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CHAPTER IX - 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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I.Mob rule in times of anarchy—Case of anarchy recently and suddenly brought on—The band that succeeds the fallen government and its administrative tools—II.Progress of the homicidal idea in the mass of the party—The morning after August 10—The tribunal of August 17—The funereal fête of August 27—The prison plot—III.Rise of the homicidal idea among the leaders—Their situation—The powers they usurp—Their spoliations—The risks they run—Terror their salvation—IV.Date of the determination of this—The actors and their parts—Marat—Danton—The Commune—Its co-operators—Harmony of dispositions and readiness of operation—V.Common workmen—Their numbers—Their condition—Their sentiments—Effect of murder on the murderers—Their degradation—Their insensibility—VI.Effect of the massacre on the public—General dejection and the dissolution of society—The ascendency of the Jacobins assured in Paris—The men of September upheld in the Commune and elected to the Convention.
The worst feature of anarchy is not so much the absence of the overthrown government as the rise of new governments of an inferior grade. Every fallen State produces bands which conquer and which are sovereign; it was so in Gaul on the fall of the Roman empire, also under the latest of Charlemagne’s successors; the same state of things exists now in Roumelia and in Mexico. Adventurers, malefactors, men in bad repute, social outcasts, men overwhelmed with debts and lost to honor, vagabonds, deserters, dissolute troopers—born enemies of work, of subordination, and of the law—form leagues for breaking down the worm-eaten barriers which still surround the sheep-like masses; and as they are unscrupulous, they slaughter on all occasions. On this foundation their authority rests; each in turn reigns in its own canton, and their government, in keeping with its brutal masters, consists in robbery and murder; nothing else can be looked for from barbarians and brigands.
But never are they so dangerous as when, in a great State recently fallen, a sudden revolution places the central power in their hands; for they then regard themselves as the legitimate inheritors of the shattered government, and, under this title, they undertake to manage the commonwealth. Now in times of anarchy the ruling power does not proceed from above, but from below; and the chiefs, therefore, who would remain such, are obliged to follow the blind impulsion of their flock.1 Hence the important and dominant personage, the one whose ideas prevail, the veritable successor of Richelieu and of Louis XIV., is here the subordinate Jacobin, the pillar of the club, the maker of motions, the street rioter, Panis, Sergent, Hébert, Varlet, Henriot, Maillard, Fournier, Lazowski, or, still lower in the scale, the Marseilles “rough,” the faubourg cannoneer, the drinking market-porter who elaborates his political conceptions in the interval between his hiccoughs.2 —For information he has the rumors cir culating in the streets which assign a traitor to each domicile, and for other acquisitions the club bombast, through which he becomes the leader of the great machine. This machine so vast, so complex, such a complete whole of entangled services ramifying in innumerable offices, with so much apparatus of special import, so delicate as to require constant adaptation to changing circumstances, diplomacy, finances, justice, army administration—all this transcends his limited comprehension; a bottle cannot be made to contain the bulk of a hogshead.3 In his narrow brain, perverted and turned topsy-turvy by the disproportionate notions put into it, only one idea suited to his gross instincts and aptitudes finds a place there, and that is the desire to kill his enemies; and these are also the State’s enemies, however open or concealed, present or future, probable or even possible. He carries this savagery and bewilderment into politics, and hence the evil arising from his usurpation. Simply a brigand, he would have murdered only to rob, and his murders would have been restricted. As representing the State, he undertakes wholesale massacres, of which he has the means ready at hand.—For he has not yet had time enough to take apart the old administrative implements; at all events the minor wheels, gendarmes, jailers, employees, book-keepers, and accountants, are always in their places and under control. There can be no resistance on the part of those arrested; accustomed to the protection of the laws and to peaceable ways and times, they have never relied on defending themselves nor ever could imagine that any one could be so summarily slain. As to the mass, rendered incapable of any effort of its own by ancient centralisation, it remains inert and passive and lets things go their own way.—Hence, during many long, successive days, without being hurried or impeded, with official papers quite correct and accounts in perfect order, a massacre can be carried out with the same impunity and as methodically as cleaning the streets or clubbing stray dogs.
Let us trace the progress of the homicidal idea in the mass of the party. It lies at the very bottom of the revolutionary creed. Collot d’Herbois, two months after this, aptly says in the Jacobin tribune: “The second of September is the great article in the credo of our freedom.”4 It is peculiar to the Jacobin to consider himself as a legitimate sovereign, and to treat his adversaries not as belligerents, but as criminals. They are guilty of lèse-nation; they are outlaws, fit to be killed at all times and places, and deserve extinction, even when no longer able or in a condition to do any harm.—Consequently, on the 10th of August the Swiss Guards, who do not fire a gun and who surrender, the wounded lying on the ground, their surgeons, the palace domestics, are killed; and, worse still, persons like M. de Clermont-Tonnerre who pass quietly along the street. All this is now called in official phraseology the justice of the people.—On the 11th the Swiss Guards, collected in the Feuillants building, come near being massacred; the populace on the outside of it demand their heads;5 “it conceives the project of visiting all the prisons in Paris to take out the prisoners and administer prompt justice on them.”—On the 12th in the markets6 “divers groups of the low class call Pétion a scoundrel,” because “he saved the Swiss in the Palais Bourbon”; accordingly, “he and the Swiss must be hung to-day.”—In these minds turned topsy-turvy the actual, palpable truth gives way to its opposite; “the attack was not begun by them; the order to sound the tocsin came from the palace; it is the palace which was besieging the nation, and not the nation which was besieging the palace.”7 The vanquished “are the assassins of the people,” caught in the act; and on the 14th of August the Federates demand a court-martial “to avenge the death of their comrades.”8 And even a court-martial will not answer: “It is not sufficient to mete out punishment for crimes committed on the 10th of August, but the vengeance of the people must be extended to all conspirators”; to that “Lafayette, who probably was not in Paris, but who may have been there”; to all the ministers, generals, judges, and other officials guilty of maintaining legal order wherever it had been maintained, and of not having recognised the Jacobin government before it came into being. Let them be brought before, not the ordinary courts, which are not to be trusted because they belong to the defunct régime, but before a specially organised tribunal, a sort of “chambre ardente,”9 elected by the sections, that is to say, by a Jacobin minority. These improvised judges must give judgment on conviction, without appeal; there must be no preliminary examinations, no interval of time between arrest and execution, no dilatory and protective formalities. And above all, the Assembly must be expeditious in passing the decree; “otherwise,” it is informed by a delegate from the Commune, “the tocsin will be rung at midnight and the general alarm sounded; for the people are tired of waiting to be avenged. Look out lest they do themselves justice!”10 —A moment more, new threats and at a shorter date. “If the juries are not ready to act in two or three hours … great misfortunes will overtake Paris.”
In vain the new tribunal, instantly installed, hastens its work and guillotines three innocent persons in five days; it does not move fast enough. On the 23d of August one of the sections declares to the Commune in furious language that the people themselves, “wearied and indignant” with so many delays, mean to force open the prisons and massacre the inmates.11 —Not only do they harass the judges, but they force the accused into their presence. A deputation from the Commune and the Federates summons the Assembly “to transfer the criminals at Orleans to Paris to undergo the penalty of their heinous crimes,” “otherwise,” says the orator, “we will not answer for the vengeance of the people.”12 And in a still more imperative manner: “You have heard and you know that insurrection is a sacred duty,” a sacred duty towards and against all: against the Assembly if it refuses, and against the tribunal if it acquits. They dash at their prey athwart all legislative and judicial formalities, like a kite across the web of a spider, while nothing diverts them from their fixed conceptions. On the acquittal of M. Luce de Montmorin13 the brutal audience, mistaking him for his cousin the former minister of Louis XVI., break out in murmurings. The president tries to enforce silence, which increases the uproar, and M. de Montmorin is in danger. On this the president, discovering a side issue, announces that one of the jurors is related to the accused, and that in such a case a new jury must be impanelled and a new trial take place; that the matter will be enquired into, and meanwhile the prisoner will be returned to the Conciergerie. Thereupon he takes M. de Montmorin by the arm and leads him out of the court-room, amidst the yells of the audience and not little peril to himself; in the outside court one of the National Guards without strikes at him with a sabre, and the following day the court is obliged to authorise eight delegates from the audience to go and see with their own eyes that M. de Montmorin is safe under lock and key.
At the moment of his acquittal a tragic exclamation is heard: “You discharge him to-day and in two weeks he will cut our throats!” Fear is evidently an adjunct of hatred. The Jacobin rabble is vaguely conscious of its inferior numbers, of its usurpation, of its danger, which increases in proportion as Brunswick draws near. It feels itself encamped over a mine, and if the mine should explode!—Since its adversaries are scoundrels they are capable of a sudden blow, of a plot, of a massacre; never itself having done anything else, it conceives no other idea; and, through an inevitable transposition of thought, it imputes to them the murderous intentions obscurely wrought out in the dark recesses of its own disturbed brain.—On the 27th of August, after the funeral procession gotten up by Sergent expressly to excite popular resentment, its suspicions, at once direct and pointed, begin to take the form of certainty. Ten “commemorative” banners,14 each borne by a volunteer on horseback, have paraded before all eyes the long list of massacres “by the court and its agents”; the massacre at Nancy, the massacre at Nismes, the massacre at Montauban, the massacre at Avignon, the massacre at La Chapelle, the massacre at Carpentras, the massacre of the Champ de Mars, etc. Hesitation, in the face of such processions, is out of the question; henceforth, to women in the galleries, to the frequenters of the clubs, and to pikemen in the suburbs it is proved beyond any doubt that aristocrats are old offenders.
And on the other side there is another sign equally alarming. “This lugubrious ceremony, which ought to inspire by turns both reflection and indignation, … did not generally produce that effect.” The National Guard in uniform, who came “apparently to compensate themselves for not appearing on the day of action,” did not comport themselves with civic propriety, but, on the contrary, put on “an air of dissipation and even of noisy gaiety”; they come out of curiosity, like so many Parisian cockneys, and are much more numerous than the sans-culottes with their pikes.15 The latter can count themselves and plainly see that they are in a minority, and a very small one, and that their rage finds no echo; none but supernumeraries and the contrivers of the fête are there to hasten sentences and call for death-penalties. A foreigner, a good observer, who questions the shop-keepers of whom he makes purchases, the tradesmen he knows, and the company he finds in the coffee-houses, writes that he never had “seen any symptom of a sanguinary disposition except in the galleries of the National Assembly and at the Jacobin Club.” Now the galleries are full of paid “applauders,” especially “females, who are more noisy and to be had cheaper than males”; at the Jacobin Club are “the leaders, who dread what may be divulged against them or who have private hatreds to gratify”;16 thus the only infuriates are the leaders and the populace of the suburbs.—Lost in the crowd of this vast city, in the face of a National Guard still armed and three times their own number, confronting an indifferent or discontented bourgeoisie, the patriots are alarmed. In this state of anxiety a feverish imagination, exasperated by delays, involuntarily gives birth to fancies passionately accepted as truths, while an incident now occurs which suffices to complete the story, the germ of which has grown in their minds without their knowing it.
