Front Page Titles (by Subject) XVI: The Execution of the King - Lectures on the French Revolution (LF ed.)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
XVI: The Execution of the King - John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton, Lectures on the French Revolution (LF ed.) 
Lectures on the French Revolution, ed. John Neville Figgis and Reginald Vere Laurence, with a foreword by Steven J. Tonsor (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
The Execution of the King
The constitutional experiment, first tried on the Continent under Lewis XVI., failed mainly through distrust of the executive and a mechanical misconstruction of the division of power. Government had been incapable, the finances were disordered, the army was disorganised; the monarchy had brought on an invasion which it was now the mission of the Republic to repel. The instinct of freedom made way for the instinct of force, the Liberal movement was definitely reversed, and the change which followed the shock of the First European Coalition was more significant, the angle more acute, than the mere transition from royal to republican forms. Unity of power was the evident need of the moment, and as it could not be bestowed upon a king who was in league with the enemy, it had to be sought in a democracy which should have concentration and vigour for its dominant note. Therefore supremacy was assured to that political party which was most alert in laying its grasp on all the resources of the State, and most resolute in crushing resistance. More than public interests were at stake. Great armies were approaching, guided by vindictive émigrés, and they had announced the horrors they were prepared to inflict on the population of Paris.
Beyond the rest of France the Parisians were interested in the creation of a power equal to the danger, and were ready to be saved even by a dictatorship. The need was supplied by the members of the new municipality who expelled the old on the night of August 9. They were instituted by Danton. They appointed Marat their organ of publicity. Robespierre was elected a member of the body on August 11. It was the stronghold of the Revolution. Strictly, they were an illegal assembly, and their authority was usurped; but they were masters of Paris, and had dethroned the king. The Législative, having accepted their action, was forced to obey their commandments, and to rescind its decrees at their pleasure. By convoking the constituencies to elect a Convention, it had annulled itself. It was no more than a dying assembly whose days were exactly numbered, and whose credit and influence were at an end.
Between a king who was deposed and an assembly that abdicated, the Commune alone exhibited the energy and force that were to save the country. Being illegitimate, they could quell opposition only by violence; and they made it clear what violence they meant to use when they gave an office to Marat. This man had been a writer on science, and Goethe celebrates his sagacity and gift of observation in a passage which is remarkable for the absence of any allusion to his public career. But he considered that the rich have no right to enjoyments of which the masses are deprived, and that the guilt of selfishness and oppression could only be expiated by death. A year before he had proposed that obnoxious deputies should be killed by torture, and their quarters nailed to the walls as a hint to their successors. He now desired to reconcile mercy with safety, and declared himself satisfied if the Assembly was decimated. For royalists, and men who had belonged to privileged orders, he had no such clemency. If, he said, the able-bodied men become soldiers and are sent to guard the frontier, who is to protect us from traitors at home? Either thousands of fighting men must be kept away from the army in the field, or the internal enemy must be put out of the way. On August 19 Marat began to employ this argument, and a company of recruits protested against being sent to the front whilst their families were at the mercy of the royalists. The cry became popular that France would be condemned to fight her enemies with one arm, if she had to guard the traitors with the other. And this was the plea provided to excuse the crimes that were about to follow. It was the plea, but not the motive. If the intended destruction of royalists could be represented as an act of war, as a necessity of national defence, moderate men would be unable to prevent it without incurring reproach as unpatriotic citizens.
When the Jacobins prepared the massacre in the prisons, their purpose was to fill France with terror and to secure their majority in the Convention. That is the controlling idea that governed the events of the next few weeks. After the decree which assigned the Luxembourg palace as a residence to the king, the Commune claimed him; and he was delivered up to them, and confined in the Temple, the ancient fortress in which the Valois kept their treasure. They proceeded to suppress the newspapers that were against them, disfranchised the voters who had signed opposing or reactionary petitions, and closed the barriers. They threw their enemies into prison, erected a new tribunal for the punishment of crimes against the Revolution, and supplied it with a new and most efficient instrument which executed its victims painlessly, expeditiously, and on terms conforming to the precept of equality. From the moment of his appearance at the Hôtel de Ville, the day after the fight was over, Robespierre became the ruling spirit and the organiser, and it was felt at once that, behind the declamations and imprecations of Marat, there was a singularly methodical, consistent, patient, and systematic mind at work, directing the action of the Commune.
