Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XII - The French Revolution, vol. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
CHAPTER XII - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Precarious situation of a central government within the precincts of a local jurisdiction—I.Jacobin advantages—Their sway in the section assemblies—Maintenance, re-election and completion of the Commune—Its new chiefs, Chaumette, Hébert and Pache—The National Guard recast—Jacobins elected officers and sub-officers—The paid band of roughs—Private and public funds of the party—II.Its parliamentary recruits—Their characters and minds—Saint-Just—Violence of the minority in the Convention—Pressure of the galleries—Menaces of the streets—III.Defection among the majority—Effect of physical fear—Effect of moral cowardice—Effect of political necessity—Internal weakness of the Girondists—Accomplices in principle of the Montagnards—IV.Principal decrees of the Girondist majority—Arms and means of attack surrendered by it to its adversaries—V.Committees of Supervision after March 28, 1793—The régime of August and September, 1792, revived—Disarmament—Certificates of civism—Forced enlistments—Forced loans—Use made of the sums raised—Vain resistance of the Convention—Marat, indicted, is acquitted—Vain resistance of the population—Manifestations by young men repressed—Violence and victory of the Jacobins in the assemblies of the sections—VI.Jacobin tactics to constrain the Convention—Petition of April 15 against the Girondists—Means employed to obtain signatures—The Convention declares the petition calumnious—The commission of Twelve and arrest of Hébert—Plans for massacres—Intervention of the Mountain leaders—VII.The 27th day of May—The central revolutionary committee—The municipal body displaced and then restored—Henriot, commanding general—The 31st of May—Measures of the Commune—The 2d of June—Arrest of the Twelve and of the Twenty-two—VIII.Character of the new governors—Why France accepted them.
“Citizen Danton,” wrote the deputy Thomas Paine, “the danger, every day increasing, is of a rupture between Paris and the departments. The departments did not send their deputies to Paris to be insulted, and every insult shown to them is an insult to the department that elected and sent them. I see but one effectual plan to prevent this rupture taking place, and that is to fix the residence of the Convention and of the future assemblies at a distance from Paris. … I saw, during the American Revolution, the exceeding inconvenience that arose from having the government of Congress within the limits of any municipal jurisdiction. Congress first resided in Philadelphia, and, after a residence of four years, it found it necessary to leave it. It then adjourned to the State of Jersey. It afterwards removed to New York. It again removed from New York to Philadelphia, and, after experiencing in every one of these places the great inconvenience of a government within a government, it formed the project of building a town not within the limits of any municipal jurisdiction for the future residence of Congress. In every one of the places where Congress resided, the municipal authority privately or publicly opposed itself to the authority of Congress, and the people of each of those places expected more attention from Congress than their equal share with the other States amounted to. The same thing now takes place in France, but in a greater excess.”—Danton knows all this, and he is sufficiently clear-headed to comprehend the danger; but the furrow is laid out, traced, and by himself. Since the 10th of August Paris holds France down while a handful of revolutionists tyrannise over Paris.1
Owing to the composition and the holding of the section assemblies, the original source of power has remained Jacobin, and has become of a darker and darker hue; accordingly, the electoral processes which, under the Legislative body, had fashioned the usurping Commune of the 10th of August, are perpetuated and aggravated under the Convention.2 “In nearly all the sections,3 those who occupy the chair are sans-culottes, and who arrange things inside the chamber, place the sentinels and establish the censors and auditors. Five or six spies, familiar with the section, and paid forty sous a day, remain during the session, and dare do all things. These same individuals, again, are intended for the transmission of orders from one Committee of Supervision to another, … so that if the sans-culottes of one section are not strong enough they may call in those of a neighboring section.”—In such assemblies the elections are decided beforehand, and we see how the faction keeps forcibly in its hands, or obtains by force, every elective position. The Council of the Commune, in spite of the hostile inclinations of the Legislative Assembly and the Convention, succeeds at first in maintaining itself four months; then, in December,4 when it is at last compelled to break up, it reappears through the authorisation of the suffrage, reinforced and completed by its own class, with three chiefs, a syndic-attorney, a deputy and a mayor, all three authors or abettors of the September massacre; with Chaumette, Anaxagoras, so-called, once a cabin-boy, then a clerk, always in debt, a chatterer, and given to drink; Hébert, called “Père Duchesne,” which states about all that is necessary for him; Pache, a subaltern busy-body, a bland, smooth-faced intriguer, who, with his simple air and seeming worth, pushes himself up to the head of the War Department, where he used all its resources for pillaging, and who, born in a door-keeper’s lodgings, returns there, either through craft or inclination, to take his dinner.—The Jacobins, with the civil power in their hands, also grab the military power. Immediately after the 10th of August,5 the National Guard is reorganised and distributed in as many battalions as there are sections, each battalion thus becoming “an armed section”; by this one may divine its composition, and what demagogues are selected for its officers and sub-officers. “The title of National Guard,” writes a deputy, “can no longer be given to the lot of pikemen and substitutes, mixed with a few bourgeois, who, since the 10th of August, maintain the military service in Paris.” There are, indeed, 110,000 names on paper; when called out on important occasions, all who are registered may respond, if not disarmed, but, in general, almost all stay at home and pay a sans-culotte to mount guard in their place. In fact, there is for the daily service only a hired reserve in each section, about one hundred men, always the same individuals. This makes in Paris a band of four or five thousand roughs, in which the squads may be distinguished which have already figured in September—Maillard and his 68 men at the Abbaye, Gauthier and his 40 men at Chantilly, Audouin, the “Sapper of the Carmelites,” and his 350 men in the suburbs of Paris, Fournier, Lazowski and their 1,500 men at Orleans and Versailles.6 —As to the pay of these and that of their civil auxiliaries, the faction is not troubled about that; for, along with power, it has seized money. To say nothing of its rapine in September,7 and without including the lucrative offices at its disposition, four hundred of these being distributed by Pache alone, and four hundred more by Chaumette,8 the Commune has 850,000 francs per month for its military police. Other bleedings at the Treasury cause more public money to flow into the pockets of its clients. One million per month supports the idle workmen which fife and drum have collected together to form the camp around Paris. Five millions of francs protect the petty tradesmen of the capital against the depreciation in value of certificates of credit. Twelve thousand francs a day keep down the price of bread for the Paris poor.9 To these regularly allowed subsidies add the funds which are diverted or extorted. On one side, in the War Department, Pache, its accomplice before becoming its mayor, organizes a steady stream of waste and stealings; in three months he succeeds in bringing about a deficiency of 130,000,000, “without vouchers.”10 On another side, the Duke of Orleans, become Philippe-Egalité, dragged along by his old stipendiaries with a rope around his neck and almost strangled, has to pay out more than ever, even down to the very depths of his purse; to save his own life he consents to vote for the King’s death, besides resigning himself to other sacrifices;11 it is probable that a large portion of his 74,000,000 of indebtedness at his death is due to all this.—Thus in possession of civil and military offices, of arms and money, the faction, masters of Paris, has nothing to do but master the isolated Convention, and this it invests on all sides.12
Through the elections, its advance-guard of fifty deputies is already posted there; while, owing to the charm it exercises over excitable and despotic natures, over brutal temperaments, narrow, disjointed minds, weak imaginations, doubtful honesty, and old religious or social rancor, it succeeds in doubling this number at the end of six months.13 On the benches of the extreme “Left,” around Robes pierre, Danton and Marat, the original nucleus of the September faction, sit men of their stamp, first, the corrupt like Chabot, Tallien and Barras, wretches like Fouché, Guffroy and Javogues, crazy enthusiasts like David, savage maniacs like Carrier, paltry simpletons like Joseph Lebon, common fanatics like Levasseur, Baubot, Jean Bon St. André, Romme and Lebas, after which and especially, the future representatives who have a grip, rough, domineering, dull fellows, who make good troopers for a political militia, Bourbotte, Duquesnoy, Rewbell, and Bentabolle, “a lot of beggarly ignoramuses,” exclaimed Danton,14 “without any common sense, and patriotic only when drunk. … Marat is nothing but a yelper. Legendre is fit for nothing but to cut up his meat. The rest do not know how to vote either sitting or standing, but they have nerves and back-bone.” From amongst these energetic nullities arises a young monster, with calm, handsome features, Saint-Just, a sort of precocious Sylla, who, twenty-five years of age and a new-comer, springs at once from the ranks and, by dint of atrocities, obtains a prominent position.15 Six years before this he began life by a domestic robbery; on a visit to his mother, he left the house during the night, carrying off the plate and jewels, which he squandered while living in a lodging house in the Rue Eromenteau, in the centre of Parisian prostitution;16 on the strength of this, and at the demand of his friends, he is shut up in a sort of house of correction for six months. On returning to his abode he occupied himself with writing an obscene poem in the style of La Pucelle and then, through a fit of rage resembling a spasm, he plunged headlong into the Revolution. With “blood calcined by application to study,” colossal self-conceit, a conscience that has broken its bounds, a sombre, extravagant imagination haunted with the bloody records of Rome and Sparta, a mind so warped and perverted as to find rest only in the wildest paradoxes, in shameless sophistry, and in murderous falsehoods;17 all these perilous ingredients, mingled in the crucible of suppressed, concentrated ambition, long and silently boiling within him, end in constant defiance, in determined callousness, in automatic rigidity, and in the absolute policy of the Utopian dictator and nihilist.—It is plain that such a minority will not obey parliamentary rules, and, rather than yield to the majority, that it will use in debate vociferations, insults, threats, and scuffles with daggers, pistols, sabres and even the “blunder-busses” of a veritable combat.
“Vile intriguers, calumniators, scoundrels, monsters, assassins, blackguards, fools and hogs,” such are the usual terms in which they address each other, and these form the least of their outrages.18 The president, at certain sessions, is obliged three times to put on his hat and, at last, breaks his bell. They insult him, force him to leave his seat and demand that “he be removed.” Bazire tries to snatch a declaration presented by him “out of his hands.” Bourdon, from the department of Oise, cries out to him that if he “dares to read it he will assassinate him.”19 The chamber “has become an arena of gladiators.”20 Sometimes the entire “Mountain” darts from its benches on the left, while a similar human wave rolls down from those on the right; both clash in the centre of the room amidst furious screams and shouts; in one of these hubbubs one of the “Mountain” having drawn a pistol the Girondist Duperret draws his sword.21 After the middle of December prominent members of the “Right,” “constantly persecuted, threatened and outraged,” reduced to “being out every night, are compelled to carry arms in self-defense,”22 and, after the King’s execution, “almost all” bring them to the sessions of the Convention. Any day, indeed, they may look for the final attack, and they are not disposed to die unavenged: during the night of March 9, finding that they are only forty-three, they agree to launch themselves in a body “at the first hostile movement, against their adversaries and kill as many as possible” before perishing.23
It is a desperate resource, but the only one. For, besides the madmen belonging to the Convention, they have against them the madmen in the galleries, and these likewise are September murderers. The vilest Jacobin rabble purposely takes its stand near them, at first in the old Riding-school, and then in the new hall in the Tuileries. They see above and in a circle around them drilled adversaries, eight or nine hundred heads packed “in the great gallery at the bottom, under a deep and silent vault,” and, besides these, on the sides, a thousand or fifteen hundred more, two immense tribunes completely filled.24 The galleries of the Constituent and Legislative Assemblies, compared with these, were calm. Nothing is more disgraceful to the Convention, writes a foreign spectator,25 than the insolence of the audience. One of the regulations prohibits, indeed, any mark of approval or disapproval, “but it is violated every day, and nobody is ever punished for this delinquency.” The majority in vain expresses its indignation at this “gang of hired ruffians,” who beset and oppress it, while at the very time that it utters its complaints, it endures and tolerates it. “The struggle is frightful,” says a deputy,26 “screams, murmurs, stampings, shouts. … The foulest insults were launched from the galleries.” “For a long time,” says another, “no one can speak here without obtaining their permission.”27 The day that Buzot obtains the floor to speak against Marat, “they break out furiously, yelling, stamping, and threatening”;28 every time that Buzot tries to begin his voice is drowned in the clamor, while he remains half an hour in the tribune without completing a sentence. On the calls of the House, especially, their cries resemble those of the excited crowd at a Spanish bull-fight, with their eager eyes and heaving breasts, watching the contest between the bull and the picadores; every time that a deputy votes against the death of the King or for an appeal to the people, there are the “vociferations of cannibals,” and “interminable yells” every time that one votes for the indictment of Marat. “I declare,” say deputies in the tribune, “that I am not free here; I declare that I am forced to debate under the knife.”29 Charles Villette is told at the entrance that “if he does not vote for the King’s death he will be massacred.”—And these are not empty threats. On the 10th of March, awaiting the promised riot, “the tribunes, duly advised, … had already loaded their pistols.”30 In the month of May, the tattered women hired for the purpose, under the title of “Ladies of the Fraternity,” formed a club, came daily early in the morning to mount guard, with arms in their hands, in the corridors of the Convention; they tear up all tickets given to men or women not of their band; they take possession of all the seats, show pistols and daggers, and declare that “eighteen hundred heads must be knocked off to make things go on right.”31
Behind these two first rows of assailants is a third, much more compact, the more fearful because it is undefined and obscure, namely, the vague multitude forming the anarchical set, scattered throughout Paris, and always ready to renew the 10th of August and 2d of September against the obstinate majority. Incendiary motions and demands for riots come incessantly from the Commune, and Jacobin, Cordeliers, and l’Evêché clubs; from the assemblies of the sections and groups stationed at the Tuileries and in the streets. “Yesterday,” writes the president of the Tuileries section,32 “at the same moment, at various points about Paris, the Rue du Bac, at the Marais, in the Church of St. Eustache, at the Palace of the Revolution, on the Feuillants terrace, scoundrels were preaching pillage and assassination.”—On the following day, again on the Feuillants terrace, that is to say, right under the windows of the Convention, “they urge the assassination of Louvel for having denounced Robespierre.”—Minister Roland writes: “I hear of nothing but conspiracy and plans to murder.”—Three weeks later, for several days, “an uprising is announced in Paris”;33 the Minister is warned that “alarm guns would be fired,” while the heads are designated beforehand on which this ever muttering insurrection will burst. In the following month, in spite of the recent precise law, “the electoral assembly prints and circulates gratis the list of members of the Feuillants and Sainte-Chapelle clubs; it likewise orders the printing and circulation of the list of the eight thousand, and of the twenty thousand, as well as of the clubs of 1789 and of Montaigu.”34 In January, “hawkers cry through the streets a list of the aristocrats and royalists who voted for an appeal to the people.”35 Some of the appellants are singled out by name through placards; Thibaut, bishop of Cantal, while reading the poster on the wall relating to him, hears some one alongside of him say: “I should like to know that bishop of Cantal; I would make bread tasteless to him.” Roughs point out certain deputies leaving the Assembly, and exclaim: “Those are the beggars to cut up!”—From week to week signs of insurrection increase and multiply, like flashes of lightning in a coming tempest. On the 1st of January, “it is rumored that the barriers are to be closed at night, and that domiciliary visits are going to begin again.”36 On the 7th of January, on the motion of the Gravilliers section, the Commune demands of the Minister of War 132 cannon stored at Saint-Denis, to divide among the sections. On the 15th of January the same section proposes to the other forty-seven to appoint, as on the 10th of August, special commissaries to meet at the Evêché and watch over public safety. That same day, to prevent the Convention from misunderstanding the object of these proceedings, it is openly stated in the tribunes that the cannon brought to Paris “are for another 10th of August against that body.” The same day, military force has to be employed to prevent bandits from going to the prisons “to renew the massacres.” On the 28th of January the Palais-Royal, the resort of the pleasure-seeking, is surrounded by Santerre, at eight o’clock in the evening, and “about six thousand men, found without a certificate of civism,” are arrested, subject to the decision one by one of their section.—Not only does the lightning flash, but already the bolt descends in isolated places.37 On the 31st of December a man named Louvain, formerly denounced by Marat as Lafayette’s agent, is slain in the faubourg St. Antoine, and his corpse dragged through the streets to the Morgue. On the 25th of February, the grocer-shops are pillaged at the instigation of Marat, with the connivance or sanction of the Commune. On the 9th of March the printing establishment of Gorsas is sacked by two hundred men, armed with sabres and pistols. The same evening and on the next morning the riot extends to the Convention itself; “the committee of the Jacobin club summons every section in Paris to arms” to “get rid” of the appellant deputies and the ministers; the Cordeliers club requests the Parisian authorities “to take sovereignty into their own hands and place the treacherous deputies under arrest”; Fournier, Varlet, and Champion ask the Commune “to declare itself in insurrection and close the barriers”; all the approaches to the Convention are occupied by the “dictators of massacre,” Pétion38 and Beurnonville being recognised on their passing, pursued and in danger of death, while furious mobs gather on the Feuillants terrace “to award popular judgment,” “to cut off heads” and “send them into the departments.”—Luckily, it rains, which always cools down popular effervescence. Kervélegan, a deputy from Finistère, who escapes, finds means of sending to the other end of the faubourg St. Marceau for a battalion of volunteers from Brest that had arrived a few days before, and who were still loyal; these come in time and save the Convention.—Thus does the majority live under the triple pressure of the “Mountain,” the galleries and the outside populace, and from month to month, especially after March 10, the pressure gets to be worse and worse.