On the 1st of September a poor waggoner, Jean Julien,17 condemned to chains for twelve years with exposure in the pillory, becomes furious after a couple of hours of this latter penalty, probably on account of the jeers of the by-standers; with the usual coarseness of people of his stamp he vents his impotent rage by ridding himself of his clothes and exposing his person, and naturally uses insulting language to the people who look at him: “Hurrah for the King! Hurrah for the Queen! Hurrah for Lafayette! Let the nation go to the devil!” It is also natural that he should be nearly cut to pieces. He is at once led away to the Conciergerie, where he is at once condemned, and guillotined as soon as possible, for being a promoter of sedition in connection with the conspiracy of August the 10th.—The conspiracy, accordingly, is still in existence. It is so declared by the tribunal, which makes no declaration without evidence. Jean Julien has certainly confessed; now what has he revealed?—On the following day, like a crop of poisonous mushrooms, the growth of a single night, the story obtains general credence. “Jean Julien has declared that all the prisons in Paris thought as he did, that there would soon be fine times, that the prisoners were armed, and that as soon as the volunteers cleared out they would be let loose on all Paris.”18 The streets are full of anxious countenances. “One says that Verdun had been betrayed like Longwy. Others shook their heads and said it was the traitors within Paris and not the declared enemies on the frontier that were to be feared.”19 On the following day the story grows: “There are royalist officers and soldiers hidden away in Paris and in the outskirts. They are going to open the prisons, arm the prisoners, set the King and his family free, put the patriots in Paris to death, also the wives and children of those in the army. … It is natural for men to secure their wives and children when they are going to be separated from them, and to use the most efficient means of preventing their being opposed to the assassin’s dagger.”20 The popular conflagration is lighted, and all that remains for those who kindled the flame is to mark out the path for it.
It is a long time that they have fanned the flame. Already, on the 11th of August, the new Commune had announced, in a proclamation,21 that “the guilty should perish on the scaffold,” while its threatening deputations force the National Assembly into the immediate institution of a bloody tribunal. Carried into power by brutal force, it must perish if it does not maintain itself, and this can be done only through terror.—Consider for one moment, indeed, this singular situation. Installed in the Hôtel-de-Ville by a bold nocturnal enterprise, about one hundred unknown individuals, delegated by a party which thinks or asserts itself to be the peoples’ delegates, have overthrown one of the two great powers of the State, mangled and enslaved the other, and now rule in a capital of 700,000 souls, by the grace of eight or ten thousand fanatics and cut-throats. Never did change so sudden take men from so low a point and raise them so high! The basest of newspaper scribblers, penny-a-liners out of the gutters, bar-room oracles, unfrocked monks and priests, the refuse of the literary guild, of the bar, and of the clergy, carpenters, turners, grocers, locksmiths, shoemakers, common laborers, many with no profession at all,22 strolling politicians and public brawlers, who, like the sellers of counterfeit wares, have speculated for the past three years on popular credulity; among them a number of men in bad repute, of doubtful honesty or of proven dishonesty, having led shiftless lives in their youth and still besmirched with old slime, put outside the pale of useful labor by their vices, driven out of inferior stations even into prohibited occupations, bruised by the perilous leap, with consciences distorted like the muscles of a tight-rope dancer, and who, were it not for the Revolution, would still grovel in their native filth, awaiting Bicêtre or the bagnios to which they were destined—can one imagine their growing intoxication as they drink deep draughts from the bottomless cup of absolute power?—For it is absolute power which they demand and which they exercise.23 Raised by a special delegation above the regular authorities, they put up with these only as subordinates, and tolerate none among them who may become their rivals. Consequently, they reduce the Legislative body simply to the function of editor and herald of their decrees; they have forced the new department electors to “abjure their title,” to confine themselves to tax assessments, while they lay their ignorant hands daily on every other service, on the finances, the army, supplies, the administration, justice, at the risk of breaking the administrative wheels or of interrupting their action.
One day they summon the Minister of War before them, or, for lack of one, his chief clerk; another day they keep the whole body of officials in his department in arrest for two hours, under the pretext of finding a suspected printer.24 At one time they affix seals on the funds devoted to extraordinary expenses; at another time they do away with the commission on supplies; at another they meddle with the course of justice, either to aggravate proceedings or to impede the execution of sentences rendered.25 There is no principle, no law, no regulation, no verdict, no public man or establishment that is not subject to the risk of their arbitrament.—And, as they have laid hands on power, they do the same with money. Not only do they extort from the Assembly 850,000 francs a month, with arrears from the 1st of January, 1792, more than six millions in all, to defray the expenses of their military police, which means to pay their bands,26 but again, “invested with the municipal scarf,” they seize, “in the public edifices belonging to the nation, all furniture, and whatever is of most value.” “In one building alone, they carry off to the value of 100,000 crowns.”27 Elsewhere, in the hands of the treasurer of the civil list, they appropriate to themselves a box of jewels, other precious objects, and 340,000 francs.28 Their commissioners bring in from Chantilly three three-horse vehicles “loaded with the spoils of M. de Condé,” and they undertake “removing the contents of the houses of the émigrés.”29 They confiscate in the churches of Paris “the crucifixes, music-stands, bells, railings, and every object in bronze or of iron, chandeliers, cups, vases, reliquaries, statues, every article of plate,” as well “on the altars as in the sacristies,”30 and we can imagine the enormous booty obtained; to cart away the silver plate belonging to the single church of Madeleine-de-la-ville required a vehicle drawn by four horses.— Now they use all this money, so freely seized, as freely as they do power itself. One fills his pockets in the Tuileries without the slightest concern; another, in the Garde-Meuble, rummages secretaries, and carries off a wardrobe with its contents.31 We have already seen that in the depositories of the Commune “most of the seals are broken,” that enormous sums in plate, in jewels, in gold and silver coin have disappeared. Future inquests and accounts will charge on the Committee of Supervision, “abstractions, dilapidations, and embezzlements,” in short, “a mass of violations and breaches of trust.”—When one is king, one easily mistakes the money-drawer of the State for the drawer in which one keeps one’s own money.
Unfortunately, this full possession of public power and of the public funds holds only by a slender thread. Let the evicted and outraged majority dare, as subsequently at Lyons, Marseilles, and Toulon, to return to the section assemblies and revoke the false mandate which they have arrogated to themselves through fraud and force, and, on the instant, they again become, through the sovereign will of the people, and by virtue of their own creed, what they really are, usurpers, extortioners, and robbers; there is no middle course for them between a dictatorship and the galleys.—The mind, before such an alternative, unless extraordinarily well-balanced, loses its equilibrium; they have no difficulty in deluding themselves with the idea that the State is menaced in their persons, and, in postulating the rule, that all is allowable for them, even massacre. Has not Bazire stated in the tribune that, against the enemies of the nation, “all means are fair and justifiable?” Has not another deputy, Jean Debry, proposed the formation of a body of 1,200 volunteers, who “will sacrifice themselves,” as formerly the assassins of the Old Man of the Mountain, in “attacking tyrants, hand to hand, individually,” as well as generals?32 Have we not seen Merlin de Thionville insisting that “the wives and children of the émigrés should be kept as hostages,” and declared responsible, or, in other words, ready for slaughter if their relatives continue their attacks?33
This is all that can be done, for other measures have not proved sufficient.—In vain has the Commune decreed the arrest of journalists belonging to the opposite party, and distributed their presses amongst patriotic printers.34 In vain has it declared the members of the Sainte-Chapelle club, the National Guards who have sworn allegiance to Lafayette, the signers of the petition of 8,000, and of that of 20,000, disqualified for any service whatever.35 In vain has it multiplied domiciliary visits, even to the residence and carriages of the Venetian ambassador. In vain, through insulting and repeated examinations, does it keep at its bar, under the hootings and death-cries of its tribunes, the most honorable and most illustrious men, Lavoisier, Dupont de Nemours, the eminent surgeon Desault, the most harmless and most refined ladies, Madame de Tourzel, Mademoiselle de Tourzel, and the Princesse de Lamballe.36 In vain, after a profusion of arrests during twenty days, it envelopes all Paris in one cast of its net for a nocturnal search:37 the barriers closed and doubly guarded, sentinels on the quays and boats stationed on the Seine to prevent escape by water, the city divided beforehand into circumscriptions, and for each section, a list of suspected persons, the circulation of vehicles stopped, every citizen ordered to stay at home, the silence of death after six o’clock in the evening, and then, in each street, a patrol of sixty pikemen, seven hundred squads of sans-culottes, all working at the same time, and with their usual brutality, doors burst in with pieces of timber, wardrobes picked by locksmiths, walls sounded by masons, cellars searched even to digging in the ground, papers seized, arms confiscated, three thousand persons arrested and led off,38 priests, old men, the infirm, the sick, and from ten in the evening to five o’clock in the morning, the same as in a city taken by assault, the screams of women rudely treated, the cries of prisoners compelled to march, the oaths of the guards, cursing and drinking at each grog-shop; never was there such an universal, methodical execution, so well calculated to suppress all inclination for resistance in the silence of general stupefaction.
And yet, at this very moment, there are those who act in good faith in the sections and in the Assembly, and who rebel at being under such masters. A deputation from the Lombards section, and another from the Corn-market, come to the Assembly and protest against the Commune’s usurpations.39 Choudieu, the Montagnard, denounces its glaring prevarications. Cambon, a stern financier, will no longer consent to have his accounts tampered with by thieving tricksters.40 The Assembly at last seems to have recovered itself. It extends its protection to Géray, the journalist, against whom the new pachas had issued a warrant; it summons to its own bar the signers of the warrant, and orders them to confine themselves in future to the exact limits of the law which they transgress. Better still, it dissolves the interloping Council, and substitutes for it ninety-six delegates, to be elected by the sections in twenty-four hours. And, even still better, it orders an account to be rendered within two days of the objects it has seized, and the return of all gold or silver articles to the Treasury. Quashed, and summoned to disgorge their booty, the autocrats of the Hôtel-de-Ville come in vain to the Assembly in force on the following day41 to extort from it a repeal of its decrees; the Assembly, in spite of their threats and those of their satellites, maintains its ground.—So much the worse for the stubborn; if they are not disposed to regard the flash of the sabre, they will feel its sharp edge and point. The Commune, on the motion of Manuel, decides that, so long as public danger continues, they will stay where they are; it adopts an address by Robespierre to “restore sovereign power to the people,” which means to fill the streets with armed bands;42 it collects together its brigands by giving them the ownership of all that they stole on the 10th of August.43 The session, prolonged into the night, does not terminate until one o’clock in the morning. Sunday has come and there is no time to lose, for, in a few hours, the sections, by virtue of the decree of the National Assembly, and following the example of the Temple section the evening before, may revoke the pretended representatives at the Hôtel-de-Ville. To remain at the Hôtel-de-Ville, and to be elected to the convention, demands on the part of the leaders some striking action, and this they require that very day.—That day is the second of September.
Since the 23d of August their resolution is taken.44 They have arranged in their minds a plan of the massacre, and each one, little by little, spontaneously, according to his aptitudes, takes the part that suits him or is assigned to him.
Marat, foremost among them all, is the proposer and preacher of the operation, which, for him, is a perfectly natural one. It is an abridgment of his political system: a dictator or tribune, with full power to slay, and with no other power but that; a good master executioner, responsible, and “tied hand and foot”; this is his programme for a government since July the 14th, 1789, and he does not blush at it: “so much the worse for those who are not on a level with it!”45 He appreciated the character of the Revolution from the first, not through genius, but sympathetically, he himself being equally as one-sided and monstrous; crazy with suspicion and beset with a homicidal mania for the past three years, reduced to one idea through mental impoverishment, that of murder, having lost the faculty for even the lowest order of reasoning, the poorest of journalists, save for pikemen and Billingsgate market-women, so monotonous in his constant paroxysms that the regular reading of his journal is like listening to hoarse cries from the cells of a madhouse.46 From the 19th of August he excites people to attack the prisons. “The wisest and best course to pursue,” he says, “is to go armed to the Abbaye, drag out the traitors, especially the Swiss officers and their accomplices, and put them to the sword. What folly it is to give them a trial! That is already done. You have massacred the soldiers, why should you spare the officers, ten times guiltier?”—Also, two days later, his brain teeming with an executioner’s fancies, insisting that “the soldiers deserved a thousand deaths. As to the officers, they should be drawn and quartered, like Louis Capet and his tools of the Manège.”47 —On the strength of this the Commune adopts him as its official editor, assigns him a tribune in its assembly room, entrusts him to report its acts, and soon puts him on its supervisory or executive committee.
