and to cry out the principal details contained in
them. Clery, while apparently busy about the room, was always sure to
be near the window at the appointed hour, listening attentively. At
night, stooping over the king's bed to adjust the curtains, he hastily
whispered the news he had thus gathered. All this required the greatest
caution, for a municipal officer was always in the room, watching every

Early in the morning of the 11th of December all Paris was in commotion
to witness the trial of the king, which was to commence on that day.
The beating of drums in the street, the mustering of military squadrons
at their appointed places of rendezvous, the clatter of hoofs, and the
rumbling of artillery over the pavements penetrated even the gloomy
apartments of the Temple, and fell appallingly upon the ears of the
victims there.

The royal family were at breakfast as they heard these ominous sounds,
and they earnestly inquired the cause. After some hesitation the king
was informed that the Mayor of Paris would soon come to conduct him
to his trial, and that the troops gathering around the Temple were to
form his escort. He was also required immediately to take leave of
his family, and told that he could not be permitted to see them again
until after his trial. Expressions of heart-rending anguish and floods
of tears accompanied this cruel separation. The king pleaded earnestly
and with gushing eyes that, at least, he might enjoy the society of his
little son, saying,

"What, gentlemen! deprive me of even the presence of my son--a child of
seven years!"

But the commissioners were inexorable. "The Commune thinks," said they,
"that, since you are to be _au secret_ during your trial, your son
must necessarily be confined either with you or his mother; and it has
imposed the privation upon that parent who, from his sex and courage,
was best able to support it."

The queen, with the children and Madame Elizabeth, were conducted to
the rooms below. The king, overwhelmed with anguish, threw himself into
a chair, buried his face in his hands, and, without uttering a word,
remained immovable as a statue for two hours. At noon M. Chambon,[378]
the Mayor of Paris, with Santerre, commander of the National Guard,
and a group of officers, all wearing the tricolored scarf, entered the
king's chamber.

Chambon, with solemnity and with a faltering voice, informed the king
of the painful object of their mission, and summoned him, in the name
of the Convention, as _Louis Capet_, to appear before their bar.

"Gentlemen," replied the king, "Capet is not my name. It is the name
of one of my ancestors. I could have wished that my son, at least, had
been permitted to remain with me during the two hours I have awaited
you. However, this treatment is but a part of the system adopted toward
me throughout my captivity. I follow you, not in obedience to the
orders of the Convention, but because my enemies are more powerful than

Immediately rising, he put on his great-coat, took his hat, and,
following the mayor, and followed by the staff of officers, descended
the stairs of the tower.

Before the massive portal of the Temple the carriage of the mayor was
drawn up, surrounded by a guard of six hundred picked men. A numerous
detachment of cavalry, as an advance-guard, dragging six pieces of
cannon, led the melancholy procession which was conducting a monarch
to the judgment-bar and to death. A similar body of cavalry followed
in the rear with three pieces of cannon. These precautions were deemed
necessary to guard against any possible rescue by the Royalists.
Every soldier was supplied with sixteen rounds of cartridges, and the
battalions marched in such order that they could instantly form in line
of battle. The National Guard lined the streets through which they
passed, one hundred thousand men being under arms in Paris that day.

The cavalcade passed slowly along the Boulevards. The house-tops,
the windows, the side-walks, were thronged with countless thousands.
The king, deprived of his razor, had been unable to shave, and his
face was covered with shaggy hair; his natural corpulence, wasted
away by imprisonment, caused his garments to hang loose and flabby
about him; his features were wan through anxiety and suffering. Thus,
unfortunately, every thing in his personal appearance combined
to present an aspect exciting disgust and repulsion rather than
sympathy. The procession passed down the Place Vendôme and thence to
the Monastery of the Feuillants. The king alighted. Santerre took his
arm and led him to the bar of the Convention. There was a moment of
profound silence. All were awe-stricken by the solemnity of the scene.
The president, Barrere,[379] broke the silence, saying,

"Citizens! Louis Capet is before you. The eyes of Europe are upon you.
Posterity will judge you with inflexible severity. Preserve, then, the
dignity and the dispassionate coolness befitting judges. You are about
to give a great lesson to kings, a great and useful example to nations.
Recollect the awful silence which accompanied Louis from Varennes--a
silence that was the precursor of the judgment of kings by the people."
Then, turning to the king, Barrere said, "Louis, the French nation
accuses you. Be seated, and listen to the Act of Accusation." It was
then two o'clock in the afternoon.

The formidable indictment was read. The king was held personally
responsible for all the acts of hostility to popular liberty
which had occurred under his reign. A minute, truthful, impartial
recapitulation of those acts, which we have recorded in the previous
pages, constituted the accusation. The king listened attentively to the
reading, and without any apparent emotion. The accusation consisted
of fifty-seven distinct charges. As they were slowly read over, one
by one, the president paused after each and said to the king, "What
have you to answer?" But two courses consistent with kingly dignity
were open for the accused. The one was to refuse any reply and to
take shelter in the inviolability with which the Constitution had
invested him. The other was boldly to avow that he had adopted the
measures of which he was accused, believing it to be essential to the
welfare of France that the headlong progress of the Revolution should
be checked. Neither would have saved his life, but either would have
rescued his memory from much reproach. But the king, cruelly deprived
of all counsel with his friends, dragged unexpectedly to his trial, and
overwhelmed with such a catalogue of accusations, unfortunately adopted
the worst possible course. The blame of some of the acts he threw
upon his ministers; some facts he denied; and in other cases he not
only prevaricated but stooped to palpable falsehood. When we reflect
upon the weak nature of the king and the confusion of mind incident
to an hour of such terrible trial, we must judge the unhappy monarch
leniently. But when the king denied even the existence of the iron
chest which the Convention had already found, and had obtained proof
to demonstration that he himself had closed up, and when he denied
complicity with the Allies, proofs of which, in his own handwriting,
were found in the iron safe, it is not strange that the effect should
have been exceedingly unfavorable to his defense.[380]


This interrogation was continued for three hours, at the close of which
the king, who had eaten nothing since his interrupted breakfast, was
so exhausted that he could hardly stand. Santerre then conducted him
into an adjoining committee-room. Before withdrawing, however, the king
demanded a copy of the accusation, and counsel to assist him in his
defense. In the committee-room the king saw a man eating from a small
loaf of bread. Faint with hunger, the monarch approached the man, and,
in a whisper, implored a morsel for himself.

"Ask aloud," said the man, retreating, "for what you want." He feared
that he should be suspected of some secret conspiracy with the king.

"I am hungry," said Louis XVI., "and ask for a piece of your bread."

"Divide it with me," said the man. "It is a Spartan breakfast. If I had
a root I would give you half."

The king entered the carriage eating his crust. The same cavalcade as
in the morning preceded and accompanied him. The same crowds thronged
the streets and every point of observation. A few brutal wretches,
insulting helplessness, shouted _Vive la Révolution!_ and now and then
a stanza of the Marseillaise Hymn fell painfully upon his ear. Chambon,
the mayor, and Chaumette, the public prosecutor, were in the carriage
with the king. Louis, having eaten as much of the half loaf of bread
as he needed, had still a fragment in his hand.

