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CHAPTER VII - 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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Paris—I.Pressure of the Assembly on the King—His veto rendered void or eluded—His ministers insulted and driven away—The usurpations of his Girondist ministry—He removes them—Insurrectionary preparations—II.The floating and poor population of Paris—Disposition of the workmen—Effect of poverty and want of work—Effect of Jacobin preaching—The revolutionary army—Character of its reviews—Its first review—Its actual effective force—III.Its leaders—Their committee—How they created excitement—IV.The 20th of June—The programme—The muster—The procession before the Assembly—Irruption into the château—The King in the presence of the people.
Previous to this the tree was so shaken as to be already tottering at its base.—Reduced as the King’s prerogative is, the Jacobins still continue to contest it, depriving him of even its shadow. At the opening session they refuse to him the titles of Sire and Majesty; to them he is not, in the sense of the constitution, a hereditary representative of the French people, but “a high functionary,” that is to say, a mere employee, fortunate enough to sit in an equally good chair alongside of the president of the Assembly, whom they style “president of the nation.”1 The Assembly, in their eyes, is sole sov ereign, “while the other powers,” says Condorcet, “can act legitimately only when specially authorised by a positive law; the Assembly may do anything that is not formally prohibited to it by the law,”2 in other words, interpret the constitution, then change it, take it to pieces, and do away with it. Consequently, in defiance of the constitution, it takes upon itself the initiation of war, and, on rare occasions, on the King using his veto, it sets this aside, or allows it to be set aside.3 In vain he rejects, as he has a legal right to do, the decrees which sanction the persecution of unsworn ecclesiastics, which confiscate the property of the émigrés, and which establish a camp around Paris. At the suggestion of the Jacobin deputies,4 the unsworn ecclesiastics are put on the limits, expelled, or imprisoned by the municipalities and Directories; the estates and mansions of the émigrés and of their relatives are abandoned without resistance to the jacqueries; the camp around Paris is replaced by the summoning of the Federates to Paris. In short, the monarch’s sanction is eluded or dispensed with.—As to his ministers, “they are merely clerks of the Legislative Body decked with a royal leash.”5 In full session they are maltreated, reviled, grossly insulted, not merely as lackeys of bad character, but as confirmed malefactors. They are interrogated at the bar of the house, forbidden to leave Paris before their accounts are examined; their papers are overhauled; their most guarded expressions and most meritorious acts are held to be criminal; denunciations against them are provoked; their subordinates are incited to rebel against them;6 committees to watch them and calumniate them are appointed; the perspective of a scaffold is placed before them in every relation, acts or threats of accusation being passed against them, as well as against their agents, on the shallowest pretexts, accompanied with such miserable quibbling,7 and such an evident falsification of facts and texts that the Assembly, forced by the evidence, twice reverses its hasty decision, and declares those innocent whom it had condemned the evening before.8 Nothing is of any avail, neither their strict fulfillment of the law, their submission to the committees of the Assembly, nor their humble attitude before the Assembly itself; “they are careful now to treat it politely and avoid the galleys.”9 —But this does not suffice. They must become Jacobins; otherwise the high court of Orleans will be for them as for M. Delessart, the ante-room to the bagnio and the guillotine. “Terror and dismay,” says Vergniaud, pointing with his finger to the Tuileries, “have often issued in the name of despotism in ancient times from that famous palace; let them to-day go back to it in the name of law.”10
Even with a Jacobin Minister, terror and dismay are permanent. Roland, Clavières, and Servan not only do not shield the King, but they give him up, and, under their patronage and with their connivance, he is more victimised, more harassed, and more vilified than ever before. Their partisans in the Assembly take turns in traducing him, while Isnard proposes against him a most insolent address.11 Shouts of death are uttered in front of his palace. An abbé or soldier is unmercifully beaten and dragged into the Tuileries basin. One of the gunners of the Guard reviles the queen like a fishwoman, and exclaims to her, “How glad I should be to clap your head on the end of my bayonet!”12 —The King is supposed to be broken down under this double pressure of the Legislative Body and the street; they rely on his accustomed docility, or, at least, on his radical inertia; they think that they have converted him into what Condorcet once demanded, a signature machine.13 Consequently, without notifying him, just as if the throne were vacant, Servan, on his own authority, proposes to the Assembly the camp around Paris. Roland, for his part, reads to him at a full meeting of the council an arrogant, pedagogical remonstrance, scrutinising his sentiments, informing him of his duties, calling upon him to accept the new “religion,” to sanction the decree against unsworn ecclesiastics, that is to say, to condemn to beggary, imprisonment, and transportation 70,000 priests and nuns guilty of orthodoxy, and authorise the camp around Paris, which means, to put his throne, his person, and his family at the mercy of 20,000 madmen, chosen by the clubs and other assemblages expressly to do him harm;14 in short, to discard at once his conscience and his common sense.—Strange enough, the royal will this time remains staunch. The King not only refuses to do this, but he dismisses his ministers. So much the worse for him, for sign he must, cost what it will; if he insists on remaining athwart their path, they will march over him.—Not because he is dangerous, and thinks of abandoning his legal immobility. Up to the 10th of August, through a dread of action, and not to kindle a civil war, he rejects all plans leading to an open rupture. Up to the very last day he resigns himself, even when his personal safety and that of his family is at stake, to constitutional law and public common sense. Before dismissing Roland and Servan, he desires to furnish some striking proof of his pacific intentions by sanctioning the dissolution of his guard and disarming himself not only for attack but for defence; henceforth he sits at home and awaits the insurrection with which he is daily menaced; he resigns himself to everything, except drawing his sword; his attitude is that of a Christian in the amphitheatre.15
The proposition of a camp around Paris, however, draws out a protest from 8,000 Paris National Guards. Lafayette denounces to the Assembly the usurpations of the Jacobins; the faction sees that its reign is threatened by this uprousal and the union of the friends of order. A blow must be struck. This has been in preparation for a month past, and to renew the days of October 5th and 6th, the materials are not lacking.
