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BOOK SEVENTH: The Governors - 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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Psychology of the Jacobin leaders—I.Marat—Disparity between his faculties and pretensions—The Maniac—The Ambitious delirium—Rage for persecution—A confirmed nightmare insanity—Homicidal frenzy—II.Danton—Richness of his faculties—Disparity between his condition and instincts—The Barbarian—His work—His weakness—III.Robespierre—Mediocrity of his faculties—The Cuistre—Absence of ideas—Study of phrases—Wounded self-esteem—Intensity of this trait—Satisfied self-esteem—His infatuation—He plays the victim—His gloomy fancies—His resemblance to Marat—Difference between him and Marat—The sincere hypocrite—The Festival in honor of the Supreme Being, and the law of Prairial 22—The external and internal characters of Robespierre and the Revolution.
Three men among the Jacobins, Marat, Danton, and Robespierre, merited distinction and possessed authority: owing to a malformation, or distortion, of head and heart, they fulfilled the requisite conditions. Of the three, Marat is the most monstrous; he borders on the lunatic, of which he displays the chief characteristics—furious exaltation, constant overexcitement, feverish restlessness, an inexhaustible propensity for scribbling, that mental automatism and tetanus of the will under the constraint and rule of a fixed idea, and, in addition to this, the usual physical symptoms, such as sleeplessness, a livid tint, bad blood, foulness of dress and person,1 with, during the last five months of his life, irritations and eruptions over his whole body.2 Issuing from incongruous races, born of a mixed blood and tainted with serious moral commotions,3 he harbors within him a singular germ: physically, he is an abortion, morally a pretender, and one who covets all places of distinction. His father, who was a physician, intended, from his early childhood, that he should be a savant; his mother, an idealist, meant that he should be a philanthropist, while he himself always steered his course towards both summits. “At five years of age,” he says, “it would have pleased me to be a schoolmaster, at fifteen a professor, at eighteen an author, and a creative genius at twenty,”4 and, afterwards, up to the last, an apostle and martyr to humanity. “From my earliest infancy I had an intense love of fame which changed its object at various stages of my life, but which never left me for a moment.” He rambled over Europe or vegetated in Paris for thirty years, living a nomadic life in subordinate positions, hissed as an author, distrusted as a man of science and ignored as a philosopher, a third rate political writer, aspiring to every sort of celebrity and to every honor, constantly presenting himself as a candidate and as constantly rejected, too great a disproportion between his faculties and ambition! Talentless,5 possessing no critical acumen and of mediocre intelligence, he was fitted only to teach some branch of the sciences, or to practise some one of the arts, either as professor or doctor more or less bold and lucky, or to follow, with occasional slips on one side or the other, some path clearly marked out for him. “But,” he says, “I never had any thing to do with a subject which did not hold out … great results for myself, and show my originality, for I cannot make up my mind to treat a subject over again that has been well done, or to plod over the work of others.” Consequently, when he tries to originate he merely imitates, or commits mistakes. His treatise on “Man” is a jumble of physiological and moral common-places, made up of ill-digested reading and words strung together haphazard,6 of gratuitous and incoherent suppositions in which the doctrines of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, coupled together, end in empty phraseology. “Soul and Body are distinct substances with no essential relationship, being connected together solely through the nervous fluid”; this fluid is not gelatinous for the spirituous by which it is renewed contains no gelatine; the soul, excited by this, excites that; hence the place assigned to it “in the meninges.” His “Optics”7 is the reverse of the great truth already discovered by Newton more than a century before, and since confirmed by more than another century of experiment and calculation. On “Heat” and “Electricity” he merely puts forth feeble hypotheses and literary generalisations; one day, driven to the wall, he inserts a needle in a piece of rosin to make this a conductor, in which piece of scientific trickery he is caught by the physicist Charles.8 He is not even qualified to comprehend the great discoverers of his age, Laplace, Monge, Lavoisier, or Fourcroy; on the contrary, he libels them in the style of a low rebellious subordinate, who, without the shadow of a claim, aims to take the place of legitimate authorities. In Politics, he adopts every absurd idea in vogue growing out of the Contrat-Social based on natural right, and which he renders still more absurd by repeating as his own the arguments advanced by those bungling socialists, who, physiologists astray in the moral world, derive all rights from physical necessities. “All human rights issue from physical wants.9 If a man has nothing, he has a right to any surplus with which another gorges himself. What do I say? He has a right to seize the indispensable, and, rather than die of hunger, he may cut another’s throat and eat his throbbing flesh. … Man has a right to self-preservation, to the property, the liberty and even the lives of his fellow creatures. To escape oppression he has a right to repress, to bind and to massacre. He is free to do what he pleases to ensure his own happiness.” It is plain enough what this leads to. But, let the consequences be what they may, whatever he writes or does, it is always in self-admiration and always in a counter sense, being as vain-glorious of his encyclopaedic impotence as he is of his social mischievousness. Taking his word for it, his discoveries in Physics will render him immortal.10 “They will at least effect a complete transformation in Optics. … The true primitive colors were unknown before me.” He is a Newton, and still better. Previous to his appearance “the place occupied by the electric fluid in nature, considered as an universal agent, was completely ignored. … I have made it known in such a way as to leave no further doubt about it.”11 As to the igneous fluid, “that existence unknown before me, I have freed the theory from every hypothesis and conjecture, from every alembical argument; I have purged it of error, I have rendered it intuitive; I have written this out in a small volume which consigns to oblivion all that scientific bodies have hitherto published on that subject.”12 Anterior to his treatise on “Man,” moral and physical relationships were incomprehensible. “Descartes, Helvetius, Haller, Lecat, Hume, Voltaire, Bonnet, held this to be an impenetrable secret, ‘an enigma.’ ” He has solved the problem, he has fixed the seat of the soul, he has determined the medium through which the soul communicates with the body.13 In the higher sciences, those treating of nature generally, or of human society, he reaches the climax. “I believe that I have exhausted every combination of the human intellect in relation to morals, philosophy, and political science.”14 Not only has he discovered the true theory of government, but he is a statesman, a practical expert, able to forecast the future and shape events. He makes predictions, on the average, twice a week, which always turn out right; he already claims, during the early sessions of the Convention, to have made “three hundred predictions on the leading points of the Revolution, all justified by the event.”15 In the face of the Constituants who demolish and reconstruct so slowly, he is sufficiently strong to take down, put up, and complete at a moment’s notice. “If I were one of the people’s tribunes16 and were supported by a few thousand determined men, I answer for it that, in six weeks, the Constitution would be perfected, the political machine well agoing, and the nation free and happy. In less than a year there would be a flourishing, formidable government which would remain so as long as I lived.” If necessary, he could act as commander-in-chief of the army and always be victorious: having twice seen the Vendéans carry on a fight he would end the war “at the first encounter.”17 “If I could stand the march, I would go in person and carry out my views. At the head of a small party of trusty troops the rebels could be easily put down to the last man, and in one day. I know something of military art, and, without boasting, I can answer for success.” On any difficulty occurring, it is owing to his advice not having been taken; he is the great political physician: his diagnosis from the beginning of the Revolution is always correct, his prognosis infallible, his therapeutics efficacious, humane, and salutary. He furnishes the panacea and he should be allowed to prescribe it; only, to ensure a satisfactory operation, he should himself administer the dose. Let the public lancet, therefore, be put in his hands that he may perform the humanitarian operation of blood-letting. “Such are my opinions. I have published them in my works. I have signed them with my name and I am not ashamed of it. … If you are not equal to me and able to comprehend me so much the worse for you.”18 In other words, in his own eyes, Marat is in advance of everybody else and, through his superior genius and character, he is the veritable saviour.
Such are the symptoms by which medical men recognise immediately one of those partial lunatics who may not be put in confinement, but who are all the more dangerous;19 the malady, as they would express it in technical terms, may be called the ambitious delirium, well known in lunatic asylums. Two propensities, one a habitually perverted judgment, and the other a colossal excess of self-esteem,20 constitute its sources, and nowhere are both more prolific than in Marat. Never did man with such diversified culture, possess such an incurably perverted intellect. Never did man, after so many abortive speculations and such repeated malpractices, conceive and maintain so high an opinion of himself. Each of these two sources in him augments the other: through his faculty of not seeing things as they are, he attributes to himself virtue and genius; satisfied that he possesses genius and virtue, he regards his misdeeds as merits and his crotchets as truths. Thenceforth, and spontaneously, his malady runs its own course and becomes complex; next to the ambitious delirium comes the mania for persecution. In effect, the evident or demonstrated truths which he supplies should strike the public at once; if they burn slowly or miss fire, it is owing to their being stamped out by enemies or the envious: manifestly, they have conspired against him, and against him plots have never ceased. First came the philosophers’ plot: when his treatise on “Man” reached Paris from Amsterdam, “they felt the blow I struck at their principles and had the book stopped at the custom-house.”21 Next came the plot of the doctors, who “ruefully estimated my enormous gains. Were it necessary, I could prove that they often met together to consider the best way to destroy my reputation.” Finally, came the plot of the Academicians; “the disgraceful persecution I had to undergo from the Academy of Sciences for two years, after being satisfied that my discoveries on Light upset all that it had done for a century, and that I was quite indifferent about becoming a member of its body. … Would it be believed that these scientific charlatans succeeded in underrating my discoveries throughout Europe, in exciting every society of savants against me, and in closing against me all the newspapers!”22 Naturally, the would-be-persecuted man defends himself, that is to say, he attacks. Naturally, as he is the aggressor, he is repulsed and put down, and, after creating imaginary enemies, he creates real ones, especially in politics where, on principle, he daily preaches insurrection and murder. Naturally, in fine, he is prosecuted, convicted at the Chatelet court, tracked by the police, obliged to fly and wander from one hiding-place to another; to live like a bat “in a cellar, underground, in a dark dungeon”;23 once, says his friend Panis, he passed “six weeks on one of his buttocks” like a madman in his cell, face to face with his reveries. It is not surprising that, with such a system, the reverie should become more intense, more and more gloomy, and, at last settle down into a confirmed nightmare; that, in his distorted brain, objects should appear distorted; that, even in full daylight men and things should seem awry, as in a magnifying, dislocating mirror; that, frequently, on the numbers (of his journal) appearing too blood-thirsty, and his chronic disease too acute, his physician should bleed him to arrest these attacks and prevent their return.24
But he has taken his bent: henceforth, falsities spring up in his brain as on their native soil; planting himself on the irrational he cultivates the absurd, even physical and mathematical. “Taking an extreme view of it,” he says, “the patriotic contribution of one-quarter of one’s income will produce, at the very least, four billion eight hundred and sixty million francs, and perhaps twice that sum”; with this sum M. Necker may raise five hundred thousand men, which he calculates on for the subjugation of France.25 Since the taking of the Bastille, “the municipality’s defalcations alone amount to two hundred millions. The sums pocketed by Bailly are estimated at more than two millions; what ‘Mottié’ (Lafayette) has taken for the past two years is incalculable.”26 On the 15th of November, 1791, the gathering of emigrés comprises “at least one hundred and twenty thousand gentlemen and drilled partisans and soldiers, not counting the forces of the gentlemen-princes about to join them.”27 Consequently, as with his brethren in Bicêtre (a lunatic asylum), he raves incessantly on the horrible and the foul: the procession of terrible or disgusting phantoms has begun.28 According to him, the savants who do not choose to admire him are fools, charlatans, and plagiarists. Laplace and Monge are even “automatons,” so many calculating machines; Lavoisier, “reputed father of every discovery that makes any noise in the world, has not an idea of his own”; he steals from others without comprehending them, and “changes his system as he changes his shoes.” Fourcroy, his disciple and horn-blower, is of still thinner stuff. All are scamps: “I could cite a hundred instances of dishonesty by the Academicians of Paris, a hundred breaches of trust”; twelve thousand francs were entrusted to them for the purpose of ascertaining how to direct balloons, and “they divided it among themselves, squandering it at the Rapée, the opera and in brothels.”29 In the political world, where debates are battles, it is still worse. The “Friend of the people” has merely rascals for adversaries. Praise of Lafayette’s courage and disinterestedness, how absurd! If he went to America it was because he was jilted, “cast off by a Messalina”; he maintained a park of artillery there as “powder-monkeys look after ammunition-wagons”; these are his only exploits; besides, he is a thief. Bailly is also a thief, and Malouet a “clown.” Necker has conceived the “horrible project of starving and poisoning the people; he has drawn on himself for all eternity the execration of Frenchmen and the detestation of mankind.” What is the Constituent Assembly but a set of “low, rampant, mean, stupid fellows?” “Infamous legislators, vile scoundrels, monsters athirst for gold and blood, you traffic with the monarch, with our fortunes, with our rights, with our liberties, with our lives!” “The second legislative corps is no less rotten than the first one.” In the Convention, Roland, “the officious Gilles and the forger Pasquin, is the infamous head of the monopolisers.” “Isnard is a juggler, Buzot a Tartuffe, Vergniaud a police spy.”30 When a madman sees everywhere around him, on the floor, on the walls, on the ceiling, toads, scorpions, spiders, swarms of crawling, loathsome vermin, he thinks only of crushing them, and the disease enters on its last stage: after the ambitious delirium, the mania for persecution and the settled nightmare, comes the homicidal mania.
With Marat, this broke out at the very beginning of the Revolution. The disease was innate; he was inoculated with it beforehand. He had contracted it in good earnest, on principle; never was there a plainer case of deliberate insanity. On the one hand, having derived the rights of man from physical necessities, he concluded “that society owes to those among its members who have no property, and whose labor scarcely suffices for their support, an assured subsistence, the wherewithal to feed, lodge, and clothe oneself suitably, provision for attendance in sickness and when old age comes on, and for bringing up children. Those who wallow in wealth must (then) supply the wants of those who lack the necessaries of life.” Otherwise, “the honest citizen whom society abandons to poverty and despair, reverts back to the state of nature and the right of forcibly claiming advantages which were only alienated by him to procure greater ones. All authority which is opposed to this is tyrannical, and the judge who condemns a man to death (through it) is simply a cowardly assassin.”31 Thus do the innumerable riots which the dearth excites, find justification, and, as the dearth is permanent, the daily riot is legitimate. On the other hand, having laid down the principle of popular sovereignty he deduces from this, “the sacred right of constituents to dismiss their delegates”; to seize them by the throat if they prevaricate, to keep them in the right path by fear, and wring their necks should they attempt to vote wrong or govern badly. Now, they are always subject to this temptation. “If there is one eternal truth of which it is important to convince man, it is that the mortal enemy of the people, the most to be dreaded by them, is the Government.” “Any minister who remains twice twenty-four hours in office, when it is not impossible for the cabinet to operate against the Government is ‘suspect.’ ”32 Bestir yourselves, then, ye unfortunates in town and country, workmen without work, street stragglers sleeping under bridges, prowlers along the highways, beggars without fuel or shelter, tattered vagabonds, cripples and tramps, and seize your faithless mandatories! On July 14th and October 5th and 6th, “the people had the right not only to execute some of the conspirators in military fashion, but to immolate them all, to put to the sword the entire body of royal satellites leagued together for our destruction, the whole herd of traitors to the country, of every condition and degree.”33 Never go to the Assembly “without filling your pockets with stones and throwing them at the impudent scoundrels who preach monarchical maxims; I recommend to you no other precaution but that of telling their neighbors to look out.”34 “We do not demand the resignation of the ministers—we demand their heads. We demand the heads of all the ministerialists in the Assembly, your mayor’s, your general’s, the heads of most of the staff-officers, of most of the municipal council, of the principal agents of the executive power in the kingdom.” Of what use are half-way measures, like the sack of the hotel de Castries?35 “Avenge yourselves wisely! Death! Death! is the sole penalty for traitors raging to destroy you! It is the only one that strikes terror into them. … Follow the example of your implacable enemies! Keep always armed, so that they may not escape through the delays of the law! Stab them on the spot or blow their brains out!” “Twenty-four millions of men shout in unison: If the black, gangrened, archigangrened ministerialists dare pass a bill reducing and reorganising the army, citizens, do you build eight hundred scaffolds in the Tuileries garden and hang on them every traitor to his country—that infamous Riquetti, Comte de Mirabeau, at the head of them—and, at the same time, erect in the middle of the fountain basin a big pile of logs to roast the ministers and their tools!”36 Could “the Friend of the people” rally around him two thousand men determined “to save the country, he would go and tear the heart out of that infernal Mottié in the very midst of his battalions of slaves; he would go and burn the monarch and his imps in his palace, impale the deputies on their benches, and bury them beneath the flaming ruins of their den.”37 On the first cannon shot being fired on the frontier, “it is indispensable that the people should close the gates of the towns and unhesitatingly make way with every priest, public functionary and antirevolutionist, known machinators and their accomplices.” “It would be wise for the people’s magistrates to keep constantly manufacturing large quantities of strong, sharp, short-bladed, double-edged knives, so as to arm each citizen known as a friend of his country. Now, the art of fighting with these terrible weapons consists in this: Use the left arm as buckler, and cover it up to the arm-pit with a sleeve quilted with some woollen stuff, filled with rags and hair, and then rush on the enemy, the right hand wielding the knife.”38 Let us use these knives as soon as possible, for “what now remains to us to end the evils which overwhelm us? I repeat it, nothing but executions by the people.”39 The Throne is at last down; but “be careful not to give way to false pity! … No quarter! I advise you to decimate the antirevolutionist members of the municipality, of the justices of the peace, of the members of the departments and of the National Assembly.”40 At the outset, a few lives would have sufficed: “five hundred heads ought to have fallen when the Bastille was taken, and all would then have gone on well.” But, through lack of foresight and timidity, the evil was allowed to spread, and the more it spread the larger the amputation should have been. With the sure, keen eye of the surgeon, Marat gives its dimensions; he has made his calculation beforehand. In September, 1792, in the Council at the Commune, he estimates approximatively forty thousand as the number of heads that should be laid low.41 Six weeks later, the social abscess having enormously increased, the figures swell in proportion; he now demands two hundred and seventy thousand heads,42 always on the score of humanity, “to ensure public tranquillity,” on condition that the operation be entrusted to him, as the summary, temporary justiciary. Save this last point, the rest is granted to him; it is unfortunate that he could not see with his own eyes the complete fulfilment of his programme, the batches condemned by the revolutionary Tribunal, the massacres of Lyons and Toulon, the drownings of Nantes. From first to last, he was in the right line of the Revolution, lucid on account of his blindness, thanks to his crazy logic, thanks to the concordance of his personal malady with the public malady, to the precocity of his complete madness alongside of the incomplete or tardy madness of the rest, he alone steadfast, remorseless, triumphant, perched aloft at the first bound on the sharp pinnacle which his rivals dared not climb or only stumbled up.
