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BOOK FIFTH: Establishment of the Revolutionary Government - Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution, vol. 3 
The French Revolution, 3 vols., trans. John Durand, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002). Vol. 3.
Part of: The French Revolution, 3 vols.
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Establishment of the Revolutionary Government
I.Weakness of former governments—Energy of the new government—The despotic creed and instincts of the Jacobin—II.Contrast between his words and his acts—How he dissimulates his change of front—The Constitution of June, 1793—Its promises of Freedom—III.Primary Assemblies—Proportion of Absentees—Number of Primary Assemblies—Unanimity of the voters—Their motives for accepting the Constitution—Pressure brought to bear on voters—Choice of Delegates—IV.They reach Paris—Precautions taken against them—Constraints and Seductions—V.They make their profession of Jacobin faith—Their part in the Fête of August 10th—Their enthusiasm—VI.Manoeuvres of the “Mountain”—The Jacobin Club on the eve of August 11th—Session of the Convention on the 11th of August—The Delegates initiate Terror—Popular consecration of the Jacobin dictatorship—VII.Effect of this manoeuvre—Extent and Manifesto of the departmental insurrection—Its fundamental weakness—The mass of the population inert and distrustful—The small number of Girondists—Their lukewarm adherents—Scruples of fugitive deputies and insurgent administrators—They form no central government—They leave military authority in the hands of the Convention—Fatal progress of their concessions—Withdrawal of the departments one by one—Palinode of the compromised authorities—Effect of administrative habits—Failings and illusions of the Moderates—Opposite character of the Jacobins—VIII.The last local resistances—Political orthodoxy of the insurgent towns—They stipulate but one condition—Reasons of State for granting this—Party arguments against it—IX.The rebel cities crushed—Bordeaux—Marseilles—Lyons—Toulon—X.Destruction of the Girondist party—Proscription of the Deputies of the “Right”—Imprisonment of the 73—Execution of the 21—Execution, suicide, or flight of the rest—XI.Institutions of the Revolutionary Government—Its principle, object, proceedings, tools, and structure—The Committee of Public Safety—Subordination of the Convention and ministry—The use of the Committee of General Security and the Revolutionary Tribunal—Administrative centralization—Representatives on Mission, National Agents and Revolutionary Committees.—Law of Lèse-majesty—Restoration and Aggravation of the institutions of the old monarchy.
So far, the weakness of the legal government is extreme. For four years, whatever its kind, everywhere and constantly, it has been disobeyed; for four years, whatever its kind, it has never dared enforce obedience. Recruited among the cultivated and refined class, the rulers of the country have brought with them into power the prejudices and sensibilities of the epoch; under the empire of the prevailing dogma they have deferred to the will of the multitude and, with too much faith in the rights of man, they have had too little in the rights of the magistrate; moreover, through humanity, they have abhorred bloodshed and, unwilling to repress, they have allowed themselves to be repressed. Thus, from the 1st of May, 1789, to June 2, 1793, they have carried on the administration, or legislated, athwart innumerable insurrections, almost all of them going unpunished; while their constitutions, so many unhealthy products of theory and fear, have done no more than transform spontaneous anarchy into legal anarchy. Wilfully and through distrust of authority they have undermined the principle of command, reduced the King to the post of a decorative puppet, and almost annihilated the central power: from the top to the bottom of the hierarchy the superior has lost his hold on the inferior, the minister on the departments, the departments on the districts, and the districts on the communes; throughout all branches of the service, the chief, elected on the spot and by his subordinates, has come to depend on them. Thenceforth, each post in which authority is vested is found isolated, dismantled and preyed upon, while, to crown all, the Declaration of Rights, proclaiming “the jurisdiction of constituents over their clerks,”1 has invited the assailants to make the assault. On the strength of this a faction arises which ends in becoming an organized band: under its clamorings, its menaces and its pikes, at Paris and in the provinces, at the polls and in the parliament, the majorities are all silenced, while the minorities vote, decree and govern; the Legislative Assembly is purged, the King is dethroned, and the Convention is mutilated. Of all the garrisons of the central citadel, whether royalists, constitutionalists, or Girondists, not one has been able to defend itself, to refashion the executive instrument, to draw the sword and use it in the streets: on the first attack, often at the first summons, all have surrendered, and now the citadel, with every other public fortress, is in the hands of the Jacobins.
This time, its occupants are of a different stamp. Aside from the great mass of well-disposed people fond of a quiet life, the Revolution has sifted out and separated from the rest all who are fanatical, brutal or perverse enough to have lost respect for others; these form the new garrison—sectarians blinded by their creed, the roughs (assommeurs) who are hardened by their calling, and those who make all they can out of their offices. None of this class are scrupulous concerning human life or property; for, as we have seen, they have shaped the theory to suit themselves, and reduced popular sovereignty to their sovereignty. The commonwealth, according to the Jacobin, is his; with him, the commonwealth comprises all private possessions, bodies, estates, souls and consciences; everything belongs to him; the fact of being a Jacobin makes him legitimately czar and pope. Little does he care about the wills of actually living Frenchmen; his mandate does not emanate from a vote; it descends to him from aloft, conferred on him by Truth, by Reason, by Virtue. As he alone is enlightened, and the only patriot, he alone is worthy to take command, while resistance, according to his imperious pride, is criminal. If the majority protests it is because the majority is imbecile or corrupt; in either case, it merits a check, and a check it shall have. Accordingly, the Jacobin does nothing else from the outset; insurrections, usurpations, pillagings, murders, assaults on individuals, on magistrates, on assemblies, violations of law, attacks on the State, on communities—there is no outrage not committed by him. He has always acted as sovereign instinctively; he was so as a private individual and clubbist; he is not to cease being so, now that he possesses legal authority, and all the more because if he hesitates he knows he is lost; to save himself from the scaffold he has no refuge but in a dictatorship. Such a man, unlike his predecessors, will not allow himself to be turned out; on the contrary, he will exact obedience at any cost. He will not hesitate to restore the central power; he will put back the local wheels that have been detached; he will repair the old forcing-gear; he will set it agoing so as to work more rudely and arbitrarily than ever, with greater contempt for private rights and public liberties than either a Louis XIV. or a Napoleon.
In the mean time, he has to harmonize his coming acts with his recent declarations, which, at the first glance, seems a difficult operation: for, in the speeches he has made he has already condemned the actions he meditates. Yesterday he exaggerated the rights of the governed, even to a suppression of those of the governors; tomorrow he is to exaggerate the rights of governors, even to suppressing those of the governed. The people, as he puts it, is the sole sovereign, and he is going to treat the people as slaves; the government, as he puts it, is a valet, and he is going to endow the government with the prerogatives of a sultan. He has just denounced the slightest exercise of public authority as a crime; he is now going to punish as a crime the slightest resistance to public authority. What will justify such a summerset, and with what face can he repudiate the principles on which he has founded his own usurpation? He takes good care not to repudiate them; it would drive the already rebellious provinces to extremities; on the contrary, he proclaims them with renewed vigor, through which manoeuvre, the ignorant crowd, seeing the same flask always presented to it, imagines that it is always served with the same liquor, and is thus forced to drink tyranny under the label of freedom. Whatever the charlatan can do with his labels, signboards, shoutings and lies for the next six months, will be done to disguise the new nostrum; so much the worse for the public if, later on, it discovers that the draught is bitter; sooner or later it must swallow it, willingly or by compulsion: for, in the interval, the instruments are being got ready to force it down the public throat.2
As a beginning, the Constitution, so long anticipated and so often promised, is hastily fabricated:3 declarations of rights in thirty-five articles, the Constitutional bill in one hundred and twenty-four articles, political principles and institutions of every sort, electoral, legislative, executive, administrative, judicial, financial and military;4 in three weeks, all is drawn up and passed with race-horse speed. Of course, the new constitutionalists do not propose to produce an effective and serviceable instrument; that is the least of their anxieties. Hérault Séchelles, the reporter of the bill, writes on the 7th of June, “to have procured for him at once the laws of Minos, of which he has urgent need”; very urgent need, as he must hand in the Constitution that week.5 Such a circumstance is sufficiently characteristic of both the workmen and the work. All is mere show and pretence. Some of the workmen are shrewd politicians whose sole object is to furnish the public with words instead of things; others, ordinary scribblers of abstractions, or even ignoramuses, and unable to distinguish words from things, imagine that they are framing laws by stringing together a lot of phrases. It is not a difficult job; the phrases are ready-made to hand. “Let the plotters of antipopular systems,” says the reporter, “painfully elaborate their projects! Frenchmen … have only to consult their hearts to read the Republic there!”6 Drafted in accordance with the Contrat-Social, filled with Greek and Latin reminiscences, it is a summary “in lapidary style” of the manual of current aphorisms then in vogue. Rousseau’s mathematical formulas and prescriptions, “the axioms of truth and the consequences flowing from these axioms,” in short, a rectilinear constitution which any school-boy may spout on leaving college. Like a handbill posted on the door of a new shop, it promises to customers every imaginable article that is handsome and desirable. Would you have rights and liberties? You will find them all here. Never has the statement been so clearly made, that the government is the servant, creature and tool of the governed; it is instituted solely “to guarantee to them their natural, imprescriptible rights.”7 Never has its mandate been more strictly limited: “The right of expressing one’s thoughts and opinions, either through the press or in any other way; the right of peaceably assembling, the free exercise of worship, cannot be interdicted.” Never have citizens been more carefully guarded against the encroachments and excesses of public authority: “The law should protect public and private liberties against the oppression of those who govern … offences committed by the people’s mandatories and agents must never go unpunished. Let free men instantly put to death every individual usurping sovereignty. … Every act against a man outside of the cases and forms which the law determines is arbitrary and tyrannical; whoever is subjected to violence in the execution of this act has the right to repel it by force. … When the government violates the people’s rights insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties.”
To civil rights the generous legislator has added political rights, and multiplied every precaution for maintaining the dependence of rulers on the people. In the first place, rulers are appointed by the people and through a direct choice or nearly direct choice: in primary meetings the people elect deputies, city officers, justices of the peace, and electors of the second degree; the latter, in their turn, elect in the secondary meetings, district and department administrators, civil arbitrators, criminal judges, judges of appeal and the eighty candidates from amongst which the legislative body is to select its executive council. In the second place, all powers of whatever kind are never conferred except for a very limited term: one year for deputies, for electors of the second degree, for civil arbitrators, and for judges of every kind and class; as to municipalities and also department and district administrations, these are one-half renewable annually. Every first of May the fountain-head of authority flows afresh, the people in its primary assemblies, spontaneously formed, manifesting or changing at will its staff of clerks. In the third place, even when installed and at work, the people may, if it pleases, become their collaborator: means are provided for “deliberating” with its deputies. The latter, on incidental questions, those of slight importance, on the ordinary business of the year, may enact laws; but on matters of general, considerable and permanent interest, they are simply to propose the laws, while, especially as regards a declaration of war, the people alone must decide. The people have a suspensive veto and, finally, a definitive veto, which they may exercise when they please. To this end, they may assemble in extraordinary session; one-fifth of the citizens who have the right to vote suffice for their convocation. Once convoked, the vote is determined by a Yes or a No on the act proposed by the legislative body. If, at the expiration of forty days, one-tenth of the primary assemblies in one-half of the departments vote No, there is a suspensive veto. In that event all the primary assemblies of the Republic must be convoked and if the majority still decides in the negative, that is a definitive veto. The same formalities govern a revision of the established constitution. In all this, the plan of the Montagnards is a further advance on that of the Girondists; never was so insignificant a part assigned to governors nor so extensive a part to the governed. The Jacobins profess a respect for the popular initiative which amounts to a scruple.8 According to them the sovereign people should be sovereign de facto, permanently, and without interregnum, allowed to interfere in all serious affairs, and not only possess the right, but the faculty, of imposing its will on its mandatories. All the stronger is the reason for referring to it the institutions now being prepared for it. Hence, after the parade is over, the convocation by the Convention on the 24th of June, also the primary assemblies, and the submission to them of the ratification of the Constitutional bill which it has drawn up.
That the ratification will be given admits of no doubt. Everything has been combined beforehand to secure it, also to secure it as wanted, apparently spontaneously, and almost unanimously. The primary assemblies, indeed, are by no means fully attended; only one-half, or a quarter, or a third of the electors in the cities deposit their votes, while in the rural districts there is only a quarter, and less;9 repelled by their experience with previous convocations they know too well the nature of these assemblies; how the Jacobin faction rules them, how it manages the electoral comedy, with what violence and menaces it reduces all dissidents to voting either as figurants or claqueurs. From four to five millions of electors prefer to hold aloof and stay at home as usual. Nevertheless the organization of most of the assemblies takes place, amounting to some six or seven thousand. This is accounted for by the fact that each canton contains its small group of Jacobins. Next to these come the simple-minded who still believe in official declarations; in their eyes a constitution which guarantees private rights and institutes public liberties must be accepted, no matter what hand may present it to them. And all the more readily because the usurpers offer to resign; in effect, the Convention has just solemnly declared that once the Constitution is adopted, the people shall again be convoked to elect “a new national assembly … a new representative body invested with a later and more immediate trust,”10 which will allow electors, if they are so disposed, to return honest deputies and exclude the knaves who now rule. Thereupon, even in the insurgent departments, the mass of the Girondist population, after a good deal of hesitation, resign themselves at last to voting for it.11 This is done at Lyons and in the department of Calvados only on the 30th of July. A number of constitutionalists or neutrals have done the same thing, some through a horror of civil war and a spirit of conciliation, and others through fear of persecution and of being taxed with royalism;12 one conception more: through docility they may perhaps succeed in depriving the “Mountain” of all pretext for violence.
