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CHAPTER V - Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution, vol. 2 
The French Revolution, 3 vols., trans. John Durand, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002). Vol. 2.
Part of: The French Revolution, 3 vols.
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Policy of the Assembly—I.State of France at the end of 1791—Powerlessness of the Law—II.The Assembly hostile to the oppressed and favoring oppressors—Decrees against the nobles and clergy—Amnesty for deserters, convicts, and bandits—Anarchical and levelling maxims—III.War—Disposition of foreign powers—The King’s dislikes—Provocations of the Girondists—Date and causes of the rupture—IV.Secret motives of the leaders—Their control compromised by peace—Discontent of the rich and cultivated class—Formation and increase of the party of order—The King and this party reconciled—V.Effect of the war on the commonalty—Its alarm and its rage—The second revolutionary outburst and its characteristics—Alliance of the Girondists with the populace—The red cap and pikes—Universal substitution of government by force for government by law.
If the deputies who, on the 1st of October, 1791, so solemnly and enthusiastically swore to the Constitution, had been willing to open their eyes, they would have seen this Constitution constantly violated, both in its letter and spirit, over the entire territory. As usual, and through the vanity of authorship, M. Thouret, the last president of the Constituent Assembly, had, in his final report, hidden disagreeable truth underneath pompous and delusive phrases; but it was only necessary to look over the monthly record to see whether, as guaranteed by him, “the decrees were faithfully executed in all parts of the empire.”—“Where is this faithful execution to be found?” inquires Mallet-Dupan.1 “Is it at Toulon, in the midst of the dead and wounded, shot in the very face of the amazed municipality and Directory? Is it at Marseilles, where two private individuals are knocked down and massacred as aristocrats,” under the pretext “that they sold to children poisoned sugar-plums with which to begin a counter-revolution?” Is it at Arles, “against which 4,000 men from Marseilles, despatched by the club, are at this moment marching?” Is it at Bayeux, “where the sieur Fauchet against whom a warrant for arrest is out, besides being under the ban of political disability, has just been elected deputy to the Legislative Assembly?” Is it at Blois, “where the commandant, doomed to death for having tried to execute these decrees, is forced to send away a loyal regiment and submit to licentious troops?” Is it at Nismes, “where the Dauphiny regiment, on leaving the town by the Minister’s orders, is ordered by the people” and the club “to disobey the Minister and remain?” Is it in those regiments whose officers, with pistols at their breasts, are obliged to leave and give place to amateurs? Is it at Toulouse, “where, at the end of August, the administrative authorities order all unsworn priests to leave the town in three days, and withdraw to a distance of four leagues?” Is it in the outskirts of Toulouse, “where, on the 28th of August, a municipal officer is hung at a street-lamp after an affray with guns?” Is it at Paris, where, on the 25th of September, the Irish college, vainly protected by an international treaty, has just been assailed by the populace; where Catholics, listening to the orthodox mass, are driven out and dragged to the authorised mass in the vicinity; where one woman is torn from the confessional, and another flogged with all their might?2
These troubles, it is said, are transient; on the Constitution being proclaimed, order will return of itself. Very well, the Constitution is voted, accepted by the King, proclaimed, and entrusted to the Legislative Assembly. Let the Legislative Assembly consider what is done in the first few weeks. In the eight departments that surround Paris, there are riots on every market-day; farms are invaded and the cultivators of the soil are ransomed by bands of vagabonds; the mayor of Melun is riddled with balls and dragged out from the hands of the populace streaming with blood.3 At Belfort, a riot for the purpose of retaining a convoy of coin, and the commissioner of the Upper-Rhine in danger of death; at Bouxvillers, owners of property attacked by poor National Guards, and by the soldiers of Salm-Salm, houses broken into and cellars pillaged; at Mirecourt, a mob of women beating drums, and, for three days, holding the Hôtel-de-Ville in a state of siege.—One day Rochefort is in a state of insurrection, and the workmen of the harbor compel the municipality to unfurl the red flag.4 On the following day, it is Lille, the people of which, “unwilling to exchange its money and assignats for paper-rags, called billets de confiance, gather into mobs and threaten, while a whole garrison is necessary to prevent an explosion.” On the 16th of October, it is Avignon in the power of bandits, with the abominable butchery of the Glacière. On the 5th of November, at Caen, there are eighty-two gentlemen, townsmen and artisans, knocked down and dragged to prison, for having offered their services to the municipality as special constables. On the 14th of November, at Montpellier, the roughs triumph; eight men and women are killed in the streets or in their houses, and all conservatives are disarmed or put to flight. By the end of October, it is a gigantic column of smoke and flame shooting upward suddenly from week to week and spreading everywhere, growing, on the other side of the Atlantic, into civil war in St. Domingo, where wild beasts are let loose against their keepers; 50,000 blacks take the field, and, at the outset, 1,000 whites are assassinated, 15,000 negroes slain, 200 sugar-mills destroyed and damage done to the amount of 600,000,000; “a colony of itself alone worth ten provinces, is almost annihilated.”5 At Paris, Condorcet is busy writing in his journal that “this news is not reliable, there being no object in it but to create a French empire beyond the seas for the King, where there will be masters and slaves.” A corporal of the Paris National Guard, on his own authority, orders the King to remain indoors, fearing that he may escape, and forbids a sentinel to let him go out after nine o’clock in the evening;6 at the Tuileries, stump-speakers in the open air denounce aristocrats and priests; at the Palais-Royal, there is a pandemonium of public lust and incendiary speeches.7 There are centres of riot in all quarters, “as many robberies as there are quarter-hours, and no robbers punished; no police; overcrowded courts; more delinquents than there are prisons to hold them; nearly all the private mansions closed; the annual consumption in the faubourg St. Germain alone diminished by 250,000,000; 20,000 thieves, with branded backs, idling away time in houses of bad repute, at the theatres, in the Palais-Royal, at the National Assembly, and in the coffee-houses; thousands of beggars infesting the streets, cross-ways, and public squares; everywhere an image of the deepest and least affecting poverty, because it is accompanied with insolence; swarms of the tattered vendors of all sorts of paper-money, issued by anybody that chose to put it in circulation, cut up into bits, sold, given, and coming back in rags, fouler than the miserable creatures who deal in it.”8 Out of 700,000 inhabitants there are 100,000 of the poor, of which 60,000 have flocked in from the departments;9 among them are 30,000 needy mechanics belonging to the national workshops, discharged and sent home in the preceding month of June, but who, returning three months later, are again swallowed up in the great sink of vagabondage, hurling their floating mass against the crazy edifice of public authority and furnishing the forces of sedition.—At Paris, and in the provinces, disobedience exists throughout the hierarchy. Directories countermand ministerial orders. Here, municipalities brave the commands of their Directory; there, communities order around their mayor with a drawn sword. Elsewhere, soldiers and sailors put their officers under arrest. The accused insult the judge on the bench and force him to cancel his verdict; mobs tax or plunder wheat in the market; National Guards prevent its distribution, or seize it in the storehouses. There is no security for property, lives, or consciences. The majority of Frenchmen are deprived of their right to worship in their own faith, and of voting at the elections. There is no safety, day or night, for the élite of the nation, for ecclesiastics and the gentry, for army and navy officers, for rich merchants and large landed proprietors; no protection in the courts, no income from public funds; denunciations abound, expulsions, banishments to the interior, attacks on private houses; there is no right of free assemblage, even to enforce the law under the orders of legal authorities.10 Opposed to this, and in contrast with it, is the privilege and immunity of a sect formed into a political corporation, “which extends its filiations over the whole kingdom, and even abroad; which has its own treasury, its committees, and its by-laws; which rules the government, which judges justice,”11 and which, from the capital to the hamlet, usurps or directs the administration. Liberty, equality, and the majesty of the law exist nowhere, except in words. Of the three thousand decrees given birth to by the Constituent Assembly, the most lauded, those the best set off by a philosophic baptism, form a mass of stillborn abortions of which France is the burying-ground. That which really subsists underneath the false appearances of right, proclaimed and sworn to over and over again, is, on the one hand, an oppression of the upper and cultivated classes, from which all the rights of man are withdrawn, and, on the other hand, the tyranny of the fanatical and brutal rabble which assumes to itself all the rights of sovereignty.