A fanatic of this stamp, however, is good for nothing but as a mouthpiece or instigator; he may, at best, figure in the end among the subordinate managers.—The chief of the enterprise,48 Danton, is of another species, and of another stature, a veritable leader of men. Through his past career and actual position, through his popular cynicism, ways and language, through his capacity for taking the initiative and for command, through his excessive corporeal and intellectual vigor, through his physical ascendency due to his ardent, absorbing will, he is well calculated for his terrible office.—He alone of the Commune has become Minister, and there is no one but him to screen municipal outrages with the patronage or inertia of the central authority.—He alone of the Commune and of the ministry is able to push things on and harmonise action in the pell-mell of the revolutionary chaos, and now, in the councils of the ministry, as formerly at the Hôtel-de-Ville, he governs. In the constant uproar of incoherent discussions,49 athwart “propositions ex abrupto, shouts, imprecations, the going and coming of questioning petitioners,” he is seen mastering his new colleagues with his “stentorian voice, his gestures of an athlete, his fearful threats,” taking upon himself their duties, dictating to them what and whom he chooses, “fetching in commissions already drawn up,” taking charge of everything, “mak ing propositions, arrests, and proclamations, issuing brevets,” and drawing millions out of the public treasury, casting a sop to his dogs in the Cordeliers and the Commune, “to one 20,000 francs, and to another 10,000,” “for the Revolution, and on account of their patriotism,”—such is a summary report of his doings. Thus gorged, the pack of hungry “brawlers” and grasping intriguers, the whole serviceable force of the sections and of the clubs, is in his hands. One is strong in times of anarchy at the head of such a herd. Indeed, during the months of August and September, Danton was king, and, later on, he may well say of the 2d of September, as he did of the 10th of August, “I did it!”50
Not that he is naturally vindictive or sanguinary: on the contrary, with a butcher’s temperament, he has a man’s heart, and, at the risk of compromising himself, against the wills of Marat and Robespierre, he will, by-and-by, save his political adversaries, Duport, Brissot, and the Girondists, the old party of the “Right.”51 Not that he is blinded by fear, enmities, or the theory; furious as a clubbist, he has the clear-sightedness of the politician; he is not the dupe of the sonorous phrases he utters, he knows the value of the rogues he employs;52 he has no illusions about men or things, about other people or about himself; if he slays, it is with a full consciousness of what he is doing, of his party, of the situation, of the revolution, while the crude expressions which, in the tones of his bull’s voice, he flings out as he passes along, are but a vivid statement of the precise truth: “We are the rabble! We spring from the gutters!” With the ordinary feeling of humanity, “we should soon get back into them. We can only rule through fear!”53 “The Parisians are so many —— ——; a river of blood must flow between them and the émigrés.”54 “The tocsin about to be rung is not a signal of alarm, but a charge on the enemies of the country. … What is necessary to overcome them? Boldness, boldness, always boldness!55 I have brought my mother here, seventy years of age; I have sent for my children, and they came last night. Before the Prussians enter Paris, I want my family to die with me. Let twenty thousand torches be applied, and Paris instantly reduced to ashes!”56 “We must maintain ourselves in Paris at all hazards. Republicans are in an extreme minority, and, for fighting, we can rely only on them. The rest of France is devoted to royalty. The royalists must be terrified!”57 —It is he who, on the 28th of August, obtains from the Assembly the great domiciliary visit, by which the Commune fills the prisons. It is he who, on the 2d of September, to paralyse the resistance of honest people, causes the penalty of death to be decreed against whoever, “directly or indirectly shall, in any manner whatsoever, refuse to execute, or who shall interfere with the orders issued, or with the measures of the executive power.” It is he who, on that day, informs the journalist Prudhomme of the pretended prison plot, and who, the second day after, sends his secretary, Camille Desmoulins, to falsify the report of the massacres.58 It is he who, on the 3d of September, at the office of the Minister of Justice, before the battalion officers and the heads of the service, before Lacroix, president of the Assembly, and Pétion, mayor of Paris, before Clavières, Servan, Monge, Lebrun, and the entire Executive Council, except Roland, reduces at one stroke the head men of the government to the position of passive accomplices, replying to a man of feeling, who rises to stay the slaughter, “Sit down—it was necessary!”59 It is he who, the same day, despatches the circular, countersigned by him, by which the Committee of Supervision announces the massacre, and invites “their brethren of the departments” to follow the example of Paris.60 It is he who, on the 10th of September, “not as Minister of Justice, but as Minister of the People,” is to congratulate and thank the slaughterers of Versailles.61 —After the 10th of August, through Billaud-Varennes, his former secretary, Fabre d’Eglantine, his secretary as Keeper of the Seals, Tallien, secretary of the Commune, and his most trusty henchman, he is present at all deliberations in the Hôtel-de-Ville, and, at the last hour, is careful to put on the Committee of Supervision one of his own men, the head clerk, Desforges.62 —Not only was the mowing-machine constructed under his own eye, and with his assent, but, again, at the moment of starting it, he holds the handle, so as to guide the blade.
It is well that he does; if he did not sometimes put on the brake, it would go to pieces through its own action. Introduced into the Committee as professor of political blood-letting, Marat, stubbornly following out a fixed idea, cuts down deep, much below the designated line; warrants of arrest were already out against thirty deputies, Brissot’s papers were rummaged, Roland’s house was surrounded, while Duport, seized in a neighboring department, is brought to the shambles. The latter is saved with the utmost difficulty; many a blow is necessary before he can be wrested from the maniac who had seized him. With a surgeon like Marat, and apprentices like the four or five hundred leaders of the Commune and of the sections, it is not essential to guide the knife, for a large amputation is certain beforehand. Their names alone tell the story—in the Commune, Manuel, the syndic-attorney; Hébert and Billaud-Varennes, his two deputies; Huguenin, Lhuillier, Marie Chénier, Audouin, Léonard Bourdon, Boula and Truchon, presidents in succession; in the Commune and the sections, Panis, Sergent, Tallien, Rossignol, Chaumette, Fabre d’Eglantine, Pache, Hassenfratz, the cobbler Simon, and the printer Momoro; in the National Guard, Santerre, commanding-general, Henriot, brigadier-general, and, under them, the herd of demagogues belonging to the district, the supernumeraries of Danton, Hébert, or Robespierre, and who are afterwards guillotined with their file-leaders, in brief, the flower of the future terrorists.63 —They are taking the first step in blood, each in the attitude and under impulses peculiar to himself, Chénier denounced as a member of the Sainte-Chapelle club, and with the more exaggeration because he is suspected;64 Manuel, a poor little excitable fellow, dazed, dragged along, and afterwards shuddering at the sight of his own work; Santerre, a fine circumspect figure-head, who, on the 2d of September, under pretence of watching the baggage, climbs on the seat of a berlin standing on the street, where he remains a couple of hours, to get rid of doing his duty as commanding-general;65 Panis, president of the Committee of Supervision, a good subordinate, his born disciple and train-bearer, an admirer of Robespierre’s whom he proposes for the dictatorship, as well as of Marat, whom he extols as a prophet;66 Henriot, Hébert, and Rossignol, simple malefactors in uniform or in their scarfs; Collot d’Herbois, a stage poetaster, whose theatrical imagination delights in a combination of melodramatic horrors;67 Billaud-Varennes, a for mer oratorien, bilious and sombre, as cool before a murder as an inquisitor at an auto da fé; finally, the wily Robespierre, pushing others without committing himself, never signing his name, giving no orders, haranguing a great deal, always advising, showing himself everywhere, getting ready to reign, and suddenly, at the last moment, pouncing like a cat on his prey, and trying to slaughter his rivals, the Girondists.68
Up to this time, in slaughtering or having it done, it was always as insurrectionists in the street; now, it is in places of imprisonment, as magistrates and functionaries, according to the registers of a lock-up, after proofs of identity and on snap judgments, by paid executioners, in the name of public security, methodically, and in cool blood, almost with the same regularity as subsequently under “the revolutionary government.” September, indeed, is the beginning of it, the abridgment of it and the type; they will not do otherwise or better in the best days of the guillotine. Only, as they are as yet poorly supplied with tools, they are obliged to use pikes instead of the guillotine, and, as diffidence is not yet entirely gone, the chiefs conceal themselves behind manoeuvrings. Nevertheless, we can track them, take them in the act, and we possess their autographs; they planned, commanded, and conducted the operation. On the 30th of August, the Commune decided that the sections should try accused persons, and, on the 2d of September, five trusty sections reply to it by resolving that the accused shall be murdered.69 The same day, September 2, Marat takes his place on the Committee of Supervision. The same day, September 2, Panis and Sergent sign the commissions of “their comrades,” Maillard and associates, for the Abbaye, and “order them to judge,” that is to say, kill the prisoners.70 The same and the following days, at La Force, three members of the Commune, Hébert, Monneuse, and Rossignol, preside in turn over the assassin court.71 The same day, a commissary of the Committee of Supervision comes and demands a dozen men of the Sans-Culottes section to help massacre the priests of Saint Firmin.72 The same day, a commissary of the Commune visits the different prisons during the slaughterings, and finds that “things are going on well in all of them.”73 The same day, at five o’clock in the afternoon, Billaud-Varennes, deputy-attorney for the Commune, “in his well-known puce-colored coat and black perruque,” walking over the corpses, says to the Abbaye butchers: “Fellow-citizens, you are immolating your enemies, you are performing your duty!” That night he returns, highly commends them, and ratifies his promise of the wages “agreed upon”; on the following day at noon, he again returns, congratulates them more warmly, allows each one twenty francs, and urges them to keep on.74 —In the mean time, Santerre, summoned to the staff-office by Roland, hypocritically deplores his voluntary inability, and persists in not giving the orders, without which the National Guard cannot stir a step.75 At the sections, the presidents, Chénier, Ceyrat, Boula, Momoro, Collot d’Herbois, send away or fetch their victims under pikes. At the Commune, the council-general votes 12,000 francs, to be taken from the dead, to defray the expenses of the operation.76 In the Committee of Supervision, Marat sends off despatches to spread murder through the departments.—It is evident that the leaders and their subordinates are unanimous, each at his post and in the service he performs; through the spontaneous cooperation of the whole party, the command from above meets the impulse from below;77 both unite in a common murderous disposition, the work being done with the more precision in proportion to its being easily done.—Jailers have received orders to open the prison doors, and give themselves no concern. Through an excess of precaution, the knives and forks of the prisoners have been taken away from them.78 One by one, on their names being called, they will march out like oxen in a slaughter-house, while about twenty butchers to each prison, from to two to three hundred in all,79 will suffice to do the work.