"What shall I do with it?" inquired the simple-hearted monarch.
Chaumette relieved him of his embarrassment by tossing it out of the

"Ah," said the king, "it is a pity to throw bread away when it is so

"True," replied Chaumette; "my grandmother used to say to me, 'Little
boy, never waste a crumb of bread; you can not make one.'"[381]

"Monsieur Chaumette," Louis rejoined, "your grandmother appears to me
to have been a woman of great good sense."

It was half-past six o'clock, and the gloom of night enveloped the
Temple, when Louis was again conducted up the stairs of the tower to
his dismal cell. He piteously implored permission again to see his
family. But Chambon dared not grant his request in disobedience to the
commands of the Commune.

The most frivolous things often develop character. It is on record
that the toils and griefs of the day had not impaired the appetite
of the king, and that he ate for supper that night "six cutlets, a
considerable portion of a fowl, two eggs, and drank two glasses of
white wine and one of Alicante wine, and forthwith went to bed."[382]

During these dreadful hours the queen, with Madame Elizabeth and the
children, were in a state of agonizing suspense, not even knowing but
that the king was being led to his execution. Clery, however, late in
the evening, went to their room and informed them of all the details he
had been able to gather respecting the king's examination.

"Has any mention been made of the queen?" asked Madame Elizabeth. "Her
name was not mentioned," Clery replied, "in the act of accusation."

"Ah," rejoined the princess, "perhaps they demand my brother's life as
necessary for their safety; but the queen--these poor children--what
obstacle can their lives present to their ambition?"


[Footnote 374: Napoleon at St. Helena, 394.]

[Footnote 375: Peltier.]

[Footnote 376: The queen undressed the dauphin, when he repeated the
following prayer, composed by the queen and remembered and recorded by
her daughter: "Almighty God, who created and redeemed me, I love you!
Preserve the days of my father and my family. Protect us against our
enemies. Give my mother, my aunt, my sister, the strength they need to
support their troubles."--_Lamartine, History of the Girondists_, vol.
ii., p. 287.]

[Footnote 377: "We must not exaggerate the faults of human nature, and
suppose that, adding an execrable meanness to the fury of fanaticism,
the keepers of the imprisoned family imposed on it unworthy privations,
with the intention of rendering the remembrance of its past greatness
the more painful. Distrust was the sole cause of certain refusals.
Thus, while the dread of plots and secret communications prevented
them from admitting more than one attendant into the interior of the
prison, a numerous establishment was employed in preparing their food.
Thirteen persons were engaged in the duties of the kitchen, situated
at some distance from the tower. The report of the expenses of the
Temple, where the greatest decency is observed, where the prisoners are
mentioned with respect, where their sobriety is commended, where Louis
XVI. is justified from the low reproach of being too much addicted
to wine--these reports, which are not liable to suspicion, make the
total expenses of the table amount in two months to 28,745 livres
($5749)."--_Thiers_, vol. ii., p. 26.]

[Footnote 378: "M. Chambon, the successor of Bailly and Pétion,
was a learned and humane physician, whom public esteem rather than
Revolutionary favor had raised to the dignity of the first magistrate
of Paris. Of _modéré_ principles, kind and warm-hearted, accustomed,
by his profession, to sympathize with the unfortunate, compelled to
execute orders repugnant to his feelings, the pity of the man was
visible beneath the inflexibility of the magistrate."--_Lamartine,
Hist. des Girondistes_, vol. ii., p. 321.]

[Footnote 379: "Barrere escaped during the different ebullitions of the
Revolution because he was a man, without principle or character, who
changed and adapted himself to every side. He had the reputation of
being a man of talent, but I did not find him such. I employed him to
write, but he displayed no ability. He used many flowers of rhetoric,
but no solid argument."--_Napoleon at St. Helena._]

[Footnote 380: Gamain, the locksmith, who for ten years had worked
for and with the king, and who had aided him in constructing this
iron safe, basely betrayed the secret. The papers were all seized and
intrusted by the Convention to a committee of twelve, who were to
examine and report upon them. This Judas received, as his reward from
the Convention, a pension of two hundred and forty dollars a year. See
France and its Revolutions, by Geo. Long, Esq., p. 241.]



  Close of the Examination.--The King's Counsel.--Heroism of
  Malesherbes.--Preparations for Defense.--Gratitude of the King.--The
  Trial.--Protracted Vote.--The Result.--The King solicits the
  Delay of Execution for three Days.--Last Interview with his
  Family.--Preparation for Death.--The Execution.

As soon as the king had withdrawn from the Assembly, that body was
thrown into great tumult in consequence of the application of Louis for
the assistance of counsel. It was, however, after an animated debate,
which continued until the next day, voted that the request of the king
should be granted, and a deputation was immediately sent to inform the
king of the vote, and to ask what counsel he would choose. He selected
two of the most eminent lawyers of Paris--M. Tronchet and M. Target.
Tronchet heroically accepted the perilous commission. Target, with
pusillanimity which has consigned his name to disgrace, wrote a letter
to the Convention stating that his principles would not allow him to
undertake the defense of the king.[383] The venerable Malesherbes, then
seventy years of age, immediately wrote a letter to the president,
imploring permission to assume the defense of the monarch. This
distinguished statesman, a friend of monarchy and a personal friend of
the monarch, had been living in the retirement of his country-seat,
and had taken no part in the Revolution. By permission of the Commune
he was conducted, after he had been carefully searched, to the Temple.
With a faltering step he entered the prison of the king. Louis XVI.
was seated reading Tacitus. The king immediately arose, threw his arms
around Malesherbes in a cordial embrace, and said,

"Ah, is it you, my friend! In what a situation do you find me! See to
what my passion for the amelioration of the state of the people, whom
we have both loved so much, has reduced me! Why do you come hither?
Your devotion only endangers your life and can not save mine."

Malesherbes, with eyes full of tears, endeavored to cheer the king with
words of hope.

"No!" replied the monarch, sadly. "They will condemn me, for they
possess both the power and the will. No matter; let us occupy ourselves
with the cause as if we were to gain it. I shall gain it in fact, since
I shall leave no stain upon my memory."

The two defenders of the king were permitted to associate with them
a third, M. Deséze, an advocate who had attained much renown in his
profession. For a fortnight they were employed almost night and day
in preparing for the defense. Malesherbes came every morning with the
daily papers, and prepared for the labors of the evening. At five
o'clock Tronchet and Deséze came, and they all worked together until

In the mean time the king wrote his will; a very affecting document,
breathing in every line the spirit of a Christian. He also succeeded
in so far eluding the vigilance of his keepers as to open a slight
correspondence with his family. The queen pricked a message with a
pin upon a scrap of paper, and then concealed the paper in a ball of
thread, which was dropped into a drawer in the kitchen, where Clery
took it and conveyed it to his master. An answer was returned in a
similar way. It was but an unsatisfactory correspondence which could
thus be carried on; but even this was an unspeakable solace to the

At length the plan of defense was completed. Malesherbes and the king
had furnished the facts, Tronchet and Deséze had woven them all into
an exceedingly eloquent and affecting appeal. Deséze read it aloud
to the king and his associates. The pathetic picture he drew of the
vicissitudes of the royal family was so touching that even Malesherbes
and Tronchet could not refrain from weeping, and tears fell from the
eyes of the king. At the close of the reading, the king turned to
Deséze, and, in the spirit of true majesty of soul, said,

"I have to request of you to make a painful sacrifice. Strike out of
your pleading the peroration. It is enough for me to appear before
such judges and show my entire innocence. I will not move their

Deséze was very reluctant to accede to this request, but was
constrained to yield. After Tronchet and Deséze had retired that night,
the king, left alone with Malesherbes, seemed to be troubled with some
engrossing thought. At last he said,

"I have now a new source of regret. Deséze and Tronchet owe me nothing.
They devote to me their time, exertions, and perhaps their life. How
can I requite them? I possess nothing; and were I to leave them a
legacy it would not be paid; besides, what fortune could repay such a


"Sire," replied Malesherbes, "their consciences and posterity will
reward them. But it is in your power to grant them a favor they will
esteem more than all those you had it in your power to bestow upon them

"What is it?" added the king.