In this they greatly deceive themselves, and, from the first, they are able to see once more how the Jacobins understand electoral liberty. At first, all the registered,13 and especially the “suspects,” are compelled to vote, and to vote Yes; otherwise, says a Jacobin journal,14 “they themselves will give the just measure of the opinion one ought to entertain of their sentiments, and no longer have reason to complain of suspicions that are found to be so well grounded.” They come accordingly, “very humble and very penitent.” Nevertheless they meet with a rebuff, and a cold shoulder is turned on them; they are consigned to a corner of the room, or near the doors, and are openly insulted. Thus received, it is clear that they will keep quiet and not risk the slightest objection. At Macon, “a few aristocrats muttered to themselves, but not one dared say No.”15 It would, indeed, be extremely imprudent. At Montbrison, “six individuals who decline to vote,” are denounced in the procès-verbal of the Canton, while a deputy in the Convention demands “severe measures” against them. At Nogent-sur-Seine, three administrators, guilty of the same offence, are to be turned out of office;16 a few months later, the offence becomes a capital crime, and people are to be guillotined “for having voted against the Constitution of 1793.”17 Almost all the wrong-thinkers foresaw this danger; hence, in nearly all the primary assemblies, the adoption is unanimous, or nearly unanimous;18 at Rouen, there are but twenty-six adverse votes; at Caen, the centre of the Girondist protestants, fourteen; at Rheims, there are only two; at Troyes, Besançon, Limoges and Paris, there are none at all; in fifteen departments the number of negatives varies from five to one; not one is found in Var. Could there be a more edifying concert of action? The commune of St. Donau, the only one in France, in a remote district of Cotês-du-Nord, dares demand the restoration of the clergy and the son of Capet for king. The rest vote as directed; they have got at the secret of the plebiscite; an honest vote is not wanted; the object is to impose on them a Jacobin manifestation.19
In effect, the Club carries out the job it has undertaken. It beats to arms around the ballot-box; it arrives in force; it alone speaks with authority; it animates officers; it moves all the resolutions and draws up the report of proceedings, while the representatives on mission add to the weight of the local authority that of the central authority. In the Macon assembly “they address the people on each article; this speech is followed by immense applause and redoubled shoutings of Vive la République! Vive la Constitution! Vive le Peuple Français!” Beware, ye lukewarm, who do not join in the chorus! They are forced to vote “in a loud, intelligible voice.” They are required to shout in unison, to sign the grandiloquent address in which the leaders testify their gratitude to the Convention, and give their adhesion to the eminent patriots delegated by the primary assembly to bear its report to Paris.20
The first act of the comedy is over and the second act now begins. It is not without an object that the faction has convoked the delegates of the primary assemblies at Paris. Like the primary assemblies, they are to serve as its instruments for governing; they are to form the props of dictatorship, and the object now is to reduce them to that rôle. Indeed, it is not certain that all will lend themselves to it. For, among the eight thousand commissioners, some, appointed by refractory assemblies, bring a refusal instead of an adhesion;21 others, more numerous, are instructed to present objections and point out omissions:22 it is very certain that the envoys of the Girondist departments will insist on the release or return of their excluded representatives; in fine, a good many delegates who have accepted the Constitution in good faith desire its application as soon as possible, and that the Convention should fulfil its promise of abdication, so as to give way to a new Assembly. It is important to suppress at once all these independent fancies and the formation of an opposition party: to this end, a decree of the Convention “authorises the Committee of General Security to order the arrest of ‘suspect’ commissioners”; it is especially to look after those who, “charged with a special mission, would hold meetings to win over their colleagues, … and engage them in proceedings contrary to their mandate.”23 In the first place, and before they are admitted into Paris, their Jacobinism is to be verified, like a bale in the custom-house, by the special agents of the executive council, and especially by Stanislas Maillard, the famous September judge, and his sixty-eight bearded ruffians, each receiving pay at five francs a day. “On all the roads, within a circuit of fifteen or twenty leagues of the capital,” the delegates are searched; their trunks are opened, and their letters read. At the barriers in Paris they find “inspectors” posted by the Commune, under the pretext of protecting them against prostitutes and swindlers. There, they are taken possession of, and conducted to the mayoralty, where they receive lodging tickets, while a picket of gendarmerie escorts them to their allotted domiciles.24 —Behold them in pens like sheep, each in his numbered stall; there is no fear of the dissidents trying to escape and form a band apart: one of them, who comes to the Convention and asks for a separate hall for himself and his adherents, is snubbed in the most outrageous manner; they denounce him as an intriguer, and accuse him of a desire to defend the traitor Castries; they take his name and credentials, and threaten him with an investigation.25 The unfortunate orator hears the Abbaye alluded to, and evidently thinks himself fortunate to escape sleeping there that night. After this, it is certain that he will not again demand the privilege of speaking, and that his colleagues will remain quiet; and all this is the more likely because the revolutionary tribunal holds permanent sessions under their eyes, because the guillotine is set up and in operation on the “Place de la Révolution”; because a recent act of the Commune enjoins on the police “the most active surveillance” and “constant patrols” by the armed force; because, from the first to the fourth of August, the barriers are closed; because, on the 2d of August, a raid into three of the theatres puts five hundred young men in the lock-up:26 the discontented soon discover, if there are any, that this is not the time or the place to protest.
As to the others, already Jacobin, the faction takes it upon itself to render them still more so. Lost in the immensity of Paris, all these provincialists require moral as well as physical guides; it agrees to exercise toward them “hospitality in all its plenitude, the sweetest of Republican virtues.”27 Hence, ninety-six sans-culottes, selected from among the sections, wait on them at the Mayoralty to serve as their correspondents, and perhaps as their guarantees, and certainly as pilots to give them lodging-tickets, to escort and install them, to indoctrinate them, as formerly with the federates of July, 1792, to prevent their getting into bad company, to introduce them into all the exciting meetings, to see that their ardent patriotism quickly rises to the proper temperature of Parisian Jacobinism.28 The theatres must not offend their eyes or ears with pieces “opposed to the spirit of the Revolution.”29 An order is issued for the performance three times a week of “republican tragedies, such as ‘Brutus,’ ‘William Tell,’ ‘Caius Gracchus,’ and other dramas suitable for the maintenance of the principles of equality and liberty.” Once a week the theatres must be free, when Chéniér’s alexandrines are spouted on the stage to the edification of the delegates, crowded into the boxes at the expense of the State. The following morning, led by flocks into the tribunes of the Convention,30 they there find the same, classic, simple, declamatory, sanguinary tragedy, except that the latter is not feigned but real, and the tirades are in prose instead of in verse. Surrounded by paid vociferators, as on the previous evening by the Romans “of the lamp,” our provincials applaud, cheer and get excited, the same as on the previous evening at the signal given by the claqueurs and other frequenters of the house. Another day, the procureur-syndic Lhullier summons them to attend the “Evéché,” to “fraternise with the authorities of the Paris department”;31 the “Fraternité” section invites them to its daily meetings; the Jacobin club lends them its vast hall in the morning and admits them to its sessions in the evening. Thus taken possession of and kept, as in a diving bell, they breathe in Paris nothing but a Jacobin atmosphere; from one Jacobin den to another, as they are led about in this heated atmosphere, their pulse beats more rapidly. Many of them, who, on their arrival, were “plain, quiet people,”32 but out of their element, subjected to contagion without any antidote, quickly catch the revolutionary fever. The same as at an American revival, under the constant pressure of preaching and singing, of shouts and nervous spasms, the lukewarm and even the indifferent have not long to wait before the delirium puts them in harmony with the converted.
On the 7th of August things come to a head. Led by the department and the municipality, a number of delegates march to the bar of the Convention, and make a confession of Jacobin faith. “Soon,” they exclaim, “will search be made on the banks of the Seine for the foul marsh intended to engulf us. Were the royalists and intriguers to die of spite, we will live and die Montagnards.”33 Applause and embraces. From thence they betake themselves to the Jacobin Club, where one of them proposes an address prepared beforehand: the object of this is to justify the 31st of May, and the 2d of June, “to open the eyes” of provincial France, to declare “war against the federalists.” “Down with the infamous libelers who have calumniated Paris! … We cherish but one sentiment, our souls are all melted into one. … We form here but one vast, terrible mountain, about to vomit forth its fires on the royalists and supporters of tyranny.” Applause and cheers. Robespierre declares that they are there to save the country.34 On the following day, August 8th,35 this address is presented to the Convention and Robespierre has a resolution adopted, ordering it to be sent to the armies, to foreign powers and all the Communes. More applause, more embracings, and more cheers. On the 9th of August,36 by order of the Convention, the delegates meet in the Tuileries garden, where, divided into as many groups as there are departments, they study the programme drawn up by David, in order to familiarise themselves with the parts they are to play in the festival of the following day.
What an odd festival and how well it expresses the spirit of the time! It is a sort of opera played in the streets by the public authorities, with triumphant chariots, altars, censers, an Ark of the Covenant, funeral urns, classic banners and other trappings! Its divinities consist of plaster statues representing Nature, Liberty, the People, and Hercules, all of which are personified abstractions, like those painted on the ceiling of a theatre. In all this there is no spontaneity nor sincerity; the actors, whose consciences tell them that they are only actors, render homage to symbols which they know to be nothing but symbols, while the mechanical procession,37 the invocations, the apostrophes, the postures, the gestures are regulated beforehand, the same as by a ballet-manager. To any truth-loving mind all this must seem like a charade performed by puppets. But the festival is colossal, well calculated to stimulate the imagination and excite pride through physical excitement.38 On this grandiose stage the delegates become quite intoxicated with their part; for, evidently, theirs is the leading part; they represent twenty-six millions of Frenchmen, and the sole object of this ceremony is to glorify the national will of which they are the bearers. On the Place de la Bastille39 where the gigantic effigy of Nature pours forth from its two breasts “the regenerating water,” Hérault, the president, after offering libations and saluting the new goddess, passes the cup to the eighty-seven elders (les doyens) of the eighty-seven departments, each “summoned by sound of drum and trumpet” to step forward and drink in his turn, while cannon belch forth their thunders as if for a monarch. After the eighty-seven have passed the cup around, the artillery roars. The procession then moves on, and the delegates again are assigned the place of honor. The elders, holding an olive-branch in one hand, and a pike in the other, with a streamer on the end of it bearing the name of their department, “bound to each other by a small tricolor ribbon,” surround the Convention as if to convey the idea that the nation maintains and conducts its legal representatives. Behind them march the rest of the eight thousand delegates, likewise holding olive-branches and forming a second distinct body, the largest of all, and on which all eyes are centred. For, in their wake, “there is no longer any distinction between persons and functionaries,” all being confounded together, marching pell-mell, executive council, city officials, judges scattered about haphazard and, by virtue of equality, lost in the crowd. At each station, thanks to their insignia, the delegates form the most conspicuous element. On reaching the last one, that of the Champ de Mars, they alone with the Convention, ascend the steps leading to the altar of the country; on the highest platform stands the eldest of all alongside of the president of the Convention, also standing; thus graded above each other, the seven thousand, who envelope the seven hundred and fifty, form “the veritable Sacred Mountain.” Now, the president, on the highest platform, turns toward the eighty-seven elders; he confides to them the Ark containing the Constitutional Act and the list of those who voted for it; they, on their part, then advance and hand him their pikes, which he gathers together into one bundle as an emblem of national unity and indivisibility. At this, shouts arise from every point of the immense enclosure; salvos of artillery follow again and again; “one would say that heaven and earth answered each other” in honor “of the greatest epoch of humanity.” Certainly, the delegates are beside themselves; the nervous machine, strained to the utmost, vibrates too powerfully; the millennium discloses itself before their eyes. Already, many among them on the Place de la Bastille, had addressed the universe; others, “seized with a prophetic spirit,” promise eternity to the Constitution. They feel themselves “reborn again, along with the human species”; they regard themselves as beings of a new world. History is consummated in them; the future is in their hands; they believe themselves gods on earth. In this critical state, their reason, like a pair of ill-balanced scales, yields to the slightest touch; under the pressure of the manufacturers of enthusiasm, a sudden reaction will carry them away. They consider the Constitution as a panacea, and they are going to consign it, like some dangerous drug, to this coffer which they call an ark. They have just proclaimed the liberty of the people, and are going to perpetuate the dictatorship of the Convention.
This summerset must, of course, seem spontaneous and the hand of the titular rulers remain invisible: the Convention, as usual with usurpers, is to simulate reserve and disinterestedness. Consequently, the following morning, August 11, on the opening of the session, it simply declares that “its mission is fulfilled”:40 on motion of Lacroix, a confederate of Danton’s, it passes a law that a new census of the population and of electors shall be made with as little delay as possible, in order to convoke the primary assemblies at once; it welcomes with transport the delegates who bring to it the Constitutional Ark; the entire Assembly rises in the presence of this sacred receptacle, and allows the delegates to exhort it and instruct it concerning its duties.41 But in the evening, at the Jacobin Club, Robespierre, after a long and vague discourse on public dangers, conspiracies, and traitors, suddenly utters the decisive words: “The most important of my reflections was about to escape me.42 … The proposition made that morning tends to put in the place of the suitable members of the actual Convention the envoys of Pitt and Cobourg.” Words of terrible import in the mouth of a man of principles! They are at once understood by the leaders, great and small, also by the selected fifteen hundred Jacobins then filling the hall. “No! no! shouts the entire club.” The delegates are carried away: “I demand,” exclaims one of them, “that the dissolution of the Convention be postponed until the end of the war.” At last, the precious motion, so long desired and anticipated, is made: the calumnies of the Girondists now fall to the ground; it is demonstrated that the Convention does not desire to perpetuate itself and that it has no ambition; if it remains in power it is because it is kept there; the delegates of the people compel it to stay.