Under this pressure from month to month the majority falters.—Some are overcome by purely physical fright. On the King’s trial, at the third call of the House, when votes for death came down from the galleries above, a deputy near Daunou “showed in a most energetic manner his disapproval of this.” On his turn coming, “the galleries, which had undoubtedly noticed his attitude,” burst out in such violent threats that for some minutes his voice could not be heard; “silence was at length restored, and he voted—death.”39 —Others, like Durand-Maillane, “warned by Robespierre that the strongest party is the safest,” say to themselves “that it is wise and necessary not to oppose excited people,” making up their minds “to keep aloof under the shield of their silence and insignificance.”40 Among the five hundred deputies of the Plain, many are of this stamp. They begin to be called “the Marsh Frogs.” In six months they settle down of themselves into so many mute figure-heads, or, rather, homicidal puppets, “whose hearts, shrunk through fear, rise in their throats”41 every time that Robespierre looks at them. Long before the fall of the Girondists, “downcast at the present state of things, and no longer stirred by any inward impulse,” their faces already disclose “the pallor of fear or the resignation of despair.”42 Cambacérès beats to the windward, and then takes refuge in his Committee on Legislation.43 Barrère, born a valet, and a valet ready for anything, places his southern mode of doing things at the service of the probable majority, up to the time of devoting his cruel rhetoric to the service of the dominant minority. Sièyes, after casting his vote for death, maintains obstinate silence, as much through disgust as through prudence: “Of what avail is my glass of wine in this torrent of dram-drinking?”44 —Many, even among the Girondists, use sophistry to color their concessions in their own eyes. Some among these “think that they enjoy some degree of popularity, and fear that this will be compromised.45 Again, they put forth the pretext or the necessity of maintaining one’s influence for important occasions. Occasionally, they affect to say, or say it in good faith, “Let them (the extravagant) keep on, they will find each other out and use themselves up.”—Frequently, the motives alleged are scandalous or grotesque. According to Barbaroux, immediate execution must be voted, because that is the best way to exculpate the Gironde and shut the mouths of their Jacobin calumniators.46 According to Berlier, it is essential to vote death for, why vote for exile? Louis XVI. would be torn to pieces before reaching the frontier.47 —On the eve of the verdict, Vergniaud says to M. de Ségur: “I vote Death? It is an insult to suppose me capable of such a disgraceful act!” And, “he sets forth the frightful iniquity of such a course, its uselessness, and even its danger.” “I would rather stand alone in my opinion than vote Death!”48 The next day, having voted as is well known, he excuses himself by saying “that he did not think he ought to put the life of one man in the scale against the public welfare.”49 Fifteen or twenty deputies, influenced by his example, voted as he did, which support sufficed to turn the majority.50 —The same weakness is found at other decisive moments. Charged with the denunciation of the conspiracy of the 10th of March, Vergniaud attributes it to the aristocrats, and admits to Louvet that “he did not wish to name the real conspirators for fear of embittering violent men already pushing things to excess.”51 The truth is, the Girondists, as formerly the Constitutionalists, are too civilized for their adversaries, and submit to force for lack of resolution to employ it themselves.
“To put down the faction,” says one of them,52 “can be done only by cutting its throat, which, perhaps, would not be difficult to do. All Paris is as weary as we are of its yoke, and if we had any liking for or knowledge how to deal with insurrections, we could soon throw it off. But how can measures of atrocity be adopted against men who would make them a reproach against their adversaries? And yet they would have saved the country.” Consequently, incapable of action, able only to talk, reduced to protests, to barring the way to revolutionary decrees, to making appeals to the department against Paris, they stand as an obstacle to all the practical people who are heartily engaged in the brunt of the action.—“There is no doubt that Carnot is as honest as they are, as honest as a booby fanatic can be.”53 Cambon, undoubtedly with as much integrity as Roland, pronounced as loudly as he against the 2d of September, the Commune, and anarchy.54 —But, to Carnot and Cambon, who pass their nights, one in establishing his budgets, and the other in studying his cards, they require, first of all, a government which will provide them with millions and with armies, and, therefore, an unscrupulous and unanimous Convention; that is to say, there being no other expedient, a Convention under compulsion, which means, finally, a Convention purged of troublesome, dissentient orators;55 in other words, the dictatorship of the Parisian populace. After the 15th of December, 1792, Cambon gives himself up to it entirely, and even erects the terrorism of the rabble into an European system; from that date on,56 he preaches universal sans-culotterie, a régime which will have the poor for its administrators and the rich for its rate-payers, in short, the restoration of privileges in an inverse sense; already the expression is true which Sièyes subsequently utters; the question is no longer an application of the principles of the Revolution, but the salvation of its men. In the presence of this ever keener and keener necessity, numbers of hesitating deputies follow the stream, letting the Montagnards have their own way and separating themselves from the Girondists.
And, what is graver still, the Girondists, above all these defections, are untrue to themselves. Not only are they ignorant of how to draw a line, of how to form themselves into a compact body; not only “is the very idea of a collective proceeding repulsive, each member desiring to keep himself independent, and act as he thinks best,”57 make motions without consulting others, and vote as the occasion calls for against his party, but, through its abstract principle, they are in accord with their adversaries, and, on the fatal declivity whereon their honorable and humane instincts still retain them, this common dogma, like a concealed weight, causes them to sink lower and lower down, even into the bottomless pit, where the State, according to the formulae of Jean Jacques, omnipotent, philosophic, anti-catholic, anti-Christian, despotic, levelling, intolerant, and propagandist, forbids education, levels fortunes, persecutes the Church, oppresses consciences, crushes out the individual, and, by military force, imposes its forms abroad.58 At bottom, save an excess of bru tality and of precipitation, the Girondists, setting out from the same principles as the “Mountain,” march forward to the same end along with the “Mountain.” Hence the effect of sectarian prejudice on them in mollifying their moral repugnances. Secretly, in their hearts, revolutionary instincts conspire with those of their enemies, and, on many occasions, they betray themselves.—Through these devices and multiplied weaknesses, on the one hand, the majority diminishes so as to present but 279 votes against 228;59 on the other hand, through frequent failures it surrenders to the besiegers one by one every commanding post of the public citadel, so that nothing remains but to fly, or beg for mercy, at the first attack.
On principle, it carries a vote for a departmental guard, but, owing to the opposition of the Montagnards, it fails to put the principle into operation.—For six months it is protected, and, on the 10th of March, saved, through the spontaneous aid of provincial federates, but, far from organising these passing auxiliaries into a permanent body of faithful defenders, it allows them to be dispersed or corrupted by Pache and the Jacobins.—It passes decrees frequently for the punishment of the abettors of the September crime, but, on their menacing petition, the trials are indefinitely postponed.60 —It has summoned to its bar Fournier, Lazowski, Deffieux, and other leaders, who, on the 10th of March, were disposed to throw it out of the windows, but, on making their impudent apology, it sends them away acquitted, free, and ready to begin over again.61 At the War Department it raises up in turn two cunning Jacobins, Pache and Bouchotte, who are to work against it unceasingly. At the Department of the Interior it allows the fall of its firmest support, Roland, and appoints Garat in his place, an ideologist, whose mind, composed of glittering generalities, with a character made up of contradictory inclinations, fritters itself away in reticences, in falsehoods and in half-way treachery, under the burden of his too onerous duties.—It votes the murder of the King, which places an insurmountable barrier of blood between it and all honest persons.—It plunges the nation into a war in behalf of principles,62 and excites an European league against France, which league, in transferring the perils arising from the September crime to the frontier, permanently establishes the September régime in the interior.—It forges in advance the vilest instruments of the forthcoming Reign of Terror, through the decree which establishes the revolutionary tribune, with Fouquier-Tinville as public prosecutor, and the obligation for each juryman to utter his verdict aloud;63 through the decree condemning every émigré to civil death, and the confiscation of his property “of either sex,” even a simple fugitive, even returned within six months;64 through the decree which “outlaws aristocrats and enemies of the Revolution”;65 through the decree which, in each commune, establishes a tax on the wealth of the commune in order to adapt the price of bread to wages;66 through the decree which subjects every bag of grain to declaration and to the maximum;67 through the decree which awards six years in irons for any traffic in the currency;68 through the decree which orders a forced loan of a billion, extorted from the rich;69 through the decree which raises in each town a paid army of sans-culottes “to hold aristocrats under their pikes”;70 in fine, through the decree which, instituting the Committee of Public Safety,71 fashions a central motor to set these sharp scythes agoing and mow down fortunes and lives with the utmost rapidity.—To these engines of general destruction it adds one more, which is special and operates against itself. Not only does it furnish its rivals of the Commune with the millions they need to pay their bands; not only does it advance to the different sections,72 in the form of a loan, the hundreds of thousands of francs which are needed to satisfy the thirst of their yelpers; but again, at the end of March, just at the moment when it happens to escape the first Jacobin invasion, it provides for the election by each section of a Committee of Supervision, authorised to make domiciliary visits and to disarm the suspected;73 it allows this committee to make arrests and inflict special taxes; to facilitate its operations it orders a list of the inmates of each house, legibly “stating names, surnames, ages and professions,” to be affixed to the entrance,74 a copy of which must be left with the committee, and which is subject to its control. To end the matter, it submits itself, and, “regardless of the inviolability of a representative of the French nation,”75 it decides that, in case of political denunciation, its own members may be brought to trial.
“I seem to hear you,” writes a sarcastic observer,76 “addressing the faction in these terms: Now, look here, we have the means, but we are not disposed to make use of them against you; it would be unfair to attack you unarmed. Public power emanates from two principles, legal authority and armed force. Now we will at once create committees of supervision, of which you shall appoint the heads, for the reason that, with a whip of this kind, you can lash every honest man in Paris, and thus regulate public opinion. We will do more than this, for the sacrifice would not be complete; we are disposed to make you a present of our armed force, with authority to disarm anybody that you may suspect. As far as we are concerned, we are ready to surrender even our pocket-knives,77 and remain apart, content with our virtues and talents.—But mind what you are about. Should you be so ungrateful as to attack our sacred persons, we shall find avengers in the departments.” “What good will the departments do you, let loose against each other, after you are out of the way?”—No summary could be more exact nor any prediction more accurately based. Henceforth, and by virtue of the Convention’s own decrees, not only have the Jacobins the whole of the executive power in their hands, as this is found in civilised countries, but likewise the discretionary power of the antique tyrant or modern pacha, that arbitrary, strong arm which, singling out the individual, falls upon him and takes from him his arms, his freedom, and his money. After the 28th of March, we see in Paris a resumption of the system which, instituted by the 10th of August, was completed by the 2d of September. In the morning, drums beat to arms; at noon, the barriers are shut, the bridges and passages guarded, and sentinels stand on the corners of the streets; no one is allowed “to pass outside the limits of his section,” or circulate within them without showing his certificate of civism; houses are invested, numbers of persons are arrested,78 and, during the succeeding months, this operation is carried on under the sway of the Committee of Supervision. Now, this Committee, in almost all the sections, “is made up of sans-culottes,” not fathers of families, men of judgment and experience, people living a long time in the quarter, but “strangers, or young men trying to be something,”79 ambitious underlings, ignorant dare-devils, despotic intermeddlers, implacable, gloomy, raw inquisitors.