Against this overthrow and this disgrace the honest men of the Assembly protest in vain. Led by and forced to do what the Jacobins pleased, it revises the law only to overwhelm the oppressed and to sanction their oppressors.—Without making any distinction between armed assemblages at Coblentz, which it had a right to punish, and fugitives, three times as numerous, old men, women and children, so many indifferent and inoffensive people, not merely nobles but plebians,12 who left the soil only to escape popular outrages, it confiscates the property of all emigrants and orders this to be sold.13 Through the new restriction of the passport, those who remain are tied to their domiciles, their power of going and coming, even in the interior, being subject to the decision of each Jacobin municipality.14 It completes their ruin by depriving them without indemnity of all income from their real estate, of all the seignorial rights which the Constituent Assembly had declared to be legitimate.15 It abolishes, as far as it can, their history and their past, by burning in the public dépôts their genealogical titles.16 To all unsworn ecclesiastics, to two-thirds of the French clergy, it withholds bread, the small pension allowed them for food, which is the ransom of their confiscated possessions;17 it declares them “suspected of revolt against the law and of bad intentions against the country”; it subjects them to special oversight; it authorises their expulsion without trial by local rulers in case of disturbances; it decrees that in such cases they shall be sentenced to transportation.18 It suppresses “all secular congregations of men and women ecclesiastic or laic, even those wholly devoted to hospital service and the relief of the sick,” even those which give primary instruction and whose abolition “will take away from 600,000 children the means of learning to read and write.”19 It lays injuctions on their dress; it places episcopal palaces in the market for sale, also the buildings still occupied by monks and nuns.20 It welcomes with rounds of applause a married priest who introduces his wife to the Assembly.—Not only is the Assembly destructive but it is insulting; the authors of each decree passed by it add to its thunderbolt the rattling hail of their own abuse and slander. “Children,” says a deputy, “have the poison of aristocracy and fanaticism injected into them by the congregations.”21 “Purge the rural districts of the vermin which is devouring them!”—“Everybody knows,” says Isnard, “that the priest is as cowardly as he is vindictive. … Let these pestiferous fellows be sent back to Roman and Italian lazarettos. … What religion is that which, in its nature, is unsocial and rebellious in principle?”—Whether unsworn, whether emigrants actually or in feeling, “large proprietors, rich merchants, false conservatives,”22 all are outspoken conspirators or concealed enemies. All public disasters are imputed to them. “The cause of the troubles,” says Brissot,23 “which lay waste the colonies, is the infernal vanity of the whites who have three times violated an engagement which they have three times sworn to maintain.” Scarcity of work and short crops are accounted for through their cunning malevolence. “A large number of rich men,” says François de Nantes,24 “allow their property to run down and their fields to lie fallow, so as to enjoy seeing the suffering of the people.” France is divided into two parties, on the one hand, the aristocracy to which is attributed every vice, and, on the other hand, the people on whom is conferred every virtue. “The defence of liberty,” says Lamarque,25 “is basely abandoned every day by the rich and by the former nobility, who put on the mask of patriotism only to cheat us. It is not in this class, but only in that of citizens who are disdainfully called the people, that we find pure beings, those ardent souls really worthy of liberty.”—One step more and everything will be permitted to the virtuous against the wicked; if misfortune befalls the aristocrats so much the worse for them. Those officers who are stoned, M. de la Jaille and others, “wouldn’t they do better not to deserve being sacrificed to popular fury?”26 Isnard exclaims in the tribune, “it is the long-continued immunity enjoyed by criminals which has rendered the people executioners. Yes, an angry people, like an angry God, is only too often the terrible supplement of silent laws.”27 —In other words crimes are justified and assassinations still provoked against those who have been assassinated for the past two years.
By a forced conclusion, if the victims are criminals, their executioners are honest, and the Assembly, which rigorously proceeds against the former, reserves all its indulgence for the latter. It reinstates the numberless deserters who abandoned their flags previous to the 1st of January, 1789;28 it allows them three sous per league mileage, and brings them back to their homes or to their regiments to become, along with their brethren whose desertion is more recent, either leaders or recruits for the mobs. It releases from the galleys the forty Swiss guards of Chateauroux whom their own cantons desired to have kept there; it permits these “martyrs to Liberty” to promenade the streets of Paris in a triumphal car;29 it admits them to the bar of the house, and, taking a formal vote on it, extends to them the honors of the session.30 Finally, as if it were their special business to let loose on the public the most ferocious and foulest of the rabble, it amnesties Jourdan, Mainvielle, Duprat, and Raphel, fugitive convicts, jail-birds, the condottieri of all lands assuming the title of “the brave brigands of Avignon,” and who, for eighteen months, have pillaged and plundered the Comtat; it stops the trial, almost over, of the Glacière butchers; it tolerates the return of these as victors,31 and their installation by their own act in the places of the fugitive magistrates, allowing Avignon to be treated as a conquered city, and, henceforth, to become their prey and their booty. This is a willful restoration of the vermin to the social body, and, in this feverish body, nothing is overlooked that will increase the fever. The most anarchical and deleterious maxims emanate, like miasma, from the Assembly benches. The reduction of things to an absolute level is adopted as a principle; “equality of rights,” says Lamarque,32 “is to be maintained only by tending steadily to an equality of fortunes”; this theory is practically applied on all sides since the proletariat is pillaging all who own property.—“Let the communal possessions be partitioned among the citizens of the surrounding villages,” says François de Nantes, “in an inverse ratio to their fortunes, and let him who has the least inheritance take the largest share in the divisions.”33 Conceive the effect of this motion read at evening to peasants who are at this very moment claiming their seignior’s forest for their commune. M. Corneille prohibits any tax to be levied for the public treasury on the wages of manual labor, because nature, and not society, gives us the “right to live.”34 On the other hand, he confers on the public treasury the right of taking the whole of an income, because it is society, and not nature, which institutes public funds; hence, according to him, the poor majority must be relieved of all taxation, and all taxes must fall on the rich minority. The system is well-timed and the argument apt for convincing indigent or straitened tax-payers, namely, the refractory majority, that its taxes are just, and that it should not refuse to be taxed.—“Under the reign of liberty,” says President Daverhoult,35 “the people have the right to insist not merely on subsistence, but again on plenty and happiness.” Accordingly, being in a state of poverty they have been betrayed.—“Elevated to the height achieved by the French people,” says another president, “it looks down upon the tempests under its feet.”36 The tempest is at hand and bursts over its head. War, like a black cloud, rises above the horizon, overspreads the sky, thunders and wraps France filled with explosive materials in a circle of lightning, and it is the Assembly which, through the greatest of its mistakes, draws down the bolt on the nation’s head.