The fall of Longwy was known at Paris on August 26. On that day the Minister of Justice, Danton, revised the list of prisoners; domiciliary visits were carried out, all over the city, to search for arms, and for suspected persons. Nearly 3000 were arrested by the 28th, and a thing still more ominous was that many prisoners were released. Nobody doubted, nobody seriously denied, the significance of these measures. The legislature, seeing that this was not the mere frenzy of passion, but a deliberate and settled plan, dissolved the Commune, August 30, and ordered that it should be renewed by a fresh election. They also restored the governing body of the department, as a check on the municipality. They had the law and constitution on their side, and their act was an act of sovereignty. It was the critical and deciding moment in the struggle between the Girondins and the Hôtel de Ville. On the following day, August 31, the Assembly revoked the decree. Tallien read an address, drawn up by Robespierre, declaring that the Commune, just instituted by the people of Paris, with a fresh and definite mandate, could not submit to an assembly which had lost its powers, which had allowed the initiative to pass away from it. The Assembly was entirely helpless, and was too much compromised by its complicity since the 10th of August to resist its master. Robespierre, at the Commune, threatened the Girondins with imprisonment, and, to complete their discomfiture, Brissot’s papers were examined, and Roland, Minister of the Interior, was subjected to the same indignity.
In the last days of August, whilst every house was being searched for fugitives, the primary elections were held. The Jacobins were much opposed to the principle of indirect election, but they did not succeed in abolishing it. They instituted universal suffrage for the first stage, and they gave to the primary assemblies a veto on the choice of the second. For the rest, they relied on intimidation. The 800 electors met at the bishop’s palace on September 2. But here there was no stranger’s gallery, and it was requisite that the nominees of the people should act in the presence of the public that nominated them to do its work. Robespierre proposed that the electoral body should hold its sittings at the Jacobin Club, in the full enjoyment of publicity. On the following day they met at the same place, and proceeded to the Jacobins. Their way led them over the bridge, where a spectacle awaited them which was carefully calculated to assist their deliberations. They found themselves in the presence of a great number of dead men, deposited from the neighbouring prison.
For this is what had happened. On the 2nd of September Verdun had fallen. This was not yet known at Paris; but it was reported that the Prussians had appeared before the fortress, and that it could not hold out. Verdun was the last barrier on the road to Paris, and the first scene of the war in Belgium made it doubtful whether the new levies would stand their ground against battalions that had been drilled by Frederic. Alarm guns were fired, the tocsin sounded, the black flag proclaimed that the country was in danger, and the men of Paris were summoned by beat of drum to be enrolled for the army of national defence.
Danton, who knew English, and read English books, seems to have remembered a passage in Spenser, when he declared that France must be saved at Paris, and told his terrified hearers to be bold, to be bold, and again to be bold. Then he went off to see to the enrolments, and left the agents of the Commune to accomplish the work appointed for the day. Twenty-four prisoners at the Mairie were removed to the Abbaye, which was the old Benedictine monastery of St. Germain, in hackney coaches; twenty-two of them were priests. Lewis XVI. had fallen because he refused to proscribe the refractory clergy who were accused of spreading discontent. Beyond all men they were identified with the lost cause, and it had been decided that they should be banished. They were imprisoned in large numbers, as a first step towards their expulsion. That group, escorted by Marseillais from the Mairie to the Abbaye, were the first victims. The people, who did not love them, let them pass through the streets without injury; but when they reached their destination, the escorting Marseillais began to plunge their swords into the carriages, and all but three were killed. Two made their way into a room where a commission was sitting, and, by taking seats among the rest, escaped. Sicard, the teacher of the deaf and dumb, was recognised and saved; and it is through him that we know the deeds that were done that day. They were directed by Maillard who proceeded from the abbey to the Carmelites, a prison filled with ecclesiastics, where he sent for the Register, and had them murdered orderly and without tumult. There was a large garden, and sixteen of the prisoners climbed over the wall and got away; fourteen were acquitted; 120 were put to death, and their bones are collected in the chapel, and show the sabre cuts by which they died.