The first thing is the disarmament of the suspected. “It suffices that any citizen shall be denounced as such, and that the said case of suspicion be known to the Committee”;80 or that his certificate of civism be delivered to him only within a month,81 for any delegate, accompanied by ten armed men, to resort to his house and search it. In the section of the Réunion alone, on the first day, 57 denounced persons are thus disarmed for “acts of incivism or expressions adverse to the Republic,” not merely lawyers, notaries, architects, and other prominent men, but petty tradesmen and shop-keepers, hatters, dyers, locksmiths, mechanics, gilders, and keepers of refreshment saloons. One section, in defiance of the law, adds to these in block the signers of the petition of the eight thousand and that of the twenty thousand. “Through such contrivances,” says an observer,82 “all the guns in Paris, numbering more than a hundred thousand, pass into the hands of the faction.” None remain for its adversaries, even in the gunshops; for, through an ordinance of the Commune, no one may purchase a gun without a certificate issued by the Committee of Supervision of the section.83 —On the other hand, owing to the power of granting or refusing certificates of civism, each Committee, on its own authority, interposes barriers as it pleases in all directions, public or private, to every inhabitant within its bounds. It is impossible for any person who has not obtained his certificate84 to have a passport for travelling, although a tradesman; no public employee, no clerk of the administration, advocate or notary can keep his place without it; no one can go out of Paris or return late at night. If one goes out to take an airing, there is danger of being arrested and brought back between two soldiers to the committee of the section; if one stays at home, it is with the chance of being inspected as a harborer of priests or nobles. Any Parisian opening his windows in the morning may find his house surrounded by a company of carmagnoles, if he has not the indispensable certificate in his pocket.85 In the eyes of a Jacobin committee, there is no civism but in Jacobinism, and we can imagine whether this patent would be willingly conferred on opponents, or even on the lukewarm; what examinations they would have to undergo; what questions they would be obliged to answer; how many going and comings, solicitations, appearances and waitings would be imposed on them; with what persistency it would excite delay, and with what satisfaction it would be refused. Buzot presented himself four times at the Committee of Quatre-Nations to obtain a certificate for his domestic, and failed to get it.86 —There is another still more effectual expedient for keeping the ill-disposed in check. The committee of each section, aided by a member of the Commune,87 designates the twelve thousand men drafted for the expedition into La Vendée, and picks them by name, one by one, as it may select them; the effect of this is to purge Paris of twelve thousand anti-Jacobins, and tranquillise the section assemblies, where opposition is often objectionable. To this end the committee selects first, and gives the preference to, the clerks of lawyers and notaries, those of banking-houses, the administration, and of merchants, the unmarried in all offices and counting-rooms, in short, all celibates belonging to the middle class of Paris, of which there are more than twenty-five thousand;88 according to the ordi nance, every other one is taken, those undoubtedly in worst repute with the Committee, this proceeding silencing the tongues of the others and preventing evil talking in their sections.89
While one hand clutches the collar, the other rummages the pocket. The Committee of Supervision of each section, always aided by a member of the Commune,90 designates all persons in easy circumstances, estimates their incomes as it pleases, or according to common report, and sends them an order to pay a particular sum in proportion to their surplus, and according to a progressive tax. The allowance which is exempt for the head of a family is 1,500 francs per annum, besides 1,000 francs for his wife and 1,000 francs for each child; if the excess is over 15,000 or 20,000 francs, they assess it 5,000 francs; if more than 40,000 or 50,000 francs, they assess it 20,000; in no case may the surplus retained exceed 30,000 francs; all above this amount goes to the State. The first third of this sudden contribution to the public funds is required in forty-eight hours, the second in a fortnight, and the remaining third in a month, under serious penalties. If the tax happens to be exaggerated, if an income is uncertain or imaginary, if receipts are yet to come in, if there is no ready money, if, like Francoeur, the opera manager, a man “has nothing but debts,” so much the worse. “In case of refusal,” writes the section of Bon-Conseil, “his personal and real property shall be sold by the revolutionary committee, and his per son declared suspected.”91 —Even this is simply an installment on account: “There is no desire on the part of the Committee at the present moment to demand more than a portion of your surplus,” that which remains will be taken hereafter. Desfieux, the bankrupt,92 has already, in the tribune of the Jacobin club, estimated the fortunes of one hundred of the wealthiest notaries and financiers in Paris at 640,000,000 francs; the municipality sent a list of their names to the sections to have it completed; if only one-tenth was taken from them, it would amount to 64,000,000, which “big sponges,” thoroughly squeezed, would disgorge a much larger amount. “The richest of Frenchmen,” says Robespierre, “should not have more than 3,000 francs a year.”93 The contributions of “these gentlemen” suffice to arm the sans-culottes, “remunerate artisans for their attendance in the section meetings, and support laborers without work.”94 Already through the sovereign virtue of summary requisitions, everything is spoil; carriage-horses are seized in their stables, while vehicles belonging to aged ladies, mostly widows, and the last of the berlins still remaining in Paris, are taken out of the livery-stables.95 —With such powers used in this way, the section makes the most of the old deep-seated enmity of the poor against the rich;96 it secures the firm attachment of the needy and of vagabonds; thanks to the vigorous arms of its active clients, it completely overcomes the feeble, transient, poorly-contrived resistance which the National Convention and the Parisian population still oppose to its rule.
On the 13th of April Marat, accused three months before and daily becoming bolder in his factiousness, is finally indicted through a decree of the incensed majority;97 on the 24th he appears before the revolutionary tribunal. But the revolutionary tribunal, like other newly organised institutions, is composed of pure Jacobins, and, moreover, the party has taken its precautions. Marat, for his escort to the court-room has “the municipal commissaries, envoys from the various sections, delegates from all the patriotic clubs”; besides these, “a multitude of good patriots” fill the hall beforehand; “early in the morning the other chambers of the Palais de Justice, the corridors, the courts and adjacent streets” overflow with “sans-culottes ready to avenge any outrage that may be perpetrated on their favorite defender.”98 Naturally, with his supreme infatuation, he speaks not like an accused person, but “as an apostle and martyr.” He is overwhelmed with applause, unanimously acquitted, crowned with laurel, borne in triumph to the Convention, where he thunders a song of victory, while the Girondist majority is compelled to endure his presence, awaiting his forthcoming proscriptions.—Equally as impotent as the moderates of the Legislative Assembly, the moderates in the street recover themselves only to be again felled to the ground. On the 4th and 5th of May, five or six hundred young fellows, well-dressed and without arms, have assembled in the Champs-Elysées and at the Luxembourg to protest against the ordinance of the Commune, which drafts them for the expedition to La Vendée;99 they shout, “Vive la Republique! Vive la Loi! Down with anarchists! Send Marat, Danton and Robespierre to the Devil!” Naturally, Santerre’s paid guard disperses these young sparks; about a thousand are arrested, and henceforth the rest will be careful not to make any open demonstration on the public thoroughfares.—Again, for lack of something better to do, we see them frequently returning to the section assemblies, especially early in May; they find themselves in a majority, and enter on discussions against Jacobin tyranny; at the Bon-Conseil section, and at those of Marseilles and l’Unité, Lhuillier is hooted at, Marat threatened, and Chaumette denounced.100 —But these are only flashes in the pan; to maintain lasting sway in these permanent assemblies, the moderates, like the sans-culottes, would have to be in constant attendance, and use their fists every night. Unfortunately, the young men of 1793 have not yet arrived at that painful experience, that implacable hate, that athletic ruggedness which is to sustain them in 1795. “After one evening, in which the seats everywhere were broken”101 on the backs of the contestants, they falter, and never recover themselves, the professional roughs, at the end of a fortnight, being victorious all along the line.—The better to put resistance down, the roughs form a special league amongst themselves, and go around from section to section to give each other help.102 Under the title of a deputation, under the pretext of preventing disturbance, a troop of sturdy fellows, despatched by the neighboring section, arrives at the meeting, and suddenly transforms the minority into a majority, or controls the vote by force of clamor. Sometimes, at a late hour, when the hall is nearly empty, they declare themselves a general meeting, and about twenty or thirty will cancel the discussions of the day. At other times, being, through the municipality, in possession of the police, they summon an armed force to their aid, and oblige the refractory to decamp. … And, as examples are necessary to secure perfect silence, the fifteen or twenty who have formed themselves into a full meeting, with the five or six who form the Committee of Supervision, issue warrants of arrest against the most prominent of their opponents. The vice-president of the Bon-Conseil section, and the juge-de-paix of the Unité section, learn in prison that it is dangerous to present to the Convention an address against anarchists or sign a debate against Chaumette.103 —Towards the end of May, in the section assemblies, nobody dares open his mouth against a Jacobin motion; often, even, there are none present but Jacobins; for example, at the Gravilliers, they have driven out all not of their band, and henceforth no “intriguer”104 is imprudent enough to present himself there.—Having become the people in council assembled, with free power to disarm, put on the index, displace, tax, send off to the army, and imprison whoever gives them umbrage, they are able now, with the municipality at their back and as guides, to turn the arms which they have obtained from the Convention against it, attack the Girondists in their last refuge, and possess themselves of the only fort not yet surrendered.
To accomplish this they have only to do in all sections simultaneously what they are accustomed to do in each section apart from the rest; thus substituted for the veritable people by force and fraud, they are able to conjure up before the Convention the phantom of popular disapproval.—From the municipality, holding its sessions at the Hôtel-de-Ville, and from the conventicle established at the Evêché, emissaries are sent forth who present the same addresses at the same time in every section in Paris.105 “Here is a petition for signatures.” “Read it.” “But that is useless—it is already adopted by a majority of the sections.” “In some of them this falsehood is successful, or several of them sign it in good faith without reading it. In others they read it and refuse to sign it; in others, again, it is read and they pass to the order of the day. What happens? The intriguers and ringleaders remain until all conscientious citizens have withdrawn; then, masters of the debate, they decide that the petition must be signed, and they accordingly affix their signatures. The next day, on the arrival of citizens at the section, the petition is handed to them for their names, and the debate of the previous evening is advanced against them. If they offer any remarks, they are met with these terrifying words: Sign, or no certificate of civism! And, as the sanction of this threat, several of the sections which are mastered by those who draw up the lists of proscriptions, decide that the certificates of civism must be changed, and new ones are refused to those refusing to sign the petition. They do not rest content with these manoeuvrings; men armed with pikes are posted in the streets to force the signatures of those who pass.”106 —The whole weight of municipal authority has been publicly cast into the scale. “Commissaries of the Commune, accompanied by municipal secretaries, with tables, inkstands, paper and registers, promenade about Paris preceded by drums and a body of militia.” From time to time, they make “a solemn halt,” and declaim against Brissot, Vergniaud, Guadet, and then “demand and obtain signatures.”107 —Thus extorted and borne to the Convention by the mayor, in the name of the council-general of the Commune and of the thirty-five sections, the imperious petition denounces twenty-two Girondists as traitors, and insolently demands their expulsion.—Another day it is found that a similar summons and similarly presented, in the name of the forty-eight sections, is authorised only by thirteen or fourteen.108 —Sometimes the political parade is still more incautious. Pretended deputies of the faubourg St. Antoine appear before the Convention and assert the revolutionary programme. “If you do not adopt it,” they say, “we will declare ourselves in a state of insurrection; there are 40,000 men at the door.”109 The truth is, “about fifty bandits, scarcely known in the faubourg,” and led by a former upholsterer, now a commissary of police, “have gathered together on their route” all they could find in the workshops “and in the stores,” the multitude packed into the Place Vendôme not knowing what was demanded in their name.110 —Factitious as these tumults may be, they are useful; they show the Convention its master, and prepare the way for a more effectual invasion. The day Marat was acquitted, the whole of his “slums,” male and female, came along with him; under pretext of parading before the Convention, they invaded the hall, scattered themselves over the benches and steps, and, supported by the galleries, installed anew in the tribune, amidst a tempest of applause and of clamorings, the usual promoter of insurrection, pillage and assassination.111 —Notwithstanding, however, the energy and persistency of the blockade, the Convention, which has yielded on so many points, will not consent to self-injury. It pronounces the petition presented against the Twenty-two calumnious; it institutes a special commission of twelve members to search the papers of the Commune and the sections for legal proofs of the plot openly and steadily maintained by the Jacobins against the national representation; Mayor Pache is summoned to the bar of the house; warrants of arrest are issued against Hébert, Dobsen and Varlet.—Since popular manifestations have not answered the purpose, and the Convention, instead of obeying, is rebellious, nothing is left but to employ force.
“Since the 10th of March,” says Vergniaud, in the tribune,112 “murder is openly and unceasingly fomented against you.”—“It is a terrible time,” says an observer, “strongly resembling that preceding the 2d of September.”113 —That same evening, at the Jacobin club, a member proposes to “exterminate the wretches before leaving.” “I have studied the Convention,” he says;114 “it is composed in part of wretches who ought to be punished. All the supporters of Dumouriez and the other conspirators should be put out of the way; fire the alarm gun and close the barriers!” The following forenoon, “all the walls in Paris are covered with posters,” calling on the Parisians to “despatch the men at the head of the State as soon as possible.”115 —“This thing must be stopped!” is the exclamation of the sans-culottes.—The following week, at the Jacobin club, as elsewhere, “immediate insurrection is the order of the day. … What we formerly called the sacred enthusiasm of freedom and patriotism, is now metamorphosed into the fury of an excited populace, which can no longer be regulated or disciplined except by force. There is not one of these wretches who would not accept a counter- revolution, provided they could be allowed to crush and stamp on the most noted conservatives.116 … The conclusion is that the day, the hour, the minute that the faction believes that it can usefully and without risk bring into play all the brigands in Paris,117 then will the insurrection undoubtedly take place.” Already the plan of the massacre is under consideration by the lowest class of fanatics at the mayoralty, the Evêché, and the Jacobin club.118
Some isolated house is to be selected, with a suite of three rooms on the ground floor, and a small court in the rear; the twenty-two Girondists are to be caught in the night and brought to this slaughter-house arranged beforehand; each in turn is to be passed along to the last room, where he is to be killed and his body tumbled into a hole dug in the middle of the court, and then the whole covered over with quick-lime; it will be supposed that they have emigrated, and, to establish the fact, false correspondence will be printed.119 A member of the Committee on the Municipal Police declares that the plan is feasible: “We will Septemberise them—not we ourselves, but men who are ready, and who will be well paid for it.”—The Montagnards present, Léonard Bourdon and Legendre, make no objection. The latter simply remarks that the Girondists should not be seized in the Convention; outside the Convention “they are wretches whose death would save the Republic,” and the act is lawful; he would see “every rascal with them on the ‘black’ side perish without interfering.”—Several, instead of 22 deputies, demand 30 or 32, and some 300; the suspected of each district may be added, while ten or a dozen proscription lists are already made out. Through a clean sweep, executed the same night, at the same hour, they may be conducted to the Carmelites, near the Luxembourg, and, “if there is not room enough there,” to Bicêtre; here, “they will disappear from the surface of the globe.”120 Certain leaders desired to entrust the purification of Paris to the sagacity of popular instinct. “In loose and disconnected phrases” they address the people: “Rouse yourselves, and act according to your inspirations, since no counsel of mine will enable you to banish those you must strike down!” On the contrary, Varlet proposes a plan of public safety, very full and explicit, in fifteen articles: “Sweep away the deputies of the ‘Plain,’ and other deputies of the Constituent and Legislative Assemblies, all nobles, priests, pettifoggers, etc.; exterminate the whole of that race, and the Bourbons, too, with entire suppression of the Ministers.” Hébert, for his part, alluding to the Girondists, writes in his gazette that “the last hour of their death is going to strike,” and that, “when their foul blood shall have been spilled, aristocratic brawlers will return to their holes, the same as on the 10th of August.”—Naturally, the professional slaughterers are notified. A certain Laforet, an old-clothes dealer on the Quai-du-Louvre, who, with his wife, had already distinguished themselves on the 2d of September, reckons that “there are in Paris 6,000 sans-culottes ready to massacre at the first sign all dangerous deputies, and eight thousand petitioners,” undoubtedly those who, in the several sections, signed the addresses to the Convention against the Commune.—Another “Septemberizer,”121 commanding the battalion of the Jardin des Plantes, Henriot, on meeting a gang of men working on the river, exclaims in his rough voice: “Good morning, my good fellows, we shall need you soon, and at better work. You won’t have wood to carry in your garbage-carts—you’ll have to carry dead bodies.” “All right,” replies one of the hands, half tipsy, “we’ll do it as we did the 2d of September. We’ll turn a penny by it.”—“Cheynard, a locksmith and machinist at the mint, is manufacturing daggers, … and the women of the tribunes are already supplied with two hundred of them.”—Finally, on the 29th of May, Hébert proposes, in the Jacobin club,122 “to pounce down on the Commission of Twelve,” and another Jacobin declares that “those who have usurped dictatorial power,” meaning by that the Girondists, “are outlawed.”