Paris always has its interloping, floating population. A hundred thousand of the needy, one-third of these from the departments, “beggars by race,” those whom Rétif de la Bretonne had already seen pass his door, Rue de Bièvre, on the 13th of July, 1789, on their way to join their fellows on the faubourg St. Antoine,16 along with them “those frightful raftsmen,” pilots and dock-hands, born and brought up in the forests of the Nièvre and the Yonne, actual savages accustomed to wielding the pick and the axe, behaving like cannibals when the opportunity offers,17 and who will be found foremost in the ranks when the September days come; alongside of these stride their female companions “barge-women who, soured by toil, see nothing, like animals, but the place and the time,” and who, three months earlier, pillaged the grocer-shops.18 All this “is a formidable crowd which, every time that it stirs, seems to declare that the last day of the rich and the well-to-do has come and that our turn comes to-morrow when we shall all sleep on down.”—Still more alarming is the attitude of the steady workmen, especially in the faubourgs. Bread is not so dear as on the 5th of October, but there is greater impoverishment. The production of articles of luxury is at a standstill for three years, while the artisan out of employment has consumed his small savings. Since the ruin of St. Domingo and the pillaging of grocers’ shops colonial products are dear; the carpenter, the mason, the locksmith, the market-porter, no longer has his early cup of coffee,19 while they grumble every morning at the thought of their patriotism being rewarded by an increase of privations.
But more than all this they are now Jacobins, and after nearly three years of preaching, the dogma of popular sovereignty has taken deep root in their unoccupied brains. “In these groups,” writes a police commissioner, “the Constitution is held to be useless and the people alone are the law. The citizens of Paris on the public square think themselves the people, populus, what we call the universality of citizens.”20 —It is of no use to tell them that, alongside of Paris, there is a France. Danton has shown them that the capital “is composed of citizens belonging one way or another to the eighty-three departments; that it has a better chance than any other place to appreciate ministerial conduct; that it is the first sentinel of the nation,” which makes them confident of being right.21 —It is of no use to tell them that there are better-informed and more competent au thorities than themselves. Robespierre assures them that “in the matter of genius and civism the people are infallible, whilst every one else is subject to mistakes,”22 and here they are sure of their capacity.—In their own eyes they are the legitimate, competent authorities for all France, and, during three years, the sole theme their courtiers of the press, tribune, and club, vie with each other in repeating to them, is the expression of the Duc de Villeroy to Louis XIV. when a child: “Look my master, behold this great kingdom! It is all for you, it belongs to you, you are its master!”—Undoubtedly, to swallow and digest such gross irony people must be half-fools or half-brutes; but it is just their capacity for self-deception which separates them from the sensible or passive crowd and forms them into a band whose ascendency is irresistible. Alone convinced of a street mob being sovereign under the same title that the nation is sovereign in its assemblies, they alone form street mobs, and they find themselves kings because by virtue of their self-sufficiency and lack of reason they believe in their royalty.
Such is the new power which, in the early months of the year 1792, starts up alongside of the legal powers. It is not foreseen by the Constitution; nevertheless it exists and declares itself; it is visible and its recruits can be counted. On the 29th of April, with the Assembly consenting, and contrary to law, three battalions from the faubourg St. Antoine, about 1500 men,23 march in three columns into the chamber, one of which is composed of fusileers and the other two of pikemen, “their pikes being from eight to ten feet long,” of formidable aspect and of all sorts, “pikes with laurel leaves, pikes with clover leaves, pikes à carlet, pikes with turn-spits, pikes with hearts, pikes with serpents’ tongues, pikes with forks, pikes with daggers, pikes with three prongs, pikes with battle-axes, pikes with claws, pikes with sickles, lance-pikes covered with iron prongs.” On the other side of the Seine three battalions from the faubourg St. Marcel are composed and armed in the same fashion. This constitutes a kernel of 3,000 combatants and there are perhaps 3,000 more in other quarters of Paris. Add to these in each of the sixty battalions of the National Guard the gunners, almost all of them blacksmiths, locksmiths and horse-shoers, also the majority of the gendarmes, old soldiers discharged for insubordination and naturally inclined to rioting, in all an army of about 9,000 men, not counting the usual accompaniment of vagabonds and mere bandits; ignorant and eager, but men who do their work, well armed, formed into companies, ready to march and ready to strike. Alongside of the talking authorities we have the veritable force that acts, for it is the only one which does act. As formerly, the pretorian guard of the Caesars in Rome, or the Turkish guards of the Caliphs of Bagdad, it is henceforth mistress of the capital, and through the capital, of the State.