There is nothing of the madman about Danton; on the contrary, not only is his intellect sound, but he possesses political aptitudes to an eminent degree, and to such an extent that, in this particular, none of his associates or adversaries compare with him, while, among the men of the Revolution, only Mirabeau equals or surpasses him. He is an original, spontaneous genius and not, like most of his contemporaries, a disputatious, quill-driving theorist,43 that is to say, a fanatical pedant, an artificial being composed of his books, a mill-horse with blinkers, and turning around in a circle without an issue. His free judgment is not hampered by abstract prejudices: he does not carry about with him a social contract, like Rousseau, nor, like Sièyes, a social art and cabinet principles or combinations;44 he has kept aloof from these instinctively and, perhaps, through contempt for them; he had no need of them; he would not have known what to do with them. Systems are crutches for the impotent, while he is able-bodied; formulas serve as spectacles for the short-sighted, while his eyes are good. “He had read and meditated very little,” says a learned and philosophical witness;45 “his knowledge was scanty and he took no pride in investigation; but he observed and saw. … His native capacity, which was very great and not absorbed by other things, was naturally closed to vague, complex, and false notions, and naturally open to every notion of experience the truth of which was made manifest.” Consequently, “his perceptions of men and things, sudden, clear, impartial, and true, were instinct with solid, practical discretion.” To form a clear idea of the divergent or concordant dispositions, fickle or earnest, actual or possible, of different parties and of twenty-six millions of souls, to justly estimate probable resistances, and calculate available forces, to recognise and take advantage of the one decisive moment, to combine executive means, to find men of action, to measure the effect produced, to foresee near and remote contingencies, to regret nothing and take things coolly, to accept crimes in proportion to their political efficacy, to manoeuvre in the face of great obstacles, even in contempt of current maxims, to consider objects and men the same as an engineer contracting for machinery and calculating horse-power46 —such are the faculties of which he gave proof on the 10th of August and the 2nd of September, during his effective dictatorship between the 10th of August and the 21st of September, afterwards in the Convention, on the first Committee of Public Safety, on the 31st of May and on the 2nd of June:47 we have seen him busy at work. Up to the last, in spite of his partisans, he has tried to diminish or, at least, not add to, the resistance the government had to overcome. Nearly up to the last, in spite of his adversaries, he tried to increase or, at least, not destroy the available forces of the government. In defiance of the shoutings of the clubs, which clamor for the extermination of the Prussians, the capture of the King of Prussia, the overthrow of all thrones, and the murder of Louis XVI., he negotiated the almost pacific withdrawal of Brunswick;48 he strove to detach Prussia from the coalition;49 he wanted to turn a war of propagandism into one of interests;50 he caused the Convention to pass the decree that France would not in any way interfere with foreign governments; he secured an alliance with Sweden; he prescribed beforehand the basis of the treaty of Basle, and had an idea of saving the King.51 In spite of the distrust and attacks of the Girondists, who strove to discredit him and put him out of the way, he persists in offering them his hand; he declared war on them only because they refused to make peace,52 and he made efforts to save them when they were down. Amidst so many ranters and scribblers whose logic is mere words and whose rage is blind, who grind out phrases like a hand-organ, or are wound up for murder, his intellect, always capacious and supple, went right to facts, not to disfigure and pervert them, but to accept them, to adapt himself to them, and to comprehend them. With a mind of this quality one goes far no matter in what direction; nothing remains but to choose one’s path. Mandrin, under the ancient régime, was also, in a similar way, a superior man;53 only he chose the highway.
Between the demagogue and the highwayman the resemblance is close: both are leaders of bands and each requires an opportunity to organise his band. Danton, to organise his band, required the Revolution. “Of low birth, without a patron,” penniless, every office being filled, and “the Paris bar unattainable,” admitted a lawyer after “a struggle,” he for a long time strolled about the streets without a brief, or frequented the coffee-houses, the same as similar men nowadays frequent the beer-shops. At the Café de l’Ecole, the proprietor, a good natured old fellow “in a small round perruque, grey coat, and a napkin on his arm,” circulated among his tables smiling blandly, while his daughter sat in the rear as cashier.54 Danton chatted with her and demanded her hand in marriage. To obtain her, he had to mend his ways, purchase an attorneyship in the Court of the Royal Council and find bondsmen and endorsers in his small native town.55 Wedded and lodged in the gloomy Passage du Commerce, “more burdened with debts than with causes,” tied down to a sedentary profession which demands vigorous application, accuracy, a moderate tone, a respectable style, and blameless deportment; obliged to keep house on so small a scale that, without the help of a louis regularly advanced to him each week by his coffee-house father-in-law, he could not make both ends meet;56 his free-and-easy tastes, his alternately impetuous and indolent disposition, his love of enjoyment and of having his own way, his rude, violent instincts, his expansiveness, creativeness and activity, all rebel: he is ill-calculated for the quiet routine of our civil careers; it is not the steady discipline of an old society that suits him, but the tumultuous brutality of a society going to pieces, or one in a state of formation. In temperament and character he is a barbarian, and a barbarian born to command his fellow-creatures, like this or that vassal of the sixth century or baron of the tenth century. A colossus with the head of a “Tartar,” pitted with the small-pox, tragically and terribly ugly, with a mask convulsed like that of a growling “bull-dog,”57 with small, cavernous, restless eyes buried under the huge wrinkles of a threatening brow, with a thundering voice and moving and acting like a combatant, full-blooded, boiling over with passion and energy, his strength in its outbursts seeming illimitable like the forces of nature, roaring like a bull when speaking, and heard through closed windows fifty yards off in the street, employing immoderate imagery, intensely in earnest, trembling with indignation, revenge, and patriotic sentiments, able to arouse savage instincts in the most tranquil breast and generous instincts in the most brutal,58 profane, using emphatic terms,59 cynical, not monotonously so and affectedly like Hébert, but spontaneously and to the point, full of crude jests worthy of Rabelais, possessing a stock of jovial sensuality and good-humor, cordial and familiar in his ways, frank, friendly in tone; in short, outwardly and inwardly the best fitted for winning the confidence and sympathy of a Gallic, Parisian populace, and all contributing to the formation of “his inborn, practical popularity,” and to make of him “a grand-seigñior of sans-culotterie.”60 Thus endowed for playing a part, there is a strong temptation to act it the moment the theatre is ready, whether this be a mean one, got up for the occasion, and the actors rogues, scamps and prostitutes, or the part an ignoble one, murderous, and finally fatal to him who undertakes it. To withstand temptation of this sort would require a sentiment of repugnance which a refined or thorough culture develops in both sense and soul, but which was completely wanting in Danton. Nothing disgusts him physically or morally: he embraces Marat,61 fraternises with drunkards, congratulates the Septembriseurs, retorts in blackguard terms to the insults of prostitutes, treats reprobates, thieves, and jail-birds as equals, Carra, Westermann, Huguenin, Rossignol, and the confirmed scoundrels whom he sends into the departments after the 2d of September. “Eh! f——, you think we ought to send young misses.”62 One must employ foul people to do foul work; one cannot stop one’s nose when they come for their wages; one must pay them well, talk to them encouragingly, and leave them plenty of sea-room. Danton is willing to add fuel to the fire, and he humors vices; he has no scruples, and lets people scratch and take. He has taken himself as much to give as to keep, to maintain his role as much as to benefit by it, squaring accounts by spending the money of the Court against the Court, probably inwardly chuckling, the same as the peasant in a blouse on getting ahead of his well-duped landlord, or as the Frank, whom the ancient historian describes as leering on pocketing Roman gold the better to make war against Rome. The graft on this plebeian seedling has not taken; in our modern garden this remains as in the ancient forest; its vigorous sap preserves its primitive raciness and produces none of the fine fruits of our civilisation, a moral sense, honor, and conscience. Danton has no respect for himself nor for others; the nice, delicate limitations that circumscribe human personality, seem to him as legal conventionality and mere drawing-room courtesy. Like a Clovis, he tramples on this, and like a Clovis, equal in faculties, in similar expedients, and with a worse horde at his back, he throws himself athwart society, to stagger along, destroy and reconstruct it to his own advantage.
At the start, he comprehended the peculiar character and normal procedure of the Revolution, that is to say, the useful agency of popular brutality: in 1788 he had already figured in insurrections. He comprehended from the first the ultimate object and definite result of the Revolution, that is to say, the dictatorship of the violent minority. Immediately after the “14th of July,” 1789, he organised in his quarter of the city63 a small independent republic, aggressive and predominant, the centre of the faction, a refuge for the riff-raff and a rendezvous for fanatics, a pandemonium composed of every available madcap, every rogue, visionary, shoulder-hitter, newspaper scribbler and stump-speaker, either a secret or avowed plotter of murder, Camille Desmoulins, Fréron, Hébert, Chaumette, Clootz, Théroigne, Marat, while, in this more than Jacobin State, the model in anticipation of that he is to establish later, he reigns, as he will afterwards reign, the permanent president of the district, commander of the battalion, orator of the club, and the concocter of bold undertakings. Here, usurpation is the rule: there is no recognition of legal authority; they brave the King, the ministers, the judges, the Assembly, the municipality, the mayor, the commandant of the National Guard. Nature and principle raise them above the law; the district takes charge of Marat, posts two sentinels at his door to protect him from prosecutions, and uses arms against the armed force sent with a warrant to arrest him.64 And yet more, in the name of the city of Paris, “chief sentinel of the nation,” they assume to govern France: Danton betakes himself to the National Assembly and declares that the citizens of Paris are the natural representatives of the eighty-three departments, and summons it, on their injunction, to cancel an act it has passed.65 The entire Jacobin conception is therein expressed: Danton, with his keen insight, took it all in and proclaimed it in appropriate terms; to apply it at the present time on a grand scale,66 he has merely to pass from the small theatre to the large one, from the Cordeliers club to the Commune, to the Ministry, and the Committee of Public Safety, and, in all these theatres, he plays the same part with the same end in view and the same results. A despotism formed by conquest and maintained by terror, the despotism of the Jacobin Parisian rabble, is the end to which he directly marches. He employs no other means and, adapting the means to the end and the end to the means, manages the important days and instigates the decisive measures of the Revolution—the 10th of August,67 the 2d of September, the 31st of May, the 2d of June;68 the decree providing for an army of paid sans-culottes “to keep down aristocrats with their pikes”; the decree in each commune where grain is dear, taxing the rich to put bread within reach of the poor;69 the decree giving laborers forty sous for attending the meetings of the Section Assemblies;70 the institution of the revolutionary Tribunal;71 the proposal to erect the Committee of Public Safety into a provisional government; the proclamation of Terror; the concentration of Jacobin zeal on useful works; the employment of the eight thousand delegates of the primary assemblies, who had been sent home as recruiting agents for the universal armament;72 the inflammatory expressions of young men on the frontier; the wise resolutions for limiting the levy en masse to men between eighteen and twenty-five, which put an end to the scandalous songs and dances by the populace in the very hall of the Convention.73 In order to set the machine up, he cleared the ground, fused the metal, hammered out the principal pieces, filed off the blisterings, designed the action, adjusted the minor wheels, set it agoing, and indicated what it had to do, and, at the same time, he forged the plating which guarded it from the foreigner and against all outward violence. The machine being his, why, after constructing it, did he not serve as its engineer?
Because, if competent to construct it, he was not qualified to manage it. In a crisis, he may take hold of the wheel himself, excite an assembly or a mob in his favor, carry things with a high hand and direct an executive committee for a few weeks. But he dislikes regular, persistent labor; he is not made for studying documents, for poring over papers and confining himself to administrative routine.74 Never, like Robespierre and Billaud can he attend to both official and police duties at the same time, carefully reading minute daily reports, annotating mortuary lists, extemporising ornate abstractions, coolly enunciating falsehoods and acting out the patient, satisfied inquisitor; and especially, he can never become the systematic executioner. On the one hand, his eyes are not obscured by the grey veil of theory: he does not regard men through the Contrat-Social as a sum of arithmetical units,75 but as they really are, living, suffering, shedding their blood, especially those he knows, each with his peculiar physiognomy and demeanor. Compassion is excited by all this when one has any feeling, and he had. Danton had a heart; he had the quick sensibilities of a man of flesh and blood stirred by the primitive instincts, the good ones along with the bad ones, instincts which culture had neither impaired nor deadened, which allowed him to plan and permit the September massacre, but which did not allow him to practise daily and blindly, systematic and wholesale murder. Already in September, “cloaking his pity under his bellowing,”76 he had shielded or saved many eminent men from the butchers. When the axe is about to fall on the Girondists, he is “ill with grief” and despair. “I am unable to save them,” he exclaimed, “and big tears streamed down his cheeks.” On the other hand, his eyes are not covered by the bandage of incapacity or lack of forethought. He detected the innate vice of the system, the inevitable and approaching suicide of the Revolution. “The Girondists forced us to throw ourselves upon the sans-culotterie which has devoured them, which will devour us, and which will eat itself up.”77 “Let Robespierre and Saint-Just alone, and there will soon be nothing left in France but a Thebiad of political Trappists.”78 At the end, he sees more clearly still. “On a day like this I organised the revolutionary Tribunal. … I ask pardon for it of God and man. … In Revolutions, authority remains with the greatest scoundrels. … It is better to be a poor fisherman than govern men.”79 Nevertheless, he professed to govern them; he constructed a new machine for the purpose, and, deaf to its creaking, it worked in conformity with its structure and the impulse he gave to it. It towers before him, this sinister machine, with its vast wheel and iron cogs grinding all France, their multiplied teeth pressing out each individual life, its steel blade constantly rising and falling, and, as it plays faster and faster, daily exacting a larger and larger supply of human material, while those who furnish this supply are held to be as insensible and as senseless as itself. Danton cannot, or will not, be so. He gets out of the way, diverts himself, gambles,80 forgets; he supposes that the titular decapitators will probably consent to take no notice of him; in any event they do not pursue him; “they would not dare do it.” “No one must lay hands on me, I am the ark.” At the worst, he prefers “to be guillotined rather than guillotine.” Having said or thought this, he is ripe for the scaffold.