And better still, they are going to mark out its course of action. The next day, the 12th of August, with the zeal of new converts, they spread themselves through the hall in such numbers that the Assembly, no longer able to carry on its deliberations, crowds toward the left and yields the whole of the space on the right that they may occupy and “purify” it.43 All the combustible material in their minds, accumulated during the past fortnight, takes fire and explodes; they are more furious than the most ultra Jacobins; they repeat at the bar of the house the extravagancies of Rose Lacombe, and of the lowest clubs; they even transcend the programme drawn up by the “Mountain.” “The time for deliberation is past,” exclaims their spokesman, “we must act44 … Let the people rouse themselves in a mass … it alone can annihilate its enemies. … We demand that all ‘suspects’ be put in arrest; that they be despatched to the frontiers, followed by the terrible mass of sans-culottes. There, in the front ranks, they will be obliged to fight for that liberty which they have outraged for the past four years, or be immolated on the tyrants’ cannon. … Women, children, old men and the infirm shall be kept as hostages by the women and children of sans-culottes.” Danton seizes the opportunity. With his usual perspicacity he finds the expression which defines the situation: “The deputies of the primary assemblies,” he says, “have just taken amongst us the initiative of terror.” He moreover reduces the absurd notions of the fanatics to a practical bearing: “An uprisal en masse, yes, but with order” by at once calling out the first class of conscripts, all men from eighteen to twenty-five years of age; the arrest of all ‘suspects,’ yes, but not to lead them against the enemy; “they would be more dangerous than useful in our armies; let us shut them up; they will be our hostages.” In fine, he imagines employment for the delegates who are now in the way in Paris and of use in the provinces. Let us make of them “various kinds of representatives charged with animating citizens. … Let them, along with all good citizens and the constituted authorities, take charge of the inventories of grain and arms, and make requisitions for men, and let the Committee of Public Safety direct this sublime movement. … All will swear that, on returning to their firesides, they will give this impulse to their fellow citizens.” Universal applause; the delegates exclaim in one voice, “We swear!” Everybody springs to his feet; the men in the tribunes wave their hats and likewise shout the same oath. The scheme is successful; a semblance of popular will has authorised the staff of officials, the policy, the principles and the very name of Terror. As to the tools employed, they are fit only to be sent back to the places they came from. The delegates, of whose demands and interference the “Mountain” is still in dread, are consigned to their departmental holes, where they serve as agents and missionaries.45 There is no further mention of putting the Constitution into operation; this was simply a bait, a decoy, contrived for fishing in turbid waters: the fishing ended, the Constitution is now placed in a conspicuous place in the hall, in a small monument for which David furnished the design.46 “The Convention, now,” says Danton,“will rise to a sense of its dignity, for it is now invested with the full power of the nation.” In other words, astuteness completes what violence had begun. Through the outrages committed in May and June, the Convention had lost its legitimacy; through the manoeuvres of July and August it recovered the semblance of it. The Montagnards still hold their slave by his leash, but they have restored his prestige so as to make the most of him to their own profit.
With the same blow, and wearing the same mask, they have disarmed their adversaries. On learning the events of May 31 and June 2, a loud cry of indignation arose among Republicans of the cultivated class in this generation, who, educated by the philosophers, sincerely believed in the rights of man;47 sixty-nine department administrations had protested,48 and, in almost all the towns of the west, the south, the east and the centre of France, at Caen, Alençon, Evreux, Rennes, Brest, Lorient, Nantes and Limoges, at Bordeaux, Toulouse, Montpellier, Nismes and Marseilles, at Grenoble, Lyons, Clermont, Lons-le-Saulnier, Besançon, Macon and Dijon,49 the citizens, assembled in their sections, had provoked, or maintained by cheering them on, the acts of their administrators. Rulers and citizens, all declared that, the Convention not being free, its decrees after the 31st of May, no longer had the force of law; that the troops of the departments should march on Paris to deliver that city from its oppressors, and that their substitutes should be called out and assemble at Bourges. In many places words were converted into acts. Already before the end of May, Marseilles and Lyons had taken up arms and checkmated their local Jacobins. After the 2d of June, Normandy, Brittany, Gard, Jura, Toulouse and Bordeaux, had also raised troops. At Marseilles, Bordeaux and Caen the representatives on mission, arrested or under guard, were retained as hostages.50 At Nantes, the National Guard and popular magistrates who, a week before, had so bravely repulsed the great Vendéan army, dared do more than this; they limited the powers of the Convention and condemned all intermeddling; according to them, the sending of representatives on mission was “an usurpation, an attack on national sovereignty”; representatives had been elected “to make and not to execute laws, to prepare a constitution and regulate all public powers, and not to confound these together and exercise them all at once; to protect and maintain intermediary powers which the people have delegated, and not to encroach upon and annihilate them.”51 With still greater boldness, Montpellier enjoined all representatives everywhere to meet at the headquarters of their respective departments, and await the verdict of a national jury. In short, by virtue even of the democratic creed, “nothing was visible amid the ruins of the Convention,” mutilated and degraded, but interloping “attorneys”; “the people’s workmen” are summoned “to return to obedience and do justice to the reproaches addressed to them by their legitimate master”;52 the nation cancelled the pay of its clerks at the capital, withdrew the mandate they had misused, and declared them usurpers if they persisted in not yielding up their borrowed sovereignty “to its inalienable sovereignty.” To this stroke, which strikes deep, the “Mountain” replies by a similar stroke; it also renders homage to principles and falls back on the popular will. Through the sudden manufacture of an ultrademocratic constitution, through a convocation of the primary assemblies, and a ratification of its work by the people in these assemblies, through the summoning of delegates to Paris, through the assent of these converted, fascinated, or constrained delegates, it exonerates and justifies itself, and thus deprives the Girondists of the grievances to which they had given currency, of the axioms they had displayed on their standards, and of the popularity they thought they had acquired.53 Henceforth, the ground their opponents had built on sinks under their feet; the materials collected by them disintegrate in their hands; their league dissolves before it is completed, and the incurable weakness of the party appears in full daylight.
And in the first place, in the departments, as at Paris,54 the party is without roots. For the past three years, all the sensible and orderly people occupied with their own affairs, who are not politicians, nine-tenths of the electors, either through taste or interest, stay away from the polls, and in this large mass the Girondists have no adherents. As they themselves admit,55 this class remains attached to the institutions of 1791, which they have overthrown; if it has any esteem for them, it is as “extremely honest madmen.” Again, this esteem is mingled with aversion: it reproaches them with the violent decrees they have passed in concert with the “Mountain”; with persecutions, confiscations, every species of injustice and cruelty; it always sees the King’s blood on their hands; they, too, are regicides, anti-Catholics, anti-Christians, destructionists and levellers.56 Undoubtedly they are less so than the “Mountain”; hence, when the provincial insurrection breaks out, many Feuillants and even Royalists follow them to the section assemblies and join in their protests. But the majority goes no further, and soon falls back into its accustomed inertia. It is not in harmony with its leaders:57 its latent preferences are opposed to their avowed programme; it does not wholly trust them; it has only a half-way affection for them; its recent sympathies are deadened by old animosities: everywhere, instead of firmness there is only caprice. All this affords no assurance of steadfast loyalty and practical adhesion. The Girondist deputies scattered through the provinces relied upon each department arousing itself at their summons and forming a republican Vendée against the “Mountain”: nowhere do they find anything beyond mild approval and speculative hopes.
There remains to support them the élite of the republican party, the scholars and lovers of literature, who are honest and sincere thinkers, who, worked upon by the current dogmas, have accepted the philosophical catechism literally and seriously. Elected judges, or department, district, and city administrators, commanders and officers of the National Guard, presidents and secretaries of sections, they occupy most of the places conferred by local authority, and hence their almost unanimous protest seems at first to be the voice of all France. In reality, it is only the despairing cry of a group of staff-officers without an army. Chosen under the electoral pressure with which we are familiar, they possess rank, office and titles, but no credit or influence; they are supported only by those whom they really represent, that is to say, those who elected them, a tenth of the population, and forming a sectarian minority. Again, in this minority there are a good many who are lukewarm; with most men the distance is great between conviction and action; the interval is filled up with acquired habits, indolence, fear and egoism. One’s belief in the abstractions of the Contrat-Social is of little account; no one readily bestirs oneself for an abstract end. Uncertainties beset one at the outset; the road one has to follow is found to be perilous and obscure, and one hesitates and postpones; one feels himself a home-body and is afraid of engaging too deeply and of going too far. Having expended one’s breath in words one is less willing to give one’s money; another may open his purse but he may not be disposed to give himself, which is as true of the Girondists as it is of the Feuillants. “At Marseilles, at Bordeaux,” says a deputy,58 “in nearly all the principal towns, the proprietor, slow, indifferent and timid, could not make up his mind to leave home for a moment; it was to mercenaries that he entrusted his cause and his arms.” Only the federates of Mayenne, Ile-et-Vilaine, and especially of Finisterre, were “young men well brought up and well informed about the cause they were going to support.” In Normandy, the Central Committee, unable to do better, has to recruit its soldiers, and especially artillerymen, from the band of Carabots, former Jacobins, a lot of ruffians ready for anything, pillagers and runaways at the first cannon-shot. At Caen, Wimpfen, having ordered the eight battalions of the National Guard to assemble in the court, demands volunteers and finds that only seventeen step forth; on the following day a formal requisition brings out only one hundred and thirty combatants; other towns, except Vire, which furnishes about twenty, refuse their contingent. In short, a marching army cannot be formed, or, if it does march, it halts at the first station, that of Evreux before reaching Vernon, and that of Marseilles at the walls of Avignon.
On the other hand, by virtue of being sincere and logical, those who have rebelled entertain scruples and themselves define the limits of their insurrection. The fugitive deputies at their head would believe themselves guilty of usurpation had they, like the “Mountain” at Paris, constituted themselves at Caen a sovereign assembly:59 according to them, their right and their duty is reduced to giving testimony concerning the 31st of May and the 1st of June, and to exhorting the people and to being eloquent. They are not legally qualified to take executive power; it is for the local magistrates, the élus of the sections, and better still, the department committees, to command in the departments. Lodged as they are in official quarters, they are merely to print formal statements, write letters, and, behaving properly, wait until the sovereign people, their employer, reinstates them. It has been outraged in their persons; it must avenge itself for this outrage; since it approves of its mandatories, it is bound to restore them to office; it being the master of the house, it is bound to have its own way in the house. As to the department committees, it is true that, in the heat of the first excitement, they thought of forming a new Convention at Bourges, either through a muster of substitute deputies, or through the convocation of a national commission of one hundred and seventy members.60 But time is wanting, also the means, to carry out the plan; it remains suspended in the air like vain menace; at the end of a fortnight it vanishes in smoke; the departments succeed in federating only in scattered groups; they desist from the formation of a central government, and thus, through this fact alone, condemn themselves to succumb, one after the other, in detail, and each at home. What is worse, through conscientiousness and patriotism, they prepare their own defeat: they refrain from calling upon the armies and from stripping the frontiers; they do not contest the right of the Convention to provide as it pleases for the national defence. Lyons allows the passage of convoys of cannon-balls which are to be subsequently used in cannonading its defenders.61 The authorities of Puy-de-Dome aid by sending to Vendée the battalion that they had organised against the “Mountain.” Bordeaux is to surrender Chateau-Trompette, its munitions of war and supplies, to the representatives on mission; and, without a word, with exemplary docility, both the Bordelais battalions which guard Blaye suffer themselves to be dislodged by two Jacobin battalions.62 Comprehending the insurrection in this way, defeat is certain beforehand.
The insurgents are thus conscious of their false position; they have a vague sort of feeling that, in recognising the military authority of the Convention, they admit its authority in full; insensibly they glide down this slope, from concession to concession, until they reach complete submission. From the 16th of June, at Lyons,63 “people begin to feel that it will not answer to break with the Convention.” Five weeks later, the authorities of Lyons “solemnly recognise that the Convention is the sole central rallying point of all French citizens and republicans,” and decree that “all acts emanating from it concerning the general interests of the Republic are to be executed.”64 Consequently, at Lyons and in other departments, the administrations convoke the primary assemblies as the Convention has prescribed; consequently, the primary assemblies accept the Constitution which it has proposed; consequently, the delegates of the primary assemblies betake themselves to Paris according to its orders. Henceforth, the Girondist cause is lost; the discharge of a few cannon at Vernon and Avignon disperse the only two columns of soldiery that have set out on their march. In each department, the Jacobins, encouraged by the representatives on mission, raise their heads; everywhere the local club enjoins the local government to submit,65 everywhere the local governments report the acts they pass, make excuses and ask forgiveness. Proportionately to the retractation of one department, the rest, feeling themselves abandoned, are more disposed to retract. On the 9th of July forty-nine departments are enumerated as having given in their adhesion. Several of them declare that the scales have dropped from their eyes, that they approve of the acts of May 31 and June 2, and thus ensure their safety by manifesting their zeal. The administration of Calvados notifies the Breton fédérés that “having accepted the Constitution it can no longer tolerate their presence in Caen”; it sends them home, and secretly makes peace with the “Mountain”; and only informs the deputies, who are its guests, of this proceeding, three days afterwards, by posting on their door the decree that declares them outlaws.
Disguised as soldiers, the latter depart along with the Breton fédérés; on the way, they are able to ascertain the veritable sentiments of this people whom they believe imbued with their rights and capable of taking a political initiative.66 The pretended citizens and republicans they have to do with are, in sum, the former subjects of Louis XVI. and the future subjects of Napoleon I., that is to say, the rulers and the ruled, trained to feel all one way and instinctively subordinate, requiring a government just as sheep require a shepherd and a watch-dog, accepting or submitting to shepherd and dog, provided these look and act the part, even if the shepherd be a butcher and the dog a wolf. To avoid isolation, to rejoin the most numerous herd as soon as possible, to always form masses and bodies and thus follow the impulsion which comes from above, and gather together scattered individuals, such is the instinct of the flock. In the battalion of federates, they begin by saying that, as the Constitution is now accepted and the Convention recognised, it is no longer allowable to protect deputies whom it has declared outlaws: “that would be creating a faction.” Thereupon, the deputies withdraw from the battalion, and, in a little squad by themselves, march along separately. As they are nineteen in number, resolute and well armed, the authorities of the market-towns through which they pass make no opposition by force; it would be offering battle, and that surpasses a functionary’s zeal; moreover, the population is either indifferent toward them or sympathetic. Nevertheless, efforts are made to stop them, sometimes to surround them and take them by surprise; for, a warrant of arrest is out against them, transmitted through the hierarchical channel, and every local magistrate feels bound to do his duty as gendarme. Under this administrative network, the meshes of which they encounter everywhere, the proscribed deputies can do naught else but hide in caves or escape by sea. On reaching Bordeaux, they find other sheep getting ready and preparing their companions for the slaughter-house. Saige, the mayor, preaches conciliation and patience: he declines the aid of four or five thousand young men, three thousand grenadiers of the National Guard, and two or three hundred volunteers who had formed themselves into a club against the Jacobin club; he persuades them to disband; he sends a deputation to Paris to entreat the Convention to overlook “a moment of error” and pardon “brethren that had gone astray.” “They flattered themselves,” says a deputy, an eye-witness,67 “that prompt submission would appease the resentment of tyrants and that these would be, or pretend to be, generous enough to spare a town that had signalised itself more than any other during the Revolution.” Up to the last, they are to entertain the same illusions and manifest the same docility. When Tallien, with his eighteen hundred peasants and brigands, enters Bordeaux, twelve thousand National Guards, equipped, armed and in uniform, receive him wearing oak-leaf crowns; they listen in silence to “his astounding and outrageous discourse”; they suffer him to tear off their crowns, cockades and epaulettes; the battalions allow themselves to be disbanded on the spot; on returning to their quarters they listen with downcast eyes to the proclamation which “orders all inhabitants without distinction to bring their arms within thirty-six hours, under penalty of death, to the glacis of the Chateau-Trompette; before the time elapses thirty thousand guns, swords, pistols and even pocketknives are given up.” Here, as at Paris, on the 20th of June, 10th of August, 2d of September, 3d of May and 2d of June, as at every critical moment of the Revolution in Paris and the provinces, habits of subordination and of amiability, stamped on a people by a provident monarchy and a time-honored civilisation, mollify in man the foresight of danger, the militant instinct, the faculty of self-dependence, of taking his own part, of looking out for his own salvation. Inevitably, when anarchy brings a nation back to the state of nature, the tame animals will be eaten by the savage ones—these are now let loose and immediately they show their natural disposition.