As the troops are so are their leaders. Bulls must have drovers to conduct them, one degree superior to the brute but only one degree, dressed, talking and acting in accordance with the occupation, without dislikes or scruples, naturally or willfully hardened, fertile in jockeyings and in the expedients of the slaughter-house, themselves belonging to the people or pretending to belong to them. Santerre is a brewer of the faubourg St. Antoine, commander of the battalion of “Enfants Trouvés,” tall, stout and ostentatious, with stentorian lungs, shaking the hand of everybody he meets in the street, and when at home treating everybody to a drink paid for by the Duke of Orleans.24 Legendre is an excitable butcher, who even in the Convention maintains his butchering traits. There are three or four foreign adventurers, adapted to all slaying operations, using the sabre or the bayonet without warning people to get out of the way. Rotonde, the first one, is an Italian, a teacher of English and professional rioter, who, convicted of murder and robbery, is to end his days in Piedmont on the gallows. The second, Lazowski, is a Pole, a former dandy, a conceited fop, who, with Sclave facility, becomes the barest of naked sans-culottes; formerly enjoying a sinecure, then suddenly turned out in the street, and shouting in the clubs against his protectors whom he sees put down; he is elected captain of the gunners of the battalion St. Marcel, and is to be one of the September slaughterers. His drawing-room temperament, however, is not rigorous enough for the part he plays in the streets, and at the end of a year he is to die, consumed by a fever and by brandy. The third is another chief slaughterer at the September massacres. Fournier, known as the American, a former planter, who has brought with him from St. Domingo a contempt for human life; “with his livid and sinister countenance, his moustache, his triple belt of pistols, his coarse language, his oaths, he looks like a pirate.”25 By their side we encounter a little hump-backed lawyer named Cuirette-Verrières, an everlasting talker, who, on the 6th of October, 1789, paraded the city on a large white horse and afterwards pleaded for Marat, which two qualifications with his Punch figure, fully establish him in the popular imagination; his boisterous crew, moreover, who hold nocturnal meetings at Santerre’s, needed a penman and he probably furnished them with their style.—This conventicle comprises other trusty persons still more subordinate, “Brière, wine-dealer, Nicolas, a sapper in the ‘Enfants Trouvés’ battalion, Gonor, claiming to be one of the victors of the Bastille,”26 Rossignol, an old soldier and afterward a journeyman-jeweller, who, after presiding at the massacres of La Force, is to become an improvised general and display his incapacity, debauchery, and thievery throughout La Vendée. “There are yet more of them,” Huguenin undoubtedly, a ruined ex-lawyer, afterwards carbineer, then a deserter, next a barrier-clerk, now serving as “straw-bail” for the faubourg St. Honoré and finally president of the September commune; there was also, doubtless, St. Huruge alias Père Adam, the great growler of the Palais-Royal, a marquis fallen into the gutter, drinking with and dressing like a common porter, always flourishing an enormous club and followed by the riffraff.27 —These are all the leaders. The Jacobins of the municipality and of the Assembly confine their support of the enterprise to conniving at it and to giving it their encouragement.28 It is better for the insurrection to seem spontaneous. Through cautiousness or shyness the Girondists, Pétion, Manuel and Danton himself, keep in the background—there is no reason for their coming forward.—The rest, affiliated with the people and lost in the crowd, are better qualified to render the romance pleasing to their flock. This romance, adapted to its intellectual limits, form and activity, is both simple and sombre, such as children like, or rather a melodrama taken from an alien stage in which the good appear on one side, and the wicked on the other with an ogre or tyrant in the centre, some infamous traitor who is sure to be unmasked at the end of the piece and punished according to his deserts, the whole in grandiloquent terms and, as a finale, winding up with a grand chorus. In the raw brain of an over-excited workman politics find their way only in the shape of rough-hewn, highly-colored imagery, such as is furnished by the Marseillaise, the Carmagnole, and the Ça ira. The requisite motto is adapted to his use; through this misshapen magnifying glass the most gracious figure appears under a diabolical aspect. Louis XVI. is represented there “as a monster using his power and treasure to oppose the regeneration of the French. A new Charles IX., he desires to bring on France death and desolation. Begone, cruel man, your crimes must end! Damiens was less guilty than thou art! He was punished with the most horrible torture for having tried to rid France of a monster, while you, attempting twenty-five millions times more, are allowed full immunity!29 Let us trample under our feet this simulacre of royalty! Tremble, tyrants, Scaevolas are still amongst you!”
All this is uttered, declaimed or rather shouted, publicly, in full daylight, under the King’s windows, by haranguers mounted on chairs, while similar provocations daily emanate from the committee installed in Santerre’s establishment, now in the shape of placards posted in the faubourgs, now in that of petitions circulated in the clubs and sections, now through motions which are gotten up “among the groups in the Tuileries, in the Palais-Royal, in the Place de Grève and especially on the Place de la Bastille.” After the 2d of June the leaders founded a new club in the church of the “Enfants Trouvés” that they might have their special laboratory and thus do their work on the spot.30 Like Plato’s demagogues, they understand their business. They have discovered the cries best calculated to set the popular animal in a tremor, what gives him umbrage, what charm attracts him, what road it is necessary he should follow. Once drawn in and under way, he will march blindly on, borne along by his own involuntary inspiration and crushing with his mass all that he encounters on his path.