All this is extreme, clumsily done, useless and dangerous, or, at least, premature, and the chiefs of the “Mountain,” Danton, Robespierre, and Marat himself, better informed and less short-sighted, are well aware that brutal murder would be revolting to the already half-aroused departments.123 The legislative machinery is not to be shattered, but made use of; it must be employed against itself to effect the required injury; in this way the operation at a distance will appear legal, and, garnished with the usual high-flown speeches, impose on the provincial mind.124 From the 3d of April, Robespierre, in the Jacobin club, always circumspect and considerate, had limited and defined in advance the coming insurrection. “Let all good citizens,” he says, “meet in their sections, and come and force us to place the disloyal deputies under arrest.” Carefully guarded, this, and quite proper, on referring back to principles. The people always reserves the right to co-operate with its mandatories, which right it practices daily in the galleries. Through extreme precaution, which well depicts the man,125 Robespierre refuses to go any further in his interference. “I am incapable of advising the people what steps to take for its salvation. That is not given to one man alone. I, who am exhausted by four years of revolution, and by the heart-rending spectacle of the triumph of tyranny, am not thus favored. … I, who am wasted by a slow fever, and, above all, by the fever of patriotism. As I have said, there remains for me no other duty to fulfill at the present moment.” Moreover, he enjoins the municipality “to unite with the people, and form a close alliance with it.”—In other words, the blow must be struck by the Commune, the “Mountain” must appear to have nothing to do with it. But, “it is fully in the secret”;126 its chiefs pull the wires which set the brutal dancing-jacks in motion on the public trestles of the Hôtel-de-Ville. Danton and Lacroix wrote in the bureau of the Committee of “Public Safety,” the insolent summons which the procureur of the Commune is to read to the Convention on the 31st of May, and, during seven days of crisis, Danton, Robespierre and Marat are the counsellors, directors and moderators of all proceedings, and lead, push on or restrain the supernumeraries of the insurrection within the limits of this programme.
It is a tragi-comic play in three acts, each winding up with a sensation, always the same and always foreseen; Legendre, one of the principal machinists, has taken pains to announce beforehand that, “If this lasts any longer,” said he, at the Cordeliers club,127 “if the ‘Mountain’ remains quiet any longer, I shall call in the people, and tell the galleries to come down and take part with us in the deliberations.”—To begin, on the 27th of May, in relation to the arrest of Hébert and his companions, the “Mountain,” supported by the galleries, becomes furious.128 In vain has the majority declared itself, and still frequently repeats its declaration. “We shall resist,” says Danton, “so long as there are a hundred true citizens to help us.” “President,” exclaims Marat to Isnard, “you are a tyrant! a despi cable tyrant!” “I demand,” says Couthon, “that the President be impeached!” “Off with the President to the Abbaye!”—The “Mountain” has decided that he shall not preside; it springs from the benches and rushes at him, shouts “death to him,” becomes hoarse with its vociferations, and compels him to leave the chair through weariness and exhaustion. It drives out his successor, Fonfrède, in the same manner, and ends by putting Hérault-Séchelles, one of its own accomplices, in the chair.—Meanwhile, at the entrance of the Convention, “the regulations have been violated”; a crowd of armed men “have spread through the passages and obstructed the approaches”; the deputies, Meillan, Chiappe and Lydon, on attempting to leave, are arrested, Lydon being stopped “by the point of a sabre at his breast,”129 while the leaders on the inside encourage, protect and justify their trusty aids outdoors.—Marat, with his usual audacity, on learning that Raffet, the commandant, was clearing the passages, comes to him “with a pistol in his hand and puts him under arrest,”130 on the ground that the people, the sacred rights of petition and the petitioners must be respected. There are “five or six hundred, almost all of them armed,”131 stationed for three hours at the doors of the hall; at the last moment, two other troops, despatched by the Gravilliers and Croix-Rouge sections, arrive and bring them their final afflux. Thus strengthened, they spring over the benches assigned to them, spread through the hall, and mingle with the deputies who still remain in their seats. It is after midnight; many of the representatives, worn out with fatigue and disgust, have left; Pétion, Lasource, and a few others, who wish to get in, “cannot penetrate the threatening crowd.” To compensate themselves, and in the places of the absent, the petitioners, constituting themselves representatives of France, vote with the “Mountain,” while the Jacobin president, far from turning them out, himself invites them “to set aside all obstacles prejudicial to the welfare of the people.” In this gesticulating crowd, in the half-light of smoky lamps, amidst the uproar of the galleries, it is difficult to hear well what motion is put to vote; it is not easy to see who rises or sits down, and two decrees pass, or seem to pass, one releasing Hébert and his accomplices, and the other revoking the commission of the Twelve.132 Forthwith the messengers who await the issue run out and carry the good news to the Hôtel-de-Ville, the Commune celebrating its triumph with an explosion of applause.
The next morning, however, notwithstanding the terrors of a call of the House and the fury of the “Mountain,” the majority, as a defensive stroke, revokes the decree by which it is disarmed, while a new decree maintains the commission of the Twelve; the operation, accordingly, is to be done over again, but not the whole of it; for Hébert and the others imprisoned remain at liberty, while the majority, which, through a sense of propriety or the instinct of self-preservation, had again placed its sentinels on the outposts, consents, either through weakness or hopes of conciliation, to let the prisoners remain free. The result is they have had the worst of the fight. Their adversaries, accordingly, are encouraged, and at once renew the attack, their tactics, very simple, being those which have already proved so successful on the 10th of August.
The matter now in hand is to invoke against the derived and provisional rights of the government, the superior and inalienable right of the people; also, to substitute for legal authority, which, in its nature, is limited, revolutionary power, which, in its essence, is absolute. To this end the section of the City, under the vice-presidency of Maillard, the “Septemberiser,” invites the other forty-seven sections each to elect two commissaries, with “unlimited powers.” In thirty-three sections, purged, terrified, or deserted, the Jacobins, alone, or almost alone,133 elect the most determined of their band, particularly aliens and its greatest rascals, in all sixty-six commissaries, who, on the evening of the 29th, meet at the Evêché, and select nine of their number to form, under the presidency of Dobsen, a central and revolutionary executive committee. These nine persons are entirely unknown;134 all are obscure subordinates,135 mere puppets and manikins; eight days after, on finishing their performance, when they are no longer needed, they will be withdrawn behind the scenes. In the mean time they pass for the mandatories of the popular sovereign, with full power in all directions, because he has delegated his omnipotence to them, and the sole power, because their investiture is the most recent; under this sanction, they stalk around somewhat like supernumeraries at the Opera, dressed in purple and gold, representing a conclave of cardinals or the Diet of the Holy Empire. Never has the political drama degenerated into such an impudent farce!—On the 31st, at half-past six o’clock in the morning, Dobsen and his bullies present themselves at the council-general of the Commune, tender their credentials, and make known to it its deposition. The Council, with edifying complacency, accepts the fiat and leaves the department. With no less grateful readiness Dobsen summons it back, and reinstates it in all its functions, in the name of the people, and declares that it merits the esteem of the country.136 At the same time another demagogue, Varlet, performs the same ceremony with the Council of the department, and both bodies, consecrated by a new baptism, join the sixty-six commissaries to exercise together the same dictatorship.—What could be more legitimate? The Convention would err in making any opposition: “It was elected merely to condemn the tyrant and to frame a constitution; the sovereign has invested it with no other power;137 accordingly, other acts, its warrants of arrest, are simply usurpations and despotism. Paris, moreover, represents France better than it does, for Paris is “the extract of all the departments, the mirror of opinion,”138 the advance-guard of patriotism. “Remember the 10th of August;139 previous to that epoch, opinions in the Republic were divided; but, scarcely had you struck the decisive blow when all subsided into silence. Have no fear of the departments; with a little terror and a few teachings, we shall turn all minds in our favor.” Fault-finders persist in demanding the convocation of primary assemblies. “Was not the 10th of August necessary? Did not the departments then endorse what Paris did? They will do so this time. It is Paris which saved them.”140 —Consequently, the new government places Henriot, a reliable man, and one of the September massacrers, in full command of the armed force; then, through a proceeding which the law declares a capital offence, it orders the alarm gun to be fired; on the other hand, it beats a general call to arms, sounds the tocsin and closes the barriers; the post-office managers are put in arrest, and letters are intercepted and opened; the order is given to disarm the suspected and hand their arms over to patriots; “forty sous a day are allowed to citizens with small means while under arms.”141 Notice is given without fail the preceding evening to the trusty men of the quarter; accordingly, early in the morning, the Committee of Supervision has already selected from the Jacobin sections “the most needy companies in order to arm those the most worthy of combatting for liberty,” while all its guns are distributed “to the good republican workmen.”142 —From hour to hour as the day advances, we see in the refractory sections all authority passing over to the side of force; at the Finistère, Butte-des-Moulins, Lombards, Fraternité, and Marais143 sections, the encouraged sans-culottes obtain the ascendency, nullify the deliberations of the moderates, and, in the afternoon, their delegates go and take the oath at the Hôtel-de-Ville.
Meanwhile the Commune, dragging behind it the semblance of popular unanimity, besieges the Convention with multiplied and threatening petitions. As on the 27th of May, the petitioners invade the hall, and “mix in fraternally with the members of the ‘Left.’ ” Forthwith, on the motion of Levasseur, the “Mountain,” “confident of its place being well guarded,” leaves it and passes over to the “Right.”144 Invaded in its turn, the “Right” refuses to join in the deliberations; Vergniaud demands that “the Assembly join the armed force on the square, and put itself under its protection”; he and his friends leave the hall, and the decapitated majority falls back upon its usual hesitating course. All is hubbub and uproar around it. In the hall the clamors of the “Mountain,” the petitioners, and the galleries, seem like the constant roar of a tempest. Outside, twenty or thirty thousand men will probably clash in the streets;145 the battalion of Butte-des-Moulins, with detachments sent by neighboring sections, is intrenched in the Palais-Royal, and Henriot, spreading the report that the rich sections of the centre have displayed the white cockade, send against it the sans-culottes of the faubourgs Saint-Antoine and Saint-Marceau; cannon are pointed on both sides.—These loaded cannon must not be discharged; the signal of civil war must not be given; it is simply necessary “to forestall the consequences of a movement which could be only disastrous to liberty,”146 and it is important to ensure public tranquillity. The majority, accordingly, think that it is acting courageously in refusing to the Commune the arrest of the Twenty-two, and of the Ministers, Lebrun and Clavière; in exchange for this it consents to suppress its commission of Twelve; it confirms the act of the Commune which allows forty sous a day to the workmen under arms; it declares freedom of entry into its tribunes, and, thanking all the sections, those who defended as well as those who attacked it, it maintains the National Guard on permanent call, announces a general federation for the 10th of August following, and goes off to fraternise with the battalions in the Palais-Royal, in battle array against each other through the calumnies of the Commune, and which, undeceived at the last moment, now embrace instead of cutting each other’s throats.