Two classes of men furnish recruits, and here we have to admire the effect of the revolutionary creed on crude intellects.—First, there are the Federates of the South, lusty fellows, former soldiers or old bandits, deserters, bohemians, and bullies of all lands and from every source, who, after finishing their work at Marseilles and Avignon, have come to Paris to begin over again. “Triple nom de Dieu!” exclaims one of them, “I didn’t come a hundred and eighty leagues to stop with a hundred and eighty heads on the end of my pike!”80 Accordingly, they form in themselves a special, permanent, resident body, allowing no one to divert them from their adopted occupation. “They turn a deaf ear to the excitements of spurious patriotism”;81 they are not going to be sent off to the frontier. Their post is at the capital; they have sworn “to defend liberty”; neither before nor after September could they be got out of it. When, at last, after having drawn on every treasury for their pay, and under every pretext, they consent to leave Paris, it is only that they may return to Marseilles; their operations are limited to the interior, and to political adversaries. But their zeal in this direction is only the greater; it is their band which, first of all, takes the twenty-four priests from the mayoralty, and, on the way, begins the massacre with their own hands.82 —After these come the infuriates of the Paris commonalty, many of them clerks or shopmen, most of them artisans, and others belonging to every trade, locksmiths, masons, butchers, cartmen, tailors, shoemakers, waggoners, especially boat-loaders, dock-hands, and market-porters, and, above all, journeymen and apprentices of all kinds, in short, men accustomed to hand-labor, and who occupy the lowest grade in the scale of professions.83 Among these we find beasts of prey, murderers by instinct, or simple robbers.84 Others who, like one of the disciples of Abbé Sicard, whom he loves and venerates, confess that they never stirred except under constraint.85 Others are simple machines, who let themselves be driven; for instance, a corner “commissionaire,” a good sort of man, but who, dragged along, plied with liquor, and then made crazy, kills twenty priests for his share, and dies at the end of the month, still drinking, unable to sleep, frothing at the mouth and trembling in every limb.86 Others, finally, who, coming with good intentions, are seized with vertigo in contact with the bloody whirl, and, through a sudden stroke of revolutionary grace, are converted to the religion of slaughter; a certain Grapin, deputed by his section to save two prisoners, seats himself alongside of Maillard, joins him in his decisions during sixty-three hours, and demands a certificate from him.87 The majority, however, entertain the same opinions as the cook, who, after taking the Bastille, finding himself on the spot and having cut off M. de Launay’s head, regards it as a “patriotic” action, and deems himself worthy of a “medal for having destroyed a monster.” These people are not common malefactors, but well-disposed persons living in the vicinity, who, seeing a public service established in their neighborhood,88 issue from their domiciles to give it a lift; their dose of probity is about the same as we find nowadays among people of the same condition in life.
At the outset, especially, no one dreams of filling his pockets. At the Abbaye, they come honorably and place on the table in the room of the civil committee the purses and jewels of the dead.89 If they appropriate anything to themselves, it is shoes to cover their naked feet, and then only after asking permission. As to pay, all rough work deserves it, and, moreover, between them and their enticers, their compensation is understood. With nothing but their own hands to rely on, they cannot give their time gratis,90 and, as the work is hard, it ought to count for two days. They require six francs a day, besides their meals and wine as much as they want. One keeper of a cook-shop alone furnished the men at the Abbaye with 346 pints:91 with uninterrupted work that lasts all day and all night, and which is like that of sewer-cleaners and miners, nothing else will keep their spirits up.—Food and wages must be paid for by the nation; the work is done for the nation, and, naturally, on interposing formalities, they get out of temper and betake themselves to Roland, to the city treasurer, to the section committees, to the Committee of Supervision,92 murmuring, threatening, and showing their bloody pikes. That is the evidence of having done their work well. They boast of it to Pétion, impress upon him how “just and attentive” they were,93 their discernment, the time given to the work, so many days and so many hours; they ask only for what is “due to them”; when the treasurer, on paying them, demands their names, they give them without the slightest hesitation. Those who escort a prisoner let off, masons, hair-dressers, federates, require no recompense but “something to drink”; “we do not carry on this business for money,” they say; “here is your friend; he promised us a glass of brandy, which we will take and then go back to our work.”94 —Outside of their business they possess the expansive sympathy and ready sen sibility of the Parisian workman. At the Abbaye, a federate,95 on learning that the prisoners had been kept without water for twenty-six hours, wanted to “exterminate” the turnkey for his negligence, and would have done it if “the prisoners themselves had not pleaded for him.” On the acquittal of a prisoner, the guards and the butchers, everybody, embraces him with transports; Weber is greeted again and again for more than a hundred yards; they cheer to excess. Each wants to escort the prisoner; the cab of Mathon de la Varenne is invaded; “they perch themselves on the driver’s seat, at the doors, on top, and behind.”96 —Some of them display extraordinary phases of feeling. Two of the butchers, still covered with blood, who lead the chevalier de Bertrand home, insist on going up stairs with him to witness the joy of his family; after their terrible task they need the relaxation of tender emotion. On entering, they wait discreetly in the drawing-room until the ladies are prepared for the meeting; the happiness of which they are witnesses melts them; they remain some time, refuse money tendered to them and leave, with many acknowledgments.97 —Still more extraordinary are the vestiges of innate politeness. A market-porter, desirous of embracing a discharged prisoner, first asks his permission. Old “hags,” who had just clapped their hands at the slaughterings, stop the guards “violently” as they hurry Weber along, in white silk stockings, across pools of blood: “Heigh, guard, look out, you are making Monsieur walk in the gutter!”98 In short, they display the permanent qualities of their race and class; they seem to be neither above nor below the average of their brethren. Most of them, probably, would never have done anything very monstrous had a rigid police, like that which maintains order in ordinary times, kept them in their shops or at home in their lodgings or in their tap-rooms.
But, in their own eyes, they are so many kings; “sovereignty is committed to their hands,”99 their powers are unlimited; whoever doubts this is a traitor, and is properly punished; he must be put out of the way; while, for royal councillors, they take maniacs and knaves, who, through monomania or calculation, preach that doctrine, just the same as a negro king surrounded by white slave-dealers, who urge him into raids, and by black sorcerers, who prompt him to massacre. How could such a man with such guides, and in such an office, be retarded by the formalities of justice, or by the distinctions of equity? Equity and justice are the elaborate products of civilisation, while he is merely a political savage. In vain are the innocent recommended to his mercy! “Look here, citizen,100 do you, too, want to set us to sleep? Suppose that those cursed Prussian and Austrian beggars were in Paris, would they pick out the guilty? Wouldn’t they strike right and left, the same as the Swiss did on the 10th of August? Very well, I can’t make speeches, but I don’t set anybody to sleep. I say, I am the father of a family—I have a wife and five children that I mean to leave here for the section to look after, while I go and fight the enemy. But I have no idea that while I am gone these villains here in prison, and other villains who would come and let them out, should cut the throats of my wife and children. I have three boys who I hope will some day be more useful to their country than those rascals you want to save. Anyhow, all that can be done is to let ’em out and give them arms, and we will fight’em on an equal footing. Whether I die here or on the frontiers, scoundrels would kill me all the same, and I will sell my life dearly. But, whether it is done by me or by some one else, the prison shall be cleaned out of those cursed beggars, there, now!” At this a general cry is heard: “He’s right! No mercy! Let us go in!” All that the crowd assent to is an improvised tribunal, the reading of the jailer’s register, and prompt judgment; condemnation and slaughter must follow, according to the famous Commune, which simplifies things.—There is another simplification still more formidable, which is the condemnation and slaughter by categories. Any title suffices, Swiss, priest, officer, or servant of the King, “the moths of the civil list”; wherever a lot of priests or Swiss are found, it is not worth while to have a trial, as they can be killed in a heap.—Reduced to this, the operation is adapted to the operators; the arms of the new sovereign are as strong as his mind is weak, and, through an inevitable adaptation, he degrades his work to the level of his faculties.
His work, in its turn, degrades and perverts him. No man, and especially a man of the people, rendered pacific by an old civilisation, can, with impunity, become at one stroke both sovereign and executioner. In vain does he work himself up against the condemned and heap insult on them to augment his fury;101 he is dimly conscious of committing a great crime, and his soul, like that of Macbeth, “is full of scorpions.” Through a terrible self-shrinking, he hardens himself against the inborn, hereditary impulses of humanity; these resist while he becomes exasperated, and, to stifle them, there is no other way but to “sup on horrors,”102 by adding murder to murder. For murder, especially as he practices it, that is to say, with a naked sword on defenceless people, introduces into his animal and moral machine two extraordinary and disproportionate emotions which unsettle it, on the one hand, a sensation of omnipotence exercised uncontrolled, unimpeded, without danger, on human life, on throbbing flesh,103 and, on the other hand, an interest in bloody and diversified death, accompanied with an ever new series of contortions and exclamations;104 formerly, in the Roman circus, one could not tear one’s self away from it; the spectacle once seen, the spectator always returned to see it again. Just at this time each prison court is a circus, and what makes it worse is that the spectators are likewise actors.—Thus, for them, two fiery liquids mingle together in one draught. To moral intoxication is added physical intoxication, wine in profusion, bumpers at every pause, revelry over corpses; and we see rising out of this unnatural creature the demon of Dante, at once brutal and refined, not merely a destroyer, but, again, an executioner, contriver and calculator of suffering, and radiant and joyous over the evil it accomplishes.
They are joyous. They dance around each new corpse, and sing the carmagnole;105 they arouse the people of the quarter “to amuse them,” and that they may have their share of “the fine fête.”106 Benches are arranged for “gentlemen” and others for “ladies”: the latter, with greater curiosity, are additionally anxious to contemplate at their ease “the aristocrats” already slain; consequently, lights are required, and one is placed on the breast of each corpse.
Meanwhile, slaughter continues, and is carried to perfection. A butcher at the Abbaye107 complains that “the aristocrats die too quick, and that those only who strike first have the pleasure of it”; henceforth they are to be struck with the backs of the swords only, and made to run between two rows of their butchers, like soldiers formerly running a gauntlet. If there happens to be a person well-known, it is agreed to take more care in prolonging the torment. At La Force, the Federates who come for M. de Rulhières swear “with frightful imprecations that they will cut off the first man’s head who gives him a thrust with a pike”; the first thing is to strip him naked, and then, for half an hour, with the flat of their sabres, they cut and slash him until he drips with blood and is “skinned to his entrails.”—All the unfettered instincts that live in the lowest depths of the heart start from the human abyss at once, not alone the heinous instincts with their fangs,108 but likewise the foulest with their slaver, both becoming more furious against women whose noble or infamous repute makes them conspicuous; on Madame de Lamballe, the Queen’s friend; on Madame Desrues, widow of the famous poisoner; on the flower-girl of the Palais-Royal, who, two years before, had mutilated her lover, a French guardsman, in a fit of jealousy. Ferocity here is associated with lubricity to add profanation to torture, while life is attacked through outrages on modesty. In Madame de Lamballe, killed too quickly, the libidinous butchers could outrage only a corpse, but for the widow,109 and especially the flower-girl, they revive, like so many Neros, the fire-circle of the Iroquois.110 From the Iroquois to the cannibal, the interval is narrow, and some of them spring across it. At the Abbaye, an old soldier named Damiens, buries his sabre in the side of the adjutant-general Laleu, thrusts his hand into the opening, tears out the heart “and puts it to his mouth as if to eat it”; “the blood,” says an eye-witness, “trickled from his mouth and formed a sort of moustache for him.”111 At La Force, Madame de Lamballe is cut to pieces. I cannot transcribe what Charlot, the hair-dresser, did with her head. I merely state that another wretch, in the Rue Saint-Antoine, bore off her heart and “ate it.”112
They kill and they drink, and drink and kill again. Weariness comes and stupor begins. One of them, a wheelwright’s apprentice, has despatched sixteen for his share; another “has labored so hard at this merchandise as to leave the blade of his sabre sticking in it”; “I was more tired,” says a Federate, “with two hours pulling limbs to pieces, right and left, than any mason any two days plastering a wall.”113 The first excitement is gone, and now they strike automatically.114 Some of them fall asleep stretched out on benches. Others, huddled together, sleep off the fumes of their wine, removed on one side. The exhalation from the carnage is so strong that the president of the civil committee faints in his chair,115 while the odor of the drinking-bout is equal to that of the charnel-house. A heavy, dull state of torpor gradually overcomes their clouded brains, the last glimmerings of reason dying out one by one, like the smoky lights on the already cold breasts of the corpses lying around them. Through the stupor spreading over the faces of butchers and cannibals, we see appearing that of the idiot. It is the revolutionary idiot, in which all conceptions, save two, have vanished, two fixed, rudimentary, and mechanical ideas, one destruction and the other that of public safety. With no others in his empty head, these blend together through an irresistible attraction, and the effect proceeding from their contact may be imagined. “Is there anything else to do?” asks one of these butchers in the deserted court. “If that is all,” reply a couple of women at the gate, “you must start something more,”116 and, naturally, this is done.