If the men of the “Mountain” had been statesmen, or even sensible men, they would have shown themselves humane, if not for the sake of humanity, at least through calculation; for in this France, so little republican, all the republican strength is not too great for the founding of the Republic, while, through their principles, their culture, their social position and their number, the Girondists form the élite and the force, the flower and the sap of the party. The death-cry of the “Mountain” against the insurgents of Lozére68 and Vendèe is intelligible: they had raised the white flag; they accepted leaders and instructions from Coblentz and London. But neither Bordeaux, Marseilles nor Lyons are royalist, or in alliance with the foreigner. “We, rebels!” write the Lyonnese;69 “Why we see no other than the tricolor flag waving; the white cockade, the symbol of rebellion, has never been raised within our walls. We, royalists! Why, shouts of ‘Long live the Republic’ are heard on all sides, and, spontaneously (in the session of July 2nd) we have all sworn to fall upon whoever should propose a king. … Your representatives tell you that we are antirevolutionists, when we have accepted the Constitution. They tell you that we protect emigrés when we have offered to surrender all those that you might indicate. They tell you that our streets are filled with refractory priests, when we have not even opened the doors of Pierre-en-Cize (prison) to thirty-two priests confined there by the old municipality, without indictment, without any charge whatever against them, solely because they were priests.” Thus, at Lyons, the pretended aristocrats were, then, not only republicans but democrats and radicals, loyal to the established régime, and submissive to the worst of the revolutionary laws, while the same state of things prevailed at Bordeaux, at Marseilles and even at Toulon.70 And better still, they accepted the outrages of May 31 and June 2;71 they stopped contesting the usurpations of Paris; they no longer insisted on the return of the excluded deputies. On the 2nd of August at Bordeaux, and the 30th of July at Lyons, the Committee-Extraordinary of Public Safety resigned; there no longer existed any rival assembly opposed to the Convention. After the 24th of July,72 Lyons solemnly recognised the supreme and central authority, reserving nothing but its municipal franchises. Better still, in striking testimony of political orthodoxy, the Council-General of the department prescribed a civic festival for the 10th of August analogous to that of Paris; already blockaded, the Lyonnese indulged in no hostile manifestation; on the 7th of August, they marched out of their advanced positions to fraternise with the first body of troops sent against them.73 They conceded everything, save on one point, which they could not yield without destruction, namely, the assurance that they should not be given up defenceless to the arbitrary judgment of their local tyrants, to the spoliations, proscriptions, and revenge of their Jacobin rabble. In sum, at Marseilles and Bordeaux, especially at Lyons and Toulon, the sections had revolted only on that account; acting promptly and spontaneously, the people had thrust aside the knife which a few ruffians aimed at their throats; they had not been, and were not now, willing to be “Septemberised,” and that was their sole concern; provided they were not handed over to the butchers bound hand and foot, they would open their gates. On these minimum terms the “Mountain” could terminate the civil war before the end of July; it had only to follow the example of Robert Lindet who, at Evreux the home of Buzot, at Caen the home of Charlotte Corday and central seat of the fugitive Girondists, established permanent obedience through the moderation he had shown and the promises he had kept.74 The measures that had pacified the most compromised province would have brought back the others, and through this policy, Paris, without striking a blow, would have secured the three largest cities in France, the capital of the South-west, that of the South, and the capital of the Centre.
On the contrary, should the Paris faction persist in imposing on them the domination of its Maratists there was a risk of their being thrown into the arms of the enemy. Rather than fall back into the hands of the bandits who had ransomed and decimated them, Toulon, starved out, was about to receive the English within its walls and surrender to them the great arsenal of the South. Not less famished, Bordeaux might be tempted to demand aid from another English fleet; a few marches would bring the Piedmontese army to Lyons; France would then be cut in two, while the plan of stirring up the South against the North was proposed to the allies by the most clear-sighted of their councillors.75 Had this plan been carried out it is probable that the country would have been lost. In any event, there was danger in driving the insurgents to despair: for, between the unbridled dictatorship of their victorious assassins and the musketry of the besieging army, there could be no hesitation by men of any feeling; it was better to be beaten on the ramparts than allow themselves to be bound for the guillotine; brought to a stand under the scaffold, their sole resource was to depend on themselves to the last. Thus, through its unreasonableness, the “Mountain” condemns itself to a number of sieges or blockades which lasted several months,76 to leaving Var and Savoy unprotected, to exhausting the arsenals, to employing against Frenchmen77 men and munitions needed against foreigners, and all this at the moment the foreigner was taking Valenciennes78 and Mayence, when thirty thousand royalists were organising in Lozére, when the great Vendean army was laying siege to Nantes, when each new focus of incendiarism was threatening to connect the flaming frontier with the conflagration in the Catholic countries.79 With a jet of cold water aptly directed, the “Mountain” could extinguish the fires it had kindled in the great republican towns; otherwise, nothing remained but to let them increase at the risk of consuming the whole country, with no other hope than that they might at last die out under a mass of ruins, and with no other object but to rule over captives and the dead.
But this is precisely the Jacobin aim; for, he is not satisfied with less than absolute submission; he must rule at any cost, just as he pleases, no matter how, no matter over what ruins. A despot by instinct and installation, his dogma has consecrated him King; he is King by natural and divine right, in the name of eternal verity, the same as Philip II., enthroned by his religious system and blessed by his Holy Office. Hence he can abandon no jot or tittle of his authority without a sacrifice of principle, nor treat with rebels, unless they surrender at discretion; simply for having risen against legitimate authority, they are traitors and malefactors. And who are greater malefactors than the backsliders who, after three years of patient effort, just as the sect finally reaches its goal, oppose its accession to power!80 At Nismes, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Toulon, and Lyons, not only have they interfered with or arrested the blow which Paris struck, but they have put down the aggressors, closed the club, disarmed the fanatical, and imprisoned the leading Maratists; and worse still, at Lyons and at Toulon, five or six massacreurs, or promoters of massacre, Châlier and Riard, Jassaud, Sylvestre, and Lemaille, brought before the courts, have been condemned and executed after a trial in which all the forms were strictly adhered to. That is the inexpiable crime; for, in this trial, the “Mountain” is involved; the principles of Sylvestre and Châlier are its principles; what it accomplished in Paris, they have attempted in the provinces; if they are guilty, it is also guilty; it cannot tolerate their punishment without assenting to its own punishment. Accordingly, it must proclaim them heroes and martyrs, it must canonise their memory,81 it must avenge their tortures, it must resume and complete their assaults, it must restore their accomplices to their places, it must render them omnipotent, it must fetch each rebel city under the yoke of its populace and malefactors. It matters little whether the Jacobins be a minority, whether at Bordeaux, they have but four out of twenty-eight sections on their side, at Marseilles five out of thirty-two, whether at Lyons they can count up only fifteen hundred devoted adherents.82 Suffrages are not reckoned, but weighed, for legality is founded, not on numbers, but on patriotism, the sovereign people being composed wholly of sans-culottes. So much the worse for towns where the antirevolutionary majority is so great; they are only the more dangerous; under their republican demonstrations is concealed the hostility of old parties and of the “suspect” classes, the Moderates, the Feuillants and Royalists, merchants, men of the legal profession, property-holders, and muscadins.83 These form nests of reptiles and there is nothing to be done but to crush them out.
In effect, whether brought under subjection or not, they are crushed out. Those are declared traitors to the country, not merely members of the departmental committees, but, at Bordeaux, all who have “aided or abetted the Committee of Public Safety”; at Lyons, all administrators, functionaries, military or civil officers who “convoked or tolerated the Rhone-et-Loire congress,” and furthermore, “every individual whose son, clerk, servant, or even day-laborer, may have borne arms, or contributed to the means of resistance,” that is to say, the entire National Guard who took up arms, and nearly all the population which gave its money or voted in the sections.84 By virtue of this decree, all are “outlaws,” or, in other words, subject to the guillotine on the mere declaration of identity, and their property is confiscated. Consequently, at Bordeaux, where not a gun had been fired, the mayor Saige, and principal author of the submission, is at once led to the scaffold without any form of trial,85 while eight hundred and eighty-one others succeed him amidst the solemn silence of a dismayed population.86 Two hundred prominent merchants are arrested in one night; more than fifteen hundred persons are imprisoned; all who are well off are ransomed, even those against whom no political charge could be made; nine millions of fines are levied against “rich egoists.” One of these,87 accused of “indifference and moderatism,” pays twenty thousand francs “not to be harnessed to the car of the Revolution”; another, “convicted of having manifested contempt for his section and for the poor by giving thirty livres per month,” is taxed at one million two hundred thousand livres, while the new authorities, a swindling mayor and twelve knaves composing the Revolutionary Committee, traffic in lives and property.88 At Marseilles, says Danton,89 the object is “to give the commercial aristocracy an important lesson”; we must “show ourselves as terrible to traders as to nobles and priests”; consequently, twelve thousand of them are proscribed and their possessions sold.90 From the first day the guillotine works as fast as possible; nevertheless, it does not work fast enough for Representative Fréron who finds the means for making it work faster. “The military commission we have established in place of the revolutionary Tribunal,” he writes, “works frightfully fast against the conspirators. … They fall like hail under the sword of the law. Fourteen have already paid for their infamous treachery with their heads. Tomorrow, sixteen more are to be guillotined, all chiefs of the legion, notaries, sectionists, members of the popular tribunal; tomorrow, also, three merchants will dance the carmagnole, and they are the ones we are after.”91 Men and things, all must perish; he wishes to demolish the city and proposes to fill up the harbor. Restrained with great difficulty, he contents himself with a destruction of “the haunts” of the aristocracy, two churches, the concert-hall, the houses around it, and twenty-three buildings in which the rebel sections had held their meetings.
At Lyons, to increase the booty, the representatives had taken pains to encourage the manufacturers and merchants with vague promises; these opened their shops and brought their valuable goods, books, and papers out of their hiding-places.92 No time is lost in seizing the plunder; “a list of all property belonging to the rich and to antirevolutionists” is drawn up, which is “confiscated for the benefit of the patriots of the city”; in addition to this a tax of six millions is imposed, payable in eight days, by those whom the confiscation may have still spared;93 it is proclaimed, according to principle, that the surplus of each individual belongs by right to the sans-culottes, and whatever may have been retained beyond the strictly necessary, is a robbery by the individual to the detriment of the nation.94 In conformity with this rule there is an universal swoop, prolonged for ten months, which places the fortunes of a city of one hundred and twenty thousand souls in the hands of its rowdies. Thirty-two revolutionary committees “whose members stick like lice” choose “thousands of keepers devoted to them.”95 In confiscated dwellings and warehouses, they affix seals without an inventory; they drive out women and children “so that there shall be no witnesses”; they keep the keys; they enter and steal when they please, or install themselves for a revel with prostitutes. Meanwhile, the guillotine is kept going, and people are fired at and shot down with grape-shot. The Revolutionary Committee officially avow one thousand six hundred and eighty-two acts of murder committed in five months, while a confederate of Robespierre’s privately declares that there were six thousand.96
Blacksmiths are condemned to death for having shod the Lyonnese cavalry, firemen for having extinguished fires kindled by republican bombshells, a widow for having paid a war-tax during the siege, market women for “having shown disrespect to patriots.” It is an organized “Septembrisade” made legal and lasting; its authors are so well aware of the fact as to use the word itself in their public correspondence.97 At Toulon it is worse; people are slaughtered in heaps, almost haphazard. Notwithstanding that the inhabitants the most compromised, to the number of four thousand, take refuge on board English vessels, the whole city, say the representatives, is guilty. Four hundred workmen in the navy-yard having marched out to meet Fréron, he reminds them that they kept on working during the English occupation of the town, and he has them put to death on the spot. An order is issued to all “good citizens to assemble in the Champ de Mars on penalty of death.” They come there to the number of three thousand; Fréron, on horseback, surrounded by cannon and troops, arrives with about a hundred Maratists, the former accomplices of Lemaille, Sylvestre, and other well-known assassins, who form a body of local auxiliaries and counsellors; he tells them to select out of the crowd at pleasure according to their grudge, fancy, or caprice; all who are designated are ranged along a wall and shot.98 The next morning, and on the following days, the operation is renewed: Fréron writes on the 16th of Nivose that “eight hundred Toulonese have already been shot.” … “A volley of musketry,” says he, in another letter, and after that, volley after volley, until “the traitors are all gone.” Then, for three months after this, the guillotine despatches eighteen hundred persons; eleven young women have to mount the scaffold together, in honor of a republican festival; an old woman of ninety-four is borne to it in an armchair; a population of twenty-eight thousand falls down to six thousand or seven thousand.