This time, again, the advantage is on the side of the Commune. Not only have many of its requirements been converted into decrees, but again, its revolutionary baptism remains in full force; its executive committee is tacitly recognised, the new government performs its functions, its usurpations are endorsed, its general, Henriot, keeps command of the entire armed force, and all its dictatorial measures are carried out without let or hindrance.—There is another reason why they should be maintained and aggravated. “Your victory is only half-won,” writes Hébert in his Père Duchesne, “all those b—— of intriguers still live!”—On the evening of the 31st of May the Commune issues warrants of arrest against the Ministers, Clavière and Lebrun, and against Roland and his wife. That same evening and throughout the following day and night, and again the day after, the Committees of Supervision of the forty-eight sections, conformably with instructions from the Hôtel-de-Ville,147 read over the lists of their quarters,148 add new names to these, and send commissaries to disarm and arrest the suspected. Whoever has spoken against revolutionary committees, or disapproved of the assaults of the 31st of May, or not openly shown himself on the 10th of August, or voted on the wrong side in the old Legislative Assembly, is eligible; it is a general, simultaneous raid; in all the streets we see nothing but people seized and sent to prison, or before the section committee, under escort, “anti-patriotic” journalists first of all, the entire impression of their journals being additionally confiscated, and the journal suppressed; the printing-rooms of Gorsas are sacked, seals placed on his presses,149 and Prudhomme himself is locked up. All resistance is overcome in the Contrat-Social, Fraternity, Marais and Marseilles sections, leaving the Commune free, as far as the street is concerned, to recommence its attack on the Convention. “Lists of sans-culottes workmen” have been drawn up in each section, and six francs a head is allowed them, payable by the Convention, as indemnity for their temporary suspension from work;150 this is a premium offered to voters, and as nothing is more potent than cash in hand, Pache provides the funds by diverting 150,000 francs intended for the colonists in San Domingo; the whole day on the 2d of June, trusty men go about among the ranks distributing five-franc assignats.151 Vehicles loaded with supplies accompany each battalion, the better to keep the men under arms;152 the stomach needs filling up, and a pint of wine is excellent for strengthening patriotic sentiment. Henriot has ordered back from Courbevoie the battalions of volunteers which a few days before had been enlisted for La Vendée,153 the dissolute pillaging “adventurers,” later known as “the heroes of the 500 francs.” Besides these he has under his thumb Rosenthal’s hussars, a body of German veterans who do not understand French, and will remain deaf to any legal summons. Finally, he surrounds the Convention with a circle of picked sans-culottes, especially cannoneers, the best of Jacobins,154 who drag along with them the most formidable park of artillery, 163 cannons, with grates and charcoal to heat the balls. The Tuileries is thus encircled by bands of roughs and fanatics; the National Guard, five or six times as many,155 brought out “to give the air of a popular movement to the proceedings of five or six thousand bandits,” cannot come to the aid of the Convention, it being stationed out of reach, beyond the Pont-Tournant, which is raised, and behind the wooden fence separating the Carrousel from the palace. Kept in its position by its orders, merely serving as a stationary piece of scenery, employed against itself unbeknown to itself,156 it can do no more than let the factionists act who serve as its advanced guard.—Early in the morn ing the vestibules, stairs and passages in the hall of the Convention have been invaded by the frequenters of the galleries and the women under pay; the commandant of the post, with his officers, have been confined by “men with moustaches,” armed with sabres and pistols; the legal guard has been replaced with an extraordinary guard,157 and the deputies are prisoners. If one of them is obliged to go out for a moment, it is under the supervision of four fusileers, “who conduct him, wait for him, and bring him back.”158 Others, in trying to look out the windows, are aimed at; the venerable Dussaulx is struck, and Boissy d’Anglas, seized by the throat, returns with his cravat and shirt all in shreds. For six hours by the clock the Convention is under arrest, and when the decree is passed, ordering the removal of the armed force bearing upon it, Henriot replies to the officer who notifies him of it: “Tell your d—— president that he and his Assembly may go to h——. If he don’t surrender the Twenty-two in an hour, I’ll send him there!”159
In the hall the majority, abandoned by its recognised guides and its favorite spokesmen, grows more and more feeble from hour to hour. Brissot, Pétion, Guadet, Gensonné, Buzot, Salle, Grangeneuve, and others, two-thirds of the Twenty-two, kept away by their friends, remain at home.160 Vergniaud, who had come, remains silent, and then leaves; the “Mountain,” probably, gaining by his absence, allows him to pass out. Four other Girondists who remain in the Assembly to the end, Isnard, Dussaulx, Lauthenas, and Fauchet, consent to resign; when the generals give up their swords, the sol diers soon lay down their arms. Lanjuinais, alone, who is not a Girondist, but a Catholic and Breton, speaks like a man against this outrageous attack on the nation’s representatives; they rush at him and assail him in the tribune; the butcher, Legendre, simulating “the cleaver’s blow,” cries out to him, “Come down or I’ll knock you down!” A group of Montagnards spring forward to help Legendre, and one of them claps a pistol to his throat;161 he clings fast to the tribune and strives in vain, for his party around him lose their spirits.—At this moment Barrère, remarkable for expedients, proposes to the Convention to adjourn, and hold the session “amidst the armed force that will afford it protection.”162 All other things failing, the majority avails itself of this last straw. It rises in a body, in spite of the vociferations in the galleries, descends the great staircase, and proceeds to the entrance of the Carrousel. There the Montagnard president, Hérault-Séchelles, reads the decree of Henriot, which enjoins him to withdraw, and he officially and correctly summons him in the usual way. But a large number of the Montagnards have followed the majority, and are there to encourage the insurrection; Danton takes Henriot’s hand and tells him, in a low voice, “Go ahead, don’t be afraid; we want to show that the Assembly is free, be firm.”163 At this the tall bedizened gawky recovers his assurance, and in his husky voice, he addresses the president: “Hérault, the people have not come here to listen to big words. You are a good patriot. … Do you promise on your head that the Twenty-two shall be given up in twenty-four hours?” “No.” “Then, in that case, I am not responsible. To arms, cannoneers, make your guns ready!” The cannoneers take their lighted matches, “the cavalry draw their sabres, and the infantry aim at the deputies.”164 Forced back on this side, the unhappy Convention turns to the left, passes through the archway, follows the broad avenue through the garden, and advances to the Pont-Tournant to find an outlet. There is no outlet; the bridge is raised, and everywhere the barrier of pikes and bayonets remains impenetrable; shouts of “Vive la Montagne! Vive Marat! To the guillotine with Brissot, Vergniaud, Guadet and Gensonné! Away with bad blood!” greet the deputies on all sides, and the Convention, similar to a flock of sheep, in vain turns round and round in its pen. At this moment, to get them back into the fold, Marat, like a barking dog, runs up as fast as his short legs will allow, followed by his troop of tatterdemalions, and exclaims: “Let all loyal deputies return to their posts!” With bowed heads, they mechanically return to the hall; it is immediately closed, and they are once more in confinement. To assist them in their deliberations a crowd of the well-disposed entered pell-mell along with them. To watch them and hurry on the matter, the sans-culottes, with fixed bayonets, gesticulate and threaten them from the galleries. Outside and inside, necessity, with its iron hand, has seized them and holds them fast. There is a dead silence. Couthon, a paralytic, tries to stand up; his friends carry him in their arms to the tribune; an intimate friend of Robespierre’s, he is a grave and important personage; he sits down, and in his mild tone of voice, he speaks: “Citizens, all members of the Convention must now be satisfied of their freedom. … You are now aware that there is no restraint on your deliberations.”165
The comedy is at an end. Even in Molière there is none like it. The sentimental cripple in the tribune winds up by demanding that the Twenty-two, the Twelve, and the Ministers, Clavière and Lebrun be placed in arrest. Nobody opposes the motion,166 “because physical necessities begin to be felt, and an impression of terror pervades the Assembly.” Several say to themselves, “Well, after all, those who are proscribed will be as well off at home, where they will be safe. … It is better to put up with a lesser evil than encounter a greater one.” Another exclaims: “It is better not to vote than to betray one’s trust.” The salvo being found, all consciences are easy. Two-thirds of the Assembly declare that they will no longer take part in the discussions, hold aloof, and remain in their seats at each calling of the vote. With the exception of about fifty members of the “Right,” who rise on the side of the Girondists, the “Mountain,” whose forces are increased by the insurgents and amateurs sitting fraternally in its midst, alone votes for, and finally passes the decree.—Now that the Convention has mutilated itself, it is checkmated, and is about to become a governing machine in the service of a clique; the Jacobin conquest is completed, and in the hands of the victors, the grand operations of the guillotine are going to commence.
Let us observe them at this decisive moment. I doubt if any such contrast ever presented itself in any country or in any age.—Through a series of purifications in an inverse sense, the faction has become reduced to its dregs; nothing remains of the vast surging wave of 1789 but its froth and its slime; the rest has been cast off or has withdrawn to one side; at first the highest class, the clergy, the nobles, and the parliamentarians; next the middle class of traders, manufacturers, and the bourgeois; and finally the best of the inferior class, small proprietors, farmers,167 and master-workmen—in short, the prominent in every pursuit, profession, state, or occupation, whoever possesses capital, a revenue, an establishment, respectability, public esteem, education, and mental and moral culture. The party in June, 1793, is composed of little more than shiftless workmen, town and country vagabonds, inmates of hospitals, trulls and trollops of the gutter, a degraded and dangerous populace,168 outcasts from society, those gone astray, libertines, the crazy of every description; and in Paris, from which they command the rest of France, their troop, an insignificant minority, is recruited from that refuse of humanity infesting all capitals, amongst the epileptic and scrofulous rabble which, inheriting vitiated blood and rendering this still more so by its misconduct, imports into civilisation the degeneracy, imbecility, and infatuations of shattered temperaments, retrograde instincts, and bad cerebral organisations.169 What it did with the powers of the State is narrated by three or four contemporary witnesses; this is revealed in its work and in its chiefs; we stand face to face with the men of action and of enterprise who have managed the last attack and who represent it the best.—Since the 2d of June “nearly one-half of the deputies in the Convention refrain from taking any part in its deliberations; more than one hundred and fifty have fled or disappeared;”170 there is its work—the mute, the absent, the condemned. On the evening of June 2 the friend of its heart, the director of its conscience, the foul abortion, Marat, the charlatan, monomaniac, and murderer, who regularly every morning pours his political poison into its bosom, has at last obtained the discretionary power craved by him for the last four years, that of Marius and Sylla, that of Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus; the power of adding or removing names from lists of proscription: “while the reading was going on he indicated retrenchments or augmentations, the reader effacing or adding names as he suggested them, without any consultation whatever with the Assembly.”171 —At the Hôtel-de- Ville on the 3d of June, in the Salle de la Reine, Pétion and Guadet, under arrest, see with their own eyes this Central Committee which has just started the insurrection, and which through its singular delegation sits enthroned over all other established authorities. “Some stretched out on the benches and others leaning on the tables with their elbows, were snoring;172 others were barefoot or wearing their shoes slipshod like slippers: almost all were dirty and poorly clad; their clothes were unbuttoned, their hair uncombed, and their faces frightful; they wore pistols in their belts, and sabres, with scarfs turned into shoulder-straps. Bottles, bits of bread, fragments of meat and bones lay strewn around on the floor, and the odor was intolerable.” It looks like a robber’s den. The chief of the band here is not Chaumette, who entertains legal scruples,173 nor Pache, who under a mask of Swiss phlegm is cunningly trimming his sails, but another Marat, more brutal and yet more depraved—Hébert, who profits by the opportunity to “put more coal into the furnace of his Père Duchesne,” striking off 600,000 copies of it, pocketing 135,000 francs for the numbers sent to the armies, and gaining seventy-five per centum on the contract.174 —In the street the active body of supporters consists of two bands, one military and the other civil, the former composed of roughs who are soon to furnish the revolutionary army. “This army175 exists (in reality) since 1789. The agents of the Duke of Orleans formed its first nucleus. It grew, became organised, had officers appointed to it, mustering points, orders of the day, and a peculiar slang. … All the revolutions were effected by its aid; it excited popular violence everywhere, even when not present in a body. On the 12th of July, 1789, it had Necker’s bust carried in public and the theatres closed; on the 5th of October it started the populace off to Versailles; on the 20th of April, 1791, it caused the king’s arrest in the court of the Tuileries. … Led by Westermann and Fournier, it formed the centre battalion in the attack of August 10, 1792; it executed the September massacres; it protected the Maratists on the 31st of May, 1793, … its composition is in keeping with its exploits and its functions. It contains the most determined scoundrels, the brigands of Avignon, the scum of Marseilles, Brabant, Liège, Switzerland and the shores of Genoa.” Through a careful sifting,176 it is to be inspected, strengthened, made worse, and converted into a legal body of janissaries under triple pay; once “augmented with idle hair-dressers, lackeys out of place, outdoor motion-makers and other wretches unable to earn their bread honorably,” it will supply the detachments needed for garrison at Bordeaux, Lyons, Dijon and Nantes, still leaving “ten thousand of these mamelukes to keep down the capital.”
The civil body of supporters comprises, first, those who haunt the sections, and are about to receive 40 sous for attending each meeting; next, the troop of figure-heads who, in other public places, are to represent the people, about 1,000 clamorers and claqueurs, “two-thirds of which are women.” “While I was free,” says Beaulieu,177 “I closely observed their movements. It was a magic-lantern constantly in operation. They travelled to and fro from the Convention to the Revolutionary Tribunal, and from this to the Jacobin Club, or to the Commune, which held its meetings in the evening. … They scarcely took time for their natural requirements; they were often seen dining and supping at their posts when any general measure or any important murder was on the carpet.” Henriot is the commander-in-chief of both hordes, formerly a swindler, then a police-spy, then imprisoned at Bicêtre for robbery, and then one of the September murderers. His military bearing and popularity are due to parading the streets in the uniform of a general, and appearing in humbug performances; he is the type of a swaggerer, always drunk or soaked with brandy. With the head of a numbskull, a cracked voice, blinking eyes, and a face distorted by nervous twitchings, he possesses all the externals characteristic of his employment. “In talking, he vociferates like men with the scurvy; his voice is sepulchral, and when he stops talking his features come to rest only after repeated agitations; he blinks three times, after which his face recovers its equilibrium.”178 —Marat, Hébert, and Henriot, the maniac, the thief and the brute. Were it not for the dagger of Charlotte Corday, it is probable that this trio, master of the press and of the armed force, aided by Jacques Roux, Leclerc, Vincent, Ronsin, and other madmen of the slums, would have put aside Danton, suppressed Robespierre, and governed France. Such are the counsellors, the favorites, and the leaders of the ruling class;179 did one not know what was to occur during the next fourteen months, one might form an idea of its government from the quality of these men.
And yet, such as this government is, France accepts or submits to it. In fact, Lyons, Marseilles, Toulon, Nismes, Bordeaux, Caen, and other cities, feeling the knife at their throats,180 turn aside the stroke with a movement of horror. They rise against these local Jacobins; but it is nothing more than an instinctive movement. They do not think of forming States within the State, as the “Mountain” pretends that they do, nor of usurping the central authority, as the “Mountain” actually does. Lyons cries, “Long live the Republic, one and indivisible,” receives with honor the commissioners of the Convention, permits convoys of arms and horses destined for the army of the Alps to pass; to excite a revolt there, requires the insensate demands of Parisian despotism just as in La Vendée, to render that province insurgent, requires the brutal persistence of religious persecution. Without the prolonged oppression that weighs down consciences, and the danger to life always imminent, no city or province would have attempted secession. Even under this government of inquisitors and butchers no community, save those of Lyons and La Vendée, makes any sustained effort to break up the State, withdraw from it and live by itself. The national sheaf has been too strongly bound together by secular centralisation. One’s country exists; and when that country is in danger, when the armed stranger attacks the frontier, one follows the flag-bearer, whoever he may be, whether usurper, adventurer, blackguard, or cut-throat, provided only that he marches in the van and holds the banner with a firm hand.181 To tear that flag from him, to contest his pretended right, to expel him and replace him by another, would be a complete destruction of the common weal. Brave men sacrifice their own repugnances for the sake of the common good; in order to serve France, they serve her unworthy government. In the committee of war, the engineering and staff officers who give their days to studying the military map, think of nothing else than of knowing it thoroughly; one of them, d’Arcon, “managed the raising of the siege of Dunkirk, and of the blockade of Maubeuge;182 nobody excels him in penetration, in practical knowledge, in quick perception and in imagination; it is a spirit of flame, a brain compact of resources. I speak of him,” says Mallet-Dupan, “from an intimate acquaintance of ten years. He is no more a revolutionnaire than I am.” Carnot does even more than this: he gives up his honor when, with his colleagues on the Committee of Public Safety, Billaud-Varennes, Couthon, Saint-Just, Robespierre, he puts his name to decrees which are assassinations. A like devotion brings recruits into the armies by hundreds of thousands, bourgeois183 and peasants, from the volunteers of 1791 to the levies of 1793; and the latter class fight not only for France, but also, and more than all, for the Revolution. For, now that the sword is drawn, the mutual and growing exasperation leaves only the extreme parties in the field. Since the 10th of August, and more especially since the 21st of January, it has no longer been a question how to deal with the ancient régime, of cutting away its dead portions or its troublesome thorns, of accommodating it to modern wants, of establishing civil equality, a limited monarchy, a parliamentary government. The question is how to escape conquest by armed force to avert the military executions of Brunswick,184 the vengeance of the proscribed émigrés, the restoration and the aggravation of the old feudal and fiscal order of things. Both through their traditions and their experience, the mass of the country people hate this ancient order, and with all the accumulated hatred that is begotten by an unceasing and secular spoliation. At whatever price, the rural masses will never again suffer the tax-collector among them, nor the excise man in the cellar, nor the fiscal agent on the frontier. For them the ancient régime is nothing more than these things; and, in fact, they have paid no taxes, or scarcely any, since the beginning of the Revolution. On this matter the people’s idea is fixed, positive, unalterable; and as soon as they perceive in the distant future the possible re-establishment of the taille, villein-taxes, and seignorial rights, they choose their side; they will fight to the death.—As to the artisans and lesser bourgeois, their excitement is the magnificent prospect of careers, to which the doors are thrown open, of unbounded advancement, of promotion offered to merit; more than all, their illusions are still intact.