"Sire, embrace them," Malesherbes replied.

The next day, when they entered his chamber, the king approached them
and pressed each to his heart in silence. This touching testimonial
of the king's gratitude, and of his impoverishment, was to the noble
hearts of these noble men an ample remuneration for all their toil and

The 26th of December had now arrived, the day appointed for the final
trial. At an early hour all Paris was in commotion, and the whole
military force of the metropolis was again marshaled. The sublimity
of the occasion seemed to have elevated the character of the king
to unusual dignity. He was neatly dressed, his beard shaved, and
his features were serene and almost majestic in their expression of
imperturbable resignation. As he rode in the carriage with Chambon, the
mayor, and Santerre, the commander of the National Guard, he conversed
cheerfully upon a variety of topics. Santerre, regardless of the
etiquette which did not allow a subject to wear his hat in the presence
of his monarch, sat with his hat on. The king turned to him, and said,
with a smile,

"The last time, sir, you conveyed me to the Temple, in your hurry you
forgot your hat; and now, I perceive, you are determined to make up for
the omission."

On entering the Convention the king took his seat by the side of his
counsel, and listened with intense interest to the reading of his
defense, watching the countenances of his judges to see the effect it
was producing upon their minds. Occasionally he whispered, and even
with a smile, to Malesherbes and Tronchet. The Convention received the
defense in profound silence.

The defense consisted of three leading divisions. First, it was argued
that by the Constitution the king was inviolable, and not responsible
for the acts of the crown--that the Ministers alone were responsible.
He secondly argued that the Convention had no right to try the king,
for the Convention were his accusers, and, consequently, could not act
as his judges. Thirdly, while protesting, as above, the inviolability
of the king, and the invalidity of the Convention to judge him, he
then proceeded to the discussion of the individual charges. Some of
the charges were triumphantly repelled, particularly that of shedding
French blood on the 10th of August. It was clearly proved that the
people, not Louis XVI., were the aggressors. As soon as Deséze had
finished his defense, the king himself rose and said, in a few words
which he had written and committed to memory,

"You have heard the grounds of my defense. I shall not repeat them. In
addressing you, perhaps for the last time, I declare that my conscience
reproaches me with nothing, and that my defenders have told you the
truth. I have never feared to have my public conduct scrutinized. But
I am grieved to find that I am accused of wishing to shed the blood of
my people, and that the misfortunes of the 10th of August are laid to
my charge. I confess that the numerous proofs I have always given of my
love for the people ought to have placed me above this reproach."

He resumed his seat. The President then asked if he had any thing more
to say. He declared he had not, and retired with his counsel from the
hall. As he was conducted back to the Temple, he conversed with the
same serenity he had manifested throughout the whole day. It was five
o'clock, and the gloom of night was descending upon the city as he
re-entered his prison.

No sooner had the king left the hall than a violent tumult of debate
commenced, which was continued, day after day, with a constant
succession of eager, agitated speakers hurrying to the tribune, for
twelve days. Some were in favor of an immediate judgment, some were for
referring the question to the people; some demanded the death of the
king, others imprisonment or exile. On the 7th of January all seemed
weary of these endless speeches, and the endless repetition of the
same arguments. Still, there were many clamorous to be heard; and,
after a violent contest, it was voted that the decisive measure should
be postponed for a week longer, and that on the 14th of January the
question should be taken.

The fatal day arrived. It was decreed that the subject should be
presented to the Convention in the three following questions: _First_,
Is Louis guilty? _Second_, Shall the decision of the Convention be
submitted to the ratification of the people? The whole of the 15th was
occupied in taking these two votes. Louis was unanimously pronounced
to be guilty, with the exception of ten who refused to vote, declaring
themselves incapable of acting both as accusers and judges. On the
question of an appeal to the people, 281 voices were for it, 423
against it.[385] And now came the _third_ great and solemn question,
What shall be the sentence? Each member was required to write his vote,
sign it, and then, before depositing it, to ascend the tribune and give
it audibly, with any remarks which he might wish to add.

The voting commenced at seven o'clock in the evening of the
16th, and continued all night, and without any interruption, for
twenty-four hours. All Paris was during the time in the highest state
of excitement, the galleries of the Convention being crowded to
suffocation. Some voted for death, others for imprisonment until peace
with allied Europe, and then banishment. Others voted for death, with
the restriction that the execution should be delayed. They wished to
save the king, and yet feared the accusation of being Royalists if
they did not vote for his death. The Jacobins all voted for death.
They had accused their opponents, the Girondists, of being secretly in
favor of royality, and as such had held them up to the execration of
the mob. The Girondists wished to save the king. It was in their power
to save him. But it required more courage, both moral and physical,
than ordinary men possess, to brave the vengeance of the assassins of
September who were hovering around the hall.

It was pretty well understood in the Convention that the fate of
the king depended upon the Girondist vote, and it was not doubted
that the party would vote as did their leader. It was a moment of
fearful solemnity when Vergniaud ascended the tribune. Breathless
silence pervaded the Assembly. Every eye was fixed upon him. His
countenance was pallid as that of a corpse. For a moment he paused,
with downcast eyes, as if hesitating to pronounce the dreadful word.
Then, in a gloomy tone which thrilled the hearts of all present, he
said, _Death_.[386] Nearly all the Girondists voted for death, with
the restriction of delaying the execution. Many of the purest men
in the nation thus voted, with emotions of sadness which could not
be repressed. The noble Carnot gave his vote in the following terms:
"Death; and never did word weigh so heavily on my heart."

When the Duke of Orleans was called, deep silence ensued. He was cousin
of the king, and first prince of the blood. By birth and opulence he
stood on the highest pinnacle of aristocratic supremacy. Conscious
of peril, he had for a long time done every thing in his power to
conciliate the mob by adopting the most radical of Jacobin opinions.
The Duke, bloated with the debaucheries which had disgraced his life,
ascended the steps slowly, unfolded a paper, and read in heartless
tones these words:

"Solely occupied with my duty, convinced that all who have attempted,
or shall attempt hereafter, the sovereignty of the people, merit death,
I vote for death."

The atrocity of this act excited the abhorrence of the Assembly, and
loud murmurs of disapprobation followed the prince to his seat. Even
Robespierre despised his pusillanimity, and said,

"The miserable man was only required to listen to his own heart, and
make himself an exception. But he would not or dare not do so. The
nation would have been more magnanimous than he."[387]

At length the long scrutiny was over, and Vergniaud, who had presided,
rose to announce the result. He was pale as death, and it was observed
that not only his voice faltered, but that his whole frame trembled.