The charm is well selected and well presented. It consists in celebrating the anniversary of the oath of the Tennis-court. A tree of Liberty will be planted on the terrace of the Feuillants and “petitions relating to circumstances” will be presented in the Assembly and then to the King. As a precaution, and to impose on the ill-disposed, the petitioners provide themselves with arms and line the approaches.31
A popular procession is an attractive thing, and there are so many workmen who do not know what to do with themselves! And, again, it is so pleasant to appear in a patriotic opera while many, and especially women and children, want very much to see Monsieur and Madame Veto. People are invited in from the neighboring purlieus.32 The prowlers and ragamuffins of the open country must certainly join the party, while the numerous body of Parisian loafers, the loungers that join every spectacle can be relied on, and the inquisitive who, even in our time, gather by hundreds along the quays, following a dog that has chanced to tumble into the river. All this forms a heedless troop willing to follow a leader of any kind.—At five o’clock in the morning on the 20th of June gatherings are already formed in the faubourgs St. Antoine and St. Marcel, consisting of National Guards, pikemen, cannoneers with their cannon, persons armed with sabres or clubs, and women and children. A notice, indeed, just posted on the walls, prohibits any assemblage, and the municipal officers appear in their scarfs and command or entreat the crowd not to break the law.33 But, in the popular brain, ideas are as tenacious as they are short-lived. People count on a civic procession and get up early in the morning to attend to it; the cannon are dragged out, the tree is put on wheels and all is ready for the ceremony; everybody takes a holiday and none are disposed to go back into the house. Besides, their intentions are all right. They know the law as well as the city officials; they are “armed solely to have it observed and respected.” Finally, other armed petitioners have already filed along before the National Assembly, and, as one is as good as another, “the law being equal for all,” others must be admitted as well. In any event they, too, will ask permission of the National Assembly and they go expressly. This is the last and the best argument of all, and to prove to the city officials that they have no desire to engage in a riot, they beg them to join the procession and march along with them.
Meanwhile, time passes. In a crowd irritated by delay, the most impatient, the rudest, those most inclined to commit violence, always lead the rest.—At the head-quarters of the Val-de-Grâce34 the pikemen seize the cannon and drag them along; the National Guards let things take their course; Saint-Prix and Leclerc, the officers in command, threatened with death, have nothing to do but to yield with a protest.—There is the same state of things in the Montreuil section; the resistance of four out of six of the battalion officers merely served to give full power to the instigator of the insurrection, and henceforth Santerre becomes the sole leader of the assemblage. About half-past eleven he leaves his brewery, and, followed by cannon, the flag, and the truck which bears the poplar tree, he places himself at the head of the procession “consisting of about fifteen hundred persons including the bystanders.”35 Like a ball of snow, however, the troop grows as it marches along until, on reaching the National Assembly, Santerre has behind him from seven to eight thousand persons.36 Guadet and Vergniaud move that the petitioners be introduced; their spokesman, Huguenin, in a bombastic and threatening address, denounces the ministry, the King, the accused at Orleans, the deputies of the “Right,” demands “blood,” and informs the Assembly that the people “on its feet” is ready to do itself justice.37 Then, with drums beating and bands playing, the multitude for more than an hour defiles through the chamber under the eyes of Santerre and Saint-Huruge. Here and there a few files of the National Guard pass mingled with the crowd and lost in “the moving forest of pikes”; all the rest is pure populace, “hideous faces,”38 says a deputy, on which poverty and misconduct have left their marks, ragged fellows “without coats,” in their shirt-sleeves, armed in all sorts of ways, with augurs and shoe-knives fastened on sticks, one with a saw on a pole ten feet long, women and children, some of them brandishing sabres,39 amidst all an old pair of breeches borne on a pike with this motto, Vivent les Sans Culottes! and, on a pitch-fork, the heart of a calf with this inscription, Coeur d’aristocrate, both significant emblems of grim humor and such as naturally arise in the minds of butchers or of a libeller for a political carnival.—This, indeed, it is, for many have been drinking and are intoxicated.40 A parade is not enough, they must likewise amuse themselves. In traversing the chamber they sing Ça ira and dance in the intervals. They at the same time make a profession of civism by shouting Vive les patriotes! A bas le Veto! They fraternise, as they pass along, with the “true blue” deputies of the “Left”; they jeer those of the “Right” and shake their fists at them; one of these, known by his tall stature, is told that his business will be settled for him the first opportunity.41 Thus do they display their co-laborers to the Assembly, all ready, and ready for anything, even against the Assembly.—And yet, with the exception of an iron-railing burst in by the crowd and an irruption on the terrace of the “Feuillants,” no act of violence was committed. The Paris populace, except when wrought up into a state of frenzy, is rather voluble and cockney than ferocious; besides, thus far, no one had offered any resistance. It has a surfeit of shouts and parade; many of them yawn with ennui and fatigue;42 at four o’clock they have stood on their legs for ten or twelve hours. The human stream issuing from the Assembly and emptying itself into the Carrousel remains there stagnant and seems ready to return to its ordinary channels.—This is what the leaders have no idea of. Santerre, on arriving with St. Huruge, cries out to his men, “Why didn’t you enter the château? You must go in—that is what we came here for.”43 A lieutenant of the Val-de-Grâce cannoneers shouts: “We have forced open the Carrousel, we must force open the château too! This is the first time the Val-de-Grâce cannoneers march—they are not j—— f——! Come, follow me, my men, on to the enemy!”44 Meanwhile, outside the gate, some of the municipal officers selected by Pétion amongst the most revolutionary, overcome resistance by their speeches and injunctions. “After all,” says one of them, named Mouchet, “the right of petition is sacred.”—“Open the gate!” shout Sergent and Boucher-René, “nobody has a right to shut it. Every citizen has a right to go through it!”45 A gunner raises the latch, the gate opens and the court fills in the twinkling of an eye;46 the crowd rushes under the archway and up the grand stairway with such impetuosity that a cannon borne along by hand reaches the third room on the first story before it stops. The doors crack under the blows of axes and, in the large hall of the Oeil de Boeuf, the multitude find themselves face to face with the King.