Even with the firm determination to remain decapitator-in-chief, Danton would not be the true representative of the Revolution. It is brigandage, but carried on philosophically; its creed includes robbery and assassination, but only as a knife in its sheath; the showy, polished sheath is for public display, and not the sharp and bloody blade. Danton, like Marat, lets the blade be too plainly visible. At the mere sight of Marat, filthy and slovenly, with his livid, frog-like face, round, gleaming and fixed eyeballs, bold, maniacal stare and steady monotonous rage, common-sense rebels; people do not accept for their guide a homicidal bedlamite. At sight of Danton, with his billingsgate expressions, his voice like a tocsin of insurrection, his cyclopean features and air of an exterminator, humanity takes alarm; one does not surrender oneself to a political butcher without repugnance. The Revolution demands another interpreter, wearing like itself a specious exterior, and such is Robespierre,81 with his irreproachable attire, well-powdered hair, carefully brushed coat,82 strict habits, dogmatic tone, and formal, studied manner of speaking. No mind, in its mediocrity and incompetence, so well harmonises with the spirit of the epoch. The reverse of the statesman, he soars in empty space, amongst abstractions, always mounted on a principle and incapable of dismounting so as to see things practically. “That b—— there,” exclaims Danton, “doesn’t even know how to boil an egg!” “The vague generalities of his preaching,” writes another contemporary,83 “rarely culminated in any specific measure or legal provision. He combated everything and proposed nothing; the secret of his policy happily accorded with his intellectual impotence and with the nullity of his legislative conceptions.” Once the thread of his revolutionary scholasticism has spun itself out, he is completely used up. As to financial matters and military art, he knows nothing and risks nothing, except to underrate or calumniate Carnot and Cambon who did know and who took risks.84 In relation to a foreign policy his speech on the state of Europe is the amplification of a schoolboy; on exposing the plans of the English minister he reaches the pinnacle of chimerical nonsense;85 eliminate the rhetorical passages, and it is not the head of a government who speaks, but the porter of the Jacobin club. On contemporary France, as it actually exists, he has not one just or precise idea: instead of men, he sees only twenty-six millions of automatons, who, duly penned in, work together in peace and harmony; they are, indeed, naturally good,86 and, after a little necessary purification, they will become good again; accordingly, their collective will is “the voice of reason and public interest”; hence, on meeting together, they are wise. “The people’s assembly of delegates should deliberate, if possible, in the presence of the whole body of the people”; the Legislative body, at least, should hold its sittings “in a vast, majestic edifice open to twenty thousand spectators.” Note that for the past four years, in the Constituent Assembly, in the Legislative Assembly, in the Convention, at the Hôtel-de-Ville, in the Jacobin Club, wherever Robespierre speaks, the galleries have kept up constant vociferations: such a positive, palpable experience would open anybody’s eyes; his are closed through prejudice or interest; even physical truth finds no access to his mind, because he is unable to comprehend it, or because he has to keep it out. He is, accordingly, either obtuse or a charlatan, and both in fact, for both combine to form the cuistre, that is to say, the hollow, inflated mind which, filled with words and imagining that these are ideas, revels in its own declamation and dupes itself that it may dictate to others.
Such is his title, character, and the part he plays. In this artificial and declamatory tragedy of the Revolution he takes the leading part; the maniac and the barbarian slowly retire in the background on the appearance of the cuistre; Marat and Danton finally become effaced, or efface themselves, and the stage is left to Robespierre who absorbs attention.87 If we would comprehend him we must look at him as he stands in the midst of his surroundings. At the last stage of an intellectual vegetation passing away, he remains on the last branch of the eighteenth century, the most abortive and driest offshoot of the classical spirit.88 He has retained nothing of a worn-out system of philosophy but its lifeless dregs and well-conned formulae, the formulae of Rousseau, Mably, and Raynal, concerning “the people, nature, reason, liberty, tyrants, factions, virtue, morality,” a ready-made vocabulary,89 expressions too ample, the meaning of which, ill-defined by the masters, evaporates in the hands of the disciple. He never tries to get at this; his writings and speeches are merely long strings of vague abstract periods; there is no telling fact in them, no distinct, characteristic detail, no appeal to the eye evoking a living image, no personal, special observation, no clear, frank original impression. It might be said of him that he never saw anything with his own eyes, that he neither could nor would see, that false conceptions have intervened and fixed themselves between him and the object;90 he combines these in logical sequence, and simulates the absent thought by an affected jargon, and this is all. The other Jacobins alongside of him likewise use the same scholastic jargon; but none of them expatiate on it so lengthily. For hours, we grope after him in the vague shadows of political speculation, in the cold and perplexing mist of didactic generalities, trying in vain to make something out of his colorless tirades, and we grasp nothing. We then, astonished, ask what all this talk amounts to, and why he talks at all; the answer is, that he has said nothing and that he talks only for the sake of talking, the same as a sectary preaching to his congregation, neither the preacher nor his audience ever wearying, the one of turning the dogmatic crank, and the other of listening. So much the better if the hopper is empty; the emptier it is the easier and faster the crank turns. And better still, if the empty term he selects is used in a contrary sense; the sonorous words justice, humanity, mean to him piles of human heads, the same as a text from the gospels means to a grand inquisitor the burning of heretics. Through this extreme perversity, the cuistre spoils his own mental instrument; thenceforth he employs it as he likes, as his passions dictate, believing that he serves truth in serving these.
Now, his first passion, his principal passion, is literary vanity. Never was the chief of a party, sect, or government, even at critical moments, such an incurable, insignificant rhetorician, so formal, so pompous, and so vapid. On the eve of the 9th of Thermidor, when it was necessary to conquer or die, he enters the tribune with a set speech, written and rewritten, polished and repolished,91 overloaded with studied ornaments and bits for effect,92 coated by dint of time and labor, with the academic varnish, the glitter of symmetrical antitheses, rounded periods, exclamations, preteritions, apostrophes and other tricks of the pen.93 In the most famous and important of his reports,94 I have counted eighty-four instances of prosopopoeia imitated from Rousseau and the antique, many of them largely expanded, some addressed to the dead, to Brutus, to young Barra, and others to absentees, priests, and aristocrats, to the unfortunate, to French women, and finally to abstract substantives like Liberty and Friendship. With unshaken conviction and intense satisfaction, he deems himself an orator because he harps on the same old tune. There is no sign of true inspiration in his elaborate eloquence, nothing but recipes and those of a worn-out art, Greek and Roman common-places, Socrates and the hemlock, Brutus and his dagger, classic metaphors like “the flambeaux of discord,” and “the vessel of State,”95 words coupled together and beauties of style which a pupil in rhetoric aims at on the college bench;96 sometimes a grand bravura air, so essential for parade in public;97 oftentimes a delicate strain of the flute, for, in those days, one must have a tender heart;98 in short, Marmontel’s method in “Belisarius,” or that of Thomas in his “Eloges,” all borrowed from Rousseau, but of inferior quality, like a sharp, thin voice strained to imitate a rich, powerful voice; a sort of involuntary parody, and the more repulsive because a word ends in a blow, because a sentimental, declamatory Trissotin poses as statesman, because the studied elegances of the closet become pistol shots aimed at living breasts, because an epithet skilfully directed sends a man to the guillotine. The contrast is too great between his talent and the part he plays. With a talent as petty and false as his intellect, there is no employment for which he is less calculated than that of governing men; he was cut out for another, which, in a peaceable community, would have stood him in stead. Suppress the Revolution, and Marat would have probably ended his days in an asylum. Danton might possibly have become a legal fillibuster, a Mandrin or bravo under certain circumstances, and finally throttled or hung. Robespierre, on the contrary, might have continued as he began,99 a busy, hard-working lawyer of good standing, member of the Arras Academy, winner of competitive prizes, author of literary eulogiums, moral essays, and philanthropic pamphlets; his little lamp, lighted like hundreds of others of equal capacity at the focus of the new philosophy, would have burned moderately without doing harm to any one, and diffused over a provincial circle a dim, commonplace illumination proportionate to the little oil his lamp would hold.
But the Revolution bore him into the Constituent Assembly, where, for a long time on this great stage, the self-love that constitutes the sensitive chord of the cuistre, suffered terribly. He had already suffered on this score from his earliest youth, and his wounds being still fresh made him only the more sensitive. Left an orphan, poor, befriended by his bishop, becoming a bursar through favor at the college Louis-le-Grand, after this a clerk with Brissot under the revolutionary system of law-practice, and at length settled down in his gloomy rue des Rapporteurs as a pettifogger, living with a peevish sister, he adopts Rousseau, whom he had once seen and whom he ardently studies, for his master in philosophy, politics, and style. Fancying, probably, like other young men of his age and condition, that he could play a similar part and thus emerge from his blind alley, he published law pleadings for effect, contended for Academy prizes, and read papers before his Arras colleagues. His success was moderate: one of his harangues obtained a notice in the Artois Almanack; the Academy of Metz awarded him only a second prize; that of Amiens gave him no prize, while the critic of the “Mercure” spoke of his style as smacking of the provinces. In the National Assembly, eclipsed by men of great and spontaneous ability, he remains a long time in the shade, and, more than once, through over self-assertion or lack of tact, makes himself ridiculous. With his sharp, thin, attorney’s visage, “dull, monotonous, coarse voice and wearisome delivery,” “an artesian accent,” and constrained air,100 his constantly putting himself forward, his elaboration of commonplaces, his evident determination to impose on cultivated people, still a body of intelligent listeners, and the intolerable ennui he caused them—all this is not calculated to render the Assembly indulgent to errors of sense and taste.101 One day, referring to certain acts of the “Conseil”: “It is necessary that a noble and simple formula should announce national rights and carry respect for law into the hearts of the people.” Consequently, in the decrees as promulgated, after the words “Louis, by the grace of God,” etc., these words should follow: “People, behold the law imposed on you! Let this law be considered sacred and inviolable for all!” Upon this, a Gascon deputy arises and remarks in his southern accent, “Gentlemen, this formula is useless—we do not sing psalms (cantique).” There is a general roar;102 Robespierre keeps silent and bleeds internally: two or three discomfitures of this stamp render a man sore from head to foot.
It is not that his folly is foolishness to him; no pedant taken in the act and hissed would avow that he deserved such treatment; on the contrary, he is content to have spoken as becomes a philosophic and moral legislator, and so much the worse for the narrow minds and corrupt hearts unable to comprehend him. Thrown back upon himself, his wounded vanity seeks inward nourishment and takes what it can find in the sterile uniformity of his bourgeois moderation. Robespierre, unlike Danton, has no cravings. He is sober; he is not tormented by his senses; if he gives way to them, it is only no further than he can help, and with a bad grace; in the rue Saintonge in Paris, “for seven months,” says his secretary, “I knew of but one woman that he kept company with, and he did not treat her very well … very often he would not let her enter his room”: when busy, he must not be disturbed; he is naturally steady, hard-working, studious and fond of seclusion, at college a model pupil, at home in his province an attentive advocate, a punctual deputy in the Assembly, everywhere free of temptation and incapable of going astray. “Irreproachable” is the word which from early youth an inward voice constantly repeats to him in low tones to console him for obscurity and patience. Thus has he ever been, is now, and ever will be; he says this to himself, tells others so, and on this foundation, all of a piece, he builds up his character. He is not, like Desmoulins, to be seduced by dinners, like Barnave, by flattery, like Mirabeau and Danton, by money, like the Girondists, by the insinuating charm of ancient politeness and select society, like the Dantonists, by the bait of joviality and unbounded license—he is the incorruptible. He is not to be deterred or diverted, like the Feuillants, Girondists, and Dantonists, like statesmen or specialists, by considerations of a lower order, by regard for interests or respect for acquired positions, by the danger of undertaking too much at once, by the necessity of not disorganising the service and of giving play to human passions, motives of utility and opportunity: he is the uncompromising champion of right.103 “Alone, or nearly alone, I do not allow myself to be corrupted; alone or nearly alone, I do not compromise the right;104 which two merits I possess in the highest degree. A few others may live correctly, but they oppose or betray principles; a few others profess to have principles, but they do not live correctly. No one else leads so pure a life or is so loyal to principles; no one else joins to so fervent a worship of truth so strict a practice of virtue: I am the unique.” What can be more agreeable than this mute soliloquy? It is gently heard the first day in Robespierre’s address to the Third-Estate of Arras;105 it is uttered aloud the last day in his great speech in the Convention;106 during the interval, it crops out and shines through all his compositions, harangues, or reports, in exordiums, parentheses, and perorations, permeating every sentence like the drone of a bag-pipe.107 Through the delight he takes in this he can listen to nothing else, and it is just here that the outward echoes supervene and sustain with their accompaniment the inward cantata which he sings to his own glory. Towards the end of the Constituent Assembly, through the withdrawal or the elimination of every man at all able or competent, he becomes one of the conspicuous tenors on the political stage, while in the Jacobin Club he is decidedly the tenor most in vogue. “Unique competitor of the Roman Fabricius,” writes the branch club at Marseilles to him; “immortal defender of popular rights,” says the Jacobin crew of Bourges.108 One of two portraits of him in the exhibition of 1791 bears the inscription: “The Incorruptible.” At the Molière Theatre a drama of the day represents him as launching the thunderbolts of his logic and virtue at Rohan and Condé. On his way, at Bapaume, the patriots of the place, the National Guard on the road, and the authorities, come in a body to honor the great man. The town of Arras is illuminated on his arrival. On the adjournment of the Constituent Assembly the people in the street greet him with shouts, crown him with oak wreaths, take the horses from his cab, and drag him in triumph to the rue St. Honoré, where he lodges with the carpenter Duplay. Here, in one of those families in which the semibourgeois class borders on the people, whose minds are unsophisticated, and on whom glittering generalities and oratorical tirades take full hold, he finds his worshippers; they drink in his words; they have the same opinion of him that he has of himself; to every soul in the house, husband, wife, and daughter, he is the great patriot, the infallible sage; he bestows benedictions night and morning; he inhales clouds of incense; he is a god installed in furnished apartments. The faithful, to obtain access to him form a line in the court;109 they are admitted into the reception room, where they gather around portraits of him drawn with pencil and stump, in sepia and in water color, and before miniature busts in red or grey plaster; then, on the signal being given by him, they penetrate through a glass door into the sanctuary where he presides, in the private closet in which the best bust of him, with verses and mottoes, supplies his place during his absence. His worshippers adore him on their knees, and the women more than the men. On the day he delivers his apology before the Convention “the passages are lined with women110 … seven or eight hundred of them in the galleries, and but two hundred men at most”; and how frantically they cheer him! He is a priest surrounded by devotees.”111 On spouting his “rigmarole” at the Jacobin Club “the most affecting sobbings, shoutings and stampings almost make the house tumble.”112 A looker-on who shows no emotion is greeted with murmurs and obliged to slip out, like a heretic that has strayed into a church on the elevation of the Host. The faster the revolutionary thunderbolts fall on other heads, so does Robespierre mount higher and higher in glory and deification. Letters are addressed to him as “the founder of the Republic, the incorruptible genius who foresees all and saves all, who can neither be deceived nor seduced”;113 who has “the energy of a Spartan and the eloquence of an Athenian”;114 “who shields the Republic with the aegis of his eloquence”;115 who “illuminates the universe with his writings, fills the world with his renown and regenerates the human species here below”;116 whose “name is now, and will be, held in veneration for all ages, present and to come”;117 who is “the Messiah promised by the Eternal for universal reform.”118 “An extraordinary popularity,” says Billaud-Varennes,119 a popularity which, founded under the Constituent Assembly, “only increased during the Legislative Assembly,” and, later on, so much more, that, “in the National Convention he soon found himself the only one able to fix attention on his person … and control public opinion. … With this ascendency over public opinion, with this irresistible preponderance, when he reached the Committee of Public Safety, he was already the most important being in France.” In three years, a chorus of a thousand voices,120 which he formed and led indefatigably, rehearses to him in unison his own litany, his most sacred creed, the hymn of three stanzas composed by him in his own honor, and which he daily recites to himself in a low tone of voice, and often in a loud one: “Robespierre alone has discovered the ideal citizen! Robespierre alone attains to it without exaggeration or shortcomings! Robespierre alone is worthy of and able to lead the Revolution!”121 Cool infatuation carried thus far is equivalent to a raging fever, and Robespierre almost attains to the ideas and the ravings of Marat.