"Citizens," said he, "you are about to exercise a great act of justice.
I hope humanity will enjoin you to keep the most perfect silence. When
justice has spoken humanity ought to be listened to in its turn."

He then read the results of the vote. There were seven hundred and
twenty-one voters in the Convention. Three hundred and thirty-four
voted for imprisonment or exile, three hundred and eighty-seven for
death, including those who voted that the execution should be delayed.
Thus the majority for death was fifty-three; but as of these forty-six
demanded a suspension of the execution, there remained but a majority
of seven for immediate death. Having read this result, Vergniaud, in a
sorrowful tone, said, "I declare, in the name of the Convention, that
the punishment pronounced against Louis Capet is death."[388]

The counsel of Louis XVI., who, during the progress of the vote, had
urged permission to speak, but were refused, were now introduced. In
the name of the king, Deséze appealed to the people from the judgment
of the Convention. He urged the appeal from the very small majority
which had decided the penalty. Tronchet urged that the penal code
required a vote of two thirds to consign one to punishment, and that
the king ought not to be deprived of a privilege which every subject
enjoyed. Malesherbes endeavored to speak, but was so overcome with
emotion that, violently sobbing, he was unable to continue his speech,
and was compelled to sit down. His gray hairs and his tears so moved
the Assembly that Vergniaud rose, and, addressing the Assembly, said,
"Will you decree the honors of the sitting to the defenders of Louis
XVI.?" The unanimous response was, "Yes, yes."

It was now late at night, and the Convention adjourned. The whole of
the 18th and the 19th were occupied in discussing the question of the
appeal to the people. On the 20th, at three o'clock in the morning,
the final vote was taken. Three hundred and ten voted to sustain
the appeal; three hundred and eighty for immediate death. All the
efforts to save the king were now exhausted, and his fate was sealed.
A deputation was immediately appointed, headed by Garat, Minister of
Justice, to acquaint Louis XVI. with the decree of the Convention.

At two o'clock in the afternoon of the 20th, Louis heard the noise of
a numerous party ascending the steps of the tower. As they entered
his apartment he rose and stepped forward with perfect calmness and
dignity to meet them. The decree of the Convention was read to the
king, declaring him to be guilty of treason, that he was condemned to
death, that the appeal to the people was refused, and that he was to be
executed within twenty-four hours.

The king listened to the reading unmoved, took the paper from the hands
of the secretary, folded it carefully, and placed it in his portfolio.
Then turning to Garat, he handed him a paper, saying,

"Monsieur Minister of Justice, I request you to deliver this letter to
the Convention."

Garat hesitated to take the paper, and the king immediately rejoined,
"I will read it to you," and read, in a distinct, unfaltering voice, as

"I demand of the Convention a delay of three days, in order to prepare
myself to appear before God. I require, farther, to see freely the
priest whom I shall name to the commissaries of the Commune, and that
he be protected in the act of charity which he shall exercise toward
me. I demand to be freed from the perpetual surveillance which has
been exercised toward me for so many days. I demand, during these
last moments, leave to see my family, when I desire it, without
witnesses. I desire most earnestly that the Convention will at once
take into consideration the fate of my family, and that they be allowed
immediately to retire unmolested whithersoever they shall see fit to
choose an asylum. I recommend to the kindness of the nation all the
persons attached to me. There are among them many old men, and women,
and children, who are entirely dependent upon me, and must be in want."

The delegation retired. The king, with a firm step, walked two or
three times up and down his chamber, and then called for his dinner.
He sat down and ate with his usual appetite; but his attendants refused
to let him have either knife or fork, and he was furnished only with a
spoon. This excited his indignation, and he said, warmly,

"Do they think that I am such a coward as to lay violent hands upon
myself? I am innocent, and I shall die fearlessly."

Having finished his repast, he waited patiently for the return of the
answer from the Convention. At six o'clock, Garat, accompanied by
Santerre, entered again. The Convention refused the delay of execution
which Louis XVI. had solicited, but granted the other demands.

In a few moments M. Edgeworth, the ecclesiastic who had been sent for,
arrived. He entered the chamber, and, overwhelmed with emotion, fell at
the monarch's feet and burst into tears. The king, deeply moved, also
wept, and, as he raised M. Edgeworth, said,

"Pardon me this momentary weakness. I have lived so long among my
enemies that habit has rendered me indifferent to their hatred, and
my heart has been closed against all sentiments of tenderness; but
the sight of a faithful friend restores to me my sensibility, which I
believed dead, and moves me to tears in spite of myself."

The king conversed earnestly with his spiritual adviser respecting his
will, which he read, and inquired earnestly for his friends, whose
sufferings moved his heart deeply. The hour of seven had now arrived,
when the king was to hold his last interview with his family. But even
this could not be in private. He was to be watched by his jailers, who
were to hear every word and witness every gesture. The door opened,
and the queen, pallid and woe-stricken, entered, leading her son by
the hand. She threw herself into the arms of her husband, and silently
endeavored to draw him toward her chamber.

"No, no," whispered the king, clasping her to his heart; "I can see you
only here."

Madame Elizabeth, with the king's daughter, followed. A scene of
anguish ensued which neither pen nor pencil can portray. The king sat
down, with the queen upon his right hand, his sister upon his left,
their arms encircling his neck, and their heads resting upon his
breast. The dauphin sat upon his father's knee, with his arm around
his neck. The beautiful princess, with disheveled hair, threw herself
between her father's knees, and buried her face in his lap. More than
half an hour passed during which not an articulate word was spoken; but
cries, groans, and occasional shrieks of anguish, which pierced even
the thick walls of the Temple and were heard in the streets, rose from
the group.

For two hours the agonizing interview was continued. As they gradually
regained some little composure, in low tones they whispered messages
of tenderness and love, interrupted by sobs, and kisses, and blinding
floods of tears. It was now after nine o'clock, and in the morning the
king was to be led to the guillotine. The queen implored permission for
them to remain with him through the night. The king, through tenderness
for his family, declined, but promised to see them again at seven
o'clock the next morning. As the king accompanied them to the staircase
their cries were redoubled, and the princess fainted in utter
unconsciousness at her father's feet. The queen, Madame Elizabeth, and
Clery carried her to the stairs, and the king returned to the room,
and, burying his face in his hands, sank, exhausted, into a chair.
After a long silence he turned to M. Edgeworth and said,

"Ah! monsieur, what an interview I have had! Why do I love so fondly?
Alas! why am I so fondly loved? But we have now done with time. Let us
occupy ourselves with eternity."


The king passed some time in religious conversation and prayer, and,
having arranged with M. Edgeworth to partake of the sacrament of the
Lord's Supper in the earliest hours of the morning, at midnight threw
himself upon his bed, and almost immediately fell into a calm and
refreshing sleep.

The faithful Clery and M. Edgeworth watched at the bedside of the king.
At five o'clock they woke him. "Has it struck five?" inquired the king.
"Not yet by the clock of the tower," Clery replied; "but several of the
clocks of the city have struck." "I have slept soundly," remarked the
king. "I was much fatigued yesterday."