During the absence of Maillard, which lasted three hours, certain unauthorised and self-constituted assassins appeared at the Abbaye and proposed to go on with the work of extermination which he had left unfinished. The gaolers were obliged to deliver up a few prisoners, to save time. When Maillard returned, he established a sort of tribunal for the trial of prisoners, while the murderers, in all something under 200, waited outside and slaughtered those that were given up to them. In the case of the clergy, and of the Swiss survivors of the 4th of August, little formality was observed. At the Abbaye, and at La Force, there were many political prisoners, and of these a certain number were elaborately absolved. Several prisons were left unvisited; but at Bicêtre and the Saltpêtrière, where only the most ignoble culprits were confined, frightful massacres took place.
As this was utterly pointless and unmeaning, it has given currency to the theory that all the horrors of that September were the irrational and spontaneous act of some hundreds of gaolbirds, whose eyes were stained with the vision of blood, and who ran riot in their impunity. So that criminal Paris, not revolutionary Paris, was to blame. In reality, the massacres were organised by the Commune, paid for by the Commune, and directed by its emissaries. We know how much the various agents received, and what was the cost of the whole, from the 2nd of September to the 5th. At first, all was deliberate and methodical, and the women were spared. Several were released at the last moment; some were dismissed by the tribunal before which they appeared. The exception is the Princess de Lamballe, who was the friend of the queen. But as Madame de Tourzel was spared, the cause of her death remains unexplained. Her life had not been entirely free from reproach; and it has been supposed that she was in possession of secrets injurious to the duke of Orleans.
But the problem is not to know why murderers were guilty of murder, but how they allowed many of their captives to be saved. One man made friends with a Marseillais by talking in his native patois. When asked what he was, he replied, “A hearty royalist!” Thereupon Maillard raised his hat and said, “We are here to judge actions, not opinions,” and the man was received with acclamation outside by the thirsty executioners. Bertrand, brother of the royalist minister, had the same reception. Two men interrupted their work to see him home. They waited outside whilst he saw his family, and then went away, thanking him for the sight of so much happiness, and refusing a reward. Another prisoner was taken to his house in a cab, with half a dozen dripping patriots crowded on the roof, and hanging on behind. They would accept nothing but a glass of spirits. Few men were in greater danger than Weber, the foster-brother of the queen. He had been on guard at the Tuileries, and was by her side on the funereal march across the gardens from palace to prison. As he well knew what she was leaving and to what she was going, he was so overcome that Princess Elizabeth whispered to him to control his feelings and be a man. Yet he was one of those who lived to tell the tale of his appearance before the dread tribunal of Maillard. When he was acquitted, the expectant cutthroats were wild with enthusiasm. They cheered him; they gave him the fraternal accolade; they uncovered as he passed along the line; and a voice cried, “Take care where he walks! Don’t you see he has got white stockings on?”
One acquittal is remembered beyond all the rest. In every school and in every nursery of France the story continues to be told how Sombreuil, the governor of the Invalides, was acquitted by the judges, but would have been butchered by the mob outside if his daughter had not drunk to the nation in a glass filled with the warm blood of the last victim. They were taken home in triumph. Sombreuil perished in the Reign of Terror. His daughter married, and died at Avignon in 1823, at the height of the royalist reaction. The fame of that heroic moment in her life filled the land, and her heart was brought to Paris, to be laid in the consecrated ground where she had worshipped as a child, and it rests under the same gilded canopy that covers the remains of Napoleon. Many people believe that this is one of the legends of royalism which should be strung with the mock pearls of history. No contemporary mentions it, and it does not appear before 1801. Mlle. de Sombreuil obtained a pension from the Convention, but this was not included in the statement of her claims. An Englishman, who witnessed the release of Sombreuil, only relates that father and daughter were carried away swooning from the strain of emotion. I would not dwell on so well-worn an anecdote if I believed that it was false. The difficulty of disbelief is that the son of the heroine wrote a letter affirming it, in which he states that his mother was never afterwards able to touch a glass of red wine. The point to bear in mind is that these atrocious criminals rejoiced as much in a man to save as in a man to kill. They were servants of a cause, acting under authority.