It might have been turned aside with a little prudence. Two principal grievances were alleged, one by France and the other by the Empire.—On the one hand, and very justly, France complained of the gathering of émigrés, which the Emperor and Electors tolerated against it on the frontier. In the first place, however, a few thousands of gentlemen, without troops or stores, and nearly without money,37 need not excite much fear, and, besides this, long before the decisive hour came these troops were dispersed, at once by the Emperor in his own dominions, and, fifteen days afterwards, by the Elector of Trèves in his electorate.38 —On the other hand, according to treaties, the German princes, who owned estates in Alsace, made claims for the feudal rights abolished on their French possessions and the Diet forbade them to accept the offered indemnity. But, as far as the Diet is concerned, nothing was easier nor more customary than to let negotiations drag along, there being no risk or inconvenience attending the suit as, during the delay, the claimants remained empty-handed.—If, now, behind the ostensible motives, the real intentions are sought for, it is certain that, up to January, 1792, the intentions of Austria were pacific. The grants made to the Comte d’Artois, in the Declaration of Pilnitz, were merely a court-sprinkling of holy-water, the semblance of an illusory promise and subject to a European concert of action, that is to say, annulled beforehand by an indefinite postponement, while this pretended league of sovereigns is at once “placed by the politicians in the class of august comedies.”39 Far from taking up arms against new France in the name of old France, the emperor Leopold and his prime minister Kaunitz, were glad to see the constitution completed and accepted by the King; it “got them out of trouble,”40 and Prussia likewise. In all state management political interest is the great mainspring and both powers needed all their forces in another direction, in Poland, one for retarding, and the other for accelerating its divisions, and both, when the partition took place, to get enough for themselves and prevent Russia from getting too much.—The sovereigns of Prussia and Austria, accordingly, did not yet entertain any idea of delivering Louis XVI, nor of conducting the émigrés back, nor of conquering French provinces, and if anything was to be expected from them on account of personal ill-will, there was no fear of their armed intervention.—On the side of France it is not the King who urges a rupture; he knows too well what mortal danger there is to him and his in the chances of war. Secretly as well as publicly, in writing to the émigrés, his wishes are to bring them back or to restrain them. In his private correspondence he asks of the European powers not physical but moral aid, the external support of a congress which will permit moderate men, the partisans of order, all owners of property, to raise their heads and rally around the throne and the laws against anarchy. In his ministerial correspondence every precaution is taken not to apply the match or let it be applied to gunpowder. At the critical moment of the discussion41 he entreats the deputies, through M. Delessart, his Minister of Foreign Affairs, to weigh their words and especially not to send forth a challenge on a “fixed term of delay.” He resists to the very last as far as his passive will lets him. On being compelled to declare war he requires beforehand the advice of all his ministers, over their signatures, and, only at the last extremity, utters the fatal words “with tears in his eyes,” dragged on by the Assembly which has just cited M. Delessart before the supreme court at Orleans, under a capital charge, and which qualifies all caution as treachery.
It is the Assembly then which launches the disabled ship on the roaring abysses of an unknown sea, without a rudder and leaking at every seam; it alone slips the cable which held it in port and which the foreign powers neither dared nor desired to sever. Here, again, the Girondists are the leaders and hold the axe; since the last of October they have grasped it and struck repeated blows.42 —As an exception, the extreme Jacobins, Couthon, Collot d’Herbois, Danton, Robespierre, do not side with them. Robespierre, who at first proposed to confine the Emperor “within the circle of Popilius,”43 fears the placing of too great power in the King’s hands, and, growing mistrustful, preaches distrust.—But the great mass of the party, led by clamorous public opinion, impels on the timid marching in front. Of the many things of which knowledge is necessary to conduct successfully such a complex and delicate affair, they know nothing; they are ignorant about cabinets, courts, populations, treaties, precedents, timely forms and requisite style. Their guide and counsellor in foreign relations is Brissot whose pre-eminence is based on their ignorance and who, exalted into a statesman, becomes for a few months the most conspicuous figure in Europe.44 To whatever extent a European calamity may be attributed to any one man, this one is to be attributed to him. It is this wretch, born in a pastry-cook’s shop, brought up in an attorney’s office, formerly a police agent at 150 francs per month, once in league with scandal-mongers and black-mailers,45 a penny-a-liner, busybody, and intermeddler, who, with the half-information of a nomad, scraps of newspaper ideas and reading-room lore,46 added to his scribblings as a writer and his club declamation, directs the destinies of France and starts a war in Europe which is to destroy six millions of lives. From the garret in which his wife washes his shirts, he enjoys the snubbing of potentates and, on the 20th of October, in the tribune,47 he begins by insulting thirty foreign sovereigns. This keen, intense enjoyment on which the new fanaticism daily feeds itself, Madame Roland herself delights in, with evident complacency, in the two famous letters in which, with a supercilious tone, she first instructs the King and next the Pope.48 Brissot, at bottom, regards himself as a Louis XIV, and expressly invites the Jacobins to imitate the haughty ways of the Great Monarch.49 —To the mismanagement of the interloper, and the sensitiveness of the upstart, must be added the rigidity of the sectary. The Jacobins, in the name of abstract right, deny historic right; they impose from above, and by force, that truth of which they are the apostles, and allow themselves every provocation which they prohibit to others. “Europe must know,” exclaims Isnard,50 “that ten millions of Frenchmen, armed with the sword, with the pen, with reason, with eloquence, might, if provoked, change the face of the world and make tyrants tremble on their thrones of clay.” “Wherever a throne exists,” says Hérault de Séchelles, “there is an enemy.”51 “Honest capitulation between tyranny and liberty,” says Brissot, “is impossible. Your Constitution is an eternal anathema against absolute monarchs. … It places them on trial, it pronounces judgment on them; it seems to say to each—tomorrow thou shalt pass away or shalt be king only through the people. War is now a national benefit, and not to have war is the only calamity to be dreaded.”52 —“Tell the king,” says Gensonné, “that war is necessary, that public opinion demands it, that the safety of the empire makes it a law.”53 —“The state we are in,” concludes Vergniaud, “is a veritable state of destruction that may lead us to disgrace and death. To arms! to arms! Citizens, freemen, defend your liberty, confirm the hopes of that of the human race. … Lose not the advantage of your position. Attack now that there is every sign of complete success. … The manes of past generations seem to me crowding into this temple to conjure you, in the name of the evils which slavery has compelled them to endure, to preserve future generations from similar evils, the generations whose destinies are in your hands! Let this prayer be granted! Be for the future a new Providence! Ally yourselves with eternal justice!”54 —There is no longer any room for serious discussion with those Marseilles orators. Brissot, in response to the claim made by the Emperor in behalf of the princes’ property in Alsatia, replies that “the sovereignty of the people is not bound by the treaties of tyrants.”55 As to the gatherings of the émigrés, the Emperor having yielded on this point, he will yield on the others.56 Let him formally renounce all combinations against France. “I want war on the 10th of February,” says Brissot, “if we do not receive advices of this renunciation.” No explanations are to be listened to; we want satisfaction; “to require satisfaction is to put the Emperor at our mercy.”57 The Assembly, so eager to start the quarrel, usurps the King’s right to take the first step and formally declares war, fixing the date.58 —The die is now cast. “They want war,” says the Emperor, “and they shall have it.” Austria immediately forms an alliance with Prussia, threatened, like herself, with revolutionary propaganda.59 By sounding the tocsin the Jacobins, masters of the Assembly, have succeeded in bringing about that “monstrous alliance,” and, from day to day, this tocsin sounds the louder. One year more, thanks to this policy, and France will have all Europe for an enemy and for an only friend, the Regency of Algiers, whose internal system of government is about the same as her own.