As the prisons are to be cleaned out, it is as well to clean them all out, and do it at once. After the Swiss, priests, the aristocrats, and the “white-skin gentlemen,” there remain convicts and those confined through the ordinary channels of justice, robbers, assassins, and those sentenced to the galleys in the Conciergerie, in the Châtelet, and in the Tour St. Bernard, with branded women, vagabonds, old beggars, and boys confined in Bicêtre and the Salpétrière. They are good for nothing, cost something to feed,117 and, probably, cherish evil designs. At the Salpétrière, for example, the wife of Desrues, the poisoner, is, assuredly, like himself, “cunning, wicked, and capable of anything”; she must be furious at being in prison; if she could, she would set fire to Paris; she must have said so; she did say it118 —one more sweep of the broom.—This time, as the job is more foul, the broom is wielded by fouler hands; among those who seize the handle are the frequenters of jails. The butchers at the Abbaye, especially towards the close, had already committed thefts;119 here, at the Châtelet and the Conciergerie, they carry away “everything which seems to them suitable,” even to the clothes of the dead, prison sheets and coverlids, even the small savings of the jailers, and, besides this, they enlist their cronies in the service. “Out of 36 prisoners set free, many were assassins and robbers, associated with them by the butchers. There were also 75 women, confined in part for larceny, who promised to faithfully serve their liberators.” Later on, indeed, these are to become, at the Jacobin and Cordeliers clubs, the tricoteuses who fill their tribunes.120 — At the Salpétrière, “all the bullies of Paris, former spies, … libertines, the rascals of France and all Europe, prepare beforehand for the operation,” and rape alternates with massacre.121 —Thus far, at least, slaughter has been seasoned with robbery, and the grossness of eating and drinking; at Bicêtre, however, it is crude butchery, the carnivorous instinct alone satisfying itself. Among other prisoners are 43 youths of the lowest class, from 17 to 19 years of age, placed there for correction by their parents, or by those to whom they are bound;122 one need only look at them to see that they are genuine Parisian scamps, the apprentices of vice and misery, the future recruits for the reigning band, and these the band falls on, beating them to death with clubs. At this age life is tenacious, and, no life being harder to take, it requires extra efforts to despatch them. “In that corner,” said a jailer, “they made a mountain of their bodies. The next day, when they were to be buried, the sight was enough to break one’s heart. One of them looked as if he were sleeping like one of God’s angels, but the rest were horribly mutilated.”123 —Here, man has sunk below himself, down into the lowest strata of the animal kingdom, lower than the wolf, for wolves do not strangle their young.
There are six days and five nights of uninterrupted butchery,124 171 murders at the Abbaye, 169 at La Force, 223 at the Châtelet, 328 at the Conciergerie, 73 at the Tour-Saint-Bernard, 120 at the Carmelites, 79 at Saint Firmin, 170 at Bicêtre, 35 at the Salpétrière; among the dead, 250 priests, 3 bishops or archbishops, general officers, magistrates, one former minister, one royal princess, belonging to the best names in France, and, on the other side, one negro, several low class women, young scapegraces, convicts, and poor old men. What man now, little or big, does not feel himself under the knife?—And all the more because the band has grown larger. Fournier, Lazowski, and Bécard, the chiefs of robbers and assassins, return from Orleans with fifteen hundred cut-throats.125 On the way they kill M. de Brissac, M. de Lessart, and 42 others accused of lèse-nation, whom they wrested from their judges’ hands, and then, by way of surplus, “following the example of Paris,” twenty-one prisoners taken from the Versailles prisons. At Paris the Minister of Justice thanks them, the Commune congratulates them, and the sections feast them and embrace them.126 —Can anybody doubt that they were ready to begin again? Can a step be taken in or out of Paris without being subject to their oppression or encountering their despotism? On leaving the city, sentinels of their species are posted at the barriers, while the section committees on the inside are in permanent authority. Malouet, led before that of Roule,127 sees before him a pandemonium of fanatics, at least a hundred individuals in the same room, the suspected, those denouncing them, co-laborers, attendants, a long, green table in the centre, covered with swords and daggers, with the committee around it, “twenty patriots with their shirt-sleeves rolled up, some holding pistols and others pens,” signing warrants of arrest, “quarreling with and threatening each other, all talking at once, and shouting, Traitor! Conspirator! Off to prison with him! Guillotine him! and behind these, a crowd of spectators, pell-mell, yelling, and gesticulating” like wild beasts pressed against each other in the same cage, showing their teeth and trying to spring at each other. “One of the most excited, brandishing his sabre in order to strike an antagonist, stopped on seeing me, and exclaimed, ‘There’s Malouet!’ The other, however, less occupied with me than with his enemy, took advantage of the opportunity, and with a blow of his club, knocked him down.” Malouet is just saved, and that is all, such escapes in Paris being mere matters of chance.—If one remains in the city, one is beset with funereal imagery;—the hurrying step of squads of men in each street, leading the suspected to prison or before the committee; around each prison the crowds that have come “to see the disasters”; in the court of the Abbaye the cry of the auctioneer selling the clothes of the dead; the rumbling of carts on the pavement bearing away 1,300 corpses; the songs of the women mounted aloft, beating time on the naked bodies.128 Is there a man who, after one of these encounters, does not see himself in imagination before the green table of the section committee, after this, in prison with sabres over his head, and then in the cart in the midst of the bloody pile?
Courage falters before a vision like this. All the journals approve, palliate, or keep silent; nobody dares offer resistance. Property as well as lives belong to whoever wants to take them. At the barriers, at the markets, on the boulevard of the Temple, thieves, decked with the tricolor ribbon, stop people as they pass along, seize whatever they carry, and, under the pretext that jewels should be deposited on the altars of Patriotism, take purses, watches, rings, and other articles, so rudely that women who are not quick enough, have the lobes of their ears torn in unhooking their earrings.129 Others, installed in the cellars of the Tuileries, sell the nation’s wine and oil for their own profit. Others, again, given their liberty eight days before by the people, scent out a bigger job by finding their way into the Garde-meuble and stealing diamonds to the value of thirty millions.130
Like a man struck on the head with a mallet, Paris, felled to the ground, lets things go; the authors of the massacre have fully attained their ends. The faction has fast hold of power, and will maintain its hold. Neither in the Legislative Assembly nor in the Convention will the aims of the Girondists be successful against its tenacious usurpation. It has proved by a striking example that it is capable of anything, and boasts of it; it is still armed, it stands there ever prepared and anonymous on its murderous basis, with its speedy modes of operation, its own group of fanatical agents and bravos, with Maillard and Fournier, with its cannon and its pikes. All that does not live within it lives only through its favor from day to day, through its good will. Everybody knows that. The Assembly no longer thinks of dislodging people who meet decrees of expulsion with massacre; it is no longer a question of auditing their accounts, or of keeping them within the confines of the law. Their dictatorship is not to be disputed, and their purifications continue. From four to five hundred new prisoners, arrested within eleven days, by order of the municipality, by the sections, and by this or that individual Jacobin, are crowded into cells still dripping with blood, and the report is spread that, on the 20th of September, the prisons will be emptied by a second massacre.131 —Let the Convention, if it pleases, pompously install itself as sovereign, and grind out decrees—it makes no difference; regular or irregular, the government still marches on in the hands of those who hold the sword. The Jacobins, through sudden terror, have maintained their illegal authority; through a prolongation of terror they are going to establish their legal authority. A forced suffrage is going to put them in office at the Hôtel-de-Ville, in the tribunals, in the National Guard, in the sections, and in the various administrations, while they have already elected to the Convention, Marat, Danton, Fabre d’Eglantine, Camille Desmoulins, Manuel, Billaud-Varennes, Panis, Sergent, Collot d’Herbois, Robespierre, Legendre, Osselin, Fréron, David, Robert, Lavicourterie, in brief, the instigators, conductors and accomplices of the massacre.132 Nothing that could force or falsify votes was overlooked. In the first place the presence of the people is imposed on the electoral assembly, and, to this end, it is transferred to the large hall of the Jacobin club, under the pressure of the Jacobin galleries. As a second precaution, every opponent is excluded from voting, every constitutionalist, every former member of the monarchical club, of the Feuillants, and of the Sainte-Chapelle club, every signer of the petition of the 20,000, or of that of the 8,000, and, on the sections protesting against this, their protest is thrown out on the ground of its being the fruit of “an intrigue.” Finally, at each ballotting, each elector’s vote is called out, which ensures the right vote beforehand, the warnings he has received being very explicit. On the 2d of September, during the first meeting of the electoral body, held at the bishop’s palace, the Marseilles troop, 500 yards off, came and took the twenty-four priests from the mayoralty, and, on the way, hacked them to pieces on the Pont-Neuf. Throughout the evening and all night the agents of the municipality carried on their work at the Abbaye, at the Carmelites, and at La Force, and, on the 3d of September, on the electoral assembly transferring itself to the Jacobin club, it passed over the Pont-au-Change between two rows of corpses, which the slaughterers had brought there from the Châtelet and the Conciergerie.
[1. ]Thierry, son of Clovis, unwilling to take part in an expedition of his brothers into Burgundy, was told by his men: “If thou art unwilling to march into Burgundy with thy brothers, we will leave thee and follow them in thy place.”—Clotaire, another of his sons, disposed to make peace with the Saxons, “the angry Francs rush upon him, revile him, and threaten to kill him if he declines to accompany them. Upon which he puts himself at their head.”
[2. ]Social condition and degree of culture are often indicated orthographically.—Granier de Cassagnac, II. 480. Bécard, commanding the expedition which brought back the prisoners from Orleans, signs himself: “Bécard, commandant congointement aveque M. Fournier generalle.”—“Archives Nationales,” F7, 4,426. Letter of Chemin, commissioner of the Gravilliers section, to Santerre, Aug. 11, 1792. “Mois Charles Chemin commissaire … fait part à Monsieur Santaire générale de la troupe parisiene que le nommé Hingray caviliers de la gendarmeris nationalle … ma déclarés qu’ille sestes trouvés aux jourduis 11 aoux avec une home attachés à la cours aux Equris; quille lui aves dis quiere 800 home a peupres des sidevant garde du roy étes tous près a fondresure Paris pour donaire du sécour a naux rébelle et a signer avec moi la presente.”