All this is not enough; the two cities that dared maintain a siege must disappear from the French soil. The Convention decrees that “the city of Lyons shall be destroyed; every house occupied by a rich man shall be demolished; only the dwellings of the poor shall remain, with edifices specially devoted to industry, and monuments consecrated to humanity and public education.”99 The same at Toulon: “the houses within the town shall be demolished; only the buildings that are essential for army and navy purposes, for stores and munitions, shall be preserved.”100 Consequently, a requisition is made in Var and the neighboring departments for twelve thousand masons to level Toulon to the ground. At Lyons, fourteen thousand laborers pull down the Chateau Pierre-Encize; also the superb houses on Place Bellecour, those of the Quai St. Clair, those of the Rues de Flandre and de Bourgneuf, and many others; the cost of all this amounts to four hundred thousand livres per decade; in six months the Republic expends fifteen millions in destroying property valued at three or four hundred millions, belonging to the Republic.101 Since the Mongols of the fifth and thirteenth centuries, no such vast and irrational waste had been seen—such frenzy against the most profitable fruits of industry and human civilisation. Again, one can understand how the Mongols, who were nomads, desired to convert the soil into one vast steppe. But, to demolish a town whose arsenal and harbor is maintained by it, to destroy the leaders of manufacturing interests and their dwellings in a city where its workmen and factories are preserved, to keep up a fountain and stop the stream which flows from it, or the stream without the fountain, is so absurd that the idea could only enter the head of a Jacobin. His contracted mind is so worked up that he is no longer aware of contradictions; the ferocious stupidity of the barbarian and the fixed idea of the inquisitor meet on common ground; the earth is not big enough for any but himself and the orthodox of his species. Employing absurd, inflated and sinister terms he decrees the extermination of heretics: not only shall their monuments, dwellings and persons be destroyed, but every vestige of them shall be eradicated and their names lost to the memory of man. “The name of Toulon shall be abolished; that commune shall henceforth bear the name of Port-la-Montagne. … The name of Lyons shall be stricken off the list of towns belonging to the Republic; the remaining collection of houses shall henceforth bear the name of Ville-Affranchie. A column shall be erected on the ruins of Lyons bearing this inscription: ‘Lyons made war on Liberty! Lyons is no more!’ ”102
In all this there is no idea of sparing the chiefs of the insurrection or of the party, either deputies or ministers; on the contrary, the object is to complete the subjection of the Convention, to stifle the murmurs of the “Right,” to impose silence on Ducos, Fonfrède, Vernier, and Couhey, who still speak and protest.103 Hence the decrees of arrest or death, launched weekly from the top of the “Mountain,” fall on the majority like guns fired into a crowd. Decrees of accusation follow: on the 15th of June, against Duchatel, on the 17th against Barbaroux, on the 23d against Brissot, on the 8th of July against Devérité and Condorcet, on the 14th against Duperret and Fauchet, on the 30th against Duprat Jr., Vallée, and Mainvielle, on the 2d of August against Roulhier, Brunel, and Carra; Carra, Duperret, and Fauchet, present during the session, are seized on the spot, which is plain physical warning: none is more efficacious, to checkmate the unruly. Decrees are passed on the 18th of July accusing Coustard, on the 28th of July against Gensonné, Lasource, Vergniaud, Mollevault, Gardien, Grangeneuve, Fauchet, Boileau, Valazé, Cussy, and Meillan, each being aware that the tribunal before which he must appear is the antechamber to the guillotine. Decrees of condemnation are passed on the 12th of July against Birotteau, on the 28th of July against Buzot, Barbaroux, Gorsas, Lanjuniais, Salles, Louvet, Bergoeing, Pétion, Guadet, Chasset, Chambon, Lidon, Valady, Fermon, Kervelégen, Larivière, Rabaut St. Etienne, and Lesage; pronounced outlaws and traitors, they are to be led to the scaffold without trial as soon as they can be got hold of. Finally, on the 3d of October, a great haul of the net in the Assembly itself sweeps off the benches all the deputies that still seem capable of any independence: the first thing is to close the doors of the hall, which is done by Amar, reporter of the Committee of General Security;104 then, after a declamatory and calumnious speech, which lasts two hours, he reads off names on two lists of proscriptions: forty-five deputies, more or less prominent among the Girondists, are to be at once summoned before the revolutionary Tribunal; seventy-three others, who have signed secret protests against the 31st of May and 2d of June, are to be put in jail. No debate, the majority not being allowed even to express an opinion. Some of the proscribed attempt to exculpate themselves, but they are not allowed to be heard; none but the Montagnards have the floor, and they do no more than add to the lists, each according to personal enmity; Levasseur has Vigée put down, and Duroi adds the name of Richon. On their names being called, all the poor creatures who happen to be inscribed, quietly advance and “huddle together within the bar of the house, like lambs destined to slaughter,” and here they are separated into two flocks; on the one hand, the seventy-three, and on the other, the ten or twelve who, with the Girondists already kept under lock and key, are to furnish the sacramental and popular number, the twenty-two traitors whose punishment is a requirement of the Jacobin imagination;105 on the left, the batch for the prison; on the right, the batch for the guillotine.
To those who might be tempted to imitate them or defend them this is a sufficient lesson. Subject to the hootings and foul insults of the hags posted along the street, the seventy-three106 are conducted to the prisoners’ room in the mayoralty, already full; they pass the night standing on benches, scarcely able to breathe. The next day they are crammed into the prison for assassins and robbers, “la Force,” on the sixth story, under the roof; in this narrow garret their beds touch each other, while two of the deputies are obliged to sleep on the floor for lack of room. Under the skylights, which serve for windows, and at the foot of the staircase are two pig-pens; at the end of the apartment are the privies, and in one corner a night-tub, which completes the poisoning of the atmosphere already vitiated by this crowded mass of human beings; the beds consist of sacks of straw swarming with vermin; they are compelled to endure the discipline,107 rations, and mess of convicts. And they are lucky to escape at this rate: for Amar takes advantage of their silent deportment to tax them with conspiracy; other Montagnards likewise want to arraign them at the revolutionary Tribunal: at all events, it is agreed that the Committee of General Security shall examine their records and maintain the right of designating new culprits amongst them. For ten months they thus remain under the knife, in daily expectation of joining the twenty-two on the Place de la Révolution. With respect to the latter, the object is not to try them but to kill them, and the semblance of a trial is simply judicial assassination; the bill of indictment against them consists of club gossip; they are accused of having desired the restoration of the monarchy, of being in correspondence with Pitt and Cobourg;108 of having excited Vendée to insurrection. The betrayal of Dumouriez is imputed to them, also the murder of Lepelletier, and the assassination of Marat; while pretended witnesses, selected from amongst their personal enemies, come and repeat, like a theme agreed upon, the same ill-contrived fable: nothing but vague allegations and manifest falsehoods, not one definite fact, not one convincing document; the lack of proof is such that the trial has to be stopped as soon as possible. “You brave b—— forming the court,” writes Hébert, “don’t trifle away your time. Why so much ceremony in shortening the days of wretches whom the people have already condemned?” Care is especially taken not to let them have a chance to speak. The eloquence of Vergniaud and logic of Guadet might turn the tables at the last moment. Consequently, a prompt decree authorises the tribunal to stop proceedings as soon as the jury becomes sufficiently enlightened, which is the case after the seventh session of the court, the record of death suddenly greeting the accused, who are not allowed to defend themselves. One of them, Valazé, stabs himself in open court, and the next day the national head-chopper strikes off the remaining twenty heads in thirty-eight minutes. Still more expeditious are the proceedings against the accused who avoid a trial. Gorsas, seized in Paris on the 8th of October, is guillotined the same day. Birotteau, seized at Bordeaux, on the 24th of October, mounts the scaffold within twenty-four hours. The others, tracked like wolves, wandering in disguise from one hiding-place to another, and most of them arrested in turn, have only the choice of several kinds of death. Cambon is killed in defending himself. Lidon, after having defended himself, blows out his brains. Condorcet takes poison in the guard-room of Bourg-la-Reine. Roland kills himself with his sword on the highway. Clavière stabs himself in prison. Rebecqui is found drowned in the harbor of Marseilles, and Pétion and Buzot half eaten by wolves on the moor of St. Emilion. Valady is executed at Perigueux, Duchézeau at Rochefort, Grangeneuve, Guadet, Salles, and Barbaroux at Bordeaux, Coustard, Cussy, Rabaut St. Etienne, Bernard, Mazuyer, and Lebrun at Paris. Even those who resigned in January, 1793, Kersaint and Manuel, atone with their lives for the crime of having sided with the “Right” and, of course, Madame Roland, who pays as the leader of the party, is one of the first to be guillotined.109 Of the one hundred and eighty Girondists who led the Convention, one hundred and forty have perished or are in prison, or fled under sentence of death. After such a curtailment and such an example the remaining deputies cannot be otherwise than docile;110 neither in the central nor in the local government will the “Mountain” encounter resistance; its despotism is practically established, and all that remains is to proclaim this in legal form.
After the 2d of August, on motion of Bazire, the Convention decrees “that France is in revolution until its independence is recognised,” which means111 that the period of hypocritical phrases has come to an end, that the Constitution was merely a signboard for a fair, that the charlatans who had made use of it no longer need it, that it is to be put away in the receptacle of other advertising lumber, that individual, local, and parliamentary liberties are abolished, that the government is arbitrary and absolute, that no institution, law, dogma, or precedent affords any guarantee for it against the rights of the people, that property and lives are wholly at its mercy, that there are no longer any rights of man. Six weeks later, when, through the protest of the forty-five and the arrest of the seventy-three, obedience to the Convention is assured, all this is boldly and officially announced in the tribune. “Under the present circumstances of the Republic,” says Saint-Just, “the Constitution cannot be established; it would be self-immolated; it would become the guarantee of attacks on liberty, because it would lack the violence which is necessary to repress these.” To govern “according to maxims of natural peace and justice” is no longer an object; “these maxims will do among the friends of liberty”; but, between patriots and the malevolent, they are not applicable. The latter are not of the country, “they do not belong to its sovereignty,” they are outside the law, excluded from the social pact, rebellious slaves, fit for chastisement or constraint, and, amongst these, must be placed “the indifferents.” “You are to punish whoever is passive in the Republic and does nothing for it”;112 for his inertia is a betrayal and ranks him among public enemies. Now, between the people and its enemies, there is nothing in common but the sword; steel must control those who cannot be ruled “by justice”; the monarchical and the neutral majority must be “kept down”; the Republic will be founded only when the sans-culottes, the sole representatives of the nation, the only citizens, “shall rule by right of conquest.”113 That is intelligible, and more besides. The régime of which Saint-Just presents the plan, is that by which every oligarchy of invaders installs and maintains itself over a subjugated nation. Through this régime, in Greece, ten thousand Spartans, after the Dorian invasion, mastered three hundred thousand helots and périocques; through this régime, in England, sixty thousand Normans, after the battle of Hastings, mastered two million Saxons; through this régime in Ireland, since the battle of the Boyne, two hundred thousand English Protestants have mastered a million of Catholic Irish; through this régime, the three hundred thousand Jacobins of France will master the seven or eight millions of Girondists, Feuillants, Royalists, or Indifferents.
It is a very simple one and consists in maintaining the subject population in a state of extreme helplessness and of extreme terror. To this end, it is disarmed;114 it is kept under surveillance; all action in common is prohibited; its eyes are always directed to the up-lifted axe and to the prison doors always open; it is ruined and decimated. For the past six months all these rigors are decreed and applied, disarmament of “suspects,” taxes on the rich, the maximum against traders, requisitions on land-owners, wholesale arrests, rapid executions of sentences, arbitrary penalties of death, and ostentatious, multiplied tortures. For the past six months, all sorts of executive instruments are manufactured and put in operation—the Committee of Public Safety, the Committee of General Security, ambulating proconsuls with full power, local committees authorised to tax and imprison at will, a revolutionary army, a revolutionary tribunal. But, for lack of internal harmony and of central impulsion, the machine only half works, the power not being sufficient and its action not sufficiently sweeping and universal. “You are too remote from assaults on you,” says Saint-Just”;115 “it is essential that the sword of the law should everywhere be rapidly brandished and your arm be everywhere present to arrest crime. … The ministers confess that, beyond their first and second subordinates, they find nothing but inertia and indifference.” “The like apathy prevails among all the government agents,” says Billaud-Varennes;116 “the secondary authorities forming the props of the Revolution serve only to impede it.” Decrees, transmitted through administrative channels, arrive slowly and are indolently applied. “You are wanting in that coactive force which is the principle of being, of action, of execution. … Every good government should possess a centre of volition and levers connected with it. … Every emanation of public force should be exclusively derived from its source.” “In ordinary governments,” says Couthon, finally,117 “the right of electing belongs to the people; you cannot take it away from them. In extraordinary governments all impulsion must proceed from the centrality; it is from the Convention that elections must issue. … You would injure the people by confiding the election of public officers to them, because you would expose them to electing men that would betray them.” The result is that the constitutional maxims of 1789 give way to contrary maxims; instead of subjecting the government to the people, the people is made subject to the government. The hierarchy of the ancient régime is reestablished under revolutionary terms, and henceforth all powers, much more formidable than those of the ancient régime, cease to be delegated from below upward that they may be delegated from above downward.
At the summit, a committee of twelve members, similar to the former royal council, exercises collective royalty; nominally, authority is divided amongst the twelve; really, it is concentrated in a few hands. Several occupy only a subaltern position, and amongst these, Barère, who, official secretary and mouthpiece, is always ready to make a speech and indite an editorial; others, with special functions, Jean Bon St. André, Lindet, and above all, Prieur de la Côte d’Or and Carnot, confine themselves each to his particular department, navy, war, supplies, with blank signatures, for which they give in return their signatures to the political leaders; the latter, called “the statesmen,” Robespierre, Couthon, Saint-Just, Collot d’Herbois, Billaud-Varennes, are the real monarchs, and they direct things generally. It is true that their mandate has to be renewed monthly; but this is a certainty, for, in the present state of the Convention, its vote, required beforehand, becomes an almost vain formality. More submissive than the parliament of Louis XIV., the Convention adopts, without discussion, the decrees which the Committee of Public Safety present to it ready made; it is no more than a registry-office, and scarcely that, for it has relinquished its right of appointing its own committees, that office being assigned to the Committee of Public Safety; it votes in a lump all lists of names which the Committee send in. Naturally, none but the creatures of the latter and the faithful are inscribed;118 thus, the whole legislative and parliamentary power belongs to it. As to executive and administrative power, the ministers have become mere clerks of the Committee of Public Safety; “they come every day at specified hours to receive its orders and acts”;119 they submit to it “the list with explanations, of all the agents” sent into the departments and abroad; they refer to it every minute detail; they are its scribes, merely its puppets, so insignificant that they finally lose their title, and for the “Commissioner on External Relations” a former school-master is taken, an inept clubbist, the pander of a billiard-room and liquor-saloon, scarcely able to read the documents brought to him to sign in the café where he passes his days.120 Thus is the second power in the State converted by the Committee into a squad of domestics, while the foremost one is converted into an auditory of claqueurs.