Behind their carmagnoles60 we can detect a design which they will avow later on.—“We were always opposed by the Constitution,” Brissot is to say, “and nothing but war could put the Constitution down.”61 Diplomatic wrongs, consequently, of which they make parade, are simply pretexts; if they urge war it is for the purpose of overthrowing the legal order of things which annoys them; their real object is the conquest of power, a second internal revolution, the application of their system and a final state of equality.—Concealed behind them is the most politic and absolute of theorists, a man “whose great art is the attainment of his ends without showing himself, the preparation of others for far-sighted views of which they have no suspicion, and that of speaking but little in public and acting in secret.”62 This man is Sièyes, “the leader of everything without seeming to lead anything.” Equally as infatuated as Rousseau with his own speculations, but as unscrupulous and as clear-sighted as Machiavelli in the selection of practical means, he was, is, and will be, in decisive moments, the consulting counsel of radical democracy. “His pride tolerates no superiority. He causes nobility to be abolished because he is not a noble; because he does not possess all he will destroy all. His fundamental doctrine for the consolidation of the Revolution is, that it is indispensable to change religion and to change the dynasty.”—Now, had peace been maintained all this was impossible; moreover the ascendency of the party was compromised. Entire classes that had adhered to the party when it launched insurrection against the privileged, broke loose from it now that insurrection was directed against them; among thoughtful men and among those with property, most were disgusted with anarchy, and likewise disgusted with the abettors of it. Many administrators, magistrates and functionaries recently elected, loudly complained of their authority being subject to that of the populace. Many cultivators, manufacturers and merchants have become silently exasperated at the fruits of their labor and economy being surrendered at discretion to robbers and the indigent. It was hard for the flour-dealers of Etampes not to dare send away their wheat, to be obliged to supply their customers at night, to tremble in their own houses, and know that if they went out-doors they risked their lives.63 It was hard for wholesale grocers in Paris to see their warehouses invaded, their windows smashed, their bags of coffee and boxes of sugar valued at a low price, parcelled out and carried away by old hags or taken gratis by scamps who ran off and sold them at the other end of the street.64 It was hard in all places for the families of the old bourgeoisie, for the formerly prominent men in each town and village, for the eminent in each art, profession or trade, for reputable and well-to-do people, in short, for the majority of men who had a good roof over their heads and a good coat on their backs, to undergo the illegal domination of a crowd led by a few hundreds or dozens of stump-speakers and fire-brands.—Already, in the beginning of 1792, this dissatisfaction was so great as to be denounced in the tribune and in the press. Isnard65 railed against “that multitude of large property-holders, those opulent merchants, those haughty, wealthy personages who, advantageously placed in the social amphitheatre, are unwilling to have their seats changed.” “The bourgeoisie,” wrote Pétion,66 “that numerous class free of any anxiety, is separating itself from the people; it considers itself above them, … they are the sole object of its distrust. It is everywhere haunted by the one idea that the revolution is a war between those who have and those who have not.”—It abstains, indeed, from the elections, it keeps away from patriotic clubs, it demands the restoration of order and the reign of law; it rallies to itself “the multitude of conservative, timid people, for whom tranquillity is the prime necessity,” and especially, which is still more serious, it charges the disturbances upon their veritable authors. With suppressed indignation and a mass of undisputed evidence, André Chénier, a man of feeling, starts up in the midst of the silent crowd and openly tears off the mask from the Jacobins.67 He brings into full light the daily sophism by which a mob, “some hundreds of idlers gathered in a garden or at a theatre, are impudently called the people.” He portrays “those three or four thousand usurpers of national sovereignty whom their orators and writers daily intoxicate with grosser incense than any adulation offered to the worst of despots”; those assemblies where “an infinitely small number of Frenchmen appears large, because they are united and yell”; that Paris club from which honest, industrious, intelligent people had withdrawn one by one to give place to intriguers in debt, to persons of tarnished reputations, to the hypocrites of patriotism, to the lovers of uproar, to abortive talents, to corrupted intellects, to outcasts of every kind and degree who, unable to manage their own business, indemnify themselves by managing that of the public. He shows around the central workshop twelve hundred branches of insurrection, twelve hundred affiliated clubs which, “holding each other’s hands, form a sort of electric chain around all France,” and giving it a shock at every touch from head-quarters; their confederation installed and enthroned not merely as a State within the State but as a State that is sovereign in a vassal State; administrative bodies summoned to their bar, judicial verdicts set aside through their intervention, private individuals searched, assessed and condemned through their verdicts; a steady, systematic defense of insubordination and revolt; “commerce and industry styled criminal under the name of monopoly”; property unsettled and every rich man rendered suspicious, “talent and integrity silenced”; in short, a public conspiracy against society in the very name of society, “while the sacred symbol of liberty is made use of to seal” the exemption from punishment of a few tyrants.
An outspoken protest of this kind embodied what most Frenchmen muttered to themselves, and from month to month, graver excesses excited greater censure. “Anarchy exists68 to a degree scarcely to be paralleled, and such is the horror and apprehension which licentious associations have universally inspired, there is some reason to believe that the great mass of the French population would consider even despotism a blessing, if accompanied with security to persons and property, such as is experienced under the worst governments in Europe.”—Another observer, not less competent,69 says: “It is plain to my eyes that when Louis XVI. finally succumbed, he had more partisans in France than the year previous, at the time of his flight to Varennes.”—The truth of this, indeed, was frequently verified at the end of 1791 and beginning of 1792, by various investigations.70 “Eighteen thousand officers of every grade, elected by the constitutionalists, seventy-one department administrations out of eighty-two, most of the tribunals,71 all traders and manufacturers, every chief and a large portion of the National Guard of Paris,” in short, the élite of the nation, and among citizens generally, the great majority who lived from day to day were for him, and for the “Right” of the Assembly against the “Left.” If internal trouble had not been complicated by external difficulties, there would have been a change in opinion, and this the King expected. In accepting the Constitution, he thought that its defects would be revealed in practical operation and that they would lead to a reform. In the mean time he scrupulously observed the Constitution, and, through interest as well as conscience, kept his oath to the letter. “The most faithful execution of the Constitution,” said he to one of his ministers, “is the surest way to make the nation see the changes that ought to be made in it.”72 —In other words, he counted on experience, and it is very probable that if there had been nothing to interfere with experience, his calculations would have turned out correct. The nation would have finally determined between the defenders of order and the instigators of disorder; it would have decided for the magistrates against the clubs, for the police against rioters, for the King against the populace. In one or two years more it would have learned that a restoration of the executive power was indispensable for securing the execution of the laws; that the chief of police, with his hands tied, could not do his duty; that it was undoubtedly wise to give him his orders, but that if he was to be of any use against knaves and fools, his hands should first be set free.
Just the contrary with war; the aspect of things changes, and the alternative is the other way. It is no longer a choice between order and disorder, but between the new and the old régime, for, behind foreign opponents on the frontier, there stand the émigrés. The commotion is terrible, especially amongst the lower classes which mainly bore the whole weight of the old edifice; among the millions who live by the sweat of their brow, artisans, small farmers, métayers, day-laborers and soldiers, also the smugglers of salt and other articles, poachers, vagabonds, beggars and half-beggars, who, taxed, plundered, and harshly treated for centuries, have to endure, from father to son, poverty, oppression and disdain. They know through their own experience the difference between their late and their present condition. They have only to fall back on personal knowledge to revive in their imaginations the enormous royal, ecclesiastical, and seignorial taxes, the direct tax of eighty-one per cent., the bailiffs in charge, the seizures and the husbandry service, the inquests of excisemen and game-keepers, the ravages of wild birds and of pigeons, the extortions of the collector and his clerk, the delay and partiality in obtaining justice, the rashness and brutality of the police, the kicks and cuffs of the constabulary, the swarms of wretches like heaps of dirt and filth, the promiscuousness, the over-crowding, the filth and the starvation of places of confinement.73 They have simply to open their eyes to see their immense deliverance; all direct or indirect taxes for the past two years legally abolished or practically suppressed, beer at two sous a pot, wine at six sous a pint, pigeons in their meat-safes, game on their turn-spits, the wood of the national forests in their garrets, the gendarmerie timid, the police absent, in many places the crops all theirs, the owner not daring to claim his share, the judge avoiding condemning them, the constable refusing to serve papers on them, privileges restored in their favor, the public authorities cringing to mobs and yielding to their exactions, remaining quiet or unarmed in the face of their misdeeds, their outrages excused or tolerated, their superior good sense and deep feeling lauded in thousands of harangues, the jacket and the blouse considered as symbols of patriotism, and supremacy in the State claimed for the sans-culottes in the name of their merits and their virtues.—And now the overthrow of all this is announced to them, a league against them of foreign kings, the emigrants in arms, an invasion imminent, the Croats and Pandours in the field, hordes of mercenaries and barbarians crowding down on them again to put them in chains.—From the workshop to the cottage there rolls along a formidable outburst of anger, accompanied with national songs, denouncing the plots of tyrants and summoning the people to arms.74 This is the second wave of the Revolution, ever increasing and roaring, less grand than the former one, since it bears along with it but little more than the lower class, but higher and much more destructive.