[3. ]On the 19th of March, 1871, I met in the Rue de Varennes a man with two guns on his shoulder who had taken part in the pillage of the Ecole d’Etat-major and was on his way home. I said to him: “But this is civil war, and you will let the Prussians in Paris.” “I’d rather have the Prussians than Thiers. Thiers is the inside Prussian!”
[4. ]Moniteur, Nov 14, 1792.
[5. ]Buchez et Roux, XVII. 31.
[6. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 4,426. Letter of the police administrators, Aug. 11. Declaration of Delaunay, Aug. 12.
[7. ]Buchez et Roux, XVII. 59 (session of Aug. 12). Speech by Leprieur at the bar of the house.
[8. ]Buchez et Roux, XVII. 47.—Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 31. Speech by Robespierre at the bar of the Assembly in the name of the commune, Aug. 15.
[9. ]Brissot, in his report on Robespierre’s petition.—The names of the principal judges elected show its character: Fouquier-Tinville, Osselin, Coffinhal.
[10. ]Buchez et Roux, XVII. 91 (Aug. 17).
[11. ]Stated by Pétion in his speech (Moniteur, Nov. 10, 1792).
[12. ]Buchez et Roux, XVII. 116 (session of Aug. 23).
[13. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 461.—Moore, I. 273 (Aug. 31).
[14. ]Buchez et Roux, XVII. 267 (article by Prudhomme in the “Révolutions de Paris”).
[15. ]“Les Révolutions de Paris,” Ibid., “A number of sans-culottes were there with their pikes; but these were largely outnumbered by the multitude of uniforms of the various battalions.” Moore, Aug, 31: “At present the inhabitants of the faubourgs Saint-Antoine and Saint-Marceau are all that is felt of the sovereign people in Paris.”
[16. ]Moore, Aug. 26.
[17. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 471. Indictment against Jean-Julien.—In referring to M. Mortimer-Ternaux we do so because, like a true critic, he cites authentic and frequently unedited documents.
[18. ]Rétif de la Bretonne, “Les Nuits de Paris,” 11th night, p. 372.
[19. ]Moore, Sept. 2.
[20. ]Moore, Sept. 3.—Buchez et Roux, XVI. 159 (narrative by Tallien).—Official report of the Paris Commune, Sept. 4 (in the collection of Barrière and Berville, the volume entitled “Mémoires sur les journées de Septembre”). The commune adopts and expands the fable, probably invented by it. Prudhomme well says that the story of the prison plot, so scandalously circulated during the Reign of Terror, appears for the first time on the 2d of September. The same report was spread through the rural districts. At Gennevilliers, a peasant, while lamenting the massacres, said to Malouet: “It is, too, a terrible thing for the aristocrats to want to kill all the people by blowing up the city” (Malouet, II. 244).
[21. ]Official reports of the commune, Aug. 11.
[22. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, II. 446. List of the section commissioners sitting at the Hôtel-de-Ville, Aug. 10, before 9 o’clock in the morning.
[23. ]Official reports of the commune, Aug. 21. “Considering that, to ensure public safety and liberty, the council-general of the commune required all the power delegated to it by the people, at the time it was compelled to resume the exercise of its rights,” sends a deputation to the National Assembly to insist that “the new department be converted, pure and simple, into a tax-commissioners’ office.”—Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 25. Speech of Robespierre in the name of the commune: “After the people have saved the country, after decreeing a National Convention to replace you, what remains for you to do but to gratify their wishes? … The people, forced to see to its own salvation, has provided for this through its delegates. … It is essential that those chosen by itself for its magistrates should enjoy the plenary powers befitting the sovereign.”
[24. ]Official reports of the commune, Aug. 10.—Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 155. Letter of the Minister Servan, Aug. 30.—Ibid., 149.—Ibid., 148. The commission on supplies having been broken up by the commune, Roland, the Minister of the Interior, begs the Assembly to act promptly, for “he will no longer be responsible for the supplies of Paris.”
[25. ]Official reports of the commune, Aug. 21. A resolution requiring that, on trials for lèse-nation, those who appear for the defendants should be provided with a certificate of their integrity, issued by their assembled section, and that the interviews between them and the accused be public.—Ibid., Aug. 17, a resolution to suspend the execution of the two assassins of mayor Simonneau, condemned to death by the tribunal of Seine-et-Oise.
[26. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 11. Decree of Aug. 11.
[27. ]Prudhomme, “Révolutions de Paris” (number for Sept. 22). Report by Roland to the National Assembly (Sept. 16, at 9 o’clock in the morning).
[28. ]Madame Roland, “Mémoires,” II. 414 (Ed. Barrière et Berville). Report by Roland. Oct. 29. The seizure in question took place Aug. 27.
[29. ]“Mémoires sur les journées de Septembre” (Ed. Barrière et Berville, pp. 307–322). List of sums paid by the treasurer of the commune.—See, on the prolongation of this plundering, Roland’s report, Oct. 29, of money, plate, and assignats taken from the Senlis Hospital (Sept. 13), the Hotel de Coigny emptied, and sale of furniture in the Hotel d’Egmont, etc.
[30. ]Official reports of the commune, Aug. 17 and 20.—List of sums paid by the treasurer of the commune, p. 391.—On the 28th of August a “St. Roch” in silver is brought to the bar of the National Assembly.
[31. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 150, 161, 511.—Report by Roland, Oct. 29, p. 414.
[32. ]Moniteur, XIII. 514, 542 (sessions of Aug. 23 and 26).
[33. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 99 (sessions of Aug. 15 and 23). “Procès-verbaux de la Commune,” Aug. 18, a resolution to obtain a law authorising the commune “to collect together the wives and children of the émigrés in places of security, and to make use of the former convents for this purpose.”
[34. ]“Procès-verbaux de la Commune,” Aug. 12.—Ibid., Aug. 18. Not being able to find M. Geoffroy, the journalist, the commune “passes a resolution that seals be affixed to Madame Geoffroy’s domicile and that she be placed in arrest until her husband appears to release her.”
[35. ]“Procès-verbaux de la Commune,” Aug. 17 and 18. Another resolution, again demanding of the National Assembly a list of the signers for publication.
[36. ]“Procès-verbaux de la Commune,” Aug. 18, 19, 20.—On the 20th of August the commune summons before it and examines the Venetian Ambassador. “A citizen claims to be heard against the ambassador, and states that several carriages went out of Paris in his name. The name of this citizen is Chevalier, a horse-shoer’s assistant. … The Council decrees that honorable mention be made of the affidavits brought forward in the accusation.” On the tone of these examinations read Weber (“Mémoires,” II. 245), who narrates his own.
[37. ]Buchez et Roux, XVII. 215. Narration by Peltier.—In spite of the orders of the National Assembly the affair is repeated on the following day, and it lasts from the 19th to the 31st of August, in the evening.—Moore, Aug. 31. The stupid, sheep-like vanity of the bourgeois enlisted as a gendarme for the sans-culottes is here well depicted. The keeper of the Hôtel Meurice, where Moore and Lord Lauderdale put up, was on guard and on the chase the night before: “He talked a good deal of the fatigue he had undergone, and hinted a little of the dangers to which he had been exposed in the course of this severe duty. Being asked if he had been successful in his search after suspected persons—‘Yes, my lord, infinitely; our battalion arrested four priests.’ He could not have looked more lofty if he had taken the Duke of Brunswick.”
[38. ]According to Roederer, the number arrested amounted to from 5,000 to 6,000 persons.
[39. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 147, 148, Aug. 28 and 29.—Ibid., 176. Other sections complain of the Commune with some bitterness.—Buchez et Roux, XVII. 358.—“Procès-verbaux de la Commune,” Sept. 1. “The section of the Temple sends a deputation which declares that by virtue of a decree of the National Assembly it withdraws its powers entrusted to the commissioners elected by it to the council-general.”
[40. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 154 (session of Aug. 30).
[41. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 171 (session of Aug. 31).—Ibid., 208.—On the following day, Sept. 1, at the instigation of Danton, Thuriot obtains from the National Assembly an ambiguous decree which seems to allow the members of the commune to keep their places, provisionally at least, at the Hôtel-de-Ville.
[42. ]“Procès-verbaux de la Commune,” Sept. 1.
[43. ]“Procès-verbaux de la Commune,” Sept. 1. “It is resolved that whatever effects fell into the hands of the citizens who fought for liberty and equality on the 10th of August shall remain in their possession; M. Tallien, secretary-general, is therefore authorised to return a gold watch to M. Lecomte, a gendarme.”
[44. ]Four circumstances, simultaneous and in full agreement with each other, indicate this date: 1. On the 23d of August the council-general resolves “that a tribune shall be arranged in the chamber for a journalist (M. Marat), whose duty it shall be to conduct a journal giving the acts passed and what goes on in the commune” (“Procès-verbaux de la Commune,” Aug. 23).— 2. On the same day, “on the motion of a member with a view to separate the prisoners of lése-nation from those of the nurse’s hospital and others of the same stamp in the different prisons, the council has adopted this measure” (Granier de Cassagnac, II. 100).— 3. The same day the commune applauds the deputies of a section, which “in warm terms” denounce before it the tardiness of justice and declare to it that the people will “immolate” the prisoners in their prisons (Moniteur, Nov. 10, 1793, Narrative of Pétion).— 4. The same day it sends a deputation to the Assembly to order a transfer of the Orleans prisoners to Paris (Buchez et Roux, XVII. 116). The next day, in spite of the prohibitions of the Assembly, it sends Fournier and his band to Orleans (Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 364), and each knows beforehand that Fournier is commissioned to kill him on the way. (Balleydier, “Histoire politique et militaire du peuple de Lyon,” I. 79. Letter of Laussel, dated at Paris, Aug. 28:) “Our volunteers are at Orleans for the past two or three days to bring the anti-revolutionary prisoners here, who are treated too well there.” On the day of Fournier’s departure (Aug. 24) Moore observes in the Palais Royal and at the Tuileries “a greater number than usual of itinerant haranguers of the populace, hired for the purpose of inspiring the people with a horror of monarchy.”
[45. ]Moniteur, Sept. 25, 1792, speech by Marat in the Convention.
[46. ]See his two journals, “L’Ami du peuple” and the “Journal de la Républic Française,” especially for July and October, 1792.—The number for August 16 is headed: “Development of the vile plot of the court to destroy all patriots with fire and sword.”—That of August 19: “The infamous conscript Fathers of the Circus, betraying the people and trying to delay the conviction of traitors until Mottié arrives, is marching with his army on Paris to destroy all patriots!”—That of Aug. 21: “The gangrenés of the Assembly, the perfidious accomplices of Mottié arranging for flight. … The conscript Fathers, the assassins of patriots at Nancy in the Champ de Mars and in the Tuileries,” etc.—All this was yelled out daily every morning by those who hawked these journals through the streets.
[47. ]L’Ami du Peuple, Aug. 19 and 21.
[48. ]“Lettres autographs de Madame Roland,” published by Madame Bancal des Issarts, Sept. 9. “Danton leads all; Robespierre is his puppet; Marat holds his torch and dagger.”
[49. ]Madame Roland, “Mémoires,” II. 19 (note by Roland).—Ibid., 21, 23, 24. Monge says: “Danton wants to have it so; if I refuse he will denounce me to the Commune and at the Cordeliers, and have me hung.” Fournier’s commission to Orleans was all in order, Roland probably having signed it unawares, like those of the commissioners sent into the departments by the executive council (Cf. Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 368.)