In such circumstances the representatives of public authority, the directories, the municipalities, the military chiefs, and, on the 6th of October, the King himself, have all thus far yielded; they have either yielded or perished. Santerre, certain of the issue, preferred to take no part in this affair; he prudently reserves himself, steals away, and lets the crowd push him into the council chamber, where the Queen, the young Dauphin, and the ladies have taken refuge.47 There, with his tall, corpulent figure, he formed a sort of shield to forestall useless and compromising injuries. In the mean time, in the Oeil de Boeuf, he lets things take their course; everything will be done in his absence that ought to be done, and in this he seems to have calculated justly.—On one side, in a window recess, sits the King on a bench, almost alone, while in front of him, as a guard, are four or five of the National Guards; on the other side, in the apartments, is an immense crowd, hourly increasing according as the rumor of the irruption spreads in the vicinity, fifteen or twenty thousand persons, a prodigious accumulation, a pell-mell traversed by eddies, a howling sea of bodies crushing each other, and of which the simple flux and reflux would flatten against the walls obstacles ten times as strong, an uproar sufficient to shatter the window panes, “frightful yells,” curses and imprecations, “Down with M. Veto!” “Let Veto go to the devil!” “Take back the patriot ministers!” “He shall sign; we won’t go away till he does!”48 —Foremost among them all, Legendre, more resolute than Santerre, declares himself the spokesman and trustee of the powers of the sovereign people: “Sir,” says he to the King, who, he sees, makes a gesture of surprise, “yes, Sir, listen to us; you are made to listen to what we say! You are a traitor! You have always deceived us; you deceive us now! But look out, the measure is full; the people are tired of being played upon!”—“Sire, Sire,” exclaims another fanatic, “I ask you in the name of the hundred thousand beings around us to recall the patriot ministers. … I demand the sanction of the decree against the priests and the twenty thousand men. Either the sanction or you shall die!”—But little is wanting for the threat to be carried out. The first comers are on hand, “presenting pikes,” among them “a brigand,” with a rusty sword-blade on the end of a pole, “very sharp,” and who points this at the King. Afterwards the attempt at assassination is many times renewed, obstinately, by three or four madmen determined to kill, and who make signs of so doing, one, a shabby, ragged fellow, who keeps up his excitement with “the foulest propositions,” the second one, “a so-called conqueror of the Bastille,” formerly porte-tête for Foulon and Berthier, and since driven out of the battalion, the third, a market-porter, who, “for more than an hour,” armed with a sabre, makes a terrible effort to make his way to the king.49 —Nothing is done. The king remains impassible under every threat. He takes the hand of a grenadier who wishes to encourage him, and, placing it on his breast, bids him, “See if that is the beating of a heart agitated by fear.”50 To Legendre and the zealots who call upon him to sanction, he replies without the least excitement: “I have never departed from the Constitution. … I will do what the Constitution requires me to do. … It is you who break the law.”—And, for nearly three hours, remaining standing, blockaded on his bench,51 he persists in this without showing a sign of weakness or of anger. This cool deportment at last produces an effect, the impression it makes on the spectators not being at all that which they anticipated. It is very clear that the personage before them is not the monster which has been depicted to them, a sombre, imperious tyrant, the savage, cunning Charles IX. they had hissed on the stage. They see a man somewhat stout, with placid, benevolent features, whom they would take, without his blue sash, for an ordinary, peaceable bourgeois.52 His ministers, near by, three or four men in black coats, gentlemen and respectable employees, are just what they seem to be. In another window recess stands his sister, Madame Elizabeth, with her sweet and innocent face. This pretended tyrant is a man like other men; he speaks gently, he says that the law is on his side, and nobody says the contrary; perhaps he is less wrong than he is thought to be. If he would only become a patriot!—A woman in the room brandishes a sword with a cockade on its point; the King makes a sign and the sword is handed to him, which he raises and, hurrahing with the crowd, cries out: Vive la Nation! That is already one good sign. A red cap is shaken in the air at the end of a pole. Some one offers it to him and he puts it on his head; applause bursts forth, and shouts of Vive la Nation! Vive la Liberte! and even Vive le Roi!
From this time forth the greatest danger is over. But it is not that the besiegers abandon the siege. “He did d—— well,” they exclaim, “to put the cap on, and if he hadn’t we would have seen what would come of it. And d—— if he does not sanction the decree against the priests, and do it right off, we will come back every day. In this way we shall tire him out and make him afraid of us.”—But the day wears on. The heat is over-powering, the fatigue extreme, the King less deserted and better protected. Five or six of the deputies, three of the municipal officers, a few officers of the National Guard, have succeeded in making their way to him. Pétion himself, mounted on a sofa, harangues the people with his accustomed flattery.53 At the same time Santerre, aware of the opportunity being lost, assumes the attitude of a liberator, and shouts in his rough voice: “I answer for the royal family. Let me see to it.” A line of National Guards forms in front of the King, when, slowly and with difficulty, urged by the mayor, the crowd melts away, and, by eight o’clock in the evening, it is gone.
[1. ]Moniteur, X. 39 and following pages (sessions of Oct. 5 and 6, 1791). Speeches by Chabot, Couthon, Lequinio, and Vergniaud.—Mercure de France, Oct. 15. Speech by Robespierre, May 17, 1790. “The king is not the nation’s representative, but its clerk.”—Cf. Ernest Hamel, “Vie de Robespierre.”
[2. ]Moniteur, XIII. 97 (session of July 6, 1792).
[3. ]Buchez et Roux, XIII. 61, Jan. 28, 1792. The King in his usually mild way calls the attention of the Assembly to the usurpation it is committing. “The form adopted by you is open to important observations. I shall not extend these to-day; the gravity of the situation demands that I concern myself much more with maintaining harmonious sentiments than with continually discussing my rights.”