In the camp without, before the enemy, those noble generalisations which among the Parisian demagogues had become sanguinary harlots, remain virgin in the imagination of the officer and the soldier. Liberty, equality, the rights of man, the reign of reason—all these vague and sublime images moved before their eyes when they climbed the escarpment of Jemmapes under a storm of grapeshot, or when they wintered, with naked feet, among the snows of the Vosges. These ideas, in descending from heaven to earth, were not smirched and trodden under their feet; they did not see them transformed in their hands to frightful caricatures. These men are not pillars of clubs, nor brawlers in the sections, nor the inquisitors of a committee, nor hired denunciators, nor providers for the scaffold. Apart from the demonism of revolution, brought back to common sense by the presence of danger, perceiving the inequality of talents, the necessity of obedience, they do the work of men; they suffer, they fast, they face bullets, they are conscious of their disinterestedness and their sacrifices; they are heroes, and they look upon themselves as liberators.185 Over this idea their pride exalts itself. According to a great observer186 who knew their survivors, “many of them believed that the French alone were reasonable beings. To our eyes the inhabitants of the rest of Europe, who were fighting to keep their chains, were only pitiable imbeciles or knaves sold to the despots who were attacking us. Pitt and Cobourg seemed to us the chief of these knaves and the personification of all the treachery and stupidity in the world. In 1794 our inmost, serious sentiment was wholly contained in this idea: to be useful to our country; all other things, our clothes, our food, advancement, were poor ephemeral details. As society did not exist, there was no such thing for us as social success, that leading element in the character of our nation. Our only gatherings were national festivals, affecting ceremonies which nourished in us the love of our country. In the streets our eyes filled with tears when we saw an inscription in honor of the young drummer, Barra. … This sentiment was the only religion we had.”187 But it was a religion. When the heart of a nation is so high it will deliver itself, in spite of its rulers, whatever their excesses may be, whatever their crimes; for the nation atones for their follies by its courage; it hides their crimes beneath its great achievements.
[1. ]Moore, II. 185 (Oct. 20): “It is evident that all the departments of France are in theory allowed to have an equal share in the government; yet in fact the single department of Paris has the whole power of the government.” Through the pressure of the mob Paris makes the law for the Convention and for all France.—Ibid., II. 534 (during the king’s trial). “All the departments of France, including that of Paris, are in reality often obliged to submit to the clamorous tyranny of a set of hired ruffians in the tribunes who usurp the name and functions of the sovereign people, and, secretly directed by a few demagogues, govern this unhappy nation.” Cf. Ibid., II. (Nov. 13).
[2. ]Schmidt, I. 96. Letter of Lauchou to the president of the Convention, Oct. 11, 1792: “The section of 1792 on its own authority decreed on the 5th of this month that all persons in a menial service should be allowed to vote in our primary assemblies. … It would be well for the National Convention to convince the inhabitants of Paris that they alone do not constitute the entire republic. However absurd this idea may be, it is gaining ground every day.”—Ibid., 99. Letter of Damour, vice-president of the Pantheon section, Oct. 29: “Citizen Paris … has declared that when the law is in conflict with general opinion no attention must be paid to it. … These disturbers of the public peace who desire to monopolise all places, either in the municipality or elsewhere, are themselves the cause of the greatest tumult.”
[3. ]Schmidt, I. 223 (report by Dutard, May 14).
[4. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, VI. 117; VII. 59 (ballottings of Dec. 2 and 4).—In most of these and the following ballottings the number of voters is but one-twentieth of those registered. Chaumette is elected in his section by 53 votes; Hébert by 56; Geney, a master-cooper, by 34: Lachenard, a tailor, by 39; Douce, a building-hand, by 24.—Pache is elected mayor Feb. 15, 1793, by 11,881 votes, out of 160,000 registered.
[5. ]Buchez et Roux, XVII. 101 (decrees of Aug. 19, 1792).—Mortimer-Ternaux, IV. 223.—Beaulieu, “Essais,” III. 454. “The National Guard ceased to exist after the 10th of August.”—Buzot, 454.—Schmidt, I. 33 (Dutard, May 29). “It is certain that there is no armed force belonging to Paris.”
[6. ]Beaulieu, Ibid., IV. 6.—“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,249 (Oise).—Letters of the Oise administrators, Aug. 24, Sept. 12 and 20, 1792. Letters of the administrators of the district of Clermont, Sept. 14, etc.
[7. ]Cf. above, ch. ix.—“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,249. Letter of the administrators of the district of Senlis, Oct. 31, 1792. Two of the administrators of the Senlis hospital were arrested by Paris commissaries and conducted “before the pretended Committee of Public Safety in Paris, with all that they possessed in money, jewels, and assignats.” The same commissaries carry off two of the hospital sisters of charity, with all the silver plate in the establishment; the sisters are released, but the plate is not returned.—Buchez et Roux, XXVI. 209 (Patriote Français). Session of April 30, 1793, the final report of the commission appointed to examine the accounts of the old Committee of Supervision: “Panis and Sergent are convicted of breaking seals.” . . “67,580 francs found in Septenil’s domicile have disappeared, as well as many articles of value.”
[8. ]Schmidt, I, 270.
[9. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, IV. 221 to 229, 242 to 260; VI. 43 to 52.
[10. ]De Sybel, “Histoire de l’Europe pendant la Révolution Française,” II. 76.—Madame Roland, II. 152. “It was not only impossible to make out the accounts, but to imagine where 130,000,000 had gone. … The day he was dismissed he made sixty appointments, … from his son-in-law, who, a vicar, was made a director at 19,000 francs salary, to his hair-dresser, a young scapegrace of nineteen, whom he makes a commissary of war.” … “It was proved that he paid in full regiments that were actually reduced to a few men.”—Meillan, 20. “The faction became the master of Paris through hired brigands, aided by the millions placed at its disposition by the municipality, under the pretext of ensuring supplies.”
[11. ]See in the “Memoirs of Mme. Elliot,” the particulars of this vote.—Beaulieu, I. 445. “I saw a placard signed by Marat posted on the corners of the streets, stating that he had demanded 15,000 francs of the Duke of Orleans as compensation for what he had done for him.”—Gouverneur Morris, I. 260 (Letter of Dec. 21, 1792). The galleries force the Convention to revoke its decree against the expulsion of the Bourbons.—On the 22d of December the sections present a petition in the same sense, while there is a sort of riot in the suburbs in favor of Philippe-Egalité.
[12. ]Schmidt, I. 246 (Dutard, May 13). “The Convention cannot count in all Paris thirty belonging to its party.”
[13. ]Buchez et Roux, XXV. 463. On the call of the house, April 13, 1793, ninety-two deputies vote for Marat.
[14. ]Prudhomme, “Crimes de la Révolution,” V. 133. Conversation with Danton, December, 1792.—De Barante, III. 123. The same conversation, probably after another verbal tradition.—I am obliged to substitute less coarse terms for those of the quotation.
[15. ]He is the first speaker on the part of the “Mountain” in the king’s trial, and at once becomes president of the Jacobin Club. His speech against Louis XVI. is significant. “Louis is another Catiline.” He should be executed, first as traitor taken in the act, and next as king; that is to say, as a natural enemy and wild beast taken in a net.
[16. ]Vatel, “Charlotte Corday and the Girondists,” I. preface, CXLI. (with all the documents, the letters of Madame de Saint-Just, the examination on the 6th of October, 1786, etc.) The articles stolen consisted of six pieces of plate, a fine ring, gold-mounted pistols, packets of silver lace, etc.—The youth declares that he is “about to enter the Comte d’Artois’ regiment of guards until he is old enough to enter the king’s guards.” He also had an idea of entering the Oratoire.
[17. ]Cf. his speech against the king, his report on Danton, on the Girondists, etc. If the reader would comprehend Saint-Just’s character he has only to read his letter to d’Aubigny, July 20, 1792: “Since I came here I am consumed with a republican fury, which is wasting me away. … It is unfortunate that I cannot remain in Paris. I feel something within me which tells me that I shall float on the waves of this century. … You dastards, you have not appreciated me! My renown will yet blaze forth and cast yours in the shade. Wretches that you are, you call me a thief, a villain, because I can give you no money. Tear my heart out of my body and eat it, and you will become what you are not now—great!”
[18. ]Buchez et Roux, XXIV. 296, 363; XXV. 323; XXVII. 144, 145.—Moniteur, XIV. 89 (terms employed by Danton, David, Legendre, and Marat).
[19. ]Moniteur, XV. 74.—Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 254, 257, sessions of Jan. 6 and May 27.
[20. ]Moniteur, XIV. 851. (Session of Dec. 26, 1792. Speech by Julien.)
[21. ]Moniteur, XIV. 768 (session of Dec. 16). The president says: “I have called Calon to order three times, and three times has he resisted.”—Vergniaud declares that “The majority of the Assembly is under the yoke of a seditious minority.”—Ibid., XIV. 851, 853, 865 (session of Dec. 26 and 27).—Buchez et Roux, XXV. 396 (session of April 11).
[22. ]Louvet, 72.
[23. ]Meillan, 24: “We were for some time all armed with sabres, pistols, and blunderbusses.”—Moore, II. 235 (October, 1792). A number of deputies already at this date carried sword-canes and pocket-pistols.
[24. ]Dauban, “La Demagogie en 1793,” p. 101. Description of the hall by Prudhomme, with illustrations.—Ibid., 199. Letter of Brissot to his constituents: “The brigands and the bacchantes have found their way into the new hall.”—According to Prudhomme the galleries hold 1,400 persons in all, and according to Dulaure, 2,000 or 3,000.
[25. ]Moore, I. 44 (Oct. 10), and II. 534.
[26. ]Moniteur, XIV. 795. Speech by Lanjuinais, Dec. 19. 1792.
[27. ]Buchez et Roux, XX. 5, 396. Speech by Duperret, session of April 11, 1793.
[28. ]Dauban, 143. Letter of Valazé, April 14.—Cf. Moniteur, XIV. 746, session of Dec. 14.—Ibid., 800, session of Dec. 20.—Ibid., 853, session of Dec. 26.
[29. ]Speech by Salles.—Lanjuinais also says: “One seems to deliberate here in a free Convention; but it is only under the dagger and cannon of the factions.”—Moniteur, XV. 180, session of Jan. 16. Speech by N——, deputy, its delivery insisted on by Charles Villette.
[30. ]Meillan, 24.
[31. ]“Archives Nationales,” AF, II. 45. Police reports, May 16, 18, 19. “There is fear of a bloody scene the first day.”—Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 125. Report of Gamon inspector of the Convention hall.
[32. ]Moniteur, XIV. 362 (Nov. 1, 1792).—Ibid., 387, session of Nov. 4. Speech by Royer and Gorsas.—Ibid., 382. Letter by Roland, Nov. 5.
[33. ]Moniteur, XIV. 699. Letter of Roland, Nov. 28.
[34. ]Moniteur, XIV. 697, number for Dec. 11.
[35. ]Moniteur, XV. 180, session of Jan. 16. Speech by Lehardy, Hugues, and Thibaut.—Meillan, 14: “A line of separation between the two sides of the Assembly was then traced. Several deputies which the faction wished to put out of the way had voted for death (of the king). Almost all of these were down on the list of those in favor of the appeal to the people, which was the basis preferred. We were then known as appellants.”
[36. ]Moniteur, XV. 8. Speech by Rabaud St. Etienne.—Buchez et Roux, XXIII. 24—Mortimer-Ternaux, V. 418.—Moniteur, XV. 180, session of Jan. 16.—Buchez et Roux, XXIV. 292—Moniteur, XV. 182. Letter of the mayor of Paris, Jan. 16.—Ibid., 179. Letter of Roland, Jan. 16—Buchez et Roux, XXIV. 448. Report by Santerre.
[37. ]Buchez et Roux, XXV. 23 to 26.—Mortimer-Ternaux, VI. 184 (Manifesto of the central committee, March 9, 2 o’clock in the morning).—Ibid., 193. Narrative of Fournier at the bar of the Convention, March 12.—Report of the mayor of Paris, March 10.—Report of the Minister of Justice, March 13.—Meillan, 24.—Louvet, 72, 74.
[38. ]Pétion, “Mémoires,” 106 (Ed. Dauban): “How many times I heard, ‘You rascal, we’ll have your head!’ And I have no doubt that they often planned my assassination.”
[39. ]Taillandier, “Documents biographiques,” on Daunou (Narrative by Daunou), p. 38.—Doulcet de Pontécoulant, “Mémoires,” I. 139: “It was then that the ‘Mountain’ used all the means of intimidation it knew so well how to bring into play, filling the galleries with its satellites, who shouted out to each other the name of each deputy as he stepped up to the president’s table to give his vote, and yelling savagely at every one who did not vote for immediate and unconditional death.”—Carnot, “Mémoires,” I. 293. Carnot voted for the death of the king; yet afterwards he avowed that “Louis XVI. would have been saved, if the Convention had not held its deliberations under the dagger.”
[40. ]Durand-Maillane, 35, 38, 57.
[41. ]An expression by Dussault, in his “Fragments pour servir à l’histoire de la Convention.”
[42. ]Madame Roland, “Mémoires,” ed. Barrière et Berville, II. 52.—(Note by Roland.)
[43. ]Moniteur, XV. 187. Cambacérès votes: “Louis has incurred the penalties established in the penal code against conspirators. … The execution to be postponed until hostilities cease. In case of invasion of the French territory by the enemies of the republic, the decree to be enforced.”—On Barrère, see Macaulay’s crushing article in “Biographical Essays.”
[44. ]Sainte-Beuve, “Causeries du Lundi,” V. 209. (“Sièyes,” according to his unpublished manuscripts.)
[45. ]Madame Roland, II. 56. Note by Roland.
[46. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, V. 476.
[47. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, V. 513.
[48. ]Philippe de Ségur, “Mémoires,” I. 13.
[49. ]Harmand de la Meuse (member of the Convention), “Anecdotes relatives à la Révolution,” 83, 85.
[50. ]Meissner, “Voyage à Paris,” (last months of 1795). Testimony of the regicide Audrein.
[51. ]Louvet, 75.
[52. ]Meillan, 16.
[53. ]M. Guizot (“Mémoires”), II. 73.
[54. ]Moniteur, XIV. 432, session of Nov. 10, 1792. Speech by Cambon: “That is the reason why I shall always detest the 2d of September; for never will I approve of assassinations.” In the same speech he justifies the Girondists against any reproach of federalism.
[55. ]“Le Maréchal Davoust,” by Madame de Blocqueville. Letter of Davoust, battalion officer, June 2, 1793: “We are animated with the spirit of Lepelletier, which is all that need be said with respect to our opinions and what we will do in the coming crisis, in which, perhaps, a faction will try to plunge us anew into a civil war between the departments and Paris. Perfidious eloquence … conservative Tartufes.”
[56. ]Moniteur, XIV. 738. Report by Cambon, Dec. 15. “On the way French generals are to act in countries occupied by the armies of the republic.” This important document is a true manifesto of the Revolution.—Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 140, session of May 20, and XXVI. 177, session of April 27, speech by Cambon: “The department of Hérault says to this or that individual: ‘You are rich; your opinions cause us expenditure. … I mean to fix you to the Revolution in spite of yourself. You shall lend your fortune to the republic, and when liberty is established the republic will return your capital to you.’—I should like, then, following the example of the department of Hérault, that the Convention should organise a civic loan of one billion, to be supplied by egoists and the lukewarm.”—Decree of May 20, “passed almost unanimously. A forced loan of one billion shall be made on wealthy citizens.”
[57. ]Meillan, 100.