Robespierre, among the chiefs, seems to have aimed mainly at the destruction of the priests. Others proposed that the prisoners should be confined underground, and that water should be let in until they were drowned. Marat advised that the prisons should be burnt, with their inmates. “The 2nd of September,” said Collot d’Herbois, “is the first article of the creed of Liberty. Without it there would be no National Convention.” “France,” said Danton, in a memorable conversation, “is not republican. We can only establish a Republic by the intimidation of its enemies.” They had crushed the Legislature, they had given warning to the Germans that they would not save the king by advancing on the capital when it was in the hands of men capable of such deeds, and they had secured a Jacobin triumph at the Paris election. Marat prepared an address exhorting the departments to imitate their example, and it was sent out under cover from the Ministry of Justice. Danton himself sent out the same orders. Only one copy seems to have been preserved, and it might have been difficult to determine the responsibility of Danton, if he had not avowed to Louis Philippe that he was the author of the massacres of September.
The example of Paris was not widely followed, but the State prisoners at Orleans were brought to Versailles, and there put to death. The whole number killed was between thirteen and fourteen hundred. We have touched low-water mark in the Revolution, and there is nothing worse than this to come. We are in the company of men fit for Tyburn. I need spend no words in impressing on you the fact that these republicans began at once with atrocities as great as those of which the absolute monarchy was justly accused, and for which it justly perished. What we have to fix in our thoughts is this, that the great crimes of the Revolution, and crimes as great as those in the history of other countries, are still defended and justified in almost every group of politicians and historians, so that, in principle, the present is not altogether better than the past.
The massacre was successful at Paris, but not in the rest of France. Under its influence none but Jacobins were elected in the capital. President and vice-president of the Electoral Assembly were Robespierre and Collot d’Herbois, with Marat for secretary. Robespierre was the first deputy returned, Danton was second, Collot third, Manuel fourth, Billaud-Varennes fifth, Camille Desmoulins sixth, and Marat seventh, with a majority over Priestley, who was chosen in two departments, but refused the seat. The twentieth and last of the deputies for Paris was the duke of Orleans.
While the people of Paris sanctioned and approved the murders, it was not the same in the country. In many places the proceedings began with mass, and concluded with a Te Deum. Seventeen bishops were sent to the Convention, and thirty-one priests. Tom Paine, though he could not speak French, was elected in four places. Two-thirds were new members, who had not sat in the previous assemblies. Four-fifths of the primary electors abstained.
The Convention began its sittings, September 20, in the Riding School, where the Législative had met; in the month of May 1793 it adjourned to the Tuileries. There were about fifty or sixty Jacobins. The majority, without being Girondins, were prepared generally to follow, if the Girondins led. Pétion was at once elected president, and all the six secretaries were on the same side. The victory of the Gironde was complete. It had the game in its hands. The party had little cohesion and, in spite of the whispered counsels of Sieyès, no sort of tactics. Excepting Buzot, and perhaps Vergniaud, they scarcely deserve the interest they have excited in later literature, for they had no principles. Embarrassed by the helpless condition of the Législative, they made no resistance to the massacres. When Roland, Condorcet, Gorsas, spoke of them in public, they described them as a dreadful necessity, an act of rude but inevitable justice. Roland, Minister of the Interior, had some of the promoters to dine with him while the bloodshed was going on, and he proposed to draw a decent veil over what had passed. Such men were unfit to compete with Robespierre in ruthless villainy, but they were equally unfit to denounce and to expose him. That was the policy which they attempted, and by which they perished.
The movement towards a permanent Republic was not pronounced, beyond the barrier of Paris. The constituencies made no demand for it, except the Jura. Two others declared against monarchy. Thirty-four departments gave no instructions; thirty-six gave general or unlimited powers. Three, including Paris, required that constitutional decrees should be submitted to popular ratification. The first act of the Convention was to adopt that new principle. By a unanimous vote, on the motion of Danton, they decided that the Constitution must be accepted by the nation in its primary assemblies. But some weeks later, October 16, when Manuel proposed to consult the people on the question of a Republic, the Convention refused. The abolition of monarchy was carried, September 21, without any discussion; for the history of kings, said Bishop Grégoire, is the martyrology of nations. On the 22nd the Republic was proclaimed, under the first impression of the news from Valmy, brought by the future king of the French. The repulse of the invasion provoked by the late government coincided with the establishment of the new.