To maintain them true to their obligations it has two hands. One, the right, which seizes people unawares by the collar, is the Committee of General Security, composed of twelve extreme, Montagnards, such as Panis, Vadier, Lebas, Geoffroy, David, Amar, Lavicomterie, Lebon, and Ruhl, all nominated, that is to say, appointed by it, being its confederates and subalterns. They are its lieutenants of police, and once a week they come and take part in its labors, as formerly the D’Argengons, the Sartines, and the Lenoirs assisted the Comptroller-general. A man whom the conventicle deems a “suspect,” suddenly arrested, no matter who, whether representative, minister, or general, finds himself the next morning under bolt and bar in one of the ten new Bastilles. There, the other hand seizes him by the throat; this is the revolutionary Tribunal, an exceptional court like the extraordinary commissions of the ancient régime, only far more terrible. Aided by its police gang, the Committee of Public Safety itself selects the sixteen judges and sixty jurymen121 from among the most servile, the most furious, or the most brutal of the fanatics:122 Fouquier-Tinville, Hermann, Dumas, Payan, Coffinhal, Fleuriot-Lescot, and, lower down on the scale, apostate priests, renegade nobles, disappointed artists, infatuated studio-apprentices, journeymen scarcely able to write their names, shoe-makers, joiners, carpenters, tailors, barbers, former lackeys, an idiot like Ganney, a deaf man like Leroy-Dix-Aout, whose names and professions indicate all that is necessary to be told; these men are licensed and paid murderers; the jurymen themselves are allowed eighteen francs a day, so that they may attend to their business more leisurely. This business consists in condemning without proof, without any pleadings, and scarcely any examination, in a hurry, in batches, whoever the Committee of Public Safety might send to them, even the most confirmed Montagnards: Danton, who contrived the tribunal, will soon find all this out. Through these two government engines the Committee of Public Safety keeps every head under the cleaver and each head, to avoid being struck off, bows down,123 in the provinces as well as at Paris.
Owing to the mutilation of the local hierarchy, in the provinces as well as at Paris, and the introduction of new authorities, the omnipotent will of the Committee becomes everywhere present. Directly or indirectly, “for all government measures or measures of public safety, all that relates to persons and the general and internal police,” “all constituted bodies and all public functionaries, are placed under its inspection,”124 I leave it to be supposed whether they expose themselves to its guillotine. To suppress in advance any tendency to administrative inertia, it has had withdrawn from the too powerful, too much respected, department governments, “too inclined to federalism,” their departmental preëminence and their “political influence”;125 it reduces these to the levying of taxes and the supervision of roads and canals; it winnows them out through its agents; it even winnows out the governments of municipalities and districts. To suppress beforehand all probability of popular opposition, it has had the sessions of the sections reduced to two per week; it installs in them for about forty sous a day a majority of sans-culottes; it directs the suspension “until further orders” of the municipal elections.126 Finally, to have full control on the spot, it appoints its own men, first, the commissioners and the representatives on missions, a sort of temporary corps of directors sent into each department with unlimited powers;127 next, a body of national agents, a sort of permanent body of subdelegates, through whom in each district and municipality it replaces the procureurs-syndics.128 To this army of functionaries is added in each town, bourg, or large village, a revolutionary committee, paid three francs a day per member, charged with the application of its decrees, and required to make reports thereon. Never before was such a vast and closely-woven network cast from above to envelope and keep captive twenty-six millions of men. Such is the real constitution which the Jacobins substitute for the constitution they have prepared for show. In the arsenal of the monarchy which they destroyed they took the most despotic institutions—centralisation, Royal Council, lieutenants of police, special tribunals, intendants, and subdelegates; they disinterred the antique Roman law of lèse-majesty, refurbished old blades which civilisation had dulled, aiming them at every throat and now wielded at random against liberties, property and lives. It is called the “revolutionary government”; according to official statements it is to last until peace is secured; in the minds of genuine Jacobins it is to last until, as declared in its formula, all Frenchmen are “regenerated.”
[1. ]The words of Marat.
[2. ]After the Constitution is completed, said Legendre, in the Jacobin club, we will make the federalists dance.
[3. ]Archives Nationales, F. I. C., 56. (Circular of Gohier, Minister of Justice, to the French people, July 6, 1793). “Certain persons are disposed to pervert the events of May 31 and June 2, by atrocious exaggerations and the grossest fables, and prevent the fortunate results they present from being seen. They are absolutely determined to see nothing but violations of the liberty of the people’s representatives in a step which was specially designed to hasten on the Constitutional Act on which the liberty of all is established. Of what consequence is it who are the authors of the Constitution presented to you? What does it matter whether it issues from a mountain amidst lightnings and the rolling thunder, like the Tables of the Law given to the Hebrews, or whether it comes, like the laws given to the early Romans, inspired in the tranquil asylum of a divinity jealous of his religious surroundings? Is this Constitution worthy of a free people? That is the only question which citizens who wear the livery of no party need examine!”
[4. ]Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 177. (Report by Hérault Séchelles, June 10, 1793). Ibid, xxxi., 400. (Text of the Constitution submitted to discussion June 11th, and passed June 24th.)
[5. ]De Sybel, II., 331. (According to the fac-simile published in the Quarterly Review). “Hérault says that he and four of his colleagues are ordered to furnish the draft of a constitution by Monday.”
[6. ]Report by Hérault Séchelles. (Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 178.)
[7. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxi., 400. (Articles of the Declaration of Rights, 1, 7, 9, 11, 27, 31, 35.)
[8. ]Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 178. Report by Hérault Séchelles. “Each of us had the same desire, that of attaining to the greatest democratic result. The sovereignty of the people and the dignity of man were constantly in our minds. … A secret sentiment tells us that our work is perhaps the most popular that ever existed.”
[9. ]Archives Nationales, B. II., 23. (Table of votes by the commission appointed to collect the procès-verbaux of the adoption of the Constitution, August 20, 1793.) Number of primary assemblies sending in their procès-verbaux, 6,589 (516 cantons have not yet sent theirs in). Number of voters on call, 1,795,908; Yes, 1,784,377; Noes, 11,531. Number of primary assemblies voting Yes unanimously, not on call of names, 297. At Paris 40,990 voters, at Troyes 2,491, at Limoges, 2,137. Cf. for details and motives of abstention, Sauzay iv., pp. 157–161. Albert Babeau, ii., pp. 83 and 84. Moniteur, xvii., 375 (speech by the representative Des Wars).
[10. ]Ibid., Moniteur, xvii., 20. (Report by Barrère on the convocation of the primary assemblies, June 27, 1793.) Ibid., 102 (Report of Cambon, July 11). “It is now a fortnight since you demanded a Constitution. Very well, here it is. … Respect for persons and property is amply secured in it. Yes, more definitely than in any other constitution. Does it provide for its own revision? Yes, for in six weeks, we can convoke the primary assemblies and express our desire for the reform that may appear necessary. Will the popular wish be respected? Yes, the people then will make definitive laws.”
[11. ]Guillon de Montléon, i., 282, 309.—Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 356, 357. (Journal de Lyon Nos. 223 and 224.) “The acceptance of the Constitution was neither entire nor very sincere; people took credit to themselves for accepting a vicious and sketchy production.” Meillan, “Mémoires,” 120. (In July he leaves Caen for Quimper). “Although we were assured that we should pass only through Maratist towns, we had the satisfaction of finding nearly all the inhabitants regarding Marat with horror. They had indeed accepted the Constitution offered by the Committee of Public Safety, but solely to end the matter and on conditions which would speak well for them; for, everywhere the renewal of the Convention was exacted and the punishment of assaults made on it.” This desire, and others analogous to it, are given in the procès-verbaux of many of the primary assemblies (Archives Nationales, B.II., 23); for example, in those of the thirteen cantons of Ain. A demand is made, furthermore, for the reintegration of the Twenty-two, the abolition of the revolutionary Tribunal, the suppression of absolute proconsulates, the organization of a department guard for securing the future of the Convention, the discharge of the revolutionary army, etc.
[12. ]Moniteur, xvii., 20. Report of Barère: “The Constitutional Act is going to draw the line between republicans and royalists.”
[13. ]Archives Nationales, F.I.C., 54. (Circular of the Minister, Gohier, July 6, 1793.) “It is today that, summoned to the altar of the country, those who desire the Republic will be known by name, and those who do not desire it, whether they speak or keep silent, will be equally known.”
[14. ]Sauzay, iv., 160, 161. (Article by the Vidette.) Consequently, “all the unconstitutionalist nobles and priests considered it a duty to go to the assemblies and joyfully accept a constitution which guaranteed liberty and property to everybody.”
[15. ]“Journal des Débats de la Société des Jacobins,” No. for July 27, 1793 (correspondence, No. 122).
[16. ]Moniteur, xvii., 163, 156.
[17. ]Sauzay, iv., 158: “The motives for judgments were thus stated by judges themselves.”
[18. ]Moniteur, xvii., 40, 48, 72, 140, 175, 194, 263. (Cf. Speeches by Chaumette, July 14, and Report by Gossoin, August 9).—Archives Nationales, B.II., 23. Negative votes in Ardèche 5, in Aude 5, Moselle 5, Saone-et-Loire 5, Côte d’Or 4, Creuse 4, Haut-Rhin 4, Gers 4, Haute-Garonne 3, Aube 2, Bouches-du-Rhone 2, Cantal 2, Basses-Alpes 1, Haute-Marne 1, Haute-Vienne 1, Var 0, Seine 0. The details and circumstances of voting are curious. In the department of Aube, at Troyes, the second section in agreement with the third, excluded “suspects” from the vote. At Paris, the section “Gardes Francaise, Fourcroy president, announces 1,714 voters, of which 1,678 are citizens and 36 citoyennes. In the “Mont Blanc” section, the secretary signs as follows: Trone segretaire general de la semblé.
[19. ]Moniteur, xvii., 375. (Session of the Convention, August 11, 1793). Chabot: “I demand a law requiring every man who does not appear at a primary meeting to give good reason for his absence; also, that any man who has not favored the Constitution, be declared ineligible to all constitutional franchises.” Ibid., 50. (Meeting of the Commune, July 4th). Leonard Bourdon demands, in the name of his section, the Gravilliers, a register on which to inscribe those who accept the Constitution, “in order that those who do not vote for it may be known.”—Sauzay, iv., 159. M. Boillon, of Belleherbe, is arrested “for being present at the primary assembly of the canton of Vaucluse, and when called upon to accept the Constitutional Act, leaving without voting.”
[20. ]Moniteur, xvii., 11. (Instructions on the mode of accepting the Constitution).—Sauzay iv., 158.—Moniteur, xvii., 302. (Speech by Garat, August 2.) “I have dispatched commissioners to push the Constitutional Act through the primary assemblies.”—Durand-Maillane. 150. “The envoys of the departments were taken from the sans-culotterie then in fashion, because they ruled in the Convention.”
[21. ]Sauzay, iv., 158.
[22. ]Moniteur, xvii., 363. (Report of Gossuin to the Convention, August 9). “There are primary assemblies which have extended their deliberations beyond the acceptance of the Constitution. This acceptance being almost unanimous, all other objects form matter for petitions to be intrusted to competent committees.”—Ibid., 333. (Speech of Delacroix). “The antirevolutionary delegates sent by the conspirators we had in the Convention must be punished.” (August 6.)—Durand-Maillane.
[23. ]Moniteur, ibid., 333. Speech and motions of Bazire, August 8.—xix., 116. Report of Vouland, January 2, 1794. The pay of Maillard and his acolytes amounted to twenty-two thousand livres.—xviii., 324. (Session of August 5. Speeches of Gossuin, Thibault, and Lacroix.)—Ibid., xxiv., 90. (Session of Germinal 8, year III.) Speech by Bourdon de l’Oise: “We have been obliged to pick men out of the envoys in order to find those disposed for rigorous measures.”
[24. ]Moniteur, xvii., 330. Ordinance of the Commune, August 6.
[25. ]Moniteur, xvii., 332. (Session of the Convention, August 6.);t4—Cf. the “Diurnal” of Beaulieu, August 6. Beaulieu mentions several deputations and motions of the same order, and states the alarm of the “Mountain.”—Durand-Maillane, “Mémoires,” 151. “Among the envoys from the departments were sensible men who, far from approving of all the steps taken by their brethren, entertained and manifested very contrary sentiments. These were molested and imprisoned.”—“Archives des Affaires Etrangères,” vol. 1411. (Report of the agents of August 10 and 11.) The department commissioners … seemed to us in the best disposition. There are some intriguers among them, however; we are following up some of them, and striving by fraternising with them to prevent them from being seduced or led away by the perfidious suggestions of certain scoundrels, the friends of federalism, amongst them. … A few patriotic commissioners have already denounced several of their brethren accused of loving royalty and federalism.”
[26. ]Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 408.
[27. ]Moniteur, xvii., 330. (Act passed by the Commune, August 6.)
[28. ]Archives des Affaires Etrangères, vol. 1411. (Reports of agents, Aug. 10 and 11). “Citizens are, today, eager to see who shall have a commissioner at his table; who shall treat him the best. … The Commissioners of the primary assemblies come and fraternise with them in the Jacobin club. They adopt their maxims, and are carried away by the energy of the good and true republican sans-culottes in the clubs.”
[29. ]Moniteur, xvii., 307, 308. (Report of Couthon to the Convention, Aug. 2.) “You would wound, you would outrage these Republicans, were you to allow the performance before them of an infinity of pieces filled with insulting allusions to liberty.”
[30. ]Ibid., 124. (Session of Aug. 5.)
[31. ]Ibid., 314; (Letter of Lhullier, Aug. 4.)—322, Session of the Commune, Aug. 4th; 332, (Session of the Convention, Aug. 6).—Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 409. (Meeting of the Jacobin Club, Aug. 5th).
[32. ]Buchez et Roux, 411. (Article in the Journal de la Montagne.)
[33. ]Moniteur, xvii., 348.
[34. ]Buchez et Roux, xviii., 415 and following pages.
[35. ]Moniteur, xvii., 342.
[36. ]Ibid., 352.—Cf. Beaulieu, “Diurnal,” Aug. 9.