[58. ]Speech by Ducos, March 20. “We must decide between domestic education and liberty. So long as the poor and the rich are not brought close together through a common education, in vain will your laws proclaim sacred equality!”—Rabaut-Saint-Etienne: “In every canton a national temple will be erected, in which every Sunday its municipal officers will give moral instruction to the assembled citizens. This instruction will be drawn from books approved of by the legislative body, and followed by hymns also approved of by the legislative body. A catechism, as simple as it is short, drawn up by the legislative body, shall be taught and every boy will know it by heart.”—On the sentiments of the Girondists in relation to Christianity, see chapters v. and xi. of this volume.—On the means for equalising fortunes, see articles by Babaut-Saint-Etienne (Buchez et Roux, XXIII. 467).—Ibid., XXIV. 475 (March 7–11) decree abolishing the testamentary right.—Condorcet, in his “Tableau des progrès de l’Esprit humain,” assigns the levelling of conditions as the object of society.—On propagandism abroad, read the report by Cambon (Dec. 15). This report is nearly unanimously accepted, and Buzot makes it worse by adding an amendment.
[59. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 287, session of May 28, vote on the maintenance of the Commission of Twelve.
[60. ]Moniteur, XV. 395, session of Feb. 8, 1793.
[61. ]Decrees of March 13 and 14.
[62. ]Moore, II. 44 (October, 1792). Danton declares in the tribune that “the Convention should be a committee of instruction for kings throughout the universe.” On which Moore remarks that this is equivalent to declaring war against all Europe except Switzerland.—Mallet-Dupan, “Considérations sur la Révolution de France,” p. 37: “In a letter which chance has brought to my notice, Brissot wrote to one of his minister-generals towards the close of last year: ‘The four quarters of Europe must be set on fire; that is our salvation.’ ”
[63. ]Duvergier, “Collection des lois et décrets.” Decree of March 10–12. Title I. articles 1, 12, 13; title II. articles 2, 3. Add to this the decree of March 29–31, establishing the penalty of death against whoever composes or prints documents favoring the re-establishment of royalty.
[64. ]Decree of March 28, April 5 (article 6).—Cf. the decrees of March 18 and April 23, 24.
[65. ]Decree of March 27–30.
[66. ]Decree of April 5–7.
[67. ]Decree of May 4. A law fixing the highest price at which grain shall be sold.—Tr.
[68. ]Decree of April 11–16 (bearing on the reduction in value of the legal currency.—Tr.).
[69. ]Decree of May 20–25.
[70. ]Decree of April 5–7. Words used by Danton in the course of the debate.
[71. ]Decree of April 5–11.
[72. ]Decrees of May 13, 16, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, and 29, June 1.
[73. ]Decrees of March 21–23 and March 26–30.
[74. ]Decree of March 29–31.
[75. ]Decree of April 1–5.
[76. ]Schmidt, I. 232. Report by Dutard, May 10.
[77. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 2,401 to 2,505. Records of the section debates in Paris.—Many of these begin March 28, 1793, and contain the deliberations of revolutionary committees; for example, F7, 2,475, the section of the Pikes or of the Place Vendôme. We see by the official reports dated March 28 and the following days that the suspected were deprived of all weapons, even the smallest, every species of sword-cane, including dress-swords with steel or silver handles.
[78. ]Buchez et Roux, XXV. 157.—“Archives Nationales,” F7, 2,494, section of the Réunion, official report, March 28.
[79. ]Schmidt, I. 223 (Dutard, May 14).—Ibid., 224. “If the Convention allows committees of supervision to exercise its authority, I will not give it eight days.”—Meillan, p. 3. “Almost all the section agitators were strangers.”—“Archives nationales,” F7, 3,294 and 3,297, records of debate in the committees of supervision belonging to the sections of the Réunion and Droits de l’Homme. Quality of mind and education are both indicated by orthography. For instance: “Le dit jour et an que deçus; orloger; Lecture d’une letres du comité de sureté general de la convention qui invite le comité a se transporter de suites chez le citoyen Louis Feline rue Baubourg, a leffets de faire perquisition chez lui et dans tout ces papiers, et que ceux qui paraitrous suspect lon y metes les selés.”
[80. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,294. Section of the Réunion, official report, March 28.
[81. ]Buchez et Roux, XXV. 168. An ordinance of the commune, March 27.
[82. ]Schmidt, I. 223. Report by Dutard, May 14.
[83. ]Buchez et Roux, XXV. 167. Ordinance of May 27. XXXVII. 151. Ordinance of May 20.
[84. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,294. See, in particular, the official reports of the month of April.—Buchez et Roux, XXV. 149, and XXVI. 342 (ordinances of the commune, March 27 and May 2).
[85. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVI. 402 (article from the Patriote Français, May 8). “Arrests are multiplied lately to a frightful extent. The mayoralty overflows with prisoners. Nobody has any idea of the insolence and harshness with which citizens are treated. Slaughter and a Saint-Bartholomew are all that are talked of.”—Meillan, 55. “Let anybody in any assemblage or club express any opinion not in unison with municipal views, and he is sure to be arrested the following night.”—Gouverneur Morris, March 29, 1793. “Yesterday I was arrested in the street and conducted to the section of Butte-des-Moulins. … Armed men came to my house yesterday.”—Reply of the minister, Lebrun, April 3. “Domiciliary visits were a general measure from which no house in Paris was exempt.”
[86. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVI. 384. Speech by Buzot, session of May 8.
[87. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVI. 332. Ordinance of the commune, May 1.
[88. ]Schmidt, I. 216. Report by Dutard, May 13.
[89. ]Schmidt, I. 301. “In our sections the best class of citizens are still afraid of imprisonment or of being disarmed. Nobody talks freely.”—The Lyons revolutionists make the same calculation (“Archives Nationales,” AF, II. 43). Letter addressed to the representatives of the people by the administrators of the department of the Rhône, June 4, 1793. The revolutionary committee “designated for La Vendée those citizens who were most comfortably off or those it hated, whilst conditional enlistments with the privilege of remaining in the department were granted only to those in favor of disorganisation.”—Cf. Guillon de Montléon, I. 235.
[90. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVI. 399. Ordinance of the commune, May 3, on a forced loan of twelve millions, article 6. “The revolutionary committees will regard the apportionment lists simply as guides, without regarding them as a basis of action.”—Article 14. “The personal and real property of those who have not conformed to the patriotic draft will be seized and sold at the suit of the revolutionary committees, and their persons declared suspected.”
[91. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 17 (Patriote Français, number for May 14). Francoeur is taxed at 3,600 francs.—The same process at Lyons (Balleydier, 174, and Guillon de Montléon, I. 238). The authorised tax by the commissaries of the Convention amounted to six millions. The revolutionary committee levied thirty and forty millions, payable in twenty-four hours on warrants without delay (May 13 and 14). Many persons are taxed from 80,000 to 100,000 francs, the text of the requisitions conveying ironically a hostile spirit.
[92. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVI. 463, session of the Jacobin Club, May 11.
[93. ]Meillan, 17.
[94. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVI. 463, session of the Jacobin Club, May 11. Speech by Hassenfratz.—Ibid., 455, session of the Jacobin Club, May 10, speech by Robespierre. “The rich are all anti-revolutionists; only beggars and the people can save the country.”—Ibid., 453, N——: “Revolutionary battalions should be maintained in the department at the expense of the rich, who are cowards.”—Ibid., XXVII. 317. Petition of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, May 11.—Schmidt, I. 315 (Report by Dutard, May 13). “There is no recruiting in the faubourgs, because people there know that they are more wanted here than in La Vendée. They let the rich go and fight. They watch things here, and trust nobody but themselves to guard Paris.”
[95. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 2,494. Section of the Réunion, official reports of May 15 and 16.—Buchez et Roux, XXV. 167, ordinance of the commune, March 27.
[96. ]Schmidt, I. 327. Report of Perrière, May 28. “Our group itself seemed to be governed by nothing but hatred of the rich by the poor. One must be a dull observer not to see by a thousand symptoms that these two natural enemies stand in battle array, only awaiting the signal or the opportunity.”
[97. ]Buchez et Roux, XXV. 460. The papers examined by the accusers are the numbers of Marat’s journal for the 5th of January and the 25th of February. The article which provoked the decree is his “Address to the National Convention,” pp. 446 and 450.
[98. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVI. 149; Narrative by Marat, 114. Bulletin of the revolutionary tribunal, session of the Convention.
[99. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVI. 358, article in the Chronique de Paris; 358, article by Marat.—Schmidt, 1. 184. Report by Dutard, May 5.—Paris, “Histoire de Joseph Lebon,” 1. 81. Letter by Robespierre, Jr., May 7.
[100. ]Buchez et Roux, XXV. 240 and 246. Protest of the Mail section, of the electoral body of the Arsenal, Marais, Gravilliers and Arcis sections. (The Convention, session of April 2; the commune, session of April 2.)—XXVI. 358. Protests of the sections of Bon-Conseil and the Unité (May 5).—XXVII. 71. Defeat of the anarchists in the section of Butte-des-Moulins. “A great many sections openly show a determination to put anarchy down.” (Patriote Français, May 15).—Ibid., 137. Protests of the Panthéon Francais, Piques, Mail, and many other sections (Patriote Français, May 19).—Ibid., 175. Protest of the Fraternité section (session of the Convention, May 23).
[101. ]Schmidt, I. 189. Dutard, May 6.
[102. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, VII. 218. Official report of the reunion of the two sections of the Lombards and Bon-Conseil (April 12), “by which the two said sections promise and swear union, aid, fraternity, and mutual help, in case the aristocracy are disposed to destroy liberty.”—“Consequently,” says the Bon-Conseil section, “many of the citizens of the Lombards section, justly alarmed at the disturbances occasioned by the evil-disposed, came and proffered their assistance.”—Adhesion of the section of Les Amis de la Patrie.—Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 138. (Article of the Patriote Français, May 19): “This brigandage is called assembly of combined sections.”—Ibid., 236, May 26, session of the commune. “Deputations of the Montreuil, Quinze-Vingts and Droits de l’Homme sections came to the assistance of the Arsenal patriots; the aristocrats took to flight, leaving their hats behind them.”—Schmidt, I. 213, 313 (Dutard, May 13 and 27). Violent treatment of the moderates in the Bon-Conseil and Arsenal sections; “struck with chairs, several persons wounded, one captain carried off on a bench; the gutter-jumpers and dumpy shopkeepers cleared out, leaving the sans-culottes masters of the field.”—Meillan, p. III.—Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 237, session of the Jacobin Club, May 26. “In the section of Butte-des-Moulins, the patriots, finding they were not in force, seized the chairs and drove the aristocrats out.”
[103. ]Buchez et Roux, 78, XXVII. on the juge-de-paix Roux, carried off at night and imprisoned, April 16.—Mortimer-Ternaux, III. 220, on the vice-president Sagnier, May 10.—Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 231, May 26, on the five citizens of the Unité section arrested by the revolutionary committee of the section “for having spoken against Robespierre and Marat.”
[104. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 154. Speech of Léonard Bourdon to the Jacobins, May 20.
[105. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVI. 3. Address drawn up by the commissaries of the 48 sections, approved of by 35 sections, also by the commune, and presented to the Convention April 15.—Others have preceded it, like pilot balloons.—Ibid., XXV. 319. Petition of the Bon-Conseil session, April 8—XXV. 320. Petition of the Halle-au-Blé section, April 10.
[106. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVI. 83. Speech by Vergniaud to the Convention, session of April 20. “These facts are notorious. Nobody can contradict them. More than 10,000 witnesses would confirm them.”—There are the same proceedings at Lyons Jan. 13, 1792, against the petition for an appeal to the people (Guillon de Montléon, I. 145, 155). The official report of the Jacobins claims that the petition obtained 40,215 signatures. “The petition was first signed by about 200 clubbists, who pretended to be the people. … They spread the report among the people that all who would not sign the address would have a black mark or be put on a list of proscriptions. They then had desks placed in all the public squares, and seized by the arm all who came, and forced them to sign. Finding no great result from this they made children ten years of age, women, and ignorant rustics put down their names.” They were told that the object was to put down the price of bread. “I swear to you that this address is the work of a hundred persons at most; the great majority of the citizens of Lyons desire to avail themselves of their own sovereignty in the judgment of Louis.” (Letter of David of Lyons to the president of the Convention, Jan. 16.)
[107. ]“Fragment,” by Lanjuinais (in the memoirs of Durand-Maillane, p. 297).
[108. ]Meillan, 113.
[109. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVI. 319 (May 12).—Meillan, 113.
[110. ]Buchez et Roux, XVI. 327. On being informed of this the crowd sent new deputies, the latter stating in relation to the others: “We do not recognise them.”
[111. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVI. 143.
[112. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 175, May 23.
[113. ]Schmidt, I. 212. Report of Dutard, May 13.—I. 218. “A plot is really under way, and many heads are singled out.” (Terrasson, May 13.)
[114. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 9. Speech of Guadet to the Convention, May 14.
[115. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 2. Patriote Français, May 13.
[116. ]Schmidt, I. 242. Report of Dutard, May 18.—Also 245.
[117. ]Schmidt, I. 254. Report of Dutard, May 19.
[118. ]Bergoeing, Chatry, Dubosq, “Pièces recueillies par la commission des Douze et publiées à Caen,” June 28, 1793 (in the “Mémoires” of Meillan, pp. 176–198). Attempts at murder had already occurred. “Lanjuinais came near being killed. Many of the deputies were insulted and threatened. The armed force joins with the malefactors; we have accordingly no means of repression.” (Mortimer-Ternaux, VII. 562, letter of the deputy Michel to his constituents, May 20.)
[119. ]Bergoeing, “Pièces, etc.”—Meillan, pp. 39 and 40.—The depositions are all made by eye-witnesses. The propositions for the massacre were made in the meetings at the mayoralty May 19, 20, and 21, and at the Cordeliers club May 22 and 23.
[120. ]The Jacobins at Lyons plot the same thing (Guillon de Montléon, 248). Chalier says to the club: “We shall not fail to have 300 noted heads. Get hold of the members of the department, the presidents and secretaries of the sections, and let us make a bundle of them for the guillotine; we will wash our hands in their blood.” Thereupon, on the night of May 28 the revolutionary municipality seize the arsenal and plant cannon on the Hôtel-de-Ville. The Lyons sections, however, more energetic than those of Paris, take up arms, and after a terrible fight they get possession of the Hôtel-de-Ville. The moral difference between the two parties is very marked in Gonchon’s letters. (“Archives Nationales,” AF, II. 43, letters of Gonchon to Garat, May 31, June 1 and 3.) “Keep up the courage of the Convention. It need not be afraid. The citizens of Lyons have covered themselves with glory. They displayed the greatest courage in every fight that took place in various quarters of the town, and the greatest magnaminity to their enemies, who behaved most villainously.” The municipal body had sent a flag of truce, pretending to negotiate, and then treacherously opened fire with its cannon on the columns of the sections, and cast the wounded into the river. “The citizens of Lyons, so often slandered, will be the first to have set an example of true republican character. Find me a similar instance, if you can, in the history of revolutions: being victorious, not to have shed a drop of blood!” They cared for the wounded, and raised a subscription for the widows and orphans of the dead, without distinction of party. Cf. Lauvergne, “Histoire du Var,” 175. The same occurs at Toulon (insurrection of the moderates, July 12 and 13, 1793).—At Toulon, as at Lyons, there was no murder after the victory; only regular trials and the execution of two or three assassins whose crimes were legally proved.