[4. ]Sauzay, II. 99. Letter of the deputy Vernerey to the Directory of Doubs: “The Directory of the department may always act with the greatest severity against the seditious, and, apart from the article relating to their pension, follow the track marked out in the decree. If the executive desires to impede the operations of the Directory … the latter has its recourse in the National Assembly, which in all probability will afford it a shelter against ministerial attacks.”—Moniteur, XII. 202 (session of April 23). Report of Roland, Minister of the Interior. Already at this date forty-two departments had expelled unsworn ecclesiastics or put them on the limits.
[5. ]Mercure de France, Feb. 25.
[6. ]Moniteur, X. 440 (session of Nov. 22, 1791). A letter of M. Southon, Director of the Mint at Paris, is read, “complaining of an arbitrary order, that of the Minister of the Interior, to report himself at Pau on the 25th of this month, under penalty of dismissal.” Isnard supports the charge: “M. Southon,” he says, “is here at work on a very circumstantial denunciation of the Minister of the Interior. [Applause from the galleries.] If citizens who are zealous enough to make war on abuses are sent back to their departments we shall never have denunciations.” [The applause is renewed.]—Ibid., X. 504 (session of Nov. 29). Speech by Isnard: “Our ministers must know that we are not fully satisfied with the conduct of each of them [repeated applause]; that henceforth they must simply choose between public gratitude and the vengeance of the law, and that our understanding of the word responsibility is death.” [The applause is renewed.]—The Assembly orders this speech to be printed and sent into the departments.—Cf. XII. 73, 138, etc.
[7. ]Moniteur, XI. 603. (Session of March 10. Speech by Brissot, to secure a decree of accusation against M. Delessart, Minister of Foreign Affairs.) M. Delessart is a “perfidious man,” for having stated in a despatch that “the Constitution, with the great majority of the nation, has become a sort of religion which is embraced with the greatest enthusiasm.” Brissot denounces these two expressions as inadequate and anti-patriotic.—Ibid., XII. 438 (session of May 20). Speech by Guadet: “Larivière, the juge-de-paix, has convicted himself of the basest and most atrocious of passions, in having desired to usurp the power which the Constitution has placed in the hands of the National Assembly.”—I do not believe that Laubardemont himself could have composed anything equal to these two speeches.—Cf. XII. 462 (session of May 23). Speech by Brissot and one by Gonsonné on the Austrian committee. The feebleness and absurdity of their argument is incredible.
[8. ]Affairs of the Minister Duport-Dutertre and of the Ambassador to Vienna, M. de Noailles.
[9. ]Mercure de France, March 10, 1792.
[10. ]Moniteur, XI. 607 (session of March 10).
[11. ]Moniteur, XII. 396 (session of May 15). Isnard’s address is the ground-plan of Roland’s famous letter.—Cf. passim, the sessions of the Assembly during the Girondist ministry, especially those of May 19 and 20, June 5, etc.
[12. ]Dumouriez, “Mémoires,” book iii. ch. vi.
[13. ]“Letter of a young mechanician,” proposing to make a constitutional king, which, “by means of a spring, would receive from the hands of the president of the Assembly a list of ministers designated by the majority” (1791).
[14. ]Moniteur, XI. 426 (session of May 19). Speech by Lasource: “Could not things be so arranged as to have a considerable force near enough to the capital to terrify and keep inactive the factions, the intriguers, the traitors who are plotting perfidious plans in its bosom, coincident with the manoeuvres of outside enemies?”
[15. ]Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” I. 303. Letter of Malouet, June 29. “The king is calm and perfectly resigned. On the 19th he wrote to his confessor: ‘Come, sir; never have I had so much need of your consolations. I am done with men; I must now turn my eyes to heaven. Sad events are announced for to-morrow. I shall have courage.’ ”—“Letters de Coraï au Proposalle de Smyrne” (translated by M. de Queux de Ste. Hilaire, p. 145, May 1:) “The court is in peril every moment. Do not be surprised if I write you some day that this unhappy king and his wife are assassinated.”
[16. ]Rétif de la Bretonne, “Nuits de Paris,” Vol. XVI. (analysed by Lacroix in “Bibliothèque de Rétif de la Bretonne”).—Rétif is the man in Paris who lived the most in the streets and had the most intercourse with the low class.
[17. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,276. Letter from the Directory of Clamecy, March 27, and official report of the civil commissioners, March 31, 1792, on the riot of the raftsmen. Tracu, their captain, armed with a cudgel ten feet long, compelled quiet people to march along with him, threatening to knock them down; he tried to get the head of Peynier, the clerk of the Paris dealers in wood. “I shall have a good supper to-night,” he exclaimed; “for the head of that b——— Peynier is a fat one, and I’ll stick it in my pot!”
[18. ]Letters of Coraï, p. 126. “This pillaging has lasted three days, Jan. 22, 23, and 24, and we expect from hour to hour similar riots still more terrible.”
[19. ]Mercier (“Tableau de Paris”) had already noticed before the Revolution this habit of the Parisian workman, especially among the lowest class of workmen.
[20. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, I. 346 (letter of June 21, 1792).
[21. ]Buchez et Roux, VIII. 25 (session of the National Assembly, Nov. 10, 1790). Petition presented by Danton in the name of the forty-eight sections of Paris.
[22. ]Buchez et Roux, XIV. 268 (May, 1792). Article by Robespierre against the fête decreed in honor of Simonneau, Mayor of Etampes, assassinated in a riot: “Simonneau was guilty before he became a victim.”