He immediately arose. An altar had been prepared in the middle of the
room composed of a chest of drawers, and the king, after engaging
earnestly in prayer, received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Then
leading Clery into the recess of a window, he detached from his watch
a seal, and took from his finger a wedding-ring, and handing them to
Clery, said,

"After my death you will give this seal to my son, this ring to the
queen. Tell her I resign it with pain that it may not be profaned with
my body. This small parcel contains locks of hair of all my family:
that you will give her. Say to the queen, my dear children, and my
sister, that I had promised to see them this morning, but that I
desired to spare them the agony of such a bitter separation twice
over. How much it has cost me to depart without receiving their last

He could say no more, for sobs choked his utterance. Soon recovering
himself, he called for scissors, and cut off his long hair, that he
might escape the humiliation of having that done by the executioner.

A few beams of daylight began now to penetrate the gloomy prison
through the grated windows, and the beating of drums, and the rumbling
of the wheels of heavy artillery were heard in the streets. The king
turned to his confessor, and said,

"How happy I am that I maintained my faith on the throne! Where should
I be this day but for this hope? Yes, there is on high a Judge,
incorruptible, who will award to me that measure of justice which men
refuse to me here below."

Two hours passed away, while the king listened to the gathering of
the troops in the court-yard and around the Temple. At nine o'clock a
tumultuous noise was heard of men ascending the staircase. Santerre
entered, with twelve municipal officers and ten gens d'armes. The king,
with commanding voice and gesture, pointed Santerre to the door, and

"You have come for me. I will be with you in an instant. Await me

Falling upon his knees, he engaged a moment in prayer, and then,
turning to M. Edgeworth, said,

"All is consummated. Give me your blessing, and pray to God to sustain
me to the end."

He rose, and taking from the table a paper which contained his last
will and testament, addressed one of the municipal guard, saying, "I
beg of you to transmit this paper to the queen." The man, whose name
was Jacques Roux, brutally replied, "I am here to conduct you to the
scaffold, not to perform your commissions."

"True," said the king, in a saddened tone, but without the slightest
appearance of irritation. Then carefully scanning the countenances of
each member of the guard, he selected one whose features expressed
humanity, and solicited him to take charge of the paper. The man, whose
name was Gobeau, took the paper.

The king, declining the cloak which Clery offered him, said, "Give
me only my hat." Then, taking the hand of Clery, he pressed it
affectionately in a final adieu, and, turning to Santerre, said, "Let
us go." Descending the stairs with a firm tread, followed by the armed
escort, he met a turnkey whom he had the evening before reproached
for some impertinence. The king approached him and said, in tones of

"Mathey, I was somewhat warm with you yesterday; excuse me for the sake
of this hour."

As he crossed the court-yard, he twice turned to look up at the windows
of the queen's apartment in the tower, where those so dear to him
were suffering the utmost anguish which human hearts can endure. Two
gens d'armes sat upon the front seat of the carriage. The king and
M. Edgeworth took the back seat. The morning was damp and chill, and
gloomy clouds darkened the sky. Sixty drums were beating at the heads
of the horses, and an army of troops, with all the most formidable
enginery of war, preceded, surrounded, and followed the carriage. The
noise of the drums prevented any conversation, and the king sat in
silence in the carriage, evidently engaged in prayer. The procession
moved so slowly along the Boulevards that it was two hours before
they reached the Place de la Révolution. An immense crowd filled the
place, above whom towered the lofty platform and blood-red posts of the


As the carriage stopped the king whispered to M. Edgeworth, "We have
arrived, if I mistake not." The drums ceased beating, and the whole
multitude gazed in the most solemn silence. The two gens d'armes
alighted. The king placed his hand upon the knee of the heroic
ecclesiastic, M. Edgeworth, and said to the gens d'armes,

"Gentlemen, I recommend to your care this gentleman. Let him not be
insulted after my death. I entreat you to watch over him."

"Yes, yes," said one, contemptuously; "make your mind easy, we will
take care of him. Let us alone."

Louis alighted. Two of the executioners came to the foot of the
scaffold to take off his coat. The king waved them away, and himself
took off his coat and cravat, and turned down the collar of his shirt,
that his throat might be presented bare to the knife. They then came
with cords to bind his hands behind his back.

"What do you wish to do?" said the king, indignantly.

"Bind you," they replied, as they seized his hands, and endeavored to
fasten them with the cords.

"Bind me!" replied the king, in tones of deepest feeling. "No, no; I
will never consent. Do your business, but you shall not bind me."

The executioners seized him rudely, and called for help. "Sire," said
his Christian adviser, "suffer this outrage, as a last resemblance to
that God who is about to be your reward."

"Assuredly," replied the king, "there needed nothing less than the
example of God to make me submit to such an indignity." Then, holding
out his hands to the executioners, he said, "Do as you will! I will
drink the cup to the dregs."

With a firm tread he ascended the steep steps of the scaffold, looked
for a moment upon the keen and polished edge of the axe, and then,
turning to the vast throng, said, in a voice clear and untremulous,

"People, I die innocent of all the crimes imputed to me! I pardon the
authors of my death, and pray to God that the blood you are about to
shed may not fall again on France."

He would have continued, but the drums were ordered to beat, and his
voice was immediately drowned. The executioners seized him, bound him
to the plank, the slide fell, and the head of Louis XVI. dropped into
the basket.

No one has had a better opportunity of ascertaining the true character
of the king than President Jefferson. Speaking of some of the king's
measures he said, "These concessions came from the very heart of the
king. He had not a wish but for the good of the nation; and for that
object no personal sacrifice would ever have cost him a moment's
regret; but his mind was weakness itself, his constitution timid,
his judgment null, and without sufficient firmness even to stand
by the faith of his word. His queen, too, haughty and bearing no
contradiction, had an absolute ascendency over him; and round her were
rallied the king's brother, D'Artois, the court generally, and the
aristocratic part of his ministers, particularly Breteuil, Broglio,
Vauguyon, Foulon, Luzerne--men whose principles of government were
those of the age of Louis XIV. Against this host, the good counsels of
Necker, Montmorin, St. Priest, although in unison with the wishes of
the king himself, were of little avail. The resolutions of the morning,
formed under their advice, would be reversed in the evening by the
influence of the queen and the court."

The Royalists were exceedingly exasperated by the condemnation of the
king. A noble, Lepelletier St. Fargeau, who had espoused the popular
cause, voted for the king's death. The Royalists were peculiarly
excited against him, in consequence of his rank and fortune. On the
evening of the 20th of January, as Louis was being informed of his
sentence, a life-guardsman of the king tracked Lepelletier into a
restaurateur's in the Palais Royal, and, just as he was sitting down to
the table, stepped up to him and said,

"Art thou Lepelletier, the villain who voted for the death of the king?"

"Yes," replied Lepelletier, "but I am not a villain. I voted according
to my conscience."

"There, then," rejoined the life-guardsman, "take that for thy reward,"
and he plunged his sword to the hilt in his side. Lepelletier fell
dead, and his assassin escaped before they had time to arrest him.

This event created intense excitement, and increased the conviction
that the Royalists had conspired to rescue the king, by force of arms,
at the foot of the scaffold.



[Footnote 381: Hist. Parl., vol. xxi., p. 314.]

[Footnote 382: Résumé du Rapport du Commissaire Albertier, Hist. Parl.,
vol. xxi., p. 319.]