[121. ]Schmidt, I. 335. Report of Perrière, May 29.
[122. ]Bergoeing, “Pièces, etc.”, p. 195.—Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 296.
[123. ]The insurrection at Lyons took place on May 29. On the 2d of June it is announced in the Convention that the insurgent army of Lozère, more than 30,000 strong, has taken Marvéjols and is about to take Mende (Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 387).—A threatening address from Bordeaux (May 14) and from thirty-two sections in Marseilles (May 25) against the Jacobins (Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 3, 214).—Cf. Robinet in “Le Procès des Dantonistes,” 303, 305.
[124. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, VII. 38.
[125. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 297, session of the Jacobins, May 29.
[126. ]Barrère, “Mémoires,” II. 91, 94. Mendacious as Barrère is, his testimony here may be accepted. I see no reason why he should state what is not true; he was well informed, as he belonged to the Committee of Public Safety. His statements, besides, on the complicity of the Mountain and on the rôle of Danton are confirmed by the whole mass of facts.—Buchez et Roux, XXVIII. 200 (speech by Danton in the Convention, June 13). “Without the cannon of the 31st of May, without the insurrection the conspirators would have triumphed; they would have given us the law. Let the crime of that insurrection be on our heads! That insurrection—I myself demanded it! . . I demand a declaration by the Convention, that without the insurrection of May 31, liberty would be no more!”—Ibid., 220. Speech by Leclerc at the Cordeliers club, June 27. “Was it not Legendre who rendered abortive our wise measures, so often taken, to exterminate our enemies? He and Danton it was, who, through their culpable resistance, reduced us to the moderatism of the 31st of May, Legendre and Danton are the men who opposed the revolutionary steps which we had taken on those great days to crush out all the aristocrats in Paris!”
[127. ]Schmidt, I. 244. Report by Dutard, May 18.
[128. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 253 and following pages, session of May 27.—Mortimer-Ternaux, VII. 294.—Buchez et Roux, XXVIII. 9 (“Précis rapide,” by Gorsas).
[129. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 258.—Meillan, 43.
[130. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 259 (words of Raffet).
[131. ]Meillan, 44.—Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 267, 280.
[132. ]Meillan, 44. “Placed opposite the president, within ten paces of him, with my eyes constantly fixed on him, because in the horrible din which disgraced the Assembly we could have no other compass to steer by, I can testify that I neither saw nor heard the decree put to vote.”—Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 278. Speech by Osselin, session of May 28: “I presented the decree as drawn up to the secretaries for their signatures this morning. One of them, after reading it, observed to me that the last article had not been decreed, but that the preceding articles had been.”—Mortimer-Ternaux, VII. 562. Letter of the deputy Michel, May 29. “The guards were forced, and the sanctuary of the law invested from about four to ten hours, so that nobody could leave the hall even for the most urgent purposes.”
[133. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, VII. 308. Extract from the official reports of the patriotic club of Butte-des-Moulins, May 30. “Considering that the majority of the section, known for its incivism and its anti-revolutionary spirit, would decline this election or would elect commissaries not enjoying the confidence of patriots,” . . the patriotic club takes upon itself the duty of electing the two commissaries demanded.
[134. ]Durand-Maillan, 297. “Fragment,” by Lanjuinais. “Seven aliens, seven outside agents, Desfieux, Proly, Pereyra, Dubuisson, Gusman, the two brothers Frey, etc., were set up by the commune as an insurrectionary committee.” Most of them are vile fellows, as is the case with Varlet, Dobsen, Hassenfratz, Rousselin, Desfieux, Gusman, etc.
[135. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVIII. 156. “We, members of the revolutionary commission, citizens Clémence, of the Bon-Conseil section; Dunouy, of the Sans-culottes section; Bonin, of the section of Les Marchés; Auvray, of the section of Mont-Blanc; Séguy, of the section of Butte-des-Moulins; Moissard, of Grenelle; Berot, canton d’Issy; Rousselin, section of the Unité; Marchand, section of Mont-Blanc; Grespin, section of Gravilliers.” They resign on the 6th of June.—The commission, at first composed of nine members, ends in comprising eleven. (Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 316, official reports of the commune, May 31.) May 25 (Speech by Pache to the Committee of Public Safety, June 1.)
[136. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 306. Official reports of the commune, May 31.—Ibid., 316. Mortimer-Ternaux, VII. 319.
[137. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 274. Speech by Hassenfratz to the Jacobin Club, May 27.
[138. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 346 (speech by Lhuillier in the Convention, May 31).
[139. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 302, session of the Convention, May 30. Words uttered by Hassenfratz, Varlet, and Chabot, and denounced by Lanjuinais.
[140. ]Madame Roland, “Appel à l’impartiale postérité.” Conversation of Madame Roland on the evening of May 31, on the Place do Carrousel, with a cannoneer.
[141. ]Buchez et Roux, 307–323. Official reports of the commune, May 31.
[142. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 2,494, register of the revolutionary committee of the Réunion section, official report of May 31, 6 o’clock in the morning.
[143. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 335, session of the Convention, May 31. Petition presented by the commissaries in the name of forty-eight sections; their credentials show that they are not at first authorised by more than twenty-six sections.
[144. ]Buchez et Roux, 347, 348. Mortimer-Ternaux, VII. 350 (third despatch of the Hôtel-de-Ville delegates, present at the session): “The National Assembly was not able to accept the above important measures … until the perturbators of the Assembly, known under the title of the ‘Right,’ did themselves the justice to perceive that they were not worthy of taking part in them; they evacuated the Assembly, amid great gesticulations and imprecations, to which you know they are liable.”
[145. ]Dauban, “La Demagogie en 1793.” Diary of Beaulieu, May 31.—Declaration of Henriot, Germinal 4, year III.—Buchez et Roux, XXVIII. 351.
[146. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, VII. 565. Letter of the deputy Loiseau, June 5.
[147. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 352 to 360, 368 to 377. Official reports of the commune, June 1 and 2. Proclamation of the revolutionary committee, June 1. “Your delegates have ordered the arrest of all suspected persons concealing themselves in the sections of Paris. This arrest is in progress in all quarters.”
[148. ]“Archives Nationales,” F7, 2,494. Section of the Réunion, official report, June 1. Ibid., June 2. Citizen Robin is arrested on the 2d of June, “for having manifested opinions contrary to the sovereignty of the people in the National Assembly.” The same day a proclamation is made on the territory of the section by a deputation of the commune, accompanied by one member and two drummers, “tending (tendantes) to make known to the people that the country will be saved by awaiting (en atendans) with courage the decree which is to be rendered to prevent traitors (les traitre) from longer sitting in the senate-house.” Ibid., June 4. The committee decides that it will add new members to its number, but they will be taken only from all “good sans-culote; no notary, no notary’s clerk, no lawyers nor their clerks, no banker nor rich landlord” being admissible, unless he gives evidence of unmistakable civism since 1789.—Cf. F7, 2,497 (section of the Droits de l’Homme), F7, 2,484 (section of the Halle-au-blé), the resemblance in orthography and in their acts; the register of the Piques section (F7, 2,475) is one of the most interesting; here may be found the details of the appearance of the ministers before it; the committee that examines them does not even spell their names correctly, “Clavier” being often written for Clavière, and “Goyer” for Gohier.
[149. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVIII. 19.
[150. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 354. Official reports of the commune, June I.
[151. ]Meillan, 307.—“Fragment,” by Lanjuinais.—“Diurnal,” of Beaulieu, June 2. Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 399 (speech by Barrère).
[152. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 357. Official reports of the commune, June I.
[153. ]Meillan, 58, 53, 307. Buchez et Roux, XXVIII. 14 (“Précis,” by Gordas).
[154. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 359. Official reports of the commune, June I. “One member of the Council stated that on going to the Beaurepaire section he was not well received; that the president of this section spoke uncivilly to him and took him for an imaginary municipalist; that he was threatened with the lock-up, and that his liberty was solely due to the brave citizens of the Sans-culottes section and the cannoneers of the Beaurepaire section who went with him.”—Preparations for the investment began on the 1st of June. (“Archives Nationales,” F7, 2,497, official reports of the Droits de l’Homme section, June 1.) Orders of Henriot to the commandant of the section to send “400 homme et la compagnie de canonier avec les 2 pièces de canon au Carouzel le long des Thuilerie plasse de la Révolution.”
[155. ]Lanjuinais states 100,000 men, Meillan 50,000; the deputies of the Somme say 60,000, but without any evidence. Judging by various indications I should put the number much lower, on account of the disarmament and absentees: say 30,000 men, the same as May 31.
[156. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, VII. 566. Letter of the deputy Loiseau: “I passed through the whole of one battalion; the men all said that they did not know why the movement was made; that only their officers knew.” (June 1.)
[157. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 400. Session of the Convention, June 2.—XXVIII. 43 (report by Saladin).
[158. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, VII. 392. Official report of the Jacobin Club, June 2. “The deputies were so surrounded as not to be able to go out even for special purposes.”—Ibid., 568. Letter of the deputy Loiseau.
[159. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVIII. 44. Report by Saladin.—Meillan, 237.—Mortimer-Ternaux, VII. 547. Declaration of the deputies of the Somme.
[160. ]Meillan, 52.—Pétion, “Mémoires,” 109 (Edition Dauban).—Lanjuinais (“Fragment”) 199. “Nearly all those called Girondists thought it best to stay away.”—Letter of Vergniaud, June 3 (in the Republicain Français, June 5, 1793). “I left the Assembly yesterday between 1 and 2 o’clock.”
[161. ]Lanjuinais, “Fragment,” 299.
[162. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 400.
[163. ]Robinet, “Le Procès de Danton,” 169. Words of Danton (according to the notes of a juryman, Topino-Lebrun).
[164. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 44. Report by Saladin.—Meillan, 59.—Lanjuinais, 308, 310.
[165. ]Buches et Roux, XXVII. 401.
[166. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, VII. 569. Letter of the deputy Loiseau.—Meillan, 60.
[167. ]Buchez et Roux, XXVI. 341. Speech by Chasles in the Convention, May 2. “The cultivators … are nearly all aristocrats.”
[168. ]Sièyes (quoted by Barante, “Histoire de la Convention,” III. 169) thus describes it: “That false people, than which the French people never had a more mortal enemy, incessantly obstructed the approaches to the Convention. … At the entrance or exit of the Convention the astonished spectator thought that a new invasion of barbarian hordes had suddenly occurred, a new irruption of voracious, sanguinary harpies, flocking there to seize hold of the Revolution as if it were the natural prey of their species.”
[169. ]Gouverneur Morris, II. 241. Letter of Oct. 23, 1792. “The populace—something, thank God, that is unknown in America!”—He often insists on this essential characteristic of the French Revolution.—On this ever-present class, see the accurate and complete work well supported by facts, of Dr. Lombroso, “L’Uomo delinquente.”
[170. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, VII. Letter of the deputy Laplaigne, July 6.
[171. ]Meillan, 51.—Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 356. Official report of the commune, session of June 1. In the afternoon Marat comes to the commune, harangues the council, and gives the insurrection the last impetus. It is plain that he was chief actor on both these days (June 1 and 2).
[172. ]Pétion, 116.
[173. ]Schmidt, I. 370.—Mortimer-Ternaux, VII. 391. Letter of Marchand, member of the Central Committee. “I saw Chaumette do everything he could to hinder this glorious revolution, . . exclaim, shed tears, and tear his hair.”—Buchez et Roux, XXVIII. 46. According to Saladin, Chaumette went so far as to demand Hébert’s arrest.
[174. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, VII. 300.—Cf. “Le vieux Cordelier,” by C. Desmoulins, No. 5.
[175. ]Mallet-Dupan, II. 52 (March 8, 1794).—The titular general of the revolutionary army was Ronsin. “Previous to the Revolution he was a seedy author earning his living and reputation by working for the boulevard stalls. … One day a person informed him that his staff ‘was behaving very badly, acting tyrannically in the most outrageous manner at the theatres and everywhere else, striking women and tearing their bonnets to pieces. Your men commit rape, pillage, and massacre.’ To which he replied: ‘Well, what shall I do? I know that they are a lot of ruffians as well as you do; but those are the fellows I need for my revolutionary army. Find me honest people, if you can, that will do that business.’ ” (Prudhomme, “Crimes de la Révolution,” V. 130.)
[176. ]Buchez et Roux, XXIX. 152.
[177. ]Beaulieu, “Essais sur la Révolution,” V. 200.
[178. ]Schmidt, II. 85. Report of Dutard, June 24 (on the review of the previous evening). “A short of low-class artisan who seemed to me to have been a soldier. … Apparently he had associated only with dissipated men; I am sure that he would be found fond of gaming, wine, women, and everything that denotes a bad character.”
[179. ]Barbaroux, 12. “The movement given to the Revolution tends to cause the disappearance of able men and to place the helm of affairs in the hands of men gangrened with ignorance and vice.”
[180. ]Lauvergne, “Histoire de la Révolution dans le départment du Var,” 176. At Toulon “the spirit of counter-revolution was nothing else than the sentiment of self-preservation.” It was the same thing at Lyons. (Nolhac, “Souvenir de trois année de la Révolution à Lyon,” p. 14.)
[181. ]Gouverneur Morris, II. 395. Letter of Jan. 21, 1794. “Admitting what has been asserted by persons in a situation to know the truth and deeply interested to prove the contrary, it is an undoubted truth that ninety-nine-hundredths are opposed to all ideas of a dismemberment, and will fight to prevent it.”
[182. ]Mallet-Dupan, II. 44.
[183. ]Among other documents, the following letter will show the quality of these recruits, especially of the recruits of 1791, who were much the best men. (Letter from the municipal officers of Dorat, December 28, 1792, “Archives Nationales,” F7, 3,275.) “The commune of Dorat is made up of three classes of citizens: The richest class, composed of persons confirmed in the prejudices of the ancien régime, has been disarmed. The second, composed of well-to-do people, fills the administrative positions. It is against them that the fury of the turbulent is aimed; but those of this class who could make resistance have gone to fight the enemy abroad. The third class, and the most numerous, is made up in part of the seditious and in part of laborers, who, not daring to mix in the revolt, content themselves with coveting the tax on grain.”—Toulongeon, “Histoire de France depuis la Révolution,” IV. 94. “Do not degrade a nation by ascribing base motives to it and a servile fear. Every one, on the contrary, felt himself informed by an exalted instinct for the public welfare.”—Gouvion Saint-Cyr, “Mémoires,” I. 56: “A young man would have blushed to remain at home when the independence of the nation was threatened. Each one quitted his studies or his profession.”
[184. ]Gouvion Saint-Cyr, 26. “The manifesto of Brunswick assigns to France more than a hundred battalions, which, within three weeks, were raised, armed, and put in the field.”
[185. ]In respect of these sentiments, cf. Gouvion Saint-Cyr, “Mémoires,” and Fervel, “Campagnes de la Révolution Française dans les Pyrénées orientales.”
[186. ]Stendhal, Mémoires sur Napoléon.
[187. ]Gouvion Saint-Cyr, “Mémoires,” p. 43. “Patriotism made up for everything; it alone gave us victory; it supplied our most pressing needs.”