[37. ]On the mechanical character of the festivals of the Revolution read the programme of “The civic fête in honor of Valor and Morals,” ordered by Fouché at Nevers, on the 1st day of the 1st decade of the 2nd month of the year II, (De Martel, “Etude sur Fouché,” 202); also, the programme of the “Fête de l’Etre Supréme,” at Sceaux, organized by the patriot Palloy, Presidial 20, year II. (Dauban, “Paris en 1794,” p. 187).
[38. ]It cost one million two hundred thousand francs, besides the travelling expenses of eight thousand delegates.
[39. ]Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 439, and following pages. Procès-verbal of the National Festival of the 10th of August.—Dauban “La Demagogie en 1791.” (Extract from the Republican Ritual.)
[40. ]Moniteur, xvii., 366. (Session of Aug. 11. Speech by Lacroix and decree in conformity therewith.)
[41. ]Ibid., 374. “Remember that you are accountable to the nation and the universe for this sacred Ark. Remember that it is your duty to die rather than suffer a sacrilegious hand. …”
[42. ]Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 458. It is evident from the context of the speech that Robespierre and the Jacobins were desirous of maintaining the Convention because they foresaw Girondist elections.
[43. ]Moniteur, xvii., 382. (Session of Aug. 12. Speech by Lacroix).
[44. ]Ibid., 387.—Cf. Ibid., 410, session of August 16. The delegates return there to insist on a levy, en masse, the levy of the first class not appearing sufficient to them.—Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 464. Delegate Royer, Curé of Chalons-aur-Saone, demands that aristocrats “chained together in sixes” be put in the front rank in battle “to avoid the risks of sauve qui peut.”
[45. ]Decrees of August 14 and 16.
[46. ]Moniteur, xvii., 375.
[47. ]Riouffe, “Mémoires,” 19: “An entire generation, the real disciples of Jean-Jacques, Voltaire, and Diderot, could be, and was annihilated, to a large extent under the pretext of federalism.”
[48. ]Moniteur, xvii., 102. (Speech by Cambon, July 11, 1793). Archives Nationales, AF. II., 46. (Speech of General Wimpfen to the “Société des amis de la Liberté et de l’Egalité,” in session at Cherbourg, June 25, 1793). “Sixty-four departments have already revoked the powers conferred on their representatives.” Meillan, “Mémoires,” 72: “The archives of Bordeaux once contained the acts passed by seventy-two departments, all of which adhered to measures nearly the same as those indicated in our document.”
[49. ]Buchez et Roux, xviii., 148. Meillan, 70, 71. Guillon de Montléon, i., 300 (on Lyons) and i., 280 (on Bordeaux). Archives Nationales, AF.II., 46. (Deliberations of the Nantes section July 5). Letter of Merlin and Gillet, representatives on mission, Lorient, June 12. Dissatisfaction at the outrages of May 31 and June 2, was so manifest that the representatives on mission, Merlin, Gillet, Savestre, and Cavaignac, print on the 14th of June a resolution authorising one of their body to go to the Convention and protest “in their name” against the weakness shown by it and against the usurpations of the Paris commune. Sauzay, iv., 260, at Besançon, in a general assembly of all the administrative, judicial, and municipal bodies of the department joined to the commissioners of the section, protest “unanimously” on the 15th of June.
[50. ]Archives Nationales, ibid. (Letter of Romme and Prieur, Caen, June 10th, to the Committee of Public Safety). The insurgents are so evidently in the right that Romme and Prieur approve of their own arrest. “Citizens, our colleagues, this arrest may be of great importance, serve the cause of liberty, maintain the unity of the Republic and revive confidence if, as we hasten to demand it of you, you confirm it by a decree which declares us hostages. … We have noticed that among the people of Caen, there is a love of liberty, as well as of justice and docility.”
[51. ]Archives Nationales, A.F.II., 46. (Printed July 5). Result of the deliberations of the Nantes sections. The act is signed by the three administrative bodies of Nantes, by the district rulers of Clisson, Anceries, and Machecoul, who had fled to Nantes, and by both the deputies of the districts of Paimboeuf and Chateaubriand, in all, eighty-six signatures.
[52. ]Archives Nationales, ibid., (letter of General Wimpfen to the “Société des Amis de l’Egalité et de la Liberté” in session at Cherbourg, June 25, 1793).—Mortimer-Ternaux, viii. 126.—On the opinion of the departments cf. Paul Thibaud (“Etudes sur l’histoire de Grenoble et du Department de l’Isére”).—Louis Guibert (“Le Parti Girondin dans le Haute Vienne”).—Jarrin (“Bourg et Bellay pendant la Révolution”).
[53. ]Albert Babeau, ii., 83. (Pamphlet by the curé of Cleray). “Every primary assembly that acepts the Constitution strikes the factions a blow on the head with the club of Hercules.”
[54. ]Cf. “The Revolution,” Vol. ii., ch. xi.
[55. ]Buzot.—Archives Nationales, AF. II., 157. Reports by Baudot and Ysabeau to the Convention. The 19th of Aug. at the Hôtel-de-Ville of Bordeaux, they eulogise the 21st of January: “There was then a roar as frightful as it was general. A city official coolly replied to us: What would you have? To oppose anarchy we have been forced to join the aristocrats, and they rule.” Another says ironically to Ysabeau: “We did not anticipate that—they are our tribunes.”
[56. ]Jarrin, “Bourg et Belley pendant la Révolution” (“Annales de la Société d’Emulation de l’Ain, 1878, Nos. for January, February, and March, p. 16).
[57. ]Louvet, 103, 108.—Guillon de Montléon, i., 305 and following pages.—Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 151. (Report of the delegates of the district of Andelys). “One of the members observed that there would be a good deal of trouble in raising an armed force of one thousand men.” An administrator (a commissioner of Calvados) replied: “We shall have all the aristocrats on our side.” The principal military leaders at Caen and at Lyons, Wimpfen, Précy, Puisaye, are Feuillants and form only a provisional alliance with the Girondists properly so called. Hence constant contentions and reciprocal mistrust. Birotteau and Chapet leave Lyons because they do not find the spirit of the place sufficiently republican.
[58. ]Louvet, 124, 129.—Vaultier et Mancel, “L’Insurrection Normande.” Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 360. (Notice by Genl. Wimpfen), July 7. Puisaye, “Memoires.”
[59. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, viii., 471. Letter of Barbaroux, Caen, June 18.—Ibid., 133. Letter of Madame Roland to Buzot, July 7. “You are not the one to march at the head of battalions (departmental). It would have the appearance of gratifying personal vengeance.”
[60. ]Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 153. (Deliberations of the constituted authorities of Marseilles, June 7.)
[61. ]Guillon de Montléon, ii., 40. The contrast between the two parties is well shown in the following extract from the letter of a citizen of Lyons to Kellerman’s soldiers. “They tell you that we want to destroy the unity of the Republic, while they themselves abandon the frontiers to the enemy in order to come here and cut their brethren’s throats.”
[62. ]Guillon de Montléon, i., 288.—Marcelin Boudet, “Les Conventionnels d’Auvergne,” p. 181.—Louvet, 193.—Moniteur, xvii., 101. (Speech of Cambon, July 11). “We have preferred to expose these funds (one hundred and five millions destined for the army) to being intercepted, rather than to retard this dispatch. The first thing the Committee of Public Safety have had to care for was to save the Republic and make the administrations fully responsible for it. They were fully sensible of this, and accordingly have allowed the circulation of these funds. … They have been forced, through the wise management of the Committee, to contribute themselves to the safety of the Republic.”
[63. ]Archives Nationales, Letter of Robert Lindet, June 16, AF. II., 43. The correspondence of Lindet, which is very interesting, well shows the sentiments of the Lyonnese and the policy of the “Mountain.” “However agitated Lyons may be, order prevails; nobody wants either king or tyrant; all use the same language: the words republic, union, are in everybody’s mouth.” (Eight letters.) He always gives the same advice to the Committee of Public Safety: “Publish a constitution, publish the motives of the bills of arrest,” which are indispensable to rally everybody to the Convention (June 15).
[64. ]Guillon de Montléon, i., 309 (July 24).
[65. ]Sauzay, iv., 268.—Paul Thibaud, 50.—Marcelin Boudet, 185.—Archives Nationales AF. II., 46. Extract from the registers of the Council of the department of Loire-Inferieure, July 14. The department protests that its decree of July 5 was not “a rupture with the Convention, an open rebellion against the laws of the State, an idea very remote from the sentiments and intentions of the citizens present.” Now, “the plan of a Constitution is offered to the acceptance of the sovereign. This fortunate circumstance should bring people to one mind, and, with hope thus renewed, let us at once seize on the means of salvation thus presented to us.”—Moniteur, xvii., 102. (Speech of Cambon, July 11.)
[66. ]Louvet, 119, 128, 150, 193.—Meillan, 130, 141. (On the disposition and sentiments of the provinces and of the public in general, the reader will find ample and authentic details in the narratives of the fugitives who scattered themselves in all directions, and especially in those of Louvet, Meillan, Dulaure, and Vaublanc.) Cf. the “Memoires de Hua” and “Un Séjour en France in 1792 and 1795.”—Mallet-Dupan already states this disposition before 1789 (MS. journal). “June, 1785: The French live simply in a crowd; they must all cling together. On the promenades they huddle together and jostle each other in one alley; the same when there is more space.” “Aug., 1787, (after the first riots): I have remarked in general more curiosity than excitement in the multitude. … One can judge, at this moment, the national character; a good deal of bravado and nonsense; neither reason, rule, nor method; rebellious in crowds, and not a soul that does not tremble in the presence of a corporal.”
[67. ]Meillan, 143.—Mortimer-Ternaux, viii., 203. (Session of August 30). Mallet-Dupan, ii., 9.
[68. ]Ernest Daudet, “His. des Conspirations royalistes dans le midi.” (books ii. and iii.)
[69. ]Guillon de Montléon, i., 313. (Address to the National Guards demanded against Lyons, July 30., ii., 40. Address of a Lyonais to the patriot soldiers under Kellermann.)
[70. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, viii., 222. The insurrection of Toulon, Girondist at the start, dates July 1st.—Letter of the new administrators of Toulon to the Convention. “We desire the Republic, one and indivisible; there is no sign of rebellion with us. … Representatives Barras and Fréron lie shamefully in depicting us as antirevolutionists, on good terms with the English and the families of Vendéc.” The Toulon administrators continue furnishing the Italian army with supplies. July 19, an English boat, sent to parley, had to lower the white flag and hoist the tricolor flag. The entry of the English into Toulon did not take place before the 29th of August.
[71. ]Guillon de Montléon, ii., 67. (Letter of the Lyonnese to the representatives of the people, Sep. 20): “The people of Lyons have constantly respected the laws, and if, as in some departments, that of Rhone-et-Loire was for a moment mistaken in the events of May 31, they hastened, as soon as they believed that the Convention was not oppressed, to recognise and execute its decrees. Every day, now that these reach it, they are published and observed within its walls.”
[72. ]Moniteur, xvii., 269. (Session of July 28). (Letter of the administrators of the department of Rhone-et-Loire to the Convention, Lyons, July 24). “We present to the Convention our individual recantation and declaration; in conforming to the law we are entitled to its protection. We petition the court to decide on our declaration, and to repeal the acts which relate to us or to make an exception in our favor. … We have always professed ourselves to be true republicans.”
[73. ]Guillon de Montléon, i., 309, 311, 315, 335. Mortimer-Ternaux, viii., 197.
[74. ]Mortimer-Ternaux viii., 141.
[75. ]Mallet-Dupan, i., 379 and following pages; i., 408; ii., 10.
[76. ]Entry of the Republican troops into Lyons, October 9th, into Toulon, December 19th. Bordeaux had submitted on the 2d of August. Exasperated by the decree of the 6th, which proscribed all the abettors of the insurrection, the city drives out, on the 19th, the representatives Baudot and Ysabeau. It submits again on the 19th of September. But so great is the indignation of the citizens, Tallien and his three colleagues dare not enter before the 16 of October. (Mortimer-Ternaux, viii., 197 and following pages.)
[77. ]Seventy thousand men were required to reduce Lyons (Guillon de Montléon, ii., 226), and sixty thousand men to reduce Toulon.
[78. ]Archives des Affaires Etrangères, vol. cccxxix. (Letter of Chépy, political agent, Grenoble, July 26, 1793). “I say it unhesitatingly, I had rather reduce Lyons than save Valenciennes.”
[79. ]Ibid., vol. cccxxix. (Letter of Chépy, Grenoble, August 24, 1793): “The Piedmontese are masters of Cluse. A large body of mountaineers have joined them. At Annecy the women have cut down the liberty pole and burnt the archives of the club and commune. At Chambéry, the people wanted to do the same, but they forced the sick in the hospitals to take arms and kept them under.”
[80. ]Moniteur, xviii, 474. (Report of Billaud-Varennes, October 18, 1793). “The combined efforts of all the powers of Europe have not compromised liberty and the country so much as the federalist factions; the assassin the most to be dreaded is the one that lives in the house.”
[81. ]The convention purposely reinstates incendiaries and assassins. (Moniteur, xviii., 483. Session of Brumaire 28, year II.): xvii., 176. (Session of July 19, 1793). Rehabilitation of Bordier and Jourdain, hung in August, 1789. Cancelling of the proceedings begun against the authors of the massacre of Melun (September, 1792) and release of the accused.—Cf. Albert Babeau, (i., 277.) Rehabilitation, with indemnities distributed in Messidor, year II, to the rioters and assassins condemned for the riot of September 9, 1789, at Troyes, or to their relatives.—“Archives des Affaires Etrangères,” vol. 331. (Letter of Chépy, Grenoble, Frimaire 8, year II). “The criminal court and jury of the department have just risen to the height of the situation; they have acquitted the castle-burners.”
[82. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, viii., 593. (Deputation of twenty-four sections sent from Bordeaux to the Convention, August 30).—Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 494. (Report of the representatives on mission in Bouches-du-Rhone, September 2d).—Ibid., xxx., 386. (Letter of Rousin, commandant of the revolutionary army at Lyons. “A population of one hundred twenty thousand souls. … There are not amongst all these, one thousand five hundred patriots, even one thousand five hundred persons that one could spare.—Guillon de Montléon, i., 355, 374. (Signatures of twenty thousand Lyonnese of all classes, August 17th).
[83. ]Guillon de Montléon, i., 394. (Letter of Dubois-Crancé to the Lyonnese, August 10th.)
[84. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, viii., 198. (Decree of Aug. 6.)—Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 297, (Decree of July 12.).—Guillon de Montléon, i., 342. Summons of Dubois-Crancé, Aug. 8.)