[23. ]Moniteur, XII. 254.—According to the royal almanac of 1792 the Paris national guard comprises 32,000 men, divided into sixty battalions, to which must be added the battalions of pikemen, spontaneously organised and composed, especially of the non-active citizens.— Cf. in “Les Révolutions de Paris,” Prudhomme’s journal, the engravings which represent this sort of procession.
[24. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, I. 389. (Santerre declares that the beer made in his brewery in 1789, 1790, and 1791 was not sold, but given to the people; consequently, he has 49,603 francs credited to him on the claim for unpaid duties on this beer.)
[25. ]Madame Roland, “Mémoires,” II. 38.
[26. ]Buchez et Roux, XV. 122. Declaration of Lareynie, a volunteer soldier in the Ile St. Louis battalion.—To those which he names I add Huguenin, because on the 20th of June it was his duty to read the petition of the rioters; also St. Huruge, because he led the mob with Santerre.—About Rossignol, Cf. Dauban, “La Demagogie à Paris,” 369 (according to the manuscript memoirs of Mercier du Rocher). He reaches Fontenay Aug. 21, 1793, with the representative Bourbotte, Momoro, commissary-general, three adjutants, Moulins, Hasard, the ex-priest, Grammont, an ex-actor, and several prostitutes. “The prettiest shared her bed with Bourbotte and Rossignol.” They lodge in a mansion to which seals are affixed. “The seals were broken, and jewelry, dresses, and female apparel were confiscated for the benefit of the general and his followers. There was nothing, even down to the crockery, which did not become the booty of these self-styled republicans.”
[27. ]Mathon de la Varenne, “Histoire particulière des événements qui ont eu lieu en juin, juillet, août, et septembre, 1792,” p. 23. (He knew St. Huruge personally.) St. Huruge had married an actress at Lyons in 1778. On returning to Paris he learned through the police that his wife was a trollop, and he treated her accordingly. Enraged, she looked up St. Huruge’s past career, and found two charges against him, one for the robbery and assassination of an alien merchant, and the other for infanticide; she obtained his incarceration by a lettre-de-cachet. He was shut up in Charenton from Jan. 14, 1781, to December, 1784, when he was transferred to another prison and afterwards exiled to his estates, from which he fled to England. He returned to France on the outbreak of the Revolution.
[28. ]With respect to connivance, Cf. Mortimer-Ternaux, I. 132 and the following pages.—Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” I. 300. Letter of the Abbé de Pradt, June 21, 1792. “The insurrection had been announced for several days. … The evening before, 150 deputies, so many Jacobins, had dined at their great table in the Champs Elysées, and distributed presents of wine and food.”
[29. ]Moniteur, XII. 642 (session of June 12, 1792, narrative of M. Delfaux, deputy).—The execution of Damiens was witnessed by Parisians still living, while “Charles IX.,” by Marie Chénier, was at this time the most popular tragedy.—“The French people,” says M. Ferrières (I. 35), “went away from its representation eager for vengeance and tormented with a thirst for blood. At the end of the fourth act a lugubrious bell announces the moment of the massacre, and the audience, drawing in its breath sighing and groaning, furiously exclaims silence! silence! as if fearing that the sound of this death-knell had not stirred the heart to its very depths.”—“Révolutions de Paris,” number for June 23, 1792. “The speakers, under full sail, distributed their parts amongst themselves,” one against the staffs, another against priests, another against judges, department, and the ministers, and especially the king. “Some there are, and we agree in this with the sieur Delfaux, who pass the measure and advise murder through gestures, eyes, and speech.”
[30. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, I. 133.—There is the same calculation and the same work-shop in the faubourg St. Marcel (report of Saint-Prix, commandant of the Val-de-Grâce battalion). “Minds remained tranquil until a club was opened at the Porte St. Marcel; now they are all excited and divided. This club, which is in correspondence with that of Santerre, urges citizens to go armed to-morrow (June 20) to the National Assembly and to the king’s palace, notwithstanding the acts of the constituted authorities.”
[31. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, I. 136. This programme is first presented to the council-general of the commune by Lazowski and nine others (June 16). The council-general rejects it and refers to the law. “The petitioners, on learning this decision, loudly declare that it shall not prevent them from assembling in arms” (Buchez et Roux, XV. 120, official report by M. Borie).—The bibliography of documents relating to the 20th of June is given by Mortimer-Ternaux, I. 397 and following pages. The principal documents are found in Mortimer-Ternaux, in “L’Histoire Parlementaire” of Buchez et Roux, and in the Revue Rétrospective.
[32. ]“Correspondance de Mirabeau et M. de la Marck,” III. 319. Letter of the Count de Montmorin, June 21, 1792. “The Paris bandits not being sufficient, they have invited in those of the neighboring villages.”
[33. ]Reports of the municipal officers Perron (7 o’clock in the morning), Sergent (8 o’clock), Mouchet, Guiard, and Thomas (9 o’clock).
[34. ]Report of Saint-Prix, commandant of the Val-de-Grâce battalion (10 o’clock in the morning).—Report of Alexandre, commanding the St. Marcel battalion. “The whole battalion was by no means ready to march.”—Official report of the Montreuil section. Bonneau, the commander, concludes to march only under protest and to avoid spilling blood.
[35. ]Deposition of Lareynie, a volunteer soldier of the Ile St. Louis battalion.
[36. ]Deposition of M. Witinghof, lieutenant-general.—“Correspondence of Mirabeau and M. de la Marck.” Letter of M. de Montmorin, June 21. “At two o’clock the gathering amounted to 8,000 or 10,000 persons.”