First, in his own eyes, he, like Marat, is a persecuted man, and, like Marat, he poses himself as a “martyr,” but more skilfully and keeping within bounds, affecting the resigned and tender air of an innocent victim, who, offering himself as a sacrifice, ascends to Heaven, bequeathing to mankind the imperishable souvenir of his virtues.122 “I excite against me the self-love of everybody;123 I sharpen against me a thousand daggers. I am a sacrifice to every species of hatred. … It is certain that my head will atone for the truths I have uttered. I have given my life, and shall welcome death almost as a boon. It is, perhaps, Heaven’s will that my blood should indicate the pathway of my country to happiness and freedom. With what transports I accept this glorious destiny!”124 “One does not wage war against tyrants for existence, and, what is still more dangerous, against miscreants; … the greater their eagerness to put an end to my career here below, the more eager I shall be to fill it with actions serving the welfare of my fellow-creatures.”125 “These miscreants all revile me;126 the most insignificant, the most legitimate actions of others are, in my case, crimes. Whoever becomes acquainted with me is at once calumniated. The luck of others is pardoned, my zeal is guilt. Deprive me of my conscience and I am the most wretched of men. I do not even enjoy the rights of a citizen. I am not even allowed to perform my duty as a representative of the people. … To the enemies of my country, to whom my existence seems an obstacle to their heinous plots, I am ready to sacrifice it, if their odious empire is to endure; … let their road to the scaffold be the pathway of crime, ours shall be that of virtue; … let the hemlock be got ready for me, I await it on this hallowed spot. I shall at least bequeath to my country an example of constant affection for it, and to the enemies of humanity the disgrace of my death.”
Naturally, as always with Marat, he sees around him only “evil-doers,” “intriguers,” and “traitors.”127 Naturally, as with Marat, common sense with him is perverted, and, like Marat again, he thinks at random. “I am not obliged to reflect,” said he to Garat, “I always rely on first impressions.” “For him,” says the same authority, “the best reasons are suspicions,”128 and nought makes headway against suspicions, not even the most positive evidence. On September 4, 1792, talking confidentially with Pétion, and hard pressed with the questions that he put to him, he ends by saying, “Very well, I think that Brissot is on Brunswick’s side.”129 Naturally, finally, he, like Marat, imagines the darkest fictions, but they are less improvised, less grossly absurd, more slowly worked out, and more industriously interwoven in his calculating inquisitorial brain. “Evidently,” he says to Garat, “the Girondists are conspiring.”130 “And where?” demands Garat. “Every where,” he replies, “in Paris, throughout France, over all Europe. Gensonné, at Paris, is plotting in the Faubourg St. Antoine, going about among the shopkeepers and persuading them that we patriots mean to pillage their shops. The Gironde (department) has for a long time been plotting its separation from France so as to join England; the chiefs of its deputation are at the head of the plot, and mean to carry it out at any cost. Gensonné makes no secret of it; he tells all among them who will listen to him that they are not representatives of the nation, but plenipotentiaries of the Gironde. Brissot is plotting in his journal, which is simply a tocsin of civil war; we know of his going to England, and why he went; we know all about his intimacy with that Lebrun, minister of foreign affairs, a Liegois and creature of the Austrian house. Brissot’s best friend is Clavière, and Clavière has plotted wherever he could breathe. Rabaut, treacherous like the Protestant and philosopher that he is, was not clever enough to conceal his correspondence with that courtier and traitor Montesquiou; six months ago they were working together to open Savoy and France to the Piedmontese. Servan was made general of the Pyrenean army only to give the keys of France to the Spaniards.” “Is there no doubt of this in your mind?” asks Garat. “None, whatever.”131
Such assurance, equal to that of Marat, is terrible and worse in its effect, for Robespierre’s list of conspirators is longer than that of Marat. Political and social, in Marat’s mind, the list comprehends only aristocrats and the rich; theological and moral in Robespierre’s mind, it comprehends all atheists and dishonest persons, that is to say, nearly the whole of his party. In this narrow mind, given up to abstractions and habitually classifying men under two opposite headings, whoever is not with him on the good side is against him on the bad side, and, on the bad side, the common understanding between the factious of every flag and the rogues of every degree, is natural. “All aristocrats are corrupt, and every corrupt man is an aristocrat”; for, “republican government and public morality are one and the same thing.”132 Not only do evil-doers of both species tend through instinct and interest to league together, but their league is already perfected. One has only to open one’s eyes to detect “in all its extent” the plot they have hatched, “the frightful system of destruction of public morality.”133 Guadet, Vergniaud, Gensonné, Danton, Hébert, “all of them artificial characters,” had no other end in view: “they felt134 that, to destroy liberty, it was necessary to favor by every means whatever tended to justify egoism, wither the heart and efface that idea of moral beauty, which affords the only rule for public reason in its judgment of the defenders and enemies of humanity.” Their heirs remain; but let those be careful. Immorality is a political offence; one conspires against the State merely by making a parade of materialism or by preaching indulgence, by acting scandalously, or by following evil courses, by stock-jobbing, by dining too sumptuously; by being vicious, scheming, given to exaggeration, or “on the fence”; by exciting or perverting the people, by deceiving the people, by finding fault with the people, by distrusting the people,135 in short, when one does not march straight along on the prescribed path marked out by Robespierre according to principles: whoever stumbles or turns aside is a scoundrel, a traitor. Now, not counting the Royalists, Feuillantists, Girondists, Hébertists, Dantonists, and others already decapitated or imprisoned according to their deserts, how many traitors still remain in the Convention, on the Committees, amongst the representatives on mission, in the administrative bodies not properly weeded out, amongst petty tyrannic underlings and the entire ruling, influential class at Paris and in the provinces? Outside of “about twenty political Trappists in the Convention,” outside of a small devoted group of pure Jacobins in Paris, outside of a faithful few scattered among the popular clubs of the departments, how many Fouchés, Vadiers, Talliens, Bourdons, Collots, remain amongst the so-called revolutionists? How many dissentients are there, disguised as orthodox, charlatans disguised as patriots, and pachas disguised as sans-culottes?136 Add all this vermin to that which Marat seeks to crush out; it is no longer by hundreds of thousands, but by millions, exclaim Baudot, Jean Bon St. André and Guffroy, that the guilty must be counted and heads laid low! And all these heads, Robespierre, according to his maxims, must strike off. He is well aware of this; hostile as his intellect may be to precise ideas, he, when alone in his closet, face to face with himself, sees clearly, as clearly as Marat. Marat’s chimera, on first spreading out its wings, bore its frenzied rider swiftly onward to the charnel house; that of Robespierre, fluttering and hobbling along, reaches the goal in its turn; in its turn, it demands something to feed on, and the rhetorician, the professor of principles, begins to calculate the voracity of the monstrous brute on which he is mounted. Slower than the other, this one is still more ravenous, for, with similar claws and teeth, it has a vaster appetite. At the end of three years Robespierre has overtaken Marat, at the extreme point reached by Marat at the outset, and the theorist adopts the policy, the aim, the means, the work, and almost the vocabulary of the maniac:137 armed dictatorship of the urban mob, systematic maddening of the subsidised populace, war against the bourgeoisie, extermination of the rich, proscription of opposition writers, administrators, and deputies. Both monsters demand the same food; only, Robespierre adds “vicious men” to the ration of his monster, by way of extra and preferable game. Henceforth, he may in vain abstain from action, take refuge in his rhetoric, stop his chaste ears, and raise his hypocritical eyes to heaven, he cannot avoid seeing or hearing under his immaculate feet the streaming gore, and the bones crashing in the open jaws of the insatiable monster which he has fashioned and on which he prances.138 These ever open and hungry jaws must be daily fed with an ampler supply of human flesh; not only is he bound to let it eat, but to furnish the food, often with his own hands, except that he must afterwards wash them, declaring, and even believing, that no spot of blood has ever soiled them. He is generally content to caress and flatter the brute, to excuse it, to let it go on. Nevertheless, more than once, tempted by the opportunity, he points out the prey and gives it the rein.139 He is now himself starting off in quest of living prey; he casts the net of his rhetoric140 around it; he fetches it bound to the open jaws; he thrusts aside with an absolute air the arms of friends, wives, and mothers, the outstretched hands of suppliants begging for lives;141 he suddenly throttles the struggling victims142 and, for fear that they might escape, he strangles them in time. Towards the last, this no longer suffices; the brute must have grander quarries, and, accordingly, a pack of hounds, beaters-up, and, willingly or not, Robespierre must equip, direct, and urge them on, at Orange, at Paris,143 ordering them to empty the prisons, and be expeditious in doing their work. Destructive instincts, long repressed by civilisation, thus devoted to butchery, become aroused. His feline physiognomy, at first “that of a domestic cat, restless but mild, changes into the savage mien of the wildcat, and next to the ferocious mien of the tiger. In the Constituent Assembly he speaks with a whine, in the Convention he froths at the mouth.”144 The monotonous drone of a stiff subprofessor changes into the personal accent of furious passion; he hisses and grinds his teeth;145 sometimes, on a change of scene, he affects to shed tears.146 But his wildest outbursts are less alarming than his affected sensibility. The festering grudges, corrosive envies and bitter schemings which have accumulated in his breast are astonishing. The gall vessels are full, and the extravasated gall overflows on the dead. He never tires of reexecuting his guillotined adversaries, the Girondists, Chaumette, Hébert and especially Danton,147 probably because Danton was the active agent in the Revolution of which he was simply the incapable pedagogue; he vents his posthumous hatred on this still warm corpse in artful insinuations and obvious misrepresentations. Thus, inwardly corroded by the venom it distils, his physical machine gets out of order, like that of Marat, but with other symptoms. When speaking in the tribune “his hands crisp with a sort of nervous contraction”; sudden tremors agitate “his shoulders and neck, shaking him convulsively to and fro.”148 “His bilious complexion becomes livid,” his eyelids quiver under his spectacles, and how he looks! “Ah,” said a Montagnard, “you would have voted as we did on the 9th of Thermidor, had you seen his green eyeballs!” “Physically as well as morally,” he becomes a second Marat, suffering all the more because his delirium is not steady, and because his policy, being a moral one, forces him to exterminate on a grander scale.
But he is a discreet Marat, of a timid temperament, anxious,149 keeping his thoughts to himself, made for a school-master or a pleader, but not for taking the lead or for governing, always acting hesitatingly, and ambitious to be rather the pope, than the dictator of the Revolution.150 He would prefer to remain a political Grandison; he keeps the mask on to the very last, not only to the public and to others, but to himself and in his inmost conscience. The mask, indeed, has adhered to his skin; he can no longer distinguish one from the other; never did impostor more carefully conceal intentions and acts under sophisms, and persuade himself that the mask was his face, and that in telling a lie, he told the truth.
Taking his word for it, he had nothing to do with the September events.151 “Previous to these occurrences, he had ceased to attend the General Council of the Commune. … He no longer went there.” He was not charged with any duty, he had no influence there; he had not provoked the arrest and murder of the Girondists.152 All he did was to “speak frankly concerning certain members of the Committee of Twenty-one”; as “a magistrate” and “one of a municipal assembly.” Should he not “explain himself freely on the authors of a dangerous plot?” Besides, the Commune “far from provoking the 2d of September did all in its power to prevent it.” In fine, but one innocent person perished, “which is undoubtedly one too many. Citizens, mourn over this cruel mistake; we too have long mourned over it! But, as all things human come to an end, let your tears cease to flow.” When the sovereign people resumes its delegated power and exercises its inalienable rights, we have only to bow our heads. Moreover, it is just, wise, and good: “in all that it undertakes, all is virtue and truth; nothing can be excess, error, or crime.”153 It must intervene when its true representatives are hampered by the law: “let it assemble in its sections and compel the arrest of faithless deputies.”154 What is more legal than such a motion, which is the only part Robespierre took on the 31st of May. He is too scrupulous to commit or prescribe an illegal act. That will do for the Dantons, the Marats, men of relaxed morals or excited brains, who if need be, tramp in the gutters and roll up their shirt-sleeves; as to himself, he can do nothing that would ostensibly derange or soil the dress proper to an honest man and irreproachable citizen. In the Committee of Public Safety, he merely executes the decrees of the Convention, and the Convention is always free. He a dictator! He is merely one of seven hundred deputies, and his authority, if he has any, is simply the legitimate ascendency of reason and virtue.155 He a murderer! If he has denounced conspirators, it is the Convention which summons these before the revolutionary Tribunal,156 and the revolutionary Tribunal pronounces judgment on them. He a terrorist! He merely seeks to simplify the established proceedings, so as to secure a speedier release of the innocent, the punishment of the guilty, and the final purgation that is to render liberty and morals the order of the day.157 Before uttering all this he almost believes it, and, when he has uttered it he believes it fully.158
When nature and history combine, to produce a character, they succeed better than man’s imagination. Neither Molière in his “Tartuffe,” nor Shakespeare in his “Richard III.,” dared bring on the stage a hypocrite believing himself sincere, and a Cain that regarded himself as an Abel. There he stands on a colossal stage, in the presence of a hundred thousand spectators, on the 8th of June, 1794, the most glorious day of his life, at the fête in honor of the Supreme Being, which is the glorious triumph of his doctrine and the official consecration of his popedom. Two characters are found in Robespierre, as in the Revolution which he represents: one, apparent, paraded, external, and the other hidden, dissembled, inward, the latter being overlaid by the former. The first one all for show, fashioned out of purely cerebral cogitations, is as artificial as the solemn farce going on around him. According to David’s programme, the cavalcade of supernumeraries who file in front of an allegorical mountain, gesticulate and shout at the command, and under the eyes, of Henriot and his gendarmes,159 manifesting at the appointed time the emotions which are prescribed for them. At five o’clock in the morning “friends, husbands, wives, relations, and children will embrace. … The old man, his eyes streaming with tears of joy, feels himself rejuvenated.” At two o’clock, on the turf-laid terraces of the sacred mountain “all will show a state of commotion and excitement: mothers here press to their bosoms the infants they suckle, and there offer them up in homage to the author of Nature, while youths, aglow with the ardor of battle, simultaneously draw their swords and hand them to their venerable fathers. Sharing in the enthusiasm of their sons, the transported old men embrace them and bestow on them the paternal benediction. … All the men distributed around the ‘Field of Reunion’ sing in chorus the (first) refrain. … All the women distributed around the ‘Field of Reunion’ sing in unison the (second) refrain. … All Frenchmen partake of each other’s sentiments in one grand fraternal embrace.” Such an idyl, performed to the beating of drums, in the presence of moral symbols and colored pasteboard divinities, what could better please the counterfeit moralist, unable to distinguish the false from the true, and whose skin-deep sensibility is borrowed from sentimental authors! “For the first time” his glowing countenance beams with joy, while “the enthusiasm”160 of the scribe overflows, as usual, in book phraseology: “Behold!” he exclaims, “that which is most interesting in humanity! The Universe is here assembled! O, Nature, how sublime, how exquisite is thy power! How tyrants must quail at the contemplation of this festival!” Is not he himself its most dazzling ornament? Was not he unanimously chosen to preside over the Convention and conduct the ceremonies? Is he not the founder of the new cult, the only pure worship on the face of the earth, approved of by morality and reason? Wearing the uniform of a representative, nankeen breeches, blue coat, tricolored sash, and plumed hat,161 holding in his hand a bouquet of flowers and grain, he marches at the head of the Convention and officiates on the platform; he sets fire to the veil which hides from view the idol representing “Atheism,” and suddenly, through an ingenious contrivance, the majestic statue of “Wisdom” appears in its place. He then addresses the crowd, over and over again, exhorting, apostrophising, preaching, elevating his soul to the Supreme Being, and with what oratorical combinations! What an academic swell of bombastic cadences, strung together to enforce his tirades! How cunning the even balance of adjective and substantive!162 From these faded rhetorical flowers, arranged as if for a prize distribution or a funeral oration, exhales a sanctimonious, collegiate odor which he complacently breathes, and which intoxicates him. At this moment, he must certainly be in earnest; there is no hesitation or reserve in his self-admiration; he is not only in his own eyes a great writer and great orator, but a great statesman and great citizen: his artificial, philosophic conscience awards him only praise. But look underneath, or rather wait a moment. Signs of impatience and antipathy appear behind his back: Lecointre has braved him openly; numerous insults, and, worse than these, sarcasms, reach his ears. On such an occasion, and in such a place! Against the pontiff of Truth, the apostle of Virtue! The miscreants, how dare they! Silent and pale, he suppresses his rage, and,163 losing his balance, closing his eyes, he plunges headlong on the path of murder: cost what it will, the miscreants must perish and without loss of time. To expedite matters, he must get their heads off quietly, and as “up to this time things have been managed confidentially in the Committee of Public Safety,” he, alone with Couthon, two days after, without informing his colleagues,164 draws up, brings to the Convention, and has passed the terrible act of Prairial which places everybody’s life at his disposal. In his crafty, blundering haste, he has demanded too much; each one, on reflection, becomes alarmed for himself; he is compelled to back out, to protest that he is misunderstood, admit that representatives are excepted, and, accordingly, to sheathe the knife he has already applied to his adversaries’ throats. But he still holds it in his grasp. He watches them, and, pretending to retreat, affects a renunciation, crouched in his corner,165 waiting until they discredit themselves, so as to spring upon them a second time. He has not to wait long, for the exterminating machine he set up on the 22d of Prairial, is in their hands, and it has to work as he planned it, namely, by making rapid turns and almost haphazard: the odium of a blind sweeping massacre rests with them; he not only makes no opposition to this, but, while pretending to abstain from it, he urges it on. Secluded in the private office of his secret police, he orders arrests;166 he sends out his principal bloodhound, Herman; he first signs and then despatches the resolution by which it is supposed that there are conspirators among those in confinement and which, authorising spies or paid informers, is to provide the guillotine with those vast batches which “purge and clean prisons out in a trice.”167 “I am not responsible,” he states later on. … “My lack of power to do any good, to arrest the evil, forced me for more than six weeks to abandon my post on the Committee of Public Safety.”168 To ruin his adversaries by murders committed by him, by those which he makes them commit and which he imputes to them, to whitewash himself and blacken them with the same stroke of the brush, what intense delight! If the natural conscience murmurs in whispers at moments, the acquired superposed conscience immediately imposes silence, concealing personal hatreds under public pretexts: the guillotined, after all, were aristocrats, and whoever comes under the guillotine is immoral. Thus, the means are good and the end better; in employing the means, as well as in pursuing the end, the function is sacerdotal.