[Footnote 383: One of Napoleon's first acts upon becoming First Consul
was to show his appreciation of the heroism of Tronchet by placing
him at the head of the Court of Cassation. "Tronchet," he said, "was
the soul of the civil code, as I was its demonstrator. He was gifted
with a singularly profound and correct understanding, but he could not
descend to developments. He spoke badly, and could not defend what he
proposed."--_Napoleon at St. Helena_, p. 192.]

[Footnote 384: Lacretelle.]

[Footnote 385: Lamartine, History of the Girondists, vol. ii., p. 342.]

[Footnote 386: "The crowd in the galleries received with murmurs
all votes that were not for death, and they frequently addressed
threatening gestures to the Assembly itself. The deputies replied to
them from the interior of the hall, and hence resulted a tumultuous
exchange of menaces and abusive epithets. This fearfully ominous scene
had shaken all minds and changed many resolutions. Vergniaud, who
had appeared deeply affected by the fate of Louis XVI., and who had
declared to his friends that he never could condemn that unfortunate
prince, Vergniaud, on beholding this tumultuous scene, imagined that
he saw civil war kindled in France, and pronounced sentence of death,
with the addition, however, of Mailhe's amendment (which required that
the execution should be delayed). On being questioned respecting his
change of opinion, he replied that he thought he saw civil war on the
point of breaking out, and that he durst not balance the life of an
individual against the welfare of France."--_Thiers's History of the
French Revolution_, vol. ii., p. 68.]

[Footnote 387: "Robespierre was by no means the worst character who
figured in the Revolution. He opposed trying the queen. He was not an
atheist; on the contrary, he had publicly maintained the existence of a
Supreme Being, in opposition to many of his colleagues. Neither was he
of opinion that it was necessary to exterminate all priests and nobles,
like many others. Robespierre wanted to proclaim the king an outlaw,
and not to go through the ridiculous mockery of trying him. Robespierre
was a fanatic, a monster; but he was incorruptible, and incapable
of robbing or of causing the deaths of others, either from personal
enmity or a desire of enriching himself. He was an enthusiast, but one
who really believed that he was acting right, and died not worth a
sou. In some respects Robespierre may be said to have been an honest
man."--_Napoleon at St. Helena_, p. 590.]

[Footnote 388: "Of those who judged the king many thought him willfully
criminal; many that his existence would keep the nation in perpetual
conflict with the horde of kings who would war against a generation
which might come home to themselves, and that it were better that one
should die than all. I should not have voted with this portion of the
Legislature. I should have shut up the queen in a convent, putting
harm out of her power, and placed the king in his station, investing
him with limited powers, which I verily believe he would honestly have
exercised, according to the measure of his understanding."--_Thomas
Jefferson, Life by Randall_, vol. i., p. 533. There were obviously
insuperable objections to the plan thus suggested by Mr. Jefferson.]



  Charges against the Girondists.--Danton.--The French Embassador
  ordered to leave England.--War declared against England.--Navy of
  England.--Internal War.--Plot to assassinate the Girondists.--Bold
  Words of Vergniaud.--Insurrection in La Vendée.--Conflict between
  Dumouriez and the Assembly.--Flight of Dumouriez.--The Mob aroused
  and the Girondists arrested.--Charlotte Corday.--France rises _en
  masse_ to repel the Allies.--The treasonable Surrender of Toulon.

The execution of the king roused all Europe against republican France.
The Jacobins had gained a decisive victory over the Girondists, and
succeeded in turning popular hatred against them by accusing them of
being enemies of the people, because they opposed the excesses of the
mob; of being the friends of royalty, because they had wished to save
the life of the king; and of being hostile to the republic, because
they advocated measures of moderation.[389]

Danton was now the acknowledged leader of the Jacobins. He had obtained
the entire control of the mob of Paris, and could guide their terrible
and resistless energies in any direction. With this potent weapon in
his hand he was omnipotent, and his political adversaries were at his
mercy. The Reign of Terror had now commenced. The Girondists made a
heroic attempt to bring to justice the assassins of September, but the
Jacobins promptly stopped the proceedings.

The aristocracy of birth was now effectually crushed, and the Jacobins
commenced a warfare against the aristocracy of wealth and character.
An elegant mansion, garments of fine cloth, and even polished manners,
exposed one to the charge of being an aristocrat, and turned against
him the insults of the rabble. Marat was particularly fierce, in his
journal, against the aristocracy of the burghers, merchants, and

Upon the arrival of the courier in London conveying intelligence of the
execution of the king, M. Chauvelin, the French embassador, was ordered
to leave England within twenty-four hours.

"After events," said Pitt, "on which the imagination can only dwell
with horror, and since an infernal faction has seized on the supreme
power in France, we could no longer tolerate the presence of M.
Chauvelin, who has left no means untried to induce the people to rise
against the government and the laws of this country."

The National Convention at once declared war against England.[390]
Pitt, with almost superhuman energy, mustered the forces of England
and Europe for the strife. In less than six months England had entered
into a treaty of alliance with Russia, Prussia, Austria, Naples,
Spain, and Portugal, for the prosecution of the war; and had also
entered into treaties by which she promised large subsidies to Hesse
Cassel, Sardinia, and Baden. England thus became the soul of this
coalition, which combined the whole of Europe, with the exception of
Venice, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, and Turkey, against France.
These combined armies were to assail the Republic by land, while the
invincible fleet of England was to hurl a storm of shot and shells into
all her maritime towns.

France, at this time, had but one hundred and fifty-nine vessels of
war all told. England had four hundred and fifteen, and her ally,
Holland, one hundred. Most of these were large ships, heavily armed;
and, consequently, England had but little fear that any French armies
could reach her isles.[391] Parliament voted an extraordinary supply
of £3,200,000 ($16,000,000). One hundred and thirty-one thousand
Austrians, one hundred and twelve thousand Prussians, and fifty
thousand Spaniards were speedily on the march to assail France at every
point on the frontier.[392]

The Royalists in La Vendée rose in arms against the Republic, and
unfurled the white banner of the Bourbons. France was now threatened
more fearfully than ever before with external and internal war. The
Convention, controlled by the Jacobins and appalled by the danger,
decreed a levy of three hundred thousand men to repel the assailants,
and also organized an extraordinary revolutionary tribunal, invested
with unlimited powers to arrest, judge, and punish any whom they should
deem dangerous to the Republic. Violence filled the land, terror
reigned every where, and even Robespierre was heard to exclaim, "I am
sick of the Revolution."

Dumouriez had driven the Austrians out of Belgium and the Netherlands,
and was at the head of an army of about seventy-five thousand men.
Disgusted with the anarchy which reigned in France, he formed the bold
design of marching upon Paris with his army, dispersing the Convention,
abolishing the Republic, reinstituting a constitutional monarchy by
establishing the Constitution of 1791, and by placing a king, probably
the son of the Duke of Orleans, subsequently Louis Philippe, upon the
throne. The Jacobins, goaded by these accumulating dangers--all Europe
assailing France from without, and Royalists plotting within--were
prepared for any measures of desperation. The Girondists, with
unavailing heroism, opposed the frantic measures of popular violence,
and the Jacobins resolved to get rid of them all by a decisive blow.
The assassins of September were ready to ply the dagger, under the
plea that murder was patriotism. A plan was formed to strike them all
down, in the Convention, on the night of the 10th of March. But the
Girondists, informed of the plot, absented themselves from the meeting
and the enterprise failed. The bold spirit of the Girondists was avowed
in the words of Vergniaud:

"We have witnessed," said he, "the development of that strange system
of liberty in which we are told 'You are free, but think with us, or we
will denounce you to the vengeance of the people; you are free, but
bow down your head to the idol we worship, or we will denounce you to
the vengeance of the people; you are free, but join us in persecuting
the men whose probity and intelligence we dread, or we will denounce
you to the vengeance of the people.' Citizens! we have reason to
fear that the Revolution, like Saturn, will devour successively all
its children, and only engender despotism and the calamities which
accompany it."