[50. ]The person who gives me the following had it from the king, Louis Philippe, then an officer in Kellerman’s corps: On the evening of the battle of Valmy the young officer is sent to Paris to carry the news. On his arrival (Sept. 22 or 23, 1792) he learns that he is removed from his post and appointed governor of Strasbourg. He goes to Servan’s house, Minister of War, and at first they refuse to let him in. Servan is unwell and in bed, with the ministers in his room. The young man states that he comes from the army and is the bearer of despatches. He is admitted, and finds, indeed, Servan in bed with various personages around him, and he announces the victory.—They question him and he gives the details.—He then complains of having been displaced, and, stating that he is too young to command with any authority at Strasbourg, requests to be reinstated with the army in the field. “Impossible,” replies Servan; “your place is given to another.” Thereupon one of the personages present, with a peculiar visage and a rough voice, takes him aside and says to him: “Servan is a fool! Come and see me to-morrow and I will arrange the matter.” “Who are you?” “I am Danton, the Minister of Justice.”—The next day he calls on Danton, who tells him: “It is all right; you shall have your post back—not under Kellerman, however, but under Dumouriez; are you content?” The young man, delighted, thanks him. Danton resumes: “Let me give you one piece of advice before you go: You have talent and will succeed. But get rid of one fault—you talk too much. You have been in Paris twenty-four hours, and already you have repeatedly criticised the affair of September. I know this; I have been informed of it.” “But that was a massacre; how can one help calling it horrible?” “I did it,” replies Danton. “The Parisians are all so many j—— f——. A river of blood had to flow between them and the émigrés. You are too young to understand these matters. Return to the army; it is the only place nowadays for a young man like you and of your rank. You have a future before you; but mind this—keep your mouth shut!”
[51. ]Hua, 167. Narrative by his guest, the physician Lambry, an intimate friend of Danton, ultra-fanatical and member of a committee in which the question came up whether the members of the “Right” should likewise be put out of the way. “Danton had energetically repelled this sanguinary proposal. ‘Everybody knows,’ he said, ‘that I do not shrink from a criminal act when necessary; but I disdain to commit a useless one.’ ”
[52. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, IV. 437. Danton exclaims, in relation to the “effervescent” commissioners sent by him into the department: “Eh! d——n it, do you suppose that we would send you young ladies?”
[53. ]Philippe de Ségur, “Mémoires,” I. 12. Danton, in a conversation with his father, a few weeks after the 2d of September.
[54. ]See above, narrative of the king, Louis Philippe.
[55. ]Buchez et Roux, XVII. 347. The words of Danton in the National Assembly, Sept. 2, a little before two o’clock, just as the tocsin and cannon gave the signal of alarm agreed upon. Already on the 31st of August, Tallien, his faithful ally, had told the National Assembly: “We have arrested the priests who make so much trouble. They are in confinement in a certain domicile, and in a few days the soil of liberty will be purged of their presence.”
[56. ]Meillan, “Mémoires,” 325 (Ed. Barrière et Berville). Speech by Fabre d’Eglantine at the Jacobin Club, sent around among the affiliated clubs, May 1, 1793.
[57. ]Robinet, “Procès des Dantonistes,” 39, 45 (words of Danton in the committee on general defense).—Madame Roland, “Mémoires,” II. 30. On the 2d of September Grandpré, ordered to report to the Minister of the Interior on the state of the prisons, waits for Danton as he leaves the council and tells him his fears. “Danton, irritated by the description, exclaims in his bellowing way, suiting the word to the action. ‘J—— the prisoners! Let them take care of themselves!’ and he proceeded on in an angry mood. This took place in the second ante-room, in the presence of twenty persons.”—Arnault, II. 101. About the time of the September massacres “Danton, in the presence of one of my friends, replied to some one that urged him to use his authority in stopping the spilling of blood: ‘Isn’t it time for the people to take their revenge?’ ”
[58. ]Prudhomme, “Crimes de la Révolution,” IV. 90. On the 2d of September, at the alarm given by the tocsin and cannon, Prudhomme calls on Danton at his house for information. Danton repeats the story which has been gotten up, and adds: “The people, who are now aroused and know what to do, want to administer justice themselves on the worthless scamps now in prison.” Camille Desmoulins enters. “Look here,” says Danton, “Prudhomme has come to ask what is going to be done?” “Didn’t you tell him that the innocent would not be confounded with the guilty? All those that are demanded by their sections will be given up.” On the 4th, Desmoulins calls at the office of the journal and says to the editors: “Well, everything has gone off in the most perfect order. The people even set free a good many aristocrats against whom there was no direct proof. … I trust that you will state all this exactly, because the Journal des Révolutions is the compass of public opinion.”
[59. ]Prudhomme, “Crimes de la Révolution,” 123. According to the statements of Theophile Mandar, vice-president of a section, witness and actor in the scene; he authorises Prudhomme to mention his name.—Afterwards, in the next room, Mandar proposes to Pétion and Robespierre to attend the Assembly the next day and protest against the massacre; if necessary, the Assembly may appoint a director for one day. “Take care not to do that,” replied Robespierre; “Brissot would be the dictator.”—Pétion says nothing. “The ministers were all agreed to let the massacres continue.”
[60. ]Madame Roland, II. 37.—“Angers et le départment de Maine-et-Loire de 1787 à 1830,” by Blordier Langlois. Appended to the circular was a printed address bearing the title of Comte rendu au peuple souverain, “countersigned by the Minister of Justice and with the Minister’s seal on the package,” and addressed to the Jacobin Clubs of the departments, that they, too, might preach massacre.
[61. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 398, 391. Warned by Alquier, president of the criminal court of Versailles, of the danger to which the Orleans prisoners were exposed, Danton replied: “What is that to you? That affair does not concern you. Mind your own business, and do not meddle with things outside of it!” “But, Monsieur, the law says that prisoners must be protected.” “What do you care? Some among them are great criminals, and nobody knows yet how the people will regard them and how far their indignation will carry them.” Alquier wished to pursue the matter, but Danton turned his back on him.
[62. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 217.
[63. ]Madame Roland, “Lettres autographes, etc.,” Sept. 5, 1792. “We are here under the knives of Marat and Robespierre. These fellows are striving to excite the people and turn them against the National Assembly and the Council. They have organised a Star Chamber and they have a small army under pay, aided by what they found or stole in the palace and elsewhere, or by supplies purchased by Danton, who is underhandedly the chieftain of this horde.”—Dusaulx, “Mémoires,” 441. “On the following day (Sept. 3) I went to see one of the personages of most influence at this epoch. ‘You know,’ said I to him, ‘what is going on?’ ‘Very well; but keep quiet; it will soon be over. A little more blood is still necessary.’ I saw others who explained themselves much more definitely.”—Mortimer-Ternaux, II. 445.
[64. ]“Procès-verbaux de la Commune,” Aug. 17.—Buchez et Roux, XII. 206. Account of the fête of Aug. 27; a denunciation against Chénier, “who is now called simply Chénier the chaplain.”—Weber, II. 274, 275.
[65. ]Madame de Staël, “Considérations sur la Révolution Française,” 3d part, ch. x.
[66. ]Prudhomme, “Les Révolutions de Paris” (number for Sept. 22). At one of the last sessions of the commune “M. Panis spoke of Marat as of a prophet, another Simeon Stylites. ‘Marat,’ said he, ‘remained six weeks sitting on one thigh in a dungeon.’ ”—Barbaroux, 64.
[67. ]Weber, II. 348. Collot dwells at length, “in cool-blooded gaiety,” on the murder of Madame de Lamballe and on the abominations to which her corpse was subjected. “He added, with a sigh of regret, that if he had been consulted he would have had the head of Madame de Lamballe served in a covered dish for the queen’s supper.”
[68. ]On the part played by Robespierre and his presence constantly at the Commune, see Granier de Cassagnac, II. 55.—Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 205. Speech by Robespierre at the commune, Sept 1. “No one dares name the traitors. Well, I give their names for the safety of the people: I denounce the liberticide Brissot, the Girondist factionists, the rascally commission of the Twenty-One in the National Assembly; I denounce them for having sold France to Brunswick, and for having taken in advance the reward for their dastardly act.” On the 2d of September he repeats his denunciation, and consequently on that day warrants are issued by the committee of supervision against thirty deputies and against Brissot and Roland (Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 216, 247).
[69. ]“Procès-verbaux de la Commune,” Aug. 30.—Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 217 (resolutions of the sections Poissonnière and Luxembourg).—Granier de Cassagnac, II. 104 (adhesion of the sections Mauconseil, Louvre, and Quinze-Vingt).
[70. ]Granier de Cassagnac, II. 156.
[71. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 265.—Granier de Cassagnac, XII. 402. (The other five judges were also members of the commune.)
[72. ]Granier de Cassagnac, II. 313. Register of the General Assembly of the sans-culottes section, Sept. 2. “Mémoires sur les journées de Septembre,” 151 (declaration of Jourdan).
[73. ]“Mémoires sur les journées de Septembre,” narrative of Abbé Sicard, III.
[74. ]Buchez et Roux, XVIII. 109, 178. (“La vérité tout entière,” by Méhée, Jr.)—Narrative of Abbé Sicard, 132, 134.
[75. ]Granier de Cassagnac, II. 92, 93.—On the presence and complicity of Santerre. Ibid. 89–99.
[76. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 277 and 299 (Sept. 3).—Granier de Cassagnac, II. 257. A commissary of the section of the Quatre-Nations states in his report that “the section authorised them to pay expenses out of the affair.”—Declaration of Jourdan, 151.—Lavalette, “Mémoires,” I. 91. The initiative of the commune is further proved by the following detail: “Towards five o’clock (Sept. 2) city officials on horseback, carrying a flag, rode through the streets crying: ‘To arms! to arms!’ They added: ‘The enemy is coming; you are all lost; the city will be burnt and given up to pillage. Have no fear of the traitors and conspirators behind your backs. They are in the hands of the patriots, and before you leave the thunderbolts of national justice will fall on them!”—Buchez et Roux, XXVIII. 105. Letter of Chevalier Saint-Dizier, member of the first committee of supervision, Sept. 10. “Marat, Duplain, Fréron, etc., generally do no more in their supervision of things than wreak private vengeance. … Marat states openly that 40,000 heads must still be knocked off to ensure the success of the Revolution.”
[77. ]Buchez et Roux, XVIII. 146. “Ma Résurrection,” by Mathon de la Varenne. “The evening before half-intoxicated women said publicly on the Feuillants terrace: ‘To-morrow is the day when their souls will be turned inside out in the prisons.”
[78. ]“Mémoires sur les journées de Septembre. Mon agonie,” by Journiac de Saint-Méard.—Madame de la Fausse-Landry, 72. The 29th of August she obtained permission to join her uncle in prison: “M. Sergent and others told me that I was acting imprudently; that the prisons were not safe.”
[79. ]Granier de Cassagnac, II. 27. According to Roch Marcandier their number “did not exceed 300.” According to Louvet there were “200, and perhaps not that number.” According to Brissot, the massacres were committed by about “a hundred unknown brigands.”—Pétion, at La Force (ibid., 75), on September 6, finds about a dozen executioners. According to Madame Roland (II. 35), “there were not fifteen at the Abbaye.” Lavalette the first day finds only about fifty at the La Force prison.
[80. ]Mathon de la Varenne, ibid., 137.
[81. ]Buchez et Roux, XVII. 183 (session of the Jacobin Club, Aug. 27), speech by a federate from Tarn.—Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 126.
[82. ]Sicard, 80.—Méhée, 187.—Weber, II. 279.—Cf., in Journiac de Saint-Méard, his conversation with a Provençal.—Rétif de la Bretonne, “Les Nuits de Paris,” 375. “About 2 o’clock in the morning (Sept. 3) I heard a troop of cannibals passing under my window, none of whom appeared to have the Parisian accent; they were all foreign.”