Such is the scenic exterior of the Revolution, a specious mask with a hideous visage beneath it, under the reign of a nominal humanitarian theory, covering over the effective dictatorship of evil and low passions. In its true representative, as in itself, we see ferocity issuing from philanthropy, and, from the cuistre, the executioner.
The Rulers of the Country—I.The Convention—The “Plain”—The “Mountain”—Degradation of Souls—Parades which the Convention is obliged to make—II.How these are carried out—Its slavery and servility—Its participation in crime—III.The Committee of Public Safety—Men who do the work—Carnot, Prieur de-la-Côte d’Or, Jean Bon Saint André, Robert Lindet—IV.The Statesmen—Billaud-Varennes, Collot d’Herbois, Robespierre, Couthon, and Saint-Just—Conditions of this rule—Dangers to which they are subject—Their dissensions—Pressure of Fear and Theory—V.Their official organs—Reports by Saint-Just and Barère—Quality of reports and reporters—VI.Representatives on Mission—Their absolute power—Their perils and their fear—Fit for their work—Effect of this situation—VII.Eruption of brutal instincts—Duquesnoy at Metz—Dumont at Amiens—Drunkards—Cusset, Bourbotte, Moustier, Bourdon de l’Oise, Dartigoyte—VIII.Approach of madness—Loss of common-sense—Fabre, Gaston, Guiter, in the army of the Eastern Pyrenees—Baudot, Lebas, Saint-Just, and their predecessors and successors in the army of the Rhine—Furious excitement—Lebon at Arras, and Carrier at Nantes— IX. The development of vice—Vanity and the need of gambling—Collot d’Herbois, Ysabeau, Tallien—The Robbers—Tallien, Javogues, Rovère, Fouché—Two sources of cruelty—Need of demonstrating one’s power—Saint-Just in the Pas-de-Calais department, and in Alsace—Collot d’Herbois at Lyons—Pressure exercised by the Representatives on the tribunals—Pleasure caused by death and suffering—Monestier, Fouché, Collot d’Herbois, Lebon, and Carrier.
Let us follow the operations of the new government from the first to the last of its derivations, those of its ruling bodies and leaders, its assemblies, committees, delegates, administrators, and underlings of every kind and degree. Like living flesh stamped with a red-hot iron, so do their brows bear the imprint of two stigmata, each with its own cicatrice and discoloration. In vain do they, too, strive to conceal their scars: we detect under the crowns and titles they assume the brand of the slave or the mark of the tyrant.
At the Tuileries, the omnipotent Convention sits enthroned in the theatre, converted into an Assembly room. It carries on its deliberations daily, in grand style. Its decrees, received with blind obedience, startle France and upset all Europe. At a distance, its majesty is imposing, more august than that of the republican senate in Rome. Near by, the effect is quite otherwise; these undisputed sovereigns are serfs who live in trances, and justly so, for, nowhere, even in prison, is there more constraint and less security than on their benches. After the 2d of June, 1793, their inviolable precincts, the grand official reservoir from which legal authority flows, becomes a sort of tank, into which the revolutionary net plunges and successfully brings out its choicest fish, singly or by the dozen, and sometimes in vast numbers; at first, the sixty-seven Girondist deputies, who are executed or proscribed; then, the seventy-three members of the “Right,” swept off in one day and lodged in the prison of La Force; next, the prominent Jacobins: Osselin, arrested on the 19th of Brumaire, Bazire, Chabot, and Delaunay, accused by decree on the 24th Brumaire, Fabre d’Eglantine, arrested on the 24th of Nivose, Bernard, guillotined on the 3d of Pluviose, Anacharsis Clootz guillotined on the 4th of Germinal, Hérault-Séchelles, Lacroix, Philippeaux, Camille Desmoulins and Danton, guillotined with four others on the 10th of Germinal, Simon, guillotined on the 24th of Germinal, and Osselin, guillotined on the 8th of Messidor. Naturally, the others take warning and are careful. At the opening of the session they are seen entering the hall, looking uneasy, “full of distrust,”1 like animals driven into a pen and suspicious of a trap. “Each,” writes an eye-witness, “acted and spoke with circumspection, for fear of being charged with some crime: in effect, nothing was unimportant, the seat one took, a glance of the eye, a gesture, a murmur, a smile.” Hence, they flock instinctively to the side which is best sheltered, the left side. “The tide flowed towards the summit of the Mountain; the right side was deserted. … Many took no side at all, and, during the session, often changed their seats, thinking that they might thus elude the spy by donning a mixed hue and keeping on good terms with everybody. The most prudent never sat down; they kept off the benches, at the foot of the tribune, and, on matters getting to be serious, slipped quietly out of the hall.” Most of them took refuge in their committee-rooms; each tries to be overlooked, to be obscure, to appear insignificant or absent.2 During the four months following the 2d of June, the hall of the Convention is half or three-quarters empty; the election of a president does not bring out two hundred and fifty voters;3 only two hundred, one hundred, fifty votes, elect the Committees of Public Safety and General Security; about fifty votes elect the judges of the revolutionary Tribunal; less than ten votes elect their substitutes;4 not one vote is cast for the adoption of the decree indicting the deputy, Dulaure;5 “no member rises for or against it; there is no vote”; the president, nevertheless, pronounces the act passed and “the Marais lets things take their course.” “Marais frogs” is the appellation bestowed on them before the 2d of June, when, amongst the dregs of the “Centre,” they “broke” with the “Mountain”; now, they still number four hundred and fifty, three times as many as the Montagnards; but they purposely keep quiet; their old name “renders them, so to say, soft; their ears ring with eternal menaces; their hearts shrivel up with terror;6 while their tongues, paralysed by habitual silence, cleave to the roofs of their mouths. In vain do they keep in the back-ground, consent to everything, ask nothing for themselves but personal safety, and surrender all else, their votes, their wills and their consciences; they feel that their life hangs by a thread. The greatest mute among them all, Siéyès, denounced in the Jacobin Club, barely escapes, and through the protection of his shoemaker, who rises and exclaims: “That Siéyès! I know him. He don’t meddle with politics. He does nothing but read his book. I make his shoes and will answer for him.”7
Of course, previous to the 9th of Thermidor, none of them open their mouths; it is only the Montagnards who make speeches, and on the countersign being given. If Legendre, the admirer, disciple, and confidential friend of Danton, dares at one time interfere in relation to the decree which sends his friend to the scaffold, asking that he may first be heard, it is only to retract immediately; that very evening, at the Jacobin club, for greater security, “he rolls in the mud”;8 he declares “that he submits to the judgment of the revolutionary Tribunal,” and swears to denounce “whoever shall oppose any obstacle to the execution of the decree.”9 Has not Robespierre taught him a lesson, and in his most pedantic manner? What is more beautiful, says the great moralist, more sublime, than an Assembly which purges itself?10 Thus, not only is the net which has already dragged out so many palpitating victims still intact, but it is enlarged and set again, only, the fish are now caught on the “Left” as well as on the “Right,” and preferably on the topmost benches of the “Mountain.”11 And better still, through the law of Prairial 22, its meshes are reduced in size and its width increased; with such admirable tackle, the tank could not fail to be exhausted. A little before the 9th of Thermidor, David, who was one of Robespierre’s devoted adherents, himself exclaimed: “Will twenty of us be left on the Mountain?” About the same time, Legendre, Thuriot, Léonard Bourdon, Tallien, Bourdon de l’Oise, and others, each has a spy all day long at his heels; there are thirty deputies to be proscribed and their names are whispered about; whereupon, sixty spring out of bed, feeling sure that they will be seized the next morning before they can get up.12
Subject to such a system, prolonged for so many months, people sink down and become discouraged. “Everybody stooped so as to pass beneath the popular yoke.13 Everybody became one of the low class. … Clothes, manners, refinement, cleanliness, the conveniences of life, civility and politeness were all renounced.” People wear their clothes indecently and curse and swear; they try to resemble the sans-culottes Montagnards “who are profane and dress themselves like so many dock-loafers”;14 at Armonville, the carder, who presides (at a meeting) wears a woolen cap, and similarly at Cusset, a gauze-workman, who is always drunk. Only Robespierre can appear in neat attire; others, without his ascendency, “big-bellied” demi-suspects, the remains of the ancient régime, might become dangerous; they do well not to attract the attention of the foul-mouthed spy who cannot spell;15 especially is it important at a meeting to be one of the crowd and remain unnoticed by the paid claqueurs, drunken swaggerers, and “fat petticoats” of the tribunes. It is even essential to shout in harmony with them and join in their bar-room dances. The deputations of the popular clubs come for fourteen months to the bar of the house and recite their common-place or bombastic tirades, and the Convention is forced to applaud them. For nine months,16 street ballad-singers and coffee-house ranters attend in full session and sing the rhymes of the day, while the Convention is obliged to join in the chorus. For six weeks,17 the profaners of churches come to the hall and display their dance-house buffooneries, and the Convention has not only to put up with these, but also to take part in them. Never, even in imperial Rome, under Nero and Heliogabalus, did a senate descend so low.