Not only, indeed, is the mass now launched forth of the most brutal sort, but a fresh sentiment animates it, the force of which is incalculable, that of plebeian pride, that of the subject and poor man, who, suddenly erect after ages of debasement, relishes, far beyond his hopes and unstintedly, the delights of equality, independence, and dominion. “Fifteen millions of white negroes,” says Mallet-Dupan,75 worse fed, more miserable than those of St. Domingo, rebellious like them and emancipated from all authority through rebellion, accustomed like them, through thirty months of license, to ruling over all that is left of their former masters, proud like them of the restoration of their caste and exulting in their horny hands—one may imagine their transports of rage on hearing the trumpet-blast which awakens them, showing them on the horizon the returning planters, bringing with them new whips and heavier manacles?—Nothing is more distrustful than such a sentiment in such breasts—quickly alarmed, ready to strike, ready for any act of violence, blindly credulous, headlong and easily impelled, not merely against real enemies on the outside, but at first against imaginary enemies on the inside,76 the King, the ministers, the gentry, priests, parliamentarians, orthodox catholics, all administrators and magistrates who were imprudent enough to appeal to the law, all manufacturers, merchants, and owners of property who condemn disorder, the wealthy whose egotism keeps them at home, those who are well-off, well-bred and well-dressed, all that are under suspicion because they have lost by the new régime, or because they have not adopted its ways.—Such is the colossal brute which the Girondists introduce into the political arena.77 For six months they shake red flags before its eyes, goad it on, work it up into a rage and drive it forward by decrees and proclamations against their adversaries and against its keepers, against the nobles and the clergy, against inside aristocrats in complicity with those of Coblentz, against “the Austrian committee” the accomplice of Austria, against the King, whose caution they transform into treachery, against the whole government to which they impute the anarchy they excite, and the war of which they are the instigators.
Thus over-excited and topsy-turvy, nothing is now wanting to the plebeian class but arms and a rallying-point. The Girondists furnish both. Through a striking coincidence, one which shows that the plan was concerted,78 they set three political engines agoing at one stroke. Just at the moment when, through their usual rodomontade, they rendered war inevitable, they put on the livery of the people and arm the poor. At the end of January, 1792, almost in the same week, their ultimatum to Austria was announced by fixing the date of delay, by adopting the red woollen cap and beginning the manufacture of pikes.—It is evident that pikes are of no use in the open field against cannon and a regular army; accordingly they are intended for use in the interior and in towns. Let the national-guard who can pay for his uniform, and the active citizen whose three francs of direct tax gives him a privilege, own their guns; the long-shoreman, the market-porter, the lodger, the passive citizen, whose poverty excludes them from voting must have their pikes, and, in these insurrectionary times, a ballot is not worth a good pike wielded by brawny arms.—The magistrate in his robes may now issue any summons he pleases, but it will be rammed down his throat, and, lest he should be in doubt of this he is made to know it beforehand. “The Revolution began with pikes and pikes will finish it.”79 “Ah,” say the frequenters of the Tuileries gardens, “if the good patriots of the Champ de Mars only had pikes like these the blue-coats (Lafayette’s guards) would not have had such a good chance!”—“They are to be borne everywhere, wherever there are enemies of the people, to the Château, if any can be found there!” They will override the veto and secure the passage of the proper decrees in the National Assembly. The faubourg St. Antoine tenders those it has for this purpose, and, to mark the use made of them, it complains because “efforts are made to substitute the aristocracy of wealth for the power of birth.” It demands “severe measures against the rascally hypocrites who, with the Constitution in their hands, slaughter the people.” It declares that “kings, ministers and a civil list will pass away, but that the rights of man, national sovereignty and pikes will not pass away,” and, by order of the president, the National Assembly thanks the petitioners “for the advice their zeal prompts them to give.”
Between the leaders of the Assembly and the populace armed with pikes, the party is arraigned against the rich, against Constitutionalists, against the government, and henceforth, the Jacobin extremists march side by side with the Girondists, both reconciled for the attack except in so far as to differ from each other after the victory. “The object of the Girondists80 is not a republic in name, but an actual republic through a reduction of the civil list to five millions, through the curtailment of most of the royal prerogatives, through a change of dynasty of which the new head would be a sort of honorary president of the republic to which they would assign an executive council appointed by the Assembly, that is to say, by themselves.” As to the Jacobin extremists we find no principle with them but “that of a rigorous, absolute application of the Rights of Man. With the aid of such a charter they aim at changing the laws and public officers every six months, at extending their levelling process to every constituted authority, to all legal pre-eminence and to property. The only régime they long for is the democracy of a contentious rabble … The vilest instruments, professional agitators, brigands, fanatics, every sort of wretch, the hardened and armed poverty-stricken, who, in wild disorder” march to the attack of property and to “universal pillagings”—in short, barbarians of town and country “who form their ordinary army and never leave it inactive one single day.”—Under their universal, concerted and growing usurpation the substance of power melts wholly away in the hands of the legal authorities; little by little, these are reduced to vain counterfeits, while from one end of France to the other, long before the final collapse, the faction, in the provinces as well as at Paris, substitutes, under the cry of public danger, the government of might for the government of law.
[1. ]Mercure de France, Sept. 24, 1791.—Cf. Report of M. Alquier (session of Sept. 23).
[2. ]Mercure de France, Oct. 15, 1792 (the treaty with England was dated Sept. 26, 1786).—Ibid., Letter of M. Walsh, superior of the Irish college, to the municipality of Paris. Those who use the whips, come out of a neighboring grog-shop. The commissary of police, who arrives with the National Guard, “addresses the people, and promises them satisfaction,” requiring M. Walsh to dismiss all who are in the chapel, without waiting for the end of the mass. M. Walsh refers to the law and to treaties. The commissary replies that he knows nothing about treaties, while the commandant of the national guard says to those who are leaving the chapel, “In the name of Justice, I order you to follow me to the church of Saint Etienne, where I give you up to the people.”
[3. ]“The French Revolution,” Vol. I. pp. 261, 263.—“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,185 and 3,186 (numerous documents on the rural disturbances in Aisne).—Mercure de France, Nov. 5 and 26, Dec. 10, 1791.—Moniteur, X. 426 (Nov. 22, 1791).
[4. ]Moniteur, X. 449, Nov. 23, 1791. (Official report of the crew of the Embuscade, dated Sept. 30). The captain, M. d’Orléans, stationed at the Windward Islands, is obliged to return to Rochefort and is detained there on board his ship: “Considering the uncertainty of his mission, and the fear of being ordered to use the same hostilities against brethren for which he is already denounced in every club in the kingdom, the crew has forced the captain to return to France.”
[5. ]Mercure de France, Dec. 17, address of the colonists to the king.
[6. ]Moniteur, XIII. 200. Report of Sautereau, July 20, on the affair of Corporal Lebreton (Nov. 11, 1791).
[7. ]Saint Huruge is first tenor. Justine makes her appearance in the Palais-Royal about the middle of 1791. They exhibit two pretended savages there, who, before a paying audience, revive the customs of Otaheite. (“Souvenirs” of M. X——.)