The Province of La Vendée contained a population of about three hundred
thousand. It was a rural district where there was no middle class. The
priests and the nobles had the unlettered peasantry entirely under
their influence. Three armies were raised here against the Republic, of
about twelve thousand each. Royalists from various parts of the empire
flocked to this region, and emigrants were landed upon the coast to
join the insurgents. For three years a most cruel and bloody war was
here waged between the Royalists and the Republicans.

The intelligence of this formidable insurrection increased the panic
of the Convention. A law was passed disarming all who had belonged to
the privileged class, and declaring those to be outlaws who should be
found in any hostile gathering against the Republic. The emigrants
were forbidden to land in France under the penalty of death. Every
house in the kingdom was to inscribe upon its door the names of all its
inmates, and was to be open at all times to the visits of the Vigilance

Dumouriez sullied his character by surrendering to the Austrians
several fortresses, and agreeing with them that he would march upon
Paris and restore a monarchical government to France. The Austrians
trusted that he would place upon the throne the young son of Louis
XVI., though it was doubtless his intention to place there the young
Duke of Chartres (Louis Philippe), who would be the representative of
popular ideas.

The Jacobin Club sent a deputation of three of its members to the
camp, to sound the views of Dumouriez. The general received them with
courtesy, but said, with military frankness,

"The Convention is an assembly of tyrants. While I have three inches of
steel by my side that monster shall not exist. As for the Republic, it
is an idle word. I had faith in it for three days. There is only one
way to save the country; that is, to re-establish the Constitution of
1791 and a king."

"Can you think of it!" one of the deputation exclaimed; "the French
view royalty with horror. The very name of Louis is an abomination."

"What does it signify," replied Dumouriez, "whether the king be called
Louis, or Jacques, or Philippe?"

"And what are your means to effect this revolution?" they inquired.

"My army," Dumouriez proudly replied. "From my camp or from the
stronghold of some fortress they will express their resolve for a king."

"But your plan will peril the lives of the rest of the royal family in
the Temple."

"If every member of that family in France or at Coblentz should
perish," Dumouriez replied, "I can still find a chief. And if any
farther barbarities are practiced upon the Bourbons in the Temple
I will surround Paris with my army and starve the Parisians into

The deputation returned to Paris with their report, and four
commissioners were immediately dispatched, accompanied by the Minister
of War, to summon Dumouriez to the bar of the Convention. Dumouriez
promptly arrested the commissioners and sent them off to the Austrians,
to be retained by them as hostages.


The Convention immediately offered a reward for the head of Dumouriez,
raised an army of forty thousand men to defend Paris, and arrested all
the relatives of the officers under Dumouriez as hostages.

Dumouriez now found that he had not a moment to lose. Perils were
accumulating thick around him. There were many indications that it
might be difficult to carry the army over to his views. On the 4th of
April, as he was repairing to a place of rendezvous with the Austrian
leaders, the Prince of Coburg and General Mack, a battalion of
soldiers, suspecting treachery, endeavored to stop him. He put spurs
to his horse and distanced pursuit, while a storm of bullets whistled
around his head. He succeeded, after innumerable perils, in the
circuitous ride of a whole day, in reaching the head-quarters of the
Austrians. They received him with great distinction, and offered him
the command of a division of their army. After two days' reflection, he
said that it was with the soldiers of France he had hoped to restore
a stable government to his country, accepting the Austrians only as
auxiliaries; but that as a Frenchman he could not march against France
at the head of foreigners. He retired to Switzerland. The Duke of
Chartres (Louis Philippe), in friendlessness and poverty, followed him,
and for some time was obliged to obtain a support by teaching school.

The Jacobins now accused their formidable rivals, the Girondists,
of being implicated in the conspiracy of Dumouriez. Robespierre, in
a speech of the most concentrated and potent malignity, urged that
France had relieved herself of the aristocracy of birth, but that
there was another aristocracy, that of wealth, equally to be dreaded,
which must be crushed, and that the Girondists were the leaders
of this aristocracy. This was most effectually pandering to the
passions of the mob, and directing their fury against the Girondists.
The Girondists were now in a state of terrible alarm. They knew the
malignity of their foes, and could see but little hope for escape.
They had overturned the throne of despotism, hoping to establish
constitutional liberty: they had only introduced Jacobin phrensy and
anarchy. Immense crowds of armed men paraded the streets of Paris,
surrounded the Convention, and demanded vengeance against the leaders
of the Gironde.[393]

The moderate Republicans, enemies of these acts of violence, striving
to stem the torrent, endeavored to carry an act of accusation against
Marat. He was charged with having encouraged assassination and carnage,
of dissolving the National Convention, and of having established a
power destructive of liberty.

Marat replied to the accusation by summoning the mob to his aid. They
assembled in vast, tumultuous throngs, and the tribunal, overawed,
after the trial of a few moments, unanimously acquitted him. This was
the 24th of April. The mob accompanied him back to his seat in the
Convention. He was borne in triumph into the hall in the arms of his
confederates, his brow encircled by a wreath of victory.

"Citizen President," shouted one of the burly men who bore Marat, "we
bring you the worthy Marat. Marat has always been the friend of the
people, and the people will always be the friends of Marat. If Marat's
head must fall, our heads must fall first."

As he uttered these words he brandished a battle-axe defiantly, and
the mob in the aisles and crowded galleries vehemently applauded. He
then demanded permission for the escort to file through the hall. The
president, appalled by the hideous spectacle, had not time to give his
consent before the whole throng, men, women, and boys, in rags and
filth, rushed pell-mell into the hall, took the seats of the vacant
members, and filled the room with indescribable tumult and uproar,
shouting hosannas to Marat. The successful demagogue could not but
boast of his triumph. Ascending the tribune, he said,

"Citizens! indignant at seeing a villainous faction betraying the
Republic, I endeavored to unmask it and to _put the rope about its
neck_. It resisted me by launching against me a decree of accusation. I
have come off victorious. The faction is humbled, but not crushed.
Waste not your time in decreeing triumphs. Defend yourselves with

[Illustration: MARAT'S TRIUMPH.]