Observe one of their parades, that of Brumaire 20th, 22d, or 30th, which masquerade often occurs several times a week and is always the same, with scarcely any variation. Male and female wretches march in procession to the doors of the deputies’ hall, still “drunk with the wine imbibed from chalices, after eating mackerel broiled in patens,” besides refreshing themselves on the way. “Mounted astride of asses, covered with a chasuble and guided by a stole,” they halt at each low smoking-den, holding a pyx in their hand; the bar-tender, with a mug in his hand, fills it, and, at each station, they toss off their bumpers, one after the other, in imitation of the Mass, and which they repeat in the street in their own fashion. On finishing this, they don copes, chasubles, and dalmatica, and, in two long lines, file before the benches of the Convention. Some of them bear on hand-barrows or in baskets, candelabra, chalices, gold and silver salvers, monstrances, and reliquaries; others hold aloft banners, crosses, and other ecclesiastical spoils. In the mean time “bands play the air of the carmagnole and ‘Malbrook.’ … On the entry of the dais, they strike up ‘Ah! le bel oiseau’ ”;18 all at once the masqueraders throw off their disguise, and, mitres, stoles, chasubles flung in the air, “disclose to view the defenders of the country in the national uniform.” Peals of laughter, shouts and enthusiasm, while the instrumental din becomes louder! The procession, now in full blast, demands the carmagnole, and the Convention consents; even some of the deputies descend from their benches and cut the pigeon-wing with the merry prostitutes. To wind up, the Convention decrees that it will attend that evening the fête of Reason and, in fact, they go in a body. Behind an actress in short petticoats wearing a red cap, representing Liberty or Reason, march the deputies, likewise in red caps, shouting and singing until they reach the new temple, which is built of planks and pasteboard in the choir of Notre Dame. They take their seats in the front rows, while the Goddess, and old frequenter of the suppers of the Duc de Soubise, along with “all the pretty dames of the Opera,” display before them their operatic graces.19 They sing the “Hymn to Liberty,” and, since the Convention has that morning decreed that it must sing, I suppose that it also joined in.20 After this there follows dancing; but, unfortunately, the authorities are wanting for stating whether the Convention danced or not. In any event, it is present at the dance, and thus consecrates an unique orgy, not Rubens’s “Kermesse” in the open air, racy and healthy, but a nocturnal boulevard-jollification, a “Mardi-gras” composed of lean and haggard scape-graces. In the great nave of the Cathedral, “the dancers, almost naked, with bare necks and breasts, and stockings down at the heel,” writhe and stamp, “howling the carmagnole.” In the side chapels, which are “shut off by high tapestries, prostitutes with shrill voices” pursue their avocation.21 To descend to this low level so barefacedly, to fraternise with barrier sots, and wenches, to endure their embraces and hiccoughs, is bad enough, even for docile deputies. More than one half of them loathed it beforehand and remained at home; after this they do not feel disposed to attend the Convention.22 But the “Mountain sends for them, and an officer brings them back”; it is necessary that they should coöperate through their presence and felicitations in the profanations and apostasies which ensue;23 it is necessary that they should approve of and decree that which they hold in horror, not alone folly and nonsense, but crime, the murder of innocent people, and that of their friends. All this is done. “Unanimously, and with the loudest applause,” the Left, united with the Right, sends Danton to the scaffold, its natural chieftain, the great promoter and leader of the Revolution.24 “Unanimously, and with the loudest applause,” the Right, united to the Left, votes the worse decrees of the revolutionary government.25 “Unanimously,” with approbatory and enthusiastic cheers, manifesting the warmest sympathy for Collot d’Herbois, Couthon, and Robespierre,26 the Convention, through multiplied and spontaneous reelections, maintains the homicidal government which the Plain detests, because it is homicidal, and which the Mountain detests, because it is decimated by it. Plain and Mountain, by virtue of terror, majority after majority, end in consenting to and bringing about their own suicide: on the 22nd of Prairial, the entire Convention has stretched out its neck;27 on the 8th of Thermidor, for a quarter of an hour after Robespierre’s speech,28 it has again stretched this out, and would probably have succumbed, had not five or six of them, whom Robespierre designated or named, Bourdon de l’Oise, Vadier, Cambon, Billaud, and Panis, stimulated by the animal instinct of self-preservation, raised their arms to ward off the knife. Nothing but imminent, personal, mortal danger could, in these prostrated beings, supplant long-continued fear with still greater fear. Later on, Siéyès, on being asked how he acted in these times, replied, “I lived.” In effect, he and others are reduced to that; they succeeded in doing this, at all costs, and at what a price!29 His private notes, still redolent of his daily disgust, his most secret memoranda, confirm the statement;30 on the Committee of March 20, “Paillasse, half drunk, gives a dissertation on the way to carry on the war, and interrogates and censures the Minister; the poor Minister turns his questions with café gossip and a narrative of campaigns. These are the men placed at the head of the government to save the Republic!” “H——, in his distraction, had the air of a lucky dog inwardly smiling at his own knavish thoughts.” “Ruit irrevocabile vulgus. … Jusque datum sceleri.” “You keep your mouth shut?” he is told: “Of what use is my glass of wine in this torrent of ardent spirits?” All this is very well, but he did not merely keep silent and abstain. He voted, legislated, and decreed, along with the unanimous Convention; he was a collaborator, not only passively, through his presence, but also through his active participation in the acts of the government which he elected and enthroned, reelected twelve times, cheered every week, and flattered daily, authorising and keeping on to the end its work of spoliation and massacre. “Everybody is guilty here,” said Carrier in the Convention, “even to the president’s bell.” In vain do they constantly repeat to themselves that they were forced to obey under penalty of death: the conscience of the purest among them, if he has any, replies: “You too, in spite of yourself, I admit; less than others, if you please, but you were a terrorist, that is to say, a brigand and an assassin.”31
On a man becoming a slave, said old Homer, the Gods take away the half of his soul; the same is true of a man who becomes a tyrant. In the Pavillon de Flore, alongside of and above the enslaved Convention, sit the twelve kings it has enthroned, twice a day,32 ruling over it as well as over France.33 Of course, some guarantee is required from those who fill this place; there is not one of them who is not a revolutionist of long standing, an impenitent regicide, a fanatic in essence and a despot through principle; but the fumes of omnipotence have not intoxicated them all to the same degree. Three or four of them, Robert Lindet, Jean Bon St. André, Prieur de la Côte d’Or and Carnot, confine themselves to useful and secondary duties; this suffices to keep them partially safe. As specialists, charged with an important service, their first object is to do this well, and hence they subordinate the rest to this, even theoretical exigencies and the outcries of the clubs. Lindet’s prime object is to feed the departments that are without corn, and the towns that are soon to be short of bread; Prieur’s business is to see that biscuits, brandy, clothes, shoes, gunpowder, and arms are manufactured;34 Jean Bon, that vessels are equipped and crews drilled; Carnot, to draw up campaign plans and direct the march of armies: the despatch of so many bags of grain during the coming fortnight to this or that town, or warehouse in this or that district; the making up of so many weekly rations, to be transported during the month to certain places on the frontier; the transformation of so many fishermen into artillerymen or marines, and to set afloat so many vessels in three months; to expedite certain corps of cavalry, infantry, and artillery, so as to arrive by such and such roads at this or that pass—these are precise combinations which purge the brain of dogmatic phrases, which force revolutionary jargon into the background and keep a man sensible and practical; and all the more because three of them, Jean Bon, former captain of a merchantman, Prieur and Carnot, engineer officers, are professional men and go to the front to put their shoulders to the wheel on the spot. Jean Bon, always visiting the coasts, goes on board a vessel of the fleet leaving Brest to save the great American convoy; Carnot, at Watignies, orders Jourdan to make a decisive move, and, shouldering his musket, marches along with the attacking column.35 Naturally, they have no leisure for speechmaking in the Jacobin club, or for intrigues in the Convention: Carnot lives in his own office and in the committee-room; he does not allow himself time enough to eat with his wife, dines on a crust of bread and a glass of lemonade, and works sixteen and eighteen hours a day;36 Lindet, more overtasked than any body else, because hunger will not wait, reads every report himself, and “passes days and nights at it”;37 Jean Bon, in wooden shoes and woolen vest, with a bit of coarse bread and a glass of bad beer,38 writes and dictates until his strength fails him, and he has to lie down and sleep on a mattress on the floor. Naturally, again, when interfered with, and the tools in their hands are broken, they are dissatisfied; they know well the worth of a good instrument, and for the service, as they comprehend it, good tools are essential, competent, faithful employees, regular in attendance at their offices, and not at the club. When they have a subordinate of this kind they defend him, often at the risk of their lives, even to incurring the enmity of Robespierre. Cambon,39 who, on his financial committee, is also a sort of sovereign, retains at the Treasury five or six hundred employees unable to procure their certificate of civism, and whom the Jacobins incessantly denounce so as to get their places. Carnot saves and employs eminent engineers, D’Arcon, de Montalembert, d’Obenheim, all of them nobles, and one of them an anti-Jacobin, without counting a number of accused officers whom he justifies, replaces, or maintains.40 Through these courageous and humane acts, they solace themselves for their scruples, at least partially and for the time being; moreover, they are statesmen only because the occasion and superior force makes it imperative, more led by others than leading, terrorists through accident and necessity, rather than through system and instinct. If, in concert with ten others, Prieur and Carnot order wholesale robbery and murder, if they sign orders by twenties and hundreds, amounting to assassinations, it is owing to their forming part of a body. When the whole committee deliberates, they are bound, in important decrees, to submit to the preponderating opinion of the majority, after voting in the negative. In relation to secondary decrees, in which there has been no preliminary discussion in common, the only responsible member is the one whose signature stands first; the following signatures affixed, without reading the document, are simply a “formality which the law requires,” merely a visa, necessarily mechanical; with “four or five hundred business matters to attend to daily,” it is impossible to do otherwise; to read over and vote in every case, would be “a physical impossibility.”41 Finally, as things are, “is not the general will, at least the apparent general will, that alone on which the government can decide, itself ultrarevolutionary?”42 In other words, should not the five or six rascals in a State who vociferate, be listened to, rather than a hundred honest folks who keep their mouths shut? With this sophism, gross as it is, but of pure Jacobin manufacture, Carnot ends by hoodwinking his honor and his conscience; otherwise intact, and far more so than his colleagues, he likewise undergoes moral and mental mutilation; constrained by the duties of his post and the illusions of his creed, he succeeded in an inward decapitation of the two noblest of human faculties, common-sense, the most useful, and the moral sense, the most exalted of all.
If such are the ravages which are made in an upright, firm and healthy soul, what must be the havoc in corrupt or weak natures, in which bad instincts already predominate! And observe this, that they are without the protection afforded to Carnot and other occupied men, who are pursuing some specific and evidently useful object. They bear the title of “government men,” “revolutionists” properly so-called, “folks who carry things with a high hand”;43 in effect, they direct all things according to their conception of unity. The creation, organisation, and application of Terror belongs wholly to them; they are the constructors, regulators, and engineers of the machine,44 the recognised heads of the party, of the sect, and of the government, especially Billaud and Robespierre, who never serve on missions,45 nor relax their hold for a moment on the central motor; the former, an active politician, with Collot for his second, is charged with urging on the constituted authorities, the districts, the municipalities, the national agents, the revolutionary committees, and the representatives on mission in the interior;46 the latter, a theologian, moralist, titular doctor, and preacher, is charged with ruling the Convention and indoctrinating the Jacobins with sound principles; behind him stands Couthon, his lieutenant, with Saint-Just, his disciple and executor of works of great importance; in their midst, Barère, the Committee’s mouthpiece, is merely a tool, but indispensable, conveniently at hand and always ready to start whatever drum-beating is required on any given theme in honor of the party which stuffs his brain; below these comes the Committee of General Security, Vadier, Amar, Vouland, Guffroy, Panis, David, Jagot, and the rest, those who undertook, reported on, and acted in behalf of universal proscription. All these bear the imprint of their service; they could be recognised by “their pallid hue, hollow and bloodshot eyes,”47 habits of omnipotence stamped “on their brows, and on their deportment, something indescribably haughty and disdainful. The Committee of General Security reminded one of the former lieutenants of police, and the Committee of Public Safety, of the former ministers of state.” In the Convention, “it is considered an honor to talk with them, and a privilege to shake hands with them; one seems to read one’s duty on their brows.” On the days on which their orders are to be converted into laws “the members of the Committee and the reporter of the bill, keep people waiting, the same as the heads and representatives of the former sovereign power; on their way to the Assembly hall, they are preceded by a group of courtiers who seem to announce the masters of the world.”48 In fact, they reign—but observe on what conditions.
“Make no complaints,” said Barère,49 to the composer of an opera, the performance of which had just been suspended: “as times go, you must not attract public attention. Do we not all stand at the foot of the guillotine, all, beginning with myself?” Again, twenty years later, in a private conversation, on being interrogated as to the veritable object, the secret motive of the Committee of Public Safety, he replied: “As we were animated by but one sentiment,50 my dear sir, that of self-preservation, we had but one desire, that of maintaining an existence which each of us believed to be menaced. You had your neighbor guillotined to prevent your neighbor from guillotining you.”51 The same apprehension exists in stouter souls, although there may have been, along with fear, motives of a less debased order. “How many times,” says Carnot,52 “we undertook some work that required time, with the conviction that we should not be allowed to complete it!” “It was uncertain53 whether, the next time the clock struck the hour, we should not be standing before the revolutionary Tribunal on our way to the scaffold without, perhaps, having had time to bid adieu to our families. … We pursued our daily task so as not to let the machine stand still, as if a long life were before us, when it was probable that we should not see the next day’s sun.” It is impossible to count on one’s life, or that of another, for twenty-four hours; should the iron hand which holds one by the throat tighten its grasp, all will be over that evening. “There were certain days so difficult that one could see no way to control circumstances; those who were directly menaced resigned themselves wholly to chance.”54 “The decisions for which we are so much blamed,” says another,55 “were not generally thought of two days, or one day, beforehand; they sprung out of the crisis of the moment. We did not desire to kill for the sake of killing … but to conquer at all hazards, remain masters, and ensure the sway of our principles.” That is true, they are subjects as well as despots. At the Committee table, during their nocturnal sessions, their sovereign presides, a formidable figure, the revolutionary Idea which confers on them the right to slay, on condition of exercising it against everybody, and therefore on themselves. Towards two o’clock, or three o’clock in the morning, exhausted, out of words and ideas, not knowing where to slay, on the right or on the left, they anxiously turn to this figure and try to read its will in its fixed eyes. “Who shall fall tomorrow?” Ever the same reply steadily expressed on the features of the impassable phantom: “the antirevolutionists,” under which name is comprised all who by act, speech, thought, or inmost sentiment, either through irritation or carelessness, through humanity or moderation, through egoism or nonchalance, through passive, neutral, or indifferent feeling, serve well or ill the Revolution.56 All that remains is to add names to this horribly comprehensive decree. Shall Billaud do it? Shall Robespierre do it? Will Billaud put down Robespierre’s name, or Robespierre put down Billaud’s, or each the name of the other, with those he chooses to select from among the two Committees? Osselin, Chabot, Bazire, Julien de Toulouse, Lacroix, Danton, were on them, and when they left, their heads fell.57 Hérault-Séchelles, again, was on them, maintained in office with honor through the recent approbation of the Convention,58 one of the titular twelve, and on duty when an order issued by the other eleven suddenly handed him over to the revolutionary Tribunal for execution. Whose turn is it now among the eleven? Seized unawares, the docile Convention unanimously applauding, after three days of a judicial farce, the cart will bear him to the Place de la Révolution; Samson will tie him fast, shouters at thirty sous a day will clap their hands, and, on the following morning, the popular politicians will congratulate each other on seeing the name of a great traitor on the bulletin of the guillotined.59 To this end, to enable this or that king of the day to pass from the national Almanac to the mortuary list, merely required an understanding among his colleagues, and, perhaps, this is already arrived at. Among whom and against whom? It is certain that, as this idea occurs to the eleven, seated around the table, they eye each other with a shudder; they calculate the chances and turn things over in their minds; words have been uttered that are not forgotten. Carnot often made this charge against Saint-Just: “You and Robespierre are after a dictatorship.”60 Robespierre replied to Carnot: “I am ready for you on the first defeat.”61 On another occasion, Robespierre, in a rage, exclaimed: “The Committee is conspiring against me!” and, turning to Billaud, “I know you, now!” Billaud retorted, “I know you too, you are an antirevolutionist!”62 There are conspirators and antirevolutionists, then, on the committee itself; what can be done to avoid this appellation, which is a sentence of death? Silently, the fatal phantom enthroned in their midst, the Erynnes through which they rule, renders his oracle and all take it to heart: “All who are unwilling to become executioners are conspirators and antirevolutionists.”
Thus do they march along during twelve months, goaded on by the two sharp thongs of theory and fear, traversing the red pool which they have created, and which is daily becoming deeper and deeper, all together and united, neither of them daring to separate from the group, and each spattered with the blood thrown in his face by the others’ feet. It is not long before their eyesight fails them; they no longer see their way, while the degradation of their language betrays the stupor of their intellect. When a government brings to the tribune and moves the enactment of important laws, it confronts the nation, faces Europe, and takes a historical position. If it cares for its own honor it will select reporters of bills that are not unworthy, and instruct them to support these with available arguments, as closely reasoned out as possible; the bill, discussed and adopted in full council, will show the measure of its capacity, the information it possesses and its common-sense. To estimate all this, read the bills put forth in the name of the Committee; weigh the preambles, remark the tone, listen to the two reporters usually chosen, Saint-Just, who draws up the acts of proscription, special or general, and Barère, who draws up all acts indifferently, but particularly military announcements and decrees against the foreigner; never did public personages, addressing France and posterity, use such irrational arguments and state falsehoods with greater impudence.63
The former, stiff in his starched cravat, posing “like the Holy Ghost,” more didactic and more absolute than Robespierre himself, comes and proclaims to Frenchmen from the tribune, equality, probity, frugality, Spartan habits, and a rural cot with all the voluptuousness of virtue;64 this suits admirably the chevalier Saint-Just, a former applicant for a place in the Count d’Artois’ body-guard, a domestic thief, a purloiner of silver plate which he takes to Paris, sells and spends on prostitutes, imprisoned for six months on complaint of his own mother,65 and author of a lewd poem which he succeeds in rendering filthy by trying to render it fanciful. Now, indeed, he is grave; he no longer leers; he kills—but with what arguments, and what a style!66 The young Laubardemont, the paid informers and prosecutors of imperial Rome, have less disgraced the human intellect, for these creatures of a Tiberius or a Richelieu still used plausible arguments in their reasoning, and with more or less adroitness. With Saint-Just, there is no connection of ideas; there is no sequence or march in his rhapsody; like an instrument strained to the utmost, his mind plays only false notes in violent fits and starts; logical continuity, the art then so common of regularly developing a theme, has disappeared; he stumbles over the ground, piling up telling aphorisms and dogmatic axioms. In dealing with facts there is nothing in his speech but a perversion of the truth; impostures abound in it of pure invention, palpable, as brazen as those of a charlatan in his booth;67 he does not even deign to disguise them with a shadow of probability; as to the Girondists, and as to Danton, Fabre d’Eglantine, and his other adversaries, whoever they may be, old or new, any rope to hang them with suffices for him; any rough, knotted, badly-twisted cord he can lay his hands on, no matter what, provided it strangles, is good enough; there is no need of a finer one for confirmed conspirators; with the gossip of the club and an Inquisition catechism, he can frame his bill of indictment. Accordingly, his intellect grasps nothing and yields him nothing; he is a sententious and over-excited declaimer, an artificial spirit always on the stretch, full of affectations,68 his talent reducing itself down to the rare flashes of a sombre imagination, a pupil of Robespierre, as Robespierre himself is a pupil of Rousseau, the exaggerated scholar of a plodding scholar, always rabidly ultra, furious through calculation, deliberately violating both language and ideas,69 confining himself to theatrical and funereal paradoxes, a sort of “grand vizier”70 with the airs of an exalted moralist and the bearing of the sentimental shepherd.71 Were one of a mocking humor one might shrug one’s shoulders; but, in the present state of the Convention, there is no room for anything but fear. Launched in imperious tones, his phrases fall upon their ears in monotonous strokes, on bowed heads, and, after five or six blows from this leaden hammer, the stoutest are stretched out stupified on the ground; discussion is out of the question; when Saint-Just, in the name of the Convention, affirms anything, it must be believed; his dissertation is a peremptory injunction and not an effort of reason; it commands obedience; it is not open to examination; it is not a report which he draws from his coat pocket, but a bludgeon.