[8. ]Mercure de France, Nov. 5, 1791.—Buchez et Roux, XII. 338. Report by Pétion, mayor, Dec. 9, 1791. “Every branch of the police is in a state of complete neglect. The streets are dirty, and full of rubbish; robbery, and crimes of every kind, are increasing in a frightful degree.” “Correspondence de M. de Staël” (manuscript), Jan. 22, 1792. “As the police is almost worthless, freedom from punishment, added to poverty, brings on disorder.”
[9. ]Moniteur, XI. 517 (session of Feb. 29, 1792). Speeches by Lacépede and Mulot.
[10. ]Lacretelle, “Dix ans d’Epreuves.” “I know no more dismal and discouraging aspect than the interval between the departure of the National Assembly, on the 10th of August consummated by that of September 2.”
[11. ]Mercure de France, Sept. 3, 1791, article by Mallet-Dupan.
[12. ]Moniteur, XI. 317 (session of Feb. 6, 1792). Speech by M. Cahier, a minister. “Many of the emigrants belong to the class formerly called the Third-Estate. No reason for emigrating, on their part, can be supposed but that of religious anxieties.”
[13. ]Decree of Nov. 9, 1791. The first decree seems to be aimed only at the armed gatherings on the frontier. We see, however, by the debates, that it affects all emigrants. The decrees of Feb. 9 and March 30, 1792, bear upon all, without exception.—“Correspondence de Mirabeau et du Comte de la Marck,” III. 264 (letter by M. Pellenc, Nov. 12, 1791). “The decree (against the emigrants) was prepared in committee; it was expected that the emigrants would return, but there was fear of them. It was feared that the nobles, associated with the unsworn priests in the rural districts, might add strength to a troublesome resistance. The decree, as it was passed, seemed to be the most suitable for keeping the emigrants beyond the frontiers.”
[14. ]Decree of Feb. 1, 1792.—Moniteur, XI. 412 (session of Feb. 17). Speech by Goupilleau. “Since the decree of the National Assembly on passports, emigrations have redoubled.” People evidently escaped from France as from a prison.
[15. ]Decrees of June 18 and August 25.
[16. ]Decree of June 19.—Moniteur, XIII. 331. “In execution of the law … there will be burnt, on Tuesday, August 7, on the Place Vendôme, at 2 o’clock: 1st, 600, more or less, of files of papers, forming the last of genealogical collections, titles and proofs of nobility; 2d, about 200 files, forming part of a work composed of 263 volumes, on the Order of the Holy Ghost.”
[17. ]Decree of Nov. 29, 1791. (This decree is not in Duvergier’s collection.)—Moniteur, XII. 59, 247 (sessions of April 5 and 28, 1792).
[18. ]At the Jacobin Club, Legendre proposes a much more expeditious measure for getting rid of the priests. “At Brest, he says, boats are found which are called Marie-Salopes, so constructed that, on being loaded with dirt, they go out of the harbor themselves. Let us have a similar arrangement for priests; but, instead of sending them out of the harbor, let us send them out to sea, and, if necessary, let them go down.” (“Journal de Amis de la Constitution,” number 194, May 15, 1792.)
[19. ]Moniteur, XII. 560 (decree of June 3).
[20. ]Decrees of July 19 and Aug. 4, completed by those of Aug. 16 and 19.
[21. ]Moniteur, XII. 59, 61 (session of April 3); X. 374 (session of Nov. 13); XI. 230 (session of April 26).—The last sentence quoted was uttered by François de Nantes.
[22. ]Moniteur, XI. 43 (session of Jan. 5, speech by Isnard).
[23. ]Moniteur, XI. 356 (session of Feb. 10).
[24. ]Moniteur, XI. 230 (session of April 26).
[25. ]Moniteur (session of June 22).
[26. ]The words of Brissot (Patriote Français), number 887.—Letter addressed Jan. 5 to the club of Brest, by Messrs. Cavalier and Malassis, deputies to the National Assembly. “As to the matter of the sieur Lajaille, although we take an interest in him, that arrant aristocrat deserves what he got.… We shall have no rest until all these traitors, these perjurers, whom we have spared so long, shall be exterminated” (Mercure de France, Feb. 4).—This Jaille affair is one of the most instructive, and the best supported by documents (Mercure de France, Dec. 10 and 17).—“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,215, official report of the district administrators, and of the municipal officers of Brest, Nov. 27, 1791.—Letter by M. de Marigny, commissary in the navy, at Brest, Nov. 28.—Letters by M. de la Jaille, etc.—M. de la Jaille, sent to Brest to take command of the Dugay-Trouin, arrives there Nov. 27. While at dinner, twenty persons enter the room, and announce to him, “in the name of many others,” that his presence in Brest is causing trouble, that he must leave, and that “he will not be allowed to take command of a vessel.” He replies, that he will leave the town, as soon as he has finished his dinner. Another deputation follows, more numerous than the first one, and insists on his leaving at once; and they act as his escort. He submits, is conducted to the city gates; and there the escort leaves him. A mob attacks him, and “his body is covered with contusions.” He is rescued, with great difficulty, by six brave fellows, of whom one is a pork-dealer, sent to bleed him on the spot. “This insurrection is due to an extra meeting of ‘The Friends of the Constitution,’ held the evening before in the theatre, to which the public were invited.” M. de la Jaille, it must be stated, is not a proud aristocrat, but a sensible man, in the style of Florian’s and Berquin’s heroes. But just pounded to a jelly, he writes to the president of the “Friends of the Constitution,” that, “could he have flown into the bosom of the club, he would have gladly done so, to convey to it his grateful feelings. He had accepted his command only at the solicitation of the Americans in Paris, and of the six commissioners recently arrived from St. Domingo.”—Mercure de France, April 14, article by Mallet-Dupan. “I have asked in vain for the vengeance of the law against the assassins of M. de la Jaille. The names of the authors of this assault in full daylight, to which thousands can bear witness, are known to everybody in Brest. Proceedings have been ordered and begun, but the execution of the orders is suspended. More potent than the law, the motionnaires, protectors of assassins, frighten or paralyse its ministrants.”
[27. ]Mercure de France, Nov. 12 (session of Oct. 51, 1792).
[28. ]Decree of Feb. 8, and others like it, on the details, as, for instance, that of Feb. 7.
[29. ]April 9, at the Jacobin Club, Vergniaud, the president, welcomes and compliments the convicts of Chateau-vieux.
[30. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, book I. vol. I. (especially the session of April 15).
[31. ]Moniteur, XII. 335.—Decree of March 20 (the triumphal entry of Jourdan and his associates belongs to the next month).
[32. ]Moniteur, XII. 730 (session of June 23).
[33. ]Moniteur, VII. 230 (session of April 12).
[34. ]Moniteur, XII. 6 (session of March 31).
[35. ]Moniteur, 123 (session of Jan. 14).
[36. ]Mercure de France, Dec. 23 (session of Dec. 23), p. 98.
[37. ]Moniteur, X. 178 (session of Oct. 20, 1791). Information supplied by the deputies of the Upper and Lower Rhine departments.—M. Koch says: “An army of émigrés never existed, unless it be a petty gathering, which took place at Ettenheim, a few leagues from Strasbourg.… (This troop) encamped in tents, but only because it lacked barracks and houses.”—M.——, deputy of the Lower Rhine, says: “This army at Ettenheim is composed of about five or six hundred poorly-clad, half-paid men, deserters of all nations, sleeping in tents, for lack of other shelter, and armed with clubs, for lack of fire-arms, and deserting every day, because money is getting scarce. The second army, at Worms, under the command of a Condé, is composed of three hundred gentlemen, and as many valets and grooms. I have to add, that the letters which reach me from Strasbourg, containing extracts of advices from Frankfort, Munich, Ratisbon, and Vienna, announce the most pacific intentions on the part of the different courts, since receiving the notification of the king’s submission.” The number of armed emigrants increases, but always remains very small (Moniteur, X. 678, letter of M. Delatouche, an eye-witness, Dec. 10). “I suppose that the number of emigrants scattered around on the territories of the grand-duke of Baden, the bishop of Spires, the electorates, etc., amounts to scarcely 4,000 men.”