Robespierre now demanded an act of accusation against the Girondists.
Resistance was hopeless. The inundation of popular fury was at its
flood, sweeping every thing before it. The most frightful scenes of
tumult took place in the Convention, members endeavoring by violence to
pull each other from the tribune.[394]

The whole Convention was now in a state of dismay, eighty thousand
infuriate men surrounding it with artillery and musketry, declaring
that the Convention should not leave its hall until the Girondists
were arrested. The Convention, in a body, attempted to leave and force
its way through the crowd, but it was ignominiously driven back. Under
these circumstances it was voted that the leaders of the Girondists,
twenty-two in number, should be put under arrest. This was the 2d of
June, 1793.[395]

The Jacobins, having thus got rid of their enemies, and having the
entire control, immediately decided to adopt a new Constitution, still
more democratic in its character; and a committee was appointed to
present one within a week. But the same division which existed in the
Convention between the Jacobins and the Girondists existed all over
France. In many of the departments fierce battles rose between the two

In the mean time the Allies were pressing France in all directions. The
Austrians and Prussians were advancing upon the north; the Piedmontese
threading the passes of the maritime Alps; the Spaniards were prepared
to rush from the defiles of the Pyrenees, and the fleet of England
threatened every where the coast of France on the Mediterranean and the

With amazing energy the Convention aroused itself to meet these perils.
A new Constitution, exceedingly democratic, was framed and adopted.
Every Frenchman twenty-one years of age was a voter. Fifty thousand
souls were entitled to a deputy. There was but a single Assembly. Its
decrees were immediately carried into execution.[397]

Danton, Robespierre, and Marat were now the idols of the mob of Paris
and the real sovereigns of France. All who ventured opposition to them
were proscribed and imprisoned. Members of the Republican or Girondist
party every where, all over France, were arrested, or, where they were
sufficiently numerous to resist, civil war raged.

At Caen there was a very beautiful girl, Charlotte Corday, twenty-five
years of age, highly educated and accomplished. She was of spotless
purity of character, and, with the enthusiasm of Madame Roland, she had
espoused the cause of popular constitutional liberty. The principles
of the Girondist party she had embraced, and the noble leaders of that
party she regarded almost with adoration.

When she heard of the overthrow of the Girondists and their
imprisonment, she resolved to avenge them, and hoped that, by striking
down the leader of the Jacobins, she might rouse the Girondists
scattered over France to rally and rescue liberty and their country. It
was a three days' ride in the diligence from Caen to Paris. Arriving at
Paris on Thursday the 11th of July, she carefully inspected the state
of affairs, that she might select her victim, but confided her design
to no one.

Marat appeared to her the most active, formidable, and insatiable in
his proscription. She wrote him a note as follows:

"Citizen: I have just arrived from Caen. Your love for your country
inclines me to suppose you will listen with pleasure to the secret
events of that part of the Republic. I will present myself at your
house. Have the goodness to give orders for my admission, and grant me
a moment's private conversation. I can point out the means by which you
can render an important service to France."

She dispatched this note from her hotel, the Inn de la Providence in
the Rue des Vieux Augustins, went to the Palais Royal and purchased a
large sheath knife, and, taking a hackney-coach, drove to the residence
of Marat, No. 44 Rue de l'Ecole de Médecine. It was Saturday night.
Marat was taking a bath and reading by a light which stood upon a
three-footed stool. He heard the rap of Charlotte, and called aloud to
the woman who, as servant and mistress, attended him, and requested
that she might be admitted.

Marat was a man of the most restless activity. Eagerly he inquired
respecting the proscribed at Caen and of others who were opposed to
Jacobin rule. Charlotte, while replying coolly, measured with her eye
the spot she should strike with the knife. As she mentioned some names,
he eagerly seized a pencil and began to write them down, saying,

"They shall all go to the guillotine."

"To the guillotine?" exclaimed Charlotte, and, instantly drawing the
knife from her bosom, plunged it to the handle directly in his heart.

The miserable man uttered one frantic shriek of "Help!" and fell back
dead into the water. The paramour of Marat and a serving-man rushed in,
knocked Charlotte down with a chair, and trampled upon her. A crowd
soon assembled. Without the slightest perturbation she avowed the
deed. Her youth and beauty alone saved her from being torn in pieces.
Soldiers soon arrived and conveyed her to prison.

"The way to avenge Marat," exclaimed Robespierre from the tribune in
tones which caused France to tremble, "is to strike down his enemies
without mercy."

The remains of the wretched man, whom all the world now execrates,
were buried with the highest possible honors. His funeral at midnight,
as all Paris seemed to follow him to his grave in a torch-light
procession, was one of the most imposing scenes of the Revolution.

On Wednesday morning Charlotte was led to the Revolutionary Tribunal
in the Palace of Justice. She appeared there dignified, calm, and
beautiful. The indictment was read, and they were beginning to
introduce their witnesses, when Charlotte said,

"These delays are needless. It is I that killed Marat."

There was a moment's pause, and many deplored the doom of one so
youthful and lovely. At last the president inquired, "By whose

"By that of no one," was the laconic reply.

"What tempted you?" inquired the president.

"His crimes," Charlotte answered; and then, continuing in tones of
firmness and intensity which silenced and overawed all present, she

"I killed one man, to save a hundred thousand; a villain, to save the
innocent; a savage wild beast, to give repose to my country. I was a
Republican before the Revolution. I never wanted energy."[398]


She listened to her doom of immediate death with a smile, and was
conducted back to the prison, to be led from thence to the guillotine.
A little after seven o'clock on this same evening a cart issued from
the Conciergerie, bearing Charlotte, in the red robe of a murderess,
to the guillotine. A vast throng crowded the streets, most of whom
assailed her with howls and execrations. She looked upon them with a
serene smile, as if she were riding on an excursion of pleasure. She
was bound to the plank. The glittering axe glided through the grove,
and the executioner, lifting her severed head, exhibited it to the
people, and then brutally struck the cheek.

Robespierre and Danton, the idols of the mob, now divided the supreme
power between them. The organization of a revolutionary government was
simply the machine by means of which they operated.

On the 10th of August there was another magnificent festival in Paris
to commemorate the adoption of the Jacobin Constitution. The celebrated
painter David arranged the fête with great artistic skill, and again
all Paris, though on the verge of ruin, was in a blaze of illumination
and in a roar of triumph. The Austrian armies were now within fifteen
days' march of Paris, and there was no organized force which could
effectually arrest their progress. But the fear of the old Bourbon
despotism rallied the masses to maintain, in preference, even the
horrors of Jacobin ferocity. The aristocrats crushed the _people_; the
Jacobins crushed the _aristocrats_. The populace naturally preferred
the latter rule.

And now France rose, as a nation never rose before. At the motion of
Danton it was decreed on the 23rd of August,

"From this moment until when the enemy shall be driven from the
territory of the French Republic, _all the French_ shall be in
permanent requisition for the service of the armies. The young men
shall go forth to fight. The married men shall forge the arms and
transport the supplies. The women shall make tents and clothes, and
attend on the hospitals. The children shall make lint out of rags; the
old men shall cause themselves to be carried to the public places, to
excite the courage of the warriors, to preach hatred of kings and love
of the Republic."

[Illustration: MARCH OF VOLUNTEERS.]

All unmarried men or widowers without children, between the ages of
eighteen and twenty-five, were to assemble at appointed rendezvous and
march immediately. This act raised an army of one million two hundred
thousand men. The men between twenty-five and thirty were to hold
themselves in readiness to follow. And those between thirty and sixty
were to be prepared to obey orders whenever they should be summoned to
the field. There is sublimity, at least, in such energy.

All France was instantly converted into a camp, resounding with
preparations for war. In La Vendée the friends of the Bourbons had
rallied. The Convention decreed its utter destruction, the death of
every man, conflagration of the dwellings, destruction of the crops,
and the remova