[37. ]Moniteur, XII. 717. “What a misfortune for the freemen who have transferred their powers to you, to find themselves reduced to the cruel necessity of dipping their hands in the blood of conspirators!” etc.—The character of the leaders is apparent in their style. The shallow scribe who drew up the address did not even know the meaning of words. “The people so wills it, and its head is of more account than that of crowned despots. That head is the genealogical tree of the nation, and before that robust head the feeble bulrush must bend!” He has already recited the fable of “The Oak and the Bulrush,” and he knows the names of Demosthenes, Cicero, and Catiline. It seems to be the composition of a poor scholar turned author, at a penny a page.
[38. ]Hua, “Mémoires,” 134.
[39. ]Moniteur, XII. 718.
[40. ]“Chronique des cinquante jours,” by Roederer, syndic-attorney of the department.
[41. ]Hua, 134.—Bourrienne, “Mémoires,” I. 49. (He was with Bonaparte in a restaurant, rue St. Honoré, near the Palais-Royal.) “On going out we saw a troop coming from the direction of the market, which Bonaparte estimated at from 5,000 to 6,000 men, all in rags and armed in the oddest manner, yelling and shouting the grossest provocations, and turning towards the Tuileries. It was certainly the vilest and most abject lot that could be found in the faubourgs. ‘Let us follow that rabble,’ said Bonaparte to me.” They ascend the terrace on the river bank. “I could not easily describe the surprise and indignation which these scenes excited in him. He could not comprehend such weakness and forbearance. ‘Che coglione!’ he exclaimed in a loud tone. ‘How could they let those rascals in? Four or five hundred of them ought to have been swept off with cannon, and the rest would have kept on running!’ ”
[42. ]“Chronique des cinquante jours,” by Roederer.—Deposition of Lareynie.
[43. ]Deposition of Lareynie.
[44. ]Report of Saint-Prix.
[45. ]Report by Mouchet.—Deposition of Lareynie. (The interference of Sergent and Boucher-René is contested, but Roederer thinks it very probable.)
[46. ]M. Pinon, in command of the 5th legion, and M. Vannot, commanding a battalion, tried to shut the iron gate of the archway, but are driven back and told: “You want thousands to perish, do you, to save one man?” This significant expression is heard over and over again during the Revolution, and it explains the success of the insurrections.—Alexandre, in command of the St. Marcel battalion, says in his report: “Why make a resistance of no public utility, one which may even compromise it a great deal more?” …
[47. ]Deposition of Lareynie. The attitude of Santerre is here clearly defined. At the foot of the staircase in the court he is stopped by a group of citizens, who threaten “to make him responsible for any harm done,” and tell him: “You alone are the author of this unconstitutional assemblage; it is you alone who have led away these worthy people. You are a rascal!”—“The tone of these honest citizens in addressing the sieur Santerre made him turn pale. But, encouraged by a glance from the sieur Legendre, he resorted to a hypocritical subterfuge, and addressing the troop, he said: ‘Gentlemen, draw up a report, officially stating that I refuse to enter the king’s apartments.’ The only answer the crowd made, accustomed to divining what Santerre meant, was to hustle the group of honest citizens out of the way.”
[48. ]Depositions of four of the national guard, Lecrosnier, Gossé, Bidault, and Guiboult.—Reports of Acloque and de Lachesnaye, commanding officers of the legion.—“Chronique des cinquante jours,” by Roederer.—Ibid., p. 65: “I have to state that, during the Convention, the butcher Legendre declared to Boissy d’Anglas, from whom I had it, that the plan was to kill the king.”—Prudhomme, “Crimes de la Révolution,” III. 43. “The king was to be assassinated. We heard citizens all in rags say that it was a pity; he looks like a good sort of a b——.”
[49. ]Madame Campan, “Mémoires,” II. 212. “M. Vannot, commander of the battalion, had turned aside a weapon aimed at the king. One of the grenadiers of the Filles St. Thomas warded off a blow with a sword, aimed in the same direction with the same intention.”
[50. ]Declaration of Lachesnaye, in command of the legion.—Moniteur, XII. 719 (evening session of June 20). Speech of M. Alos, an eye-witness. (The king does this twice, using about the same words, the first time immediately on the irruption of the crowd, and the second time probably after Vergniaud’s harangue.)
[51. ]The engraving in the “Révolutions de Paris” represents him seated, and separated from the crowd by an empty space, which is a party falsehood.
[52. ]The queen produces the same impression. Prudhomme, in his journal, calls her “the Austrian panther,” which word well expresses the idea of her in the faubourgs. A prostitute stops before her and bestows on her a volley of curses. The reply of the queen is: “Have I ever done you any wrong?” “No; but it is you who do so much harm to the nation.” “You have been deceived,” replies the queen. “I married the King of France. I am the mother of the dauphin. I am a French woman. I shall never again see my own country. I shall never be either happy or miserable anywhere but in France. When you loved me I was happy then.” The prostitute burst into tears. “Ah, madame, forgive me! I did not know you. I see that you have been very good.” Santerre, however, wishing to put an end to this emotion, cries out: “The girl is drunk!”—(Madame Campan, II. 214.—Report by Mandat, an officer of the legion.)
[53. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, I. 213. “Citizens, you have just legally made known your will to the hereditary representative of the nation; you have done this with the dignity, with the majesty of a free people! There is no doubt that your demands will be reiterated by the eighty-three departments, while the king cannot refrain from acquiescing in the manifest will of the people. … Retire now, … and if you remain any longer, do not give occasion to anything which may incriminate your worthy intentions.”