[38. ]Moniteur, X. 418 (session of Nov. 15, 1791). Report by the minister Delessart. In August, the emperor issued orders against enlistments, and to send out of the country all Frenchmen under suspicion; also, in October, to send away the French who formed too numerous a body at Ath and at Tournay.—Buchez et Roux, XII. 395, demands of the king, Dec. 14.—Ibid., XIII. 15, 16, 19, 52, complete satisfaction given by the Elector of Trèves, Jan. 1, 1792, communicated to the Assembly Jan. 6; publication of the elector’s orders in the electorate, Jan. 3. The French envoy reports that they are fully executed, which news, with the documents, are communicated to the Assembly, on the 8th, 16, and 19th of January.—“Correspondance de Mirabeau et M. de la Marck,” III. 287. Letter of M. de Mercy-Argenteau, Jan. 9, 1792. “The emperor has promised aid to the elector, under the express stipulation that he should begin by yielding to the demands of the French, as otherwise no assistance would be given to him in case of attack.”
[39. ]Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” I. 254 (February, 1792).—“Correspondance de Mirabeau et du Comte de la Marck,” III. 232 (note of M. de Bacourt). On the very day and at the moment of signing the treaty at Pilnitz, at eleven o’clock in the evening, the Emperor Leopold wrote to his prime minister, M. de Kaunitz, to this effect: “The agreement he had just signed does not really bind him to anything. The declarations it contains, extorted by the Count d’Artois, have no value whatever.” He ends by assuring him that “neither himself nor his government is in any way bound by this instrument.”
[40. ]Words of M. de Kaunitz, Sept. 4, 1791 (“Recueil,” by Vivenot, I. 242).
[41. ]Moniteur, XI. 142 (session of Jan. 17).—Speech by M. Delessart.—Decree of accusation against him March 10.—Declaration of war, April 20.—On the real intentions of the King, Cf. Malouet, “Mémoires,” II. 199–209; Lafayette, “Mémoires,” I. 441 (note 3); Bertrand de Molleville, “Mémoires,” VI. 22; Gouverneur Morris, II. 242, letter of Oct. 23, 1792.
[42. ]Moniteur, X. 172 (session of Oct. 20, 1791). Speech by Brissot.—Lafayette, I. 441. “It is the Girondists who, at this time, want war at all hazards.”—Malouet, II. 209. “As Brissot has since boasted, it was the republican party which wanted war, and which provoked it by insulting all the powers.”
[43. ]Buchez et Roux, XII. 402 (session of the Jacobin Club, Nov. 28, 1791).
[44. ]Gustave III., King of Sweden, assassinated by Ankerstrom, says: “I should like to know what Brissot will say.”
[45. ]On Brissot’s antecedents, Cf. Edmond Biré, “La Légende des Girondins.” Personally, Brissot was honest, and remained poor. But he had passed through a good deal of filth, and bore the marks of it. He had lent himself to the diffusion of an obscene book, “Le Diable dans un bénitier,” and, in 1783, having received 13,355 francs to found a Lyceum in London, not only did not found it, but was unable to return the money.
[46. ]Moniteur, XI. 147. Speech by Brissot, Jan. 17. Examples from whom he borrows authority, Charles XII., Louis XIV., Admiral Blake, Frederic II., etc.
[47. ]Moniteur, X. 174. “This Venetian government, which is nothing but a farce. … Those petty German princes, whose insolence in the last century despotism crushed out. … Geneva, that atom of a republic. … That bishop of Liège, whose yoke bows down a people that ought to be free. … I disdain to speak of other princes. … That King of Sweden, who has only twenty-five millions income, and who spends two-thirds of it in poor pay for an army of generals and a small number of discontented soldiers. … As to that princess (Catherine II.), whose dislike of the French constitution is well known, and who is about as good looking as Elizabeth, she cannot expect greater success than Elizabeth in the Dutch revolution.” (Brissot, in this last passage, tries to appear at once witty and well read.)
[48. ]Letter of Roland to the king, June 10, 1792, and letter of the executive council to the pope, Nov. 25, 1792. Letter of Madame Roland to Brissot, Jan. 7, 1791. “Briefly, adieu. Cato’s wife need not gratify herself by complimenting Brutus.”
[49. ]Buchez et Roux, XII. 410 (meeting of the Jacobin Club, Dec. 10, 1791). “A Louis XIV. declares war against Spain, because his ambassador had been insulted by the Spanish ambassador. And we, who are free, we give a moment’s hesitation to it!”
[50. ]Moniteur, X, 503 (session of Nov. 29). The Assembly orders this speech to be printed and distributed in the departments.
[51. ]Moniteur, X. 762 (session of Dec. 28).
[52. ]Moniteur, XI. 147, 149 (session of Jan. 17); X. 759 (session of Dec. 28).—Already, on the 16th of December, he had declared at the Jacobin Club: “A people that has conquered its freedom, after ten centuries of slavery, needs war. War is essential to it for its consolidation.” (Buchez et Roux, XII. 410).—On the 17th of January, in the tribune, he again repeats: “I have only one fear, and that is, that we may not have war.”
[53. ]Moniteur, XI. 119 (session of Jan. 13). Speech by Gensonné, in the name of the diplomatic committee, of which he is the reporter.
[54. ]Moniteur, XI. 158 (session of Jan. 18). The Assembly orders the printing of this speech.
[55. ]Moniteur, X. 760 (session of Dec. 28).
[56. ]Moniteur, XI. 149 (session of Jan. 17). Speech by Brissot.
[57. ]Moniteur, XI. 178 (session of Jan. 20). Fauchet proposes the following decree: “All partial treaties actually existent are declared void. The National Assembly substitutes in their place alliances with the English, the Anglo-American, the Helvetic, Polish, and Dutch nations, as long as they remain free. … When other nations want our alliance, they have only to conquer their freedom to have it. Meanwhile, this will not prevent us from having relations with them, as with good-natured savages. … Let us occupy the towns in the neighborhood which bring our adversaries too near us. … Mayence, Coblentz, and Worms are sufficient.”—Ibid., p. 215 (session of Jan. 25). One of the members, supporting himself with the authority of Gélon, King of Syracuse, proposes an additional article: “We declare that we will not lay down our arms until we shall have established the freedom of all peoples.” These stupidities show the mental condition of the Jacobin party.
[58. ]The decree is passed Jan. 25. The alliance between Prussia and Austria takes place Feb. 7 (De Bourgoing, “Histoire diplomatique de l’Europe pendant la Révolution Française,” I. 457).
[59. ]Albert Sorel, “La Mission du Comte de Ségur à Berlin” (published in the Temps, Oct. 15, 1878). Despatch of M. de Ségur to M. Delessart, Feb. 24, 1792. “Count Schulemburg repeated to me that they had no desire whatever to meddle with our constitution. But, said he with singular animation, we must guard against gangrene. Prussia is, perhaps, the country which should fear it least; nevertheless, however remote a gangrened member may be, it is better to cut it off than risk one’s life. How can you expect to secure tranquillity, when thousands of writers every day … mayors, office-holders, insult kings, and publish that the Christian religion has always supported despotism, and that we shall be free only by destroying it, and that all princes must be exterminated because they are all tyrants?”
[60. ]A popular jig of these revolutionary times, danced in the streets and on the public squares.—Tr.