The Girondins, who were in possession, began with a series of personal attacks on the opposite leaders. They said, what everybody knew, that Marat was an infamous scoundrel, that Danton had not made his accounts clear when he retired from office on entering the Convention, that Robespierre was a common assassin. Some suspicion remained hanging about Danton, but the assailants used their materials with so little skill that they were worsted in the encounter with Robespierre. The Jacobins expelled them from their Club, and Louvet’s motion against Robespierre was rejected on November 5. Thus they were weakened already when, on the following day, the question of the trial of the king came on. It was not only the first important stage in the strife of the parties, but it was the decisive one. The question whether Lewis should live or die was no other than the question whether Jacobin or Girondin should survive and govern.
A mighty change occurred in the position of France and in the spirit of the nation, between the events we have just contemplated and the tragedy to which we are coming. In September the German armies were in France, and at first met with no resistance. The peril was evidently extreme, and the only security was the life of the king. Since then the Prussians and Austrians had been ignominiously expelled; Belgium had been conquered; Savoy had been overrun; the Alps and the Rhine as far as Mentz were the frontiers of the Republic. From the German Ocean to the Mediterranean not an army or a fortress had been able to resist the revolutionary arms. The reasonable alarm of September had made way for an exorbitant confidence. There was no fear of all the soldiery of Europe. The French were ready to fight the world, and they calculated that they ran no graver risk than the loss of the sugar islands. It suited their new temper to slay their king, as it had been their policy to preserve him as a hostage. On the 19th of November they offered aid and friendship to every people that determined to be free. This decree, really the beginning of the great war, was caused by remonstrances from Mentz where the French party feared to be abandoned. But it was aimed against England, striking at the weakest point, and reducing its warlike power by encouraging Irish disaffection.
On the 12th of August Rebecqui had proposed that the king should be tried by the Convention that was to meet, and that there should be an appeal to the people. On October 1 the question was brought before the Convention, and a Commission of twenty-four was appointed to examine the evidence. They reported on the 6th of November; and from that moment the matter did not rest. On the following day, Mailhe, in the name of the jurists, reported that there was no legal obstacle, from the inviolability acknowledged by the Constitution. Mousson replied that since Lewis was deposed, he had no further responsibility. A very young member sprang suddenly into notoriety, on the 13th, by arguing that there was no question of justice and its forms: a king deserved death not for what he did, but for what he was. The speaker’s name was St. Just. On November 20, before the debate had gone either way, Roland appeared, with news of an important discovery. The king had an iron safe in his palace, which the locksmith had betrayed. Roland had found that it contained 625 documents. A committee of twelve was directed to examine them, and they found the proofs of a great scheme of corruption, and of the venality of Mirabeau. On December 3 it was resolved that the king should be tried by the Convention; the order of proceedings was determined on the 6th, and on the 10th the indictment was brought in. On the next day Lewis appeared before his judges, and was interrogated by the President. He said, in his replies, that he knew nothing of an iron safe, and had never given money to Mirabeau, or to any deputy. When he got back to prison the unhappy man exclaimed, “They asked questions for which I was so little prepared that I denied my own hand.” Ten days were allowed to prepare the defence. He was assisted by Malesherbes, by the famous jurist Tronchet, and by Desèze, a younger man, who made the speech. It was unconvincing, for the advocates perceived, no better than their client, where the force and danger of the accusation lay.
Everybody believed that Lewis had brought the invader into the country, but it was not proved in evidence. If the proofs since published had been known at the time the defence must have been confined to the plea that the king was inviolable; and the answer would have been that he is covered by the responsibility of ministers, but responsible for what he does behind their back. At the last moment several Girondins proposed that sentence should be pronounced by the nation, in primary assemblies—an idea put forward by Faure on November 29. This was contrary to the spirit of representative democracy, which consults the electors as to men, and not as to measures properly the result of debate. It was consistent with the direct action of Democracy, which was the theory of Jacobinism. But the Jacobins would not have it. By compelling the vote on the capital question, they would ruin their adversaries. If the Girondins voted for death, they would follow the train of the party that resolutely insisted on it. If they voted against, they could be accused of royalism. When the question “Guilty or not guilty?” was put, there was no hesitation; 683 voted guilty, one man, Lanjuinais, answering that he was a legislator, not a judge. The motion, to leave the penalty to the people, which was made in the interest of the Girondins, not of the king, failed by 423 to 281, and ruined the party that contrived it. The voting on the penalty began on the evening of January 17, and as each man gave his voice from the tribune, it lasted far into the following day. Vergniaud declared the result; he said that there was a majority of five for death. Both parties were dissatisfied, and suspected fraud. A scrutiny was held, and it then appeared that those who had voted simply for the capital penalty were 361, and that those who had voted otherwise were 360. Majority, 1. But when the final vote was taken on the question of delay, there was a majority of 70 for immediate execution.