[85. ]Meillan, 142.—“Archives des Affaires Etrangéres,” vol. cccxxxii. (Letter of Desgranges, Bordeaux, Brumaire 8, year II.): “The execution of Mayor Saige, who was much loved by the people for his benefactions, caused much sorrow; but no guilty murmur was heard.”
[86. ]Archives Nationales, AF. II., 46. (Letter of Julien to the Committee of Public Safety, Messidor 11, year II.) “Some time ago a solemn silence prevailed at the sessions of the military commission, the people’s response to the death-verdicts against conspirators; the same silence attended them to the scaffold; the whole commune seemed to sob in secret at their fate.”
[87. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, “La Justice Révolutionaire,” pp. 277–299.—Archives Nationales, AF. II., 46. (Registers of the Com. of Surveillance, Bordeaux). The number of prisoners, between Prairial 21 and 28, varies from 1504 to 1529. Number of the guillotined, 882. (Memoirs of Sénart).
[88. ]Archives Nationales, AF. II., 46. Letter of Julien, Messidor 12, year II. “A good deal has been stolen here; the mayor, now in prison, is charged with defalcations to a considerable amount. The former Committee of Surveillance was gravely compromised; many folks that were outlawed only got back by paying; the fact is verified. … Of the number of those who have thus purchased their lives there are some who did not deserve to die and who, nevertheless, were threatened with death.”—Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 428. (Extracts from the Memoirs of Sénart). “The president of the military commission was a man named Lacombe, already banished from the city on account of a judgment against him for robbery. The other individuals employed by Tallien comprised a lot of valets, bankrupts, and sharpers.”
[89. ]Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 493. (Speech by Danton, August 31, and decree in conformity therewith by the Convention).
[90. ]Mallet-Dupan, ii., 17. “Thousands of traders in Marseilles and Bordeaux, here the respectable Gradis and there the Tarteron, have been assassinated and their goods sold. I have seen the thirty-second list only of the Marseilles emigres, whose property has been confiscated. … There are twelve thousand of them and the lists are not yet complete.” (Feb. 1, 1794.)—Anne Plumptre. “A Narrative of Three Years’ Residence in France, from 1802 to 1805.” “During this period the streets of Marseilles were almost those of a deserted town. One could go from one end of the town to the other without meeting any one he could call an inhabitant. The great terrorists, of whom scarcely one was a Marseillaise, the soldiers and roughs as they called themselves, were almost the only persons encountered.” The latter, to the number of fifty or sixty, in jackets with leather straps, fell upon all whom they did not like, and especially on anybody with a clean shirt and white cravate. Many persons on the “Cours” were thus whipped to death. No woman went out-doors without a basket, while every man wore a jacket, without which they were taken for aristocrats. (ii., 94.)
[91. ]“Mémoires de Fréron.” (Collection Barriére and Berville). Letters of Fréron to Moise Bayle, Brumaire 23, Pluviose 5 and 11, Nivose 16, II, published by Moise Bayle, also details furnished by Huard, pp. 350–365.—Archives Nationales, AF. II., 144. (Order of representatives Fréron, Barras, Salicetti, and Ricard, Nivose 17, year II.)
[92. ]Mallet-Dupan, ii., 17.—Guillon de Montléon, ii., 259.
[93. ]Mallet-Dupan, ii., 17.—Guillon de Montléon, ii., 259.
[94. ]Ibid., ii., 281. (Decree of the Convention, Oct. 12); ii., 312. (Orders of Couthon and his colleagues, Oct. 25); ii., 361, 372. (Instructions for the temporary commission, Brumaire 26.)
[95. ]Ibid., iii., 153–156. Letter of Laporte to Couthon, April 13, 1794.
[96. ]Ibid., ii., 135–137. (Resolutions of the Revolutionary Commission, Germinal 17.) and Letters of Cadillot to Robespierre, Floréal, year II). iii., 63.
[97. ]Guillon de Montléon, ii., 399. (Letter of Perrotin, member of the temporary commission to the revolutionary committee of Moulin.) “The work before the new commission may be considered as an organisation of the Septembrisade: the process will be the same, but legalised by an act passed.”
[98. ]“Mémoires de Fréron.” (Coll. Barriére et Berville) 350–360. Letters of Fréron; evidence of surviving Toulonese and eye-witnesses.—Lauvergne, “Histoire du Département du Var.”
[99. ]Buchez et Roux, xxix., 192. (Decree of October 12).
[100. ]Ibid., xxx., 457. (Decree of November 23).
[101. ]“Mémoires de Fréron.” (Letter of Fréron, Nivose 6).—Guillon de Montléon, ii., 391.
[102. ]Decrees of October 12 and December 24.—Archives Nationales, AF. II., 44. The representatives on mission wanted to do the same thing with Marseilles. (Orders of Fréron, Barras, Salicetti, and Ricard, Nivose 17, year II.) “The name of Marseilles, still borne by this criminal city, shall be changed. The National Convention shall be requested to give it another name. Meanwhile it shall remain nameless and be thus known.” In effect, in several subsequent documents, Marseilles is called the nameless commune.
[103. ]Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 204. (Session of June 24: “Strong expressions of dissent are heard on the right.” Legendre. “I demand that the first rebel, the first man there (pointing to the “Right” party) who interrupts the speaker, be sent to the Abbaye.” Couhey, indeed, was sent to the Abbaye for applauding a Federalist speech.—Cf. on these three months.—Mortimer-Ternaux, vol. viii.
[104. ]Buchez et Roux, xxix., 175.—Dauban: “La Démagogie à Paris en 1793,” 436. (Narrative by Dulaure, an eye-witness).
[105. ]There were really only twenty-one brought before the revolutionary Tribunal.
[106. ]Dauban, xxvi., p. 440. (Narrative of Blanqui, one of the seventy-three.)
[107. ]Buchez et Roux, xxix., 178, 179. Osselin: “I demand the decree of accusation against them all.”—Amar: “The apparently negative conduct of the minority of the Convention since the 2d of June, was a new complot devised by Barbaroux.” Robespierre: “If there are other criminals among those you have placed under arrest the Committee of General Security will present to you the nomenclature of them and you will always be at liberty to strike.”
[108. ]Ibid., xxix., 437, 432, 447.—Report by Amar. (This report served as the bill of indictment against them, “cowardly satellites of royal despotism, vile agents of foreign tyrants.”—Wallon, ii., 407, 409. (Letter of Fouquier-Tinville to the Convention). “After the special debates,will not each of the accused demand a general prosecution? The trial, accordingly, will be interminable. Besides, one may ask why should there be witnesses? The Convention, all France, accuses those on trial. The evidence of their crimes is plain; everybody is convinced of their guilt. … It is the Convention which must remove all formalities that interfere with the course pursued by the tribunal.”—Moniteur, xvii. (Session of October 28), 291. The decree provoked by a petition of Jacobins, is passed on motion of Osselin, aggravated by Robespierre.
[109. ]Louvet, “Mémoires,” 321. (List of the Girondists who perished or who were proscribed. Twenty-four fugitives survived.)
[110. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, viii., 395, 416, 435. The terror and disgust of the majority is seen in the small number of voters. The abstaining from voting is the more significant in relation to the election of the dictators. The members of the Committee of Public Safety, elected on the 16th of July, obtain from one hundred to one hundred and ninety-two votes. The members of the Committee of Security obtain from twenty-two to one hundred and thirteen votes. The members of the same committee, renewed on the 11th of September, obtain from fifty-two to one hundred and eight votes. The judges of the revolutionary Tribunal, completed on the 3d of August, obtain from forty-seven to sixty-five votes.—Meillan, 85. (In relation to the institution of the revolutionary government, on motion of Bazire, Aug. 28.) “Sixty or eighty deputies passed this decree … it was preceded by another passed by a plurality of thirty against ten. … For two months the session, the best attended, contains but one hundred deputies. The Montagnards overran the departments to deceive or intimidate the people. The rest, discouraged, keep away from the meetings or take no part in the proceedings.”
[111. ]The meaning and motives of this declaration are clearly indicated in Bazire’s speech. “Since the adoption of the Constitution,” he says, “Feuillantism has raised its head; a struggle has arisen between energetic and moderate patriots. At the end of the Constituent Assembly, the Feuillants possessed themselves of the words law, order, public, peace, security, to enchain the zeal of the friends of freedom; the same manoeuvres are practiced today. You must shatter the weapon in your enemies’ hands, which they use against you.”—Durand-Maillane, 154. “The simple execution of constitutional laws,” said Bazire, “made for peaceable times, would be impotent among the conspiracies that surround you.”—Meillan, 108.
[112. ]Moniteur, xviii., 106. (Report of Saint-Just on the organisation of the revolutionary government, October 10th, and the decree in conformity therewith.) Ibid., 473.—Report of Billaud-Varennes on a mode of provisional and revolutionary government, Novem. 18, and decree in conformity therewith.)—Ibid., xviii., 479. (Convention, Session of November 22d, 1793.—Speech of Hébrard, spokesman of a deputation from Cantal). “A central committee of surveillance, a revolutionary army, has been established in our department. Aristocrats, suspects, the doubtful, moderates, egoists, all gentlemen without distinguishing those who have done nothing for the revolution from those who have acted against it, await in retirement the ulterior measures required by the interests of the Republic. I have said without distinction of the indifferent from the suspects; for we hold to these words of Solon’s: “He who is not with us is against us.” (Honorable mention in the procès-verbal.)
[113. ]Moniteur, (Speech by Danton, March 26, 1794.) “In creating revolutionary committees the desire was to establish a species of dictatorship of citizens the most devoted to liberty over those who rendered themselves suspects.”
[114. ]Mallet-Dupan, ii., 8. (February, 1794). “At this moment the entire people is disarmed. Not a gun can be found either in town or country. If anything attests the supernatural power which the leaders of the Convention enjoy, it is to see, in one instant, through one act of the will and nobody offering any resistance, or complaining of it, the nation from Perpignan to Lille, deprived of every means of defence against oppression, with a facility still more unprecedented than that which attended the universal arming of the nation in 1789.”—“A Residence in France,” ii., 409. “The National Guard as a regular institution was in great part suppressed after the summer of 1793, those who composed it being gradually disarmed. Guard-mounting was continued, but the citizens performing this service were, with very few exceptions, armed with pikes, and these again were not fully entrusted to them; each man, on quitting his post, gave up his arms more punctually than if he had been bound to do so through capitulation with a victorious enemy.”
[115. ]Moniteur, xviii., 106. (Report by Saint-Just, Oct. 10th).
[116. ]Ibid., 473. (Report of Billaud-Varennes, Nov. 13th).
[117. ]Ibid., xviii., 591. (Speech by Couthon, December 4th). Ibid., Barère: “Electoral assemblies are monarchical institutions, they attach to royalism, they must be specially avoided in revolutionary times.”
[118. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, viii., 40. (Decree passed on the proposition of Danton, session of September 13th). The motive alleged by Danton is that “members are still found on the committees whose opinions, at least, approach federalism.” Consequently the committees are purified, and particularly the Committee of General Security. Six of its members are stricken off (Sept. 14), and the list sent in by the Committee of Public Safety passes without discussion.
[119. ]Moniteur, xviii., 592. (Session of December 4, speech by Robespierre.)
[120. ]Miot de Melito, “Mémoires,” i., 47.
[121. ]Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 153. Mortimer-Ternaux, viii., 443. (Decree of September 28th).—Wallon, “Histoire du Tribunal Révolutionaire de Paris,” iv., 112.
[122. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiv., 300. (Trial of Fouquier-Tinville and associates). Bill of indictment. “One of these publicly boasted of always having voted death. Others state that they were content to see people to give their judgment; physical inspection alone determined them to vote death. Another said, that when there was no offence committed it was necessary to imagine one. Another is a regular sot and has never sat in judgment but in a state of intoxication. Others come to the bench only to fire their volleys.” (Supporting evidence.) “Observe, moreover, that judges and juries are bound to kill under penalty of death (Ibid., 30).” Fouquier-Tinville states that on the 22d of Prairial he took the same step (to resign) with Chatelet, Brochet, and Lerry, when they met Robespierre, returning to the National Convention arm-in-arm with Barère. Fouquier adds, that they were treated as aristocrats and antirevolutionists, and threatened with death if they refused to remain on their posts.” Analogoes declarations by Pigeot, Ganne, Girard, Dupley, Foucault, Nollin, and Madre. “Sellier adds, that the tribunal having remonstrated against the law of Prairial 22, he was threatened with arrest by Dumas. Had we resigned, he says, Dumas would have guillotined us.”
[123. ]Moniteur, xxiv., 12. (Session of Ventose 29, year III., speech by Bailleul.) “Terror subdued all minds, suppressed all emotions; it was the force of the government, while such was this government that the numerous inhabitants of a vast territory seemed to have lost the qualities which distinguish man from a domestic animal. They seemed even to have no life except what the government accorded to them. Human personality no longer existed; each individual was simply a machine, going, coming, thinking, or not thinking as he was impelled or stimulated by tyranny.”
[124. ]Decree of Frimaire 14, year II., Dec. 4, 1793.
[125. ]Moniteur, xviii., 473, 474, 478. (Speech by Billaud-Varennes.) “The sword of Damocles must henceforth be brandished over the entire surface.” This expression of Billaud sums up the spirit of every new institution.
[126. ]Moniteur, xviii., 275. (Session of Oct. 26, 1793, speech by Barère.) “This is the most revolutionary step you can take.” (Applause.)
[127. ]Ibid. 520. (Report of Barère and decree in conformity). “The representatives sent on mission are required to conform strictly to the acts of the Committee of Public Safety. Generals and other agents of the executive power will, under no pretext, obey any special order, that they may refuse to carry out the said acts.”—Moniteur, xviii., 291. (Report by Barère, Oct. 29, 1793.) At this date one hundred and forty representatives are on mission.
[128. ]Archives Nationales, AF. II., 22. (Papers of the Committee of Public Safety. Note on the results of the revolution government). “The law of Frimaire 14 created two centres of influence from which action spread, in the sense of the Committee, and which affected the authorities. These two pivots of revolutionary rule outside the Committee were the representatives of the people on missions and the national agents controlling the district committees. The words revolutionary government alone exercised an incalculable magical influence.”—Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” ii., p. 2, and following pages.