[61. ]Buchez et Roux, XXV. 203 (session of April 3, 1793). Speech by Brissot.—Ibid., XX. 127. “A tous les Républicains de France, par Brissot,” Oct. 24, 1792. “In declaring war, I had in view the abolition of royalty.” He refers, in this connection, to his speech of Dec. 30, 1791, where he says, “I fear only one thing, and that is, that we may be betrayed. We need treachery, for strong doses of poison still exist in the heart of France, and heavy eruptions are necessary to get clear of it.”
[62. ]Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” I. 260 (April, 1792), and I. 439 (July, 1792).
[63. ]“The French Revolution,” I. 262 and following pages.
[64. ]Buchez et Roux, XIII. 92–99 (January, 1792); 225 (February).—Coraï, “Lettres inédites,” 33. (One of these days, out of curiosity, he walked along as far as the Rue des Lombards.) “Witness of such crying injustice, and indignant at not being able to seize any of the thieves that were running along the street, loaded with sugar and coffee to sell again, I suddenly felt a feverish chill over all my body.” (The letter is not dated. The editor conjectures that the year was 1791. I rather think that it was 1792.)
[65. ]Moniteur, XI. 45 and 46 (session of Jan. 5). The whole of Isnard’s speech should be read.
[66. ]Buchez et Roux, XIII. 177. Letter by Pétion, Feb. 10.
[67. ]Buchez et Roux, XIII. 252. Letter of André Chénier, in the Journal de Paris, Feb. 26.—Schmidt, “Tableaux de la Révolution Française,” I. 76. Reply of the Directory of the Department of the Seine to a circular by Roland, June 12, 1792. The contrast between the two classes is here clearly defined. “We have not resorted to those assemblages of men, most of them foreigners, for the opinion of the people, among the enemies of labor and repose standing by themselves and having no part in common interests, already inclined to vice through idleness, and who prefer the risks of disorder to the honorable resources of indigence. This class of men, always large in large cities, is that whose noisy harangues fill the streets, squares, and public gardens of the capital, that which excites seditious gatherings, that which constantly fosters anarchy and contempt for the laws—that, in fine, whose clamor, far from indicating public opinion, indicates the extreme effort made to prevent the expression of public opinion. … We have studied the opinion of the people of Paris among those useful and laborious men warmly attached to the State at all points of their existence through every object of their affection, among owners of property, tillers of the soil, tradesmen, and laborers. … An inviolable attachment … to the constitution, and mainly to national sovereignty, to political equality and constitutional monarchy, which are its most important characteristics, is their almost unanimous sentiment.”
[68. ]Gouverneur Morris, letter of June 20, 1792.
[69. ]“Souvenirs” (manuscript) of M. X——.
[70. ]Malouet, II. 203. “Every report that came in from the provinces announced (to the King and Queen) a perceptible amelioration of public opinion, which was becoming more and more perverted. That which reached them was uninfluenced, whilst the opinions of clubs, taverns, and street-corners gained enormous power, the time being at hand when there was to be no other power.” The figures given above are by Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” II. 120.
[71. ]Moniteur, XII. 776 (session of June 28). Speech by M. Lamarque, in a district court: “The incivisme of the district courts in general is well known.”
[72. ]Bertrand de Molleville, “Mémoires,” VI. 22.—After having received the above instructions from the King, Bertrand calls on the Queen, who makes the same remark: “Do you not think that fidelity to one’s oath is the only plan to pursue?” “Yes, madame, certainly.” “Very well; rest assured that we shall not waver. Come, M. Bertrand, take courage! I hope that with firmness, patience, and what comes of that, all is not yet lost.”
[73. ]M. de Lavalette, “Mémoires,” I. 100.—Lavalette, in the beginning of September, 1792, enlists as a volunteer and sets out, along with two friends, carrying his knapsack on his back, dressed in a jacket and wearing an undress cap. The following shows the sentiments of the peasantry: In a village of sabot-makers, near Vermanton (in the vicinity of Autun), “two days before our arrival a bishop and two vicars, who were escaping in a carriage, were stopped by them. They rummaged the vehicle and found some hundreds of francs, and, to avoid returning these, they thought it best to massacre their unfortunate owners. This sort of occupation seeming more lucrative to these good people than any other, they stood on the watch for all wayfarers.” The three volunteers are stopped by a little hump-backed official and conducted to the municipality, a sort of market, where their passports are read and their knapsacks are about to be examined. “We were lost, when d’Aubonnes, who was very tall, jumped on the table … and began with a volley of imprecations and market slang which took his hearers by surprise. Soon raising his style, he launched out in patriotic terms, liberty, sovereignty of the people, with such vehemence and in so loud a voice, as to suddenly effect a great change and bring down thunders of applause. But the crazy fellow did not stop there. Ordering Leclerc de la Ronde imperiously to mount on the table, he addressed the assemblage: ‘You shall see whether we are not Paris republicans. Now, sir, say your republican catechism—“What is God? what are the People? and what is a King?”’ His friend, with an air of contrition and in a nasal tone of voice, twisting himself about like a harlequin, replies: ‘God is matter, the People are the poor, and the King is a lion, a tiger, an elephant who tears to pieces, devours, and crushes the people down.’ ”—“They could no longer restrain themselves. The shouts, cries, and enthusiasm were unbounded. They embraced the actors, hugged them, and bore them away. Each strove to carry us home with him, and we had to drink all round.”
[74. ]The song of “Veillons au salut de l’Empire” belongs to the end of 1791. The “Marseillaise” was composed in April, 1792.
[75. ]Mercure de France, Nov. 23, 1791.
[76. ]Philippe de Ségur, “Mémoires,” I. (at Fresnes, a village situated about seven leagues from Paris, a few days after Sept. 2, 1792). “A band of these demagogues pursued a large farmer of this place, suspected of royalism and denounced as a monopoliser because he was rich. These madmen had seized him, and, without any other form of trial, were about to put an end to him, when my father ran up to them. He addressed them, and so successfully as to change their rage into a no less exaggerated enthusiasm for humanity. Animated by their new transports, they obliged the poor farmer, still pale and trembling, and whom they were just going to hang on its branches, to drink and dance along with them around the tree of liberty.”
[77. ]Lacretelle, “Dix ans d’Epreuves,” 78. “The Girondists wanted to fashion a Roman people out of the dregs of Romulus, and, what is worse, out of the brigands of the 5th of October.”
[78. ]Lafayette, I. 442. “The Girondists sought in the war an opportunity for attacking, with advantage, the constitutionalists of 1791 and their institutions.”—Brissot (Address to my constituents). “We sought in the war an opportunity to set traps for the king, to expose his bad faith and his relationship with the emigrant princes.”—Moniteur (session of April 3, 1793). Speech by Brissot: “I had told the Jacobins what my opinion was, and had proved to them that war was the sole means of unveiling the perfidy of Louis XVI. The event has justified my opinion.”—Buchez et Roux, VIII. 216, 217, 60. The decree of the Legislative Assembly is dated Jan. 25, the first money voted by a club for the making of pikes is on Jan. 21, and the first article by Brissot, on the red cap, is on Feb. 6.
[79. ]Buchez et Roux, XIII. 217 (proposal of a woman, member of the club of l’Evêché, Jan. 31, 1792).—Articles in the Gazette Universelle, Feb. 11, and in the Patriote Français, Feb. 13.—Moniteur, XI. 576 (session of March 6).—Buchez et Roux, XV. (session of June 10). Petition of 8,000 national guards in Paris: “This faction which stirs up popular vengeance … which seeks to put in opposition the cap of labor and the military casque, pikes and guns, the rustic’s dress and a uniform.”
[80. ]Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” II. 429 (note of July, 1792).—Mercure de France, March 10, 1792, article by Mallet-Dupan.