The other reporter, Barère, is of quite another stamp, a “patent-right” haranguer, an amusing Gascon, alert, “free and easy,” fond of a joke, even on the Committee of Public Safety,72 unconcerned in the midst of assassinations, and, to the very last, speaking of the Reign of Terror as “the simplest and most innocent thing in the world.”73 No man was ever less trammeled by a conscience; in truth, he has several, that of two days ago, that of the previous day, that of the present day, that of the morrow, of the following day, and still others, as many as you like, all equally pliant and supple, at the service of the strongest against the weakest, ready to swing round at once on the wind changing, but all joined together and working to one common end through physical instinct, the only one that lasts in the immoral, adroit and volatile being who circulates nimbly about, with no other aim than self-preservation, and to amuse himself.74 In his dressing-gown, early in the morning, he receives a crowd of solicitors, and, with the ways of a “dandified minister,” graciously accepts the petitions handed to him; first, those of ladies, “distributing gallantries among the prettiest”; he makes promises, and smiles, and then, returning to his cabinet, throws the papers in the fire: “There,” he says, “my correspondence is done.” He sups twice every decade in his fine house at Clichy, along with three more than accommodating pretty women; he is gay, awarding flatteries and attentions quite becoming to an amiable protector: he enters into their professional rivalries, their spites against the reigning beauty, their jealousy of another who wears a blonde perruque and pretends “to set the fashion.” He sends immediately for the National Agent and gravely informs him that this head-dress, borrowed from the guillotined, is a rallying point for antirevolutionists, whereupon, the next day, perruques are denounced at the Commune-council, and suppressed; “Barère roared with laughter on alluding to this piece of fun.” The humor of an undertaker and the dexterity of a commercial drummer: he plays with Terror. In like manner he plays with his reports, and at this latter exercise, he improvises; he is never embarrassed; it is simply necessary to turn the faucet and the water runs. “Had he any subject to treat, he would fasten himself on Robespierre, Hérault, Saint-Just, or somebody else, and draw them out; he would then rush off to the tribune and spin out their ideas; “they were all astonished at hearing their thoughts expressed as fully as if reflected in a mirror.” No individual on the Committee, or in the Convention, equalled him in promptness and fluency, for the reason that he was not obliged to think before he spoke: with him, the faculty of speaking, like an independent organ, acted by itself, the empty brain or indifferent heart contributing nothing to his loquacity. Naturally, whatever issues from his mouth comes forth in ready-made bombast, the current jargon of the Jacobin club, sonorous, nauseous commonplace, schoolboy metaphors and similes derived from the shambles.75 Not an idea is found in all this rhetoric, nothing acquired, no real mental application. When Bonaparte, who employed everybody, and even Fouché, were disposed to employ Barère, they could make nothing out of him for lack of substance, except as a low newsmonger, common spy, or agent engaged to stir up surviving Jacobins; later on, a listener at keyholes, and a paid weekly collector of public rumors, he was not even fit for this vile service, for his wages were soon stopped; Napoleon, who had no time to waste, cut short his drivelling verbiage. It is this verbiage which, authorised by the Committee of Public Safety, now forms the eloquence of France; it is this manufacturer of phrases by the dozen, this future sneak and prison-spy under the empire, this frolicking inventor of the blonde-perruque conspiracy, that the government sends into the tribune to announce victories, trumpet forth military heroism and proclaim war unto death. On the 7th of Prairial,76 Barère, in the name of the committee, proposes a return to savage law: “No English or Hanoverian prisoner shall henceforth be made”; the decree is endorsed by Carnot and passes the Convention unanimously. Had it been executed, as reprisals, and according to the proportion of prisoners, there would have been for one Englishman shot, three Frenchmen hung: honor and humanity disappeared from the camps; the hostilities maintained by Christians became as exterminating as among negroes. Happily, French soldiers felt the nobleness of their profession; on the order being given to shoot the prisoners, a brave sergeant replied: “We will not shoot—send them to the Convention. If the representatives delight in killing prisoners—let them do it themselves, and eat them, too, savages as they are!” The sergeant, a rough sort of fellow, is not on a level with the Committee, or with Barère; and yet Barère did his best in a bill of indictment of twenty-seven pages, full of grand flourishes, every possible ritornello, glaring falsehood and silly inflation, explaining how “the britannic leopard” paid assassins to murder the representatives; how the London cabinet had armed little Cécile Renault “the new Corday,” against Robespierre; how the Englishman, naturally barbarous, “does not give the lie to his origin”; how he descends from the Carthaginians and Phenicians, and formerly dealt in the skins of wild beasts and slaves; how his trading occupation is not changed; how Caesar, formerly, on landing in the country, found nothing but a ferocious tribe battling with wolves in the forest and threatening to burn every building which tried to encroach; and how it still is the same.” A consultation with a strolling operator who uses big words to recommend a deep amputation, a clumsy show-prospectus that does not deceive a poor sergeant, such is the exposition of motives by a government for the purpose of enforcing a decree that might have been drawn up by redskins; to horrible acts he adds debased language, and employs the inept to justify atrocities.
About one hundred representatives sent by the Committee of Public Safety, sometimes singly and, again, in groups of two or three, go and succeed each other in the provinces, “with unlimited power,” to establish, enforce, or aggravate the revolutionary government, their proclamations at once declaring the nature of this government.77 “Brave and vigorous sansculottes!” writes a deputy on leaving a mission and announcing his successor,78 “You seem to have desired a good b—— of a representative, who has never swerved from his principles, that is to say, a regular Montagnard. I have fulfilled your wishes, and you will have the same thing in citizen Ingrand. Remember, brave sans-culottes, that, with the patriot Ingrand, you can do everything, get anything, cancel whatever you please, imprison, bring to trial, transport and guillotine everybody and regenerate society. Don’t f—— him a minute’s patience! Let everybody tremble through him; let everything crumble, and order be at once restored!” The representative arrives at headquarters by post, and presents his credentials. All the authorities at once bow to the ground. In the evening, in his sabre and plume, he harangues the popular club, blowing into a flame the smouldering embers of Jacobinism. Then, according to his personal acquaintances, if he has any in the place, or according to the votes of the Committee of General Security, if he is a new-comer, he selects five or six of the “warmest sans-culottes” there, and, forming them into a revolutionary committee, installs them permanently at his side, sometimes in the same building, in a room next to his own, where, on lists or with verbal communications furnished to him, he works with a will and without stopping.79
First comes a purification of all the local authorities. They must always remember that “there can be no exaggeration in behalf of the people; he who is not imbued with this principle, who has not put it in practice, cannot remain on an advanced post;”80 consequently, at the popular club, in the department, in the district, in the municipality, all doubtful men are excluded, discharged, or incarcerated; if a few weak ones are retained provisionally, or by favor, they are berated and taught their duty very summarily: “They will strive, by a more energetic and assiduous patriotism, to atone for the evil committed by them in not doing all the good they could do.” Sometimes, through a sudden change of scene, the entire administrative staff is kicked out so as to give place to a no less complete staff, which the same kick brings up out of the ground. Considering that “everything drags in Vaucluse, and that a frightful moderantisme paralyses the most revolutionary measures,” Maignet, in one order81 appoints the administrators and secretary of the department, the national agent, the administrators and council-general of the district, the administrators, council-general and national agent of Avignon, the president, public prosecutor and recorder of the criminal court, members of the Tribunal de Commerce, the collector of the district, the post-master, and the head of the squadron of gendarmerie. And the new functionaries will certainly go to work at once, each in his office. The summary process, which has brusquely swept away the first set of puppets, is going to brusquely install the second one. “Each citizen appointed to any of the above mentioned offices, shall betake himself immediately to his post, under penalty of being declared suspect,” on the simple notification of his appointment. Universal and passive obedience of governors, as well as of the governed! There are no more elected and independent functionaries; all the authorities, confirmed or created by the representative, are in his hands; there is not one among them who does not subsist or survive solely through his favor; there is not one of them who acts otherwise than according to his approval or by his order. Directly, or through them, he makes requisitions, sequestrates, or confiscates as he sees fit, taxes, imprisons, transports, or decapitates as he sees fit, and, in his circumscription, he is the pacha.
But he is a pacha with a chain around his neck, and at short tether. From and after December, 1793, he is directed “to conform to the orders of the Committee of Public Safety and report to it every ten days.”82 The circumscription in which he commands is rigorously “limited”; “he is reputed to be without power in the other departments,”83 while he is not suffered to grow old on his post. “In every magistrature the grandeur and extent of power is compensated by the shortness of its duration. Overprolonged missions would soon be considered as birthrights.”84 Therefore, at the end of two or three months, often at the end of a month, the incumbent is recalled to Paris or despatched elsewhere, at short notice, on the day named, in a prompt, absolute, and sometimes threatening tone, not as a colleague one humors, but as a subordinate who is suddenly and arbitrarily revoked or displaced because he is deemed inadequate, or “used up.” For greater security, oftentimes a member of the Committee, Couthon, Collot, Saint-Just, or some near relation of a member of the Committee, a Lebas or young Robespierre, goes personally to the spot to give the needed impulsion; sometimes, agents simply of the Committee, taken from outside the Convention, and without any personal standing, quite young men, Rousselin, Julien de la Drôme, replace or watch the representative with powers equal to his. At the same time, from the top and from the centre, he is pushed on and directed: his local counsellors are chosen for him, and the directors of his conscience;85 they rate him soundly on the choice of his agents or of his lodgings;86 they force dismissals on him, appointments, arrests, executions; they spur him on in the path of terror and suffering. Around him are paid emissaries,87 while others watch him gratis and constantly write to the Committees of Public Safety and General Security, often to denounce him, always to report on his conduct, to judge his measures and to provoke the measures which he does not take.88
Whatever he may have done or may do, he cannot turn his eyes toward Paris without seeing danger ahead, a mortal danger which, on the Committee, in the Convention, at the Jacobin Club, increases or will increase against him, like a tempest. Briez, who, in Valenciennes under siege, showed courage, and whom the Convention had just applauded and added to the Committee of Public Safety, hears himself reproached for being still alive: “He who was at Valenciennes when the enemy took it will never reply to this question—are you dead?”89 He has nothing to do now but to declare himself incompetent, decline the honor mistakenly conferred on him by the Convention, and disappear. Dubois-Crancé took Lyons, and, as pay for this immense service, he is stricken off the roll of the Jacobin Club; because he did not take it quick enough, he is accused of treachery; two days after the capitulation, the Committee of Public Safety withdraw his powers; three days after the capitulation, the Committee of Public Safety has him arrested and sent to Paris under escort.90 If such men after such services are thus treated, what is to become of the others? After the mission of young Julien, Carrier at Nantes, Ysabeau and Tallien at Bordeaux, feel their heads shake on their shoulders; after the mission of young Robespierre in the East and South, Barras, Fréron and Bernard de Saintes believe themselves lost.91 Fouché, Rovère, Javogue, and how many others, compromised by the faction of which they are, or were, Hébertists or Dantonists, are sure of perishing if their patrons of the Committee succumb; not sure of living if their patrons keep their place; not knowing whether their heads will not be exchanged for others; restricted to the narrowest, the most rigorous and most constant orthodoxy; guilty and condemned should their orthodoxy of today become the heterodoxy of tomorrow; all of them menaced, at first the hundred and eighty autocrats who, before the concentration of the revolutionary government, ruled for eight months uncontrollable in the provinces; next, and above all, the fifty hard-fisted Montagnards, unscrupulous fanatics or dissipated despots, who, at this moment, tread human flesh under foot and allot themselves power, the same as wild boars in a forest, or wallow in scandal, like swine in a mud-pool.
There is no refuge for them, other than temporary, and not temporary refuge, otherwise than in zealous and tried obedience, such as the Committee demands proof of, that is to say, through rigor. “The Committees so wanted it,” says Maignet, later on, the incendiary of Bédouin; “The Committees did every thing. … Circumstances controlled me. … The patriotic agents conjured me not to give way. … I did not fully carry out the most imperative orders.”92 Similarly, the great exterminator of Nantes, Carrier, when urged to spare the rebels who surrendered of their own accord: “Do you want me to be guillotined? It is not in my power to save those people.”93 And another time: “I have my orders; I must observe them; I do not want to have my head cut off!” Under penalty of death, the representative on mission is a Terrorist, like his colleagues in the Convention and on the Committee of Public Safety, but with a much more serious disturbance of his nervous and his moral system; for he does not operate like them on paper, at a distance, against categories of abstract, anonymous, and vague beings; his work is not merely an effort of the intellect, but also of the senses and the imagination. If he belongs to the region, like Lecarpentier, Barras, Lebon, Javogue, Couthon, André, Dumont, and many others, he is well acquainted with the families he proscribes; names to him are not merely so many letters strung together, but they recall personal souvenirs and evoke living forms. At all events, he is the spectator, artisan and beneficiary of his own dictatorship; the silver-plate and money he confiscates passes under his eye, through his hands; he sees the “suspects” he incarcerates march before him; he is in the court-room on the rendering of the sentence of death; frequently, the guillotine he has supplied with heads works under his windows; he sleeps in the mansion of an emigré; he makes requisitions for the furniture, linen, and wine belonging to the decapitated and the imprisoned,94 lies in their beds, drinks their wine and revels with plenty of company at their expense, and in their place. In like manner, a bandit chief who neither kills nor robs with his own hands, has murder and robbery committed in his presence, by which he substantially profits, not by proxy, but personally, through the well-directed blows ordered by him. To this degree, and in such proximity to physical action, omnipotence is a mephitic atmosphere which no state of health can resist. Restored to the conditions which poisoned man in barbarous times or countries, he is again attacked by moral maladies from which he was thenceforth believed to be exempt; he retrogrades even to the strange corruptions of the Orient and the Middle Ages; forgotten leprosies, apparently extinct, with exotic pestilences to which civilised lands seemed closed, reappear in his soul with their issues and tumors.