[83. ]Granier de Cassagnac, II. 164, 502.—Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 530—Maillard’s assessors at the Abbaye were a watchmaker living in the Rue Childebert, a fruit-dealer in the Rue Mazarine, a keeper of a public house in the Rue du Four-Saint-Germain, a journeyman hatter in the Rue Sainte-Marguerite, and two others whose occupation is not mentioned.—On the composition of the tribunal at La Force, Cf. Journiac de Saint-Méard, 120, and Weber, II. 261.
[84. ]Granier de Cassagnac, II. 507 (on Damiens), 513 (on L’empereur).—Meillan, 388 (on Laforet and his wife, old-clothes dealers on the Quai du Louvre, who on the 31st of May prepare for a second blow, and calculate this time on having for their share the pillaging of fifty houses).
[85. ]Sicard, 98.
[86. ]De Ferrières (Ed. Berville et Barrière), III. 486.—Rétif de la Bretonne, 381. At the end of the Rue des Ballets a prisoner had just been killed, while the next one slipped through the railing and escaped. “A man not belonging to the butchers, but one of those thoughtless machines of which there are so many, interposed his pike and stopped him. … The poor fellow was arrested by his pursuers and massacred. The pikeman coolly said to us: ‘I didn’t know they wanted to kill him.’ ”
[87. ]Granier de Cassagnac, II. 511.
[88. ]The judges and slaughterers at the Abbaye, discovered in the trial of the year IV., almost all lived in the neighborhood, in the rues Dauphine, de Nevers, Guénégaud, de Bussy, Childebert, Taranne, de l’Egoût, du Vieux Colombier, de l’Echaudé-Saint-Benoit, du Four-Saint-Germain, etc.
[89. ]Sicard, 86, 87, 101.—Jourdan, 123. “The president of the committee of supervision replied to me that these were very honest persons; that on the previous evening or the evening before that, one of them, in a shirt and sabots, presented himself before their committee all covered with blood, bringing with him in his hat twenty-five louis in gold, which he had found on the person of a man he had killed.”—Another instance of probity may be found in the “Procès-verbaux du conseil-général de la Commune de Versailles,” 367, 371.—On the following day, Sept. 3, robberies commence and go on increasing.
[90. ]Méhée, 179. “ ‘Would you believe that I have earned only twenty-four francs?’ said a baker’s boy armed with a club. ‘I killed more than forty for my share.’ ”
[91. ]Granier de Cassagnac, II. 153.—Cf. Ibid., 202–209, details on the meals of the workmen and on the more delicate repast of Maillard and his assistants.
[92. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 175–176.—Granier de Cassagnac, II. 84.—Jourdan, 222.—Méhée, 179. “At midnight they came back swearing, cursing, and foaming with rage, threatening to cut the throats of the committee in a body if they were not instantly paid.”
[93. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 320. Speech by Pétion on the charges preferred against Robespierre.
[94. ]Mathon de la Varenne, 156.—Journiac de Saint-Méard, 129.—Moore, 267.
[95. ]Journiac de Saint-Méard, 115.
[96. ]Weber, II. 265.—Journiac de Saint-Méard, 129.—Mathon de la Varenne, 155.
[97. ]Moore, 267.—Cf. Malouet, II. 240. Malouet, on the evening of Sept. 1, was at his sister-in-law’s; there is a domiciliary visit at midnight; she faints on hearing the patrol mount the stairs. “I begged them not to enter the drawing-room, so as not to disturb the poor sufferer. The sight of a woman in a swoon and pleasing in appearance affected them, and they at once withdrew, leaving me alone with her.”—Beaulieu, “Essais,” I. 108. (A propos of two of the Abbaye butchers he meets in the house of Journiac de Saint-Méard, and who chat with him in giving him a safe-conduct.) “What struck me was to detect generous sentiments through their ferocity, those of men determined to protect any one whose cause they adopted.”
[98. ]Weber, II. 264, 348.
[99. ]Sicard, 101. Billaud-Varennes, addressing the slaughterers.—Ibid., 75. “Greater power,” replied a member of the committee of supervision, “what are you thinking of? To give you greater power would be limiting those you have already. Have you forgotten that you are sovereigns? that the sovereignty of the people is confided to you, and that you are now in full exercise of it?”
[100. ]Méhée, 171.
[101. ]Sicard, 81. At the beginning the Marseilles men themselves were averse to striking the disarmed, and exclaimed to the crowd: “Here, take our swords and pikes and kill the monsters!”
[103. ]Observe children drowning a dog or killing a snake. Tenacity of life irritates them, as if it were a rebellion against their despotism, the effect of which is to render them only the more violent against their victim.
[104. ]One may recall to mind the effect of bull-fights, also the irresistible fascination which St. Augustin experienced on first hearing the death-cry of a gladiator in the amphitheatre.
[105. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 131. Trial of the September actors; the judge’s summing up. “The third and forty-sixth witnesses stated that they saw Monneuse (member of the commune) go to and come from La Force, express his delight at those sad events that had just occurred, acting very immorally in relation thereto, adding that there was violin playing in his presence, and that his colleague danced.”—Sicard, 88.
[106. ]Sicard, 91, 87. So called by a wine-dealer, who wants the custom of the murderers.—Granier de Cassagnac, II. 197–200. The original bills for wine, straw, and lights are presented.
[107. ]Sicard, 91.—Mathon de la Varenne, 150.
[108. ]Mathon de la Varenne, 154. A man of the suburbs said to him (Mathon is an advocate): “All right, Monsieur Fine-skin; I shall treat myself to a glass of your blood!”
[109. ]Rétif de la Bretonne, “Les Nuits de Paris,” 9th night, p. 388. “She screamed horribly, whilst the brigands amused themselves with their disgraceful acts. Her body even after death was not exempt. These people had heard that she had been beautiful.”
[110. ]Prudhomme, “Les Révolutions de Paris,” number for Sept. 8, 1792. “The people subjected the flower-girl of the Palais-Royal to the law of retaliation.”—Granier de Cassagnac, II. 329. According to the bulletin of the revolutionary tribunal, number for Sept. 3.—Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 291. Deposition of the concierge of the Conciergerie.—Buchez et Roux, XVII. 198. “Histoire des hommes de proie,” by Roch Marcandier.
[111. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 257. Trial of the September murderers; deposition of Roussel. Ibid., 628.
[112. ]Deposition of the woman Millet, ibid., 63.—Weber, II. 350.—Roch Marcandier, 197, 198.—Rétif de la Bretonne, 381.
[113. ]Mathon de la Varenne, 150.—Granier de Cassagnac, 515, 508. Trial of the September murderers, cases of Sainte-Foye, Debèche.—Ibid., 507, 513 (cases of Corlet, Crapier, Ledoux).
[114. ]On this mechanical and murderous action Cf. Dusaulx, “Mémoires,” 440. He addresses the bystanders in favor of the prisoners, and, affected by his words, they hold out their hands to him. “But before this the executioners had struck me on the cheeks with the points of their pikes, from which hung pieces of flesh. Others wanted to cut off my head, which would have been done if two gendarmes had not kept them back.”
[115. ]Jourdan, 219.
[116. ]Méhée, 179.
[117. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 558. The same idea is found among the federates and Parisians composing the company of the Egalité, which brought the Orleans prisoners to Versailles and then murdered them. They explain their conduct by saying that they “hoped to put an end to the excessive expenditure to which the French empire was subject through the prolonged detention of conspirators.”
[118. ]Rétif de la Bretonne, 388.
[119. ]Méhée, 177.
[120. ]Prudhomme, “Les Crimes de la Révolution,” III. 272.
[121. ]Rétif de la Bretonne, 388. There were two sorts of women at the Salpétrière, those who were branded and young girls brought up in the prison. Hence the two alternatives.
[122. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 295. See list of names, ages, and occupations.
[123. ]Barthélemy Maurice, “Histoire politique and anecdotique des prisons de la Seine,” 329.
[124. ]Granier de Cassagnac, II. 421. Official report of the commissary of police Auzolle. According to the declaration of the gate-keeper at La Force the massacre was prolonged up to the 7th of September.—Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 548.
[125. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 399, 592, 602–606.—“Procès-verbal des 8, 9, 10 Septembre, extrait des registres de la municipalité de Versailles.” (In the “Mémoires sur les journées de Septembre”), p. 358 and following pages.—Granier de Cassagnac, II. 483. Bonnet’s exploit at Orleans, pointed out to Fournier, Sept. I. Fournier replies: “D——, I am not to be ordered. When the heads of the cursed beggars are cut off the trial may come off!”
[126. ]Roch Marcandier, 210. Speech by Lazowski to the section of Finistère, faubourg Saint-Marceau. Lazowski had, in addition, set free the assassins of the mayor of Etampes, and laid their manacles on the bureau table.
[127. ]Malouet, II. 243 (Sept. 2).—Moniteur, XIII. 48 (session of Sept. 27, 1792). We see in the speech of Panis that analogous scenes took place in the committee of supervision. “Imagine our situation. We were surrounded by citizens irritated against the treachery of the court. We were told: ‘Here is an aristocrat who is going to fly; you must stop him, or you yourselves are traitors!’ Pistols were pointed at us and we found ourselves obliged to sign warrants, not so much for our own safety as for that of the persons denounced.”
[128. ]Granier de Cassagnac, II. 258.—Prudhomme, “Les Crimes de la Révolution,” III. 272.—Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 631.—De Ferrière, III. 391.—(The expression quoted was recorded by Rétif de la Bretonne.)
[129. ]Moniteur, XIII. 688, 698 (numbers for Sept. 15 and 16). Ibid., Letter of Roland, 701; of Pétion, 711.—Buchez et Roux, XVIII. 33, 34.—Prudhomme’s journal contains an engraving of this subject (Sept. 14).—“An Englishman admitted to the bar of the house denounces to the National Assembly a robbery committed in a house occupied by him at Chaillot by two bailiffs and their satellites. The robbery consisted of twelve louis, five guineas, five thousand pounds in assignats, and several other objects.” The courts before which he appeared did not dare take up his case (Buchez et Roux, XVII. p. 1, Sept. 18).
[130. ]Buchez et Roux, XVII. 461.—Prudhomme, “Les Révolution de Paris,” number for Sept. 22, 1792.
[131. ]Moniteur, XIII. 711 (session of Sept. 16). Letter of Roland to the National Assembly.—Buchez et Roux, XVIII. 42.—Moniteur, XIII. 731 (session of Sept. 17). Speech by Pétion: “Yesterday there was some talk of again visiting the prisons, and particularly the Conciergerie.”
[132. ]“Archives Nationales,” II. 58 to 76. Official reports of the Paris electoral assembly.—Robespierre is elected the twelfth (Sept. 5), then Danton and Collot d’Herbois (Sept. 6), then Manuel and Billaud-Varennes (Sept. 7), next C. Desmoulins (Sept. 8), Marat (Sept. 9), etc.—Mortimer-Ternaux, IV. 35 (act passed by the commune at the instigation of Robespierre for the regulation of electoral operations).—Louvet, “Mémoires.” Louvet, in the electoral assembly asks to be heard on the candidacy of Marat, but is unsuccessful. “On going out I was surrounded by those men with big clubs and sabres by whom the future dictator was always attended, Robespierre’s body-guard. They threatened me and told me in very concise terms: ‘Before long you shall have your turn.’ This is the freedom of that assembly in which one declared his vote under a dagger pointed at him.”