That the decision was the result of fear has been stated, even by Brissot and Carnot. The duke of Orleans had written to the President that he could not vote at the trial of his kinsman. The letter was returned to him. He promised his son that he would not vote for death, and when they met again exclaimed, “I am not worthy to be your father!” At dinner, on the fatal day, Vergniaud declared that he would defend the king’s life, even if he stood alone. A few hours later he voted for death. Yet Vergniaud was soon to prove that he was not a man whom intimidation influenced. The truth is, that nobody had a doubt as to guilt. Punishment was a question rather of policy than of justice.
The army was inclined to the side of mercy. Custine had offered, November 23, to save Lewis, if Prussia would acknowledge the Republic. The offer was made in vain. Dumouriez came to Paris in January, and found that there was nothing to be done. He said afterwards, “It is true he was a perfidious scoundrel, but it was folly to cut his head off.” The Spanish Bourbons made every effort to save the head of the house. They offered neutrality and mediation, and they empowered their agent to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds in opportune bribery. They promised, if Lewis was delivered up to them, that they would prevent him from ever interfering in French affairs, and would give hostages for his good behaviour. They entreated George III. to act with them in a cause which was that of monarchy and of humanity. Lansdowne, Sheridan, and Fox urged the government to interpose. Grenville made known that peace would be preserved if France gave up her conquests, but he said not a word for the king. Information was brought to Pitt, from a source that could be trusted, that Danton would save him for £40,000. When he made up his mind to give the money, Danton replied that it was too late. Pitt explained to the French diplomatist Maret, afterwards Prime Minister, his motive for hesitation. The execution of the king of France would raise such a storm in England that the Whigs would be submerged.
Lewis was resigned to his fate, but he expected that he would be spared, and he spoke of retiring to the Sierra Morena, or of seeking a retreat for his old age among the faithful republicans of Switzerland. When his advocates came to tell him that there was no hope, he refused to believe them. “You are mistaken,” he said; “they would never dare.” He quickly recovered his composure, and declined to ask permission to see his family. “I can wait,” he said; “in a few days they will not refuse me.” A priest who applied for leave to attend him was sent to prison. As a foreigner was less likely to be molested, the king asked for the abbé Edgeworth, of Firmount, who had passed his life in France, but might be considered an Irishman. Garat, the Minister of the Interior, went to fetch him. On their way he said, “He was weak when in power; but you will see how great he is, now that he is in chains.”
On the following day Lewis was taken through a vast parade of military and cannon to the scaffold in the Place de la Concorde, a little nearer to the Champs Elysées than the place where the obelisk of Luxor stands. He was nearly an hour on the way. The Spanish envoy had not made terms with the agents who were attracted by the report of his unlimited credit, and he spent his doubloons in a frantic attempt at rescue as the prisoner passed, at a foot pace, along the Boulevard. An equivocal adventurer, the Baron de Batz, who helped to organise the rising of Vendémiaire, which only failed because it encountered Bonaparte, had undertaken to break the line, with four or five hundred men. They were to make a rush from a side street. But every street was patrolled and every point was guarded as the coach went by carrying the prisoner. De Batz was true to the rendezvous, and stood up, waving a sword and crying, “Follow me and save the king!” It was without effect; he vanished in the crowd; one companion was taken and guillotined, but the police were able to report that no incident had occurred on the way.
Not the royalists but the king served the royal cause on that 21st of January. Unequal to his duties on the throne, he found, in prison and on the scaffold, a part worthy of the better qualities of his race, justifying the words of Louis Blanc, “None but the dead come back.” To absolve him is impossible, for we know, better than his persecutors, how he intrigued to recover uncontrolled authority by bringing havoc and devastation upon the people over whom he reigned. The crowning tragedy is not that which Paris witnessed, when Santerre raised his sword, commanding the drums to beat, which had been silenced by the first word of the dying speech; it is that Lewis XVI. met his fate with inward complacency, unconscious of guilt, blind to the opportunities he had wasted and the misery he had caused, and died a penitent Christian but an unrepentant king.