“It seems,” says a witness who was long acquainted with Maignet, “that all he did for these five or six years was simply the delirious phase of an illness, after which he recovered, and lived on as if nothing had happened.”95 And Maignet himself writes: “I was not made for these tempests.” That is true of all, and first of the coarser natures; subordination would have restrained them; a dictatorship brings them out; the brutal instinct of the old soldier or of the faun breaks out in an eruption. Contemplate a Duquesnoy, a sort of bull-dog, always barking and biting when satiated more furiously than ever. Delegate to the army of the Moselle, and passing by Metz96 he summoned before him Altmayer, the public prosecutor, although he had sat down to dinner. The latter waits three hours and a half in the ante-chamber, is not admitted, returns, and, at length received, is greeted with a thundering exclamation: “Who are you?” “The public prosecutor,” he replies. “You look like a bishop—you were once a curé or monk—you can’t be a revolutionist. … I have come to Metz with unlimited powers. Public opinion here is not satisfactory. I am going to drill it. I am going to set folks straight here. I mean to shoot, here in Metz, as well as in Nancy, five or six hundred every fortnight.” The same at the house of General Bessières, commandant of the town; encountering there M. Cledat, an old officer, the second in command, he measures him from head to foot: “You look like a muscadin. Where did you come from? You must be a bad republican—you look as if you belonged to the ancient régime.” “My hair is gray,” he responds, “but I am not the less a good republican: you may ask the General and the whole town.” “Be off! Go to the devil, and be quick about it, or I will have you arrested!” The same, in the street, where he lays hold of a man passing, on account of his looks; the justice of the peace, Joly, certifies to the civism of this person, and he “eyes” Joly: “You too, you are an aristocrat! I see it in your eyes! I never make a mistake.” Whereupon, tearing off the Judge’s badge, he sends him to prison. Meanwhile, a fire, soon extinguished, breaks out in the army bakehouse; officers, townspeople, laborers, peasants, and even children form a line (for passing water) and Duquesnoy appears to urge them on in his way: using his fists and his foot, he falls on whoever he meets, on an employee in the commissariat, on a convalescent officer, on two men in the line, and many others. He shouts to one of them, “You are a muscadin!” To another: “I see by your eyes that you are an aristocrat!” To another: “You are f—— beggar, an aristocrat, a rascal,” and he strikes him in the stomach; he seizes a fourth by his collar and throws him down on the pavement.97 In addition to this, all are imprisoned. The fire being extinguished, an indiscreet fellow, who stood by looking on, “recommends” the dispenser of blows “to wipe his forehead.” “You can’t see straight—who are you? Answer me, I am the representative.” The other replies mildly: “Representative, nothing could be more respectable.” Duquesnoy gives the unlucky courtier a blow under the nose: “You are disputing—go to prison,” “which I did at once,” adds the docile subject. That same evening, “whereas, in the conflagration, none of the inhabitants in good circumstances offered their services in extinguishing the fire,98 and none but sans-culottes came thereto, from the garrison as well as from the commune,” Duquesnoy orders “that a tax of forty thousand livres be imposed on the commune of Metz, levied on the fortunes of the rich and distributed among the poor, payable within the decade.”99 “Fais moi f … dedans tous ces b … là,”100 “quatre j … f … à raccourcir;”101 at Arras, as at Metz, the lout is ever the ruffian and the butcher.
Others are either jolly fellows, or blackguards. A certain André Dumont, an old village attorney, now king of Picardie, or sultan, as occasion offers, “figures as a white negro,” sometimes jovial, but generally as a rude hardened cynic, treating female prisoners and petitioners as in a kermesse.102 One morning a lady enters his ante-room, and waits amidst about twenty sans-culottes, to solicit the release of her husband. Dumont appears in a morning-gown, seats himself and listens to the petitioner. “Sit down, citoyenne.” He takes her on his lap, thrusts his hand in her bosom and exclaims: “Who would suppose that the bust of a marchioness would feel so soft to one of the people’s representatives.” The sans-culottes shout with laughter. He sends the poor woman away and keeps her husband locked up. In the evening he may write to the Convention that he investigates things himself, and closely examines aristocrats. To maintain this revolutionary strain at this point requires a drop too much in one’s head, and most of them take precautions in this direction. At Lyons,103 “the representatives sent to ensure the people’s welfare, Albitte and Collot,” call upon the Committee of Sequestrations to deliver at their house two hundred bottles of the best wine to be found, and five hundred bottles more of Bordeaux red wine, first quality, for table use.” In three months, at the table of the representatives who devastate la Vendée, nineteen hundred and seventy-four bottles of wine are emptied,104 taken from the houses of the emigrés belonging to the town; for, “when one has helped to preserve a commune one has a right to drink to the Republic.” Representative Bourbotte presides at this bar; Rossignol touches his glass, an ex-jeweler and then a September massacreur, all his life a debauchee and brigand, and now a major-general; alongside of Rossignol, stand his adjutants, Grammont, an old actor, and Hazard, a former priest; along with them is Vacheron, a good républiquain, who ravishes women and shoots them when they refuse to succumb;105 in addition to these are some “brilliant” young ladies, undoubtedly brought from Paris, “the prettiest of whom share their nights between Rossignol and Bourbotte,” whilst the others serve their subordinates: the entire band, male and female, is installed in a Hotel de Fontenay, where they begin by breaking the seals, so as to confiscate “for their own benefit, furniture, jewelry, dresses, feminine trinkets, and even procelains.”106 Meanwhile, at Chantonney, representative Bourdon de l’Oise drinks with General Tunck, becomes “frantic” when tipsy, and has patriotic administrators seized in their beds at midnight, whom he had embraced the evening before. Nearly all of them, like the latter, have too bad wine, Carrier at Nantes, Petit-Jean at Thiers, Duquesnoy at Arras, Cusset at Thionville, Monestier at Tarbes. At Thionville, Cusset drinks like a “Lapithe” and, when drunk, gives the orders of a “vizier,” which orders are executed.107 At Tarbes, Monestier “after a heavy meal and much excited,” warmly harangues the court, examines the prisoner himself, M. de Lasalle, an old officer, whom he has condemned to death, and signs the order to have him guillotined at once; M. de Lasalle is guillotined that very evening, at midnight, by torchlight. The following morning Monestier says to the president of the court: “Well, we gave poor Lasalle a famous fright last night, didn’t we?” “How a famous fright? He is executed!” Monestier is astonished—he did not remember having issued the order.108 With others, wine, besides sanguinary instincts, brings out the foulest instincts. At Nismes, Borie, in the uniform of a representative, along with Courbis, the mayor, Géret, the justice and a number of prostitutes, dance the farandole around the guillotine. At Auch, one of the worst tyrants in the South, Dartigoyte, always heated with liquor “vomited every species of obscenity” in the faces of women that came to demand justice; “he compels, under penalty of imprisonment, mothers to take their daughters to the popular club,” to listen to his filthy preaching; one evening, at the theatre, probably after an orgy, he apostrophises all the women between the acts, lets loose upon them his smutty vocabulary, and, by way of demonstration, or as a practical conclusion, ends by stripping himself naked.109 This time, the genuine brute appears. The clothing thrown around him by centuries and with which civilisation had protected him, the last drapery of humanity, falls to the ground. Nothing remains but the primitive animal, the ferocious, lewd gorilla supposed to be tamed, but which still subsists indefinitely and which a dictatorship, joined to drunkenness, revives in an uglier guise than in remotest times.
If intoxication is needed to awaken the brute, a dictatorship suffices to arouse the madman. The mental equilibrium of most of these new sovereigns is disturbed; the distance between what the man once was and what he now is, is too great; formerly, a petty lawyer, village doctor, or schoolmaster, an unknown mover of a resolution in a local club, and only yesterday one voter in the Convention out of seven hundred and fifty; behold him now, the arbiter, in one of the departments, of all fortunes and liberties, and master of five thousand lives. Like a pair of scales into which a disproportionate weight has been thrown, his reason totters on the side of pride. Some of them regard their competency unlimited, like their powers, and having just joined the army, claim the right of being appointed major-generals.110 “Declare officially,” writes Fabre to the Committee of Public Safety,111 “that, in future, generals shall be simply the lieutenants of the delegates to the Convention.” Awaiting the required declaration, they claim command and, in reality, exercise it. “I know of neither generals nor privates,” says Gaston, a former justice of the peace, to the officers; “as to the Minister, he is a dog on a skittle-ground; I am in command here and must be obeyed.” “What are generals good for?” adds his colleague Guiter; “the old women in our faubourgs know as much as they do. Plans, formal manoeuvres, tents, camps, redoubts? All this is of no use! The only war suitable to Frenchmen after this will be a rush with side arms.” To turn out of office, guillotine, disorganise, march blindly on, waste lives haphazard, force defeat, sometimes get killed themselves, is all they know, and they would lose all if the effects of their incapacity and arrogance were not redeemed by the devotion of the officers and the enthusiasm of the soldiers. The same spectacle is visible at Charleroy where, through his absurd orders, Saint-Just does his best to compromise the army, leaving that place with the belief that he is a great man.112 There is the same spectacle in Alsace, where Lacoste, Baudot, Ruamps, Soubrany, Milhaud, Saint-Just, and Lebas, through their excessive rigor, do their best to break up the army and then boast of it. The revolutionary Tribunal is installed at headquarters, soldiers are urged to denounce their officers, the informer is promised money and secrecy, he and the accused are not allowed to confront each other, no investigation, no papers allowed, even to make exception to the verdict—a simple examination without any notes, the accused arrested at eight o’clock, condemned at nine o’clock, and shot at ten o’clock.113 Naturally, under such a system, no one wants to command; already, before Saint-Just’s arrival, Meunier had consented to act as major-general only ad interim; “every hour of the day” he demanded his removal; unable to secure this, he refused to issue any order; the representatives, to procure his successor, are obliged to descend down to a depot captain, Carlin, bold enough or stupid enough to allow himself to take a commission under their lead, which was a commission for the guillotine. If such is their presumption in military matters, what must it be in civil affairs! On this side there is no external check, no Spanish or German army capable of at once taking them in flagrante delicto, and of profiting by their ambitious incapacity and mischievous interference. Whatever the social instrumentality may be—judiciary, administration, credit, commerce, manufactures, agriculture—they can dislocate and mar it with impunity. They never fail to do this, and, moreover, in their despatches, they take credit to themselves for the ruin they cause. That, indeed, is their mission; otherwise, they would be regarded as bad Jacobins; they would soon become “suspects”; they rule only on condition of being infatuated and destructive; the overthrow of common-sense is with them an act of State grace, a necessity of the office, and, on this common ground of compulsory unreason, every species of physical delirium may be implanted.
With those that we can follow closely, not only is their judgment perverted, but the entire nervous apparatus is affected; permanent overexcitement has begun, and a morbid restlessness. Consider Joseph Lebon, son of a sergeant-at-arms, subsequently, a teacher with the Oratoriens of Beaune, next, curé of Neuville-Vitasse, repudiated as an interloper by the élite of his parishioners, not respected, without house or furniture, and almost without a flock.114 Two years after this, finding himself sovereign of his province, his head is turned; much less would make it turn; it is only a twenty-eight-year-old head, not very solid, without any inside ballast,115 already disturbed by vanity, ambition, rancor, and apostasy, by the sudden and complete wheeling-about which put him at variance with his past educational habits and most cherished affections: it breaks down under the vastness and novelty of this greatness. In the costume of a representative, a Henry IV. hat, tricolor plume, waving scarf, and sabre dragging the ground, Lebon orders the bell to be rung and summons the villagers into the church, where, aloft in the pulpit in which he had formerly preached in a threadbare cassock, he displays his metamorphosis. “Who would believe that I should have returned here with unlimited powers!”116 And that, before his counterfeit majesty, each person would be humble, bowed down and silent! To a member of the municipality of Cambray who, questioned by him, looked straight at him and answered curtly, and who, to a query twice repeated in the same terms, dared to answer twice in the same terms, he says: “Shut up! You disrespect me, you do not behave properly to the national representative.” He immediately commits him to prison.117 One evening, at the theatre, he enters a box in which the ladies, seated in front, keep their places. In a rage, he goes out, rushes on the stage and, brandishing his great sabre, vociferates and threatens the audience, taking immense strides across the boards and acting and looking so much like a wild beast that several of the ladies faint away: “Look there!” he shouts, “at those muscadines who do not condescend to move for a representative of twenty-five millions of men! Everybody used to make way for a prince—they will not budge for me, a representative, who am more than a king!”118 The word is spoken. But this king is frightened, and he is one who thinks of nothing but conspiracy;119 in the street, in open daylight, the people who are passing him are plotting against him either by words or signs. Meeting in the main street of Arras a young girl and her mother talking Flemish, that seems to him “suspect.” “Where are you going?” he demands. “What’s that to you?” replies the child, who does not know him. The girl, the mother, and the father are sent to prison.120 On the ramparts, another young girl, accompanied by her mother, is taking the air, and reading a book. “Give me that book,” says the representative. The mother hands it to him; it is the “History of Clarissa Harlowe.” The young girl, extending her hand to receive back the book, adds, undoubtedly with a smile: “That is not ‘suspect.’ ” Lebon deals her a blow with his fist on her stomach which knocks her down; both women are searched and he personally leads them to the guard-room. The slightest expression, a gesture, puts him beside himself; any motion that he does not comprehend makes him start, as with an electric shock. Just arrived at Cambray, he is informed that a woman who had sold a bottle of wine below the maximum, had been released after a procès-verbal. On reaching the Hôtel-de-Ville, he shouts out: “Let everybody here pass into the Consistory!” The municipal officer on duty opens a door leading into it. Lebon, however, not knowing who he is, takes alarm. “He froths at the mouth,” says the municipal officer, “and cries out as if possessed by a demon. ‘Stop, stop, scoundrel, you are running off!’ He draws his sabre and seizes me by the collar; I am dragged and borne along by him and his men. ‘I have hold of him, I have hold of him!’ he exclaims, and, indeed, he did hold me with his teeth, legs, and arms, like a madman. At last, ‘Scoundrel, monster, b—,’ says he, ‘are you a marquis?’ ‘No,’ I replied, ‘I am a sans-culotte.’ ‘Ah, well! people, you hear what he says,’ he exclaims, ‘he says that he is a sans-culotte, and that is the way he greets a denunciation on the maximum! I remove him. Let him be f—— in prison!’ ”121 It is certain that the King of Arras and Cambray is not far from a raging fever; with such symptoms an ordinary individual would be sent to an asylum.
Not so vain, less fond of parading his royalty, but more savage and placed in Nantes amidst greater dangers, Carrier, under the pressure of more sombre ideas, is much more furious and constant in his madness. Sometimes his attacks reach hallucination. “I have seen him,” says a witness, “so carried away in the tribune, in the heat of his harangue when trying to overrule public opinion, as to cut off the tops of the candles with his sabre,” as if they were so many aristocrats’ heads.122 Another time, at table, after having declared that France could not feed its too numerous population, and that it was decided to cut down the excess, all nobles, magistrates, priests, merchants, etc., he becomes excited and exclaims, “Kill, kill!” as if he were already engaged in the work and ordering the operation.123 Even when fasting, and in an ordinary condition, he is scarcely more cooled down. When the administrators of the department come to consult with him,124 they gather around the door to see if he looks enraged, and is in a condition to hear them. He not only insults petitioners, but likewise the functionaries under him who make reports to him, or take his orders; his foul nature rises to his lips and overflows in the vilest terms: “Go to —— and be ——. I have no time.”125 They consider themselves lucky if they get off with a volley of obscene oaths, for he generally draws his sabre: “The first —— that mentions supplies, I will —— his head off.”126 And to the president of the military commission, who demands that verdicts be rendered before ordering executions: “You, you old rascal, you old ——, you want verdicts, do you! Go ahead! If the whole pen is not emptied in a couple of hours I will have you and your colleagues shot!” His gestures, his look have such a powerful effect upon the mind that the other, who is also a “bruiser,” dies of the shock a few days after.127 Not only does he draw his sabre, but he uses it; among the petitioners, a boatman, whom he is about to strike, runs off as fast as he can; he draws General Moulins into the recess of a window and gives him a cut.128 People “tremble” on accosting him, and yet more in contradicting him. The envoy of the Committee of Public Safety, Julien de la Drôme, on being brought before him, takes care to “stand some distance off, in a corner of the room,” wisely trying to avoid the first spring; wiser still, he replies to Carrier’s exclamations with the only available argument: “If you put me out of the way today, you yourself will be guillotined within a week!”129 On coming to a stand before a mad dog one must aim the knife straight at its throat; there is no other way to escape its tusks and slaver. Accordingly, with Carrier, as with a mad dog, the brain is mastered by the steady mechanical reverie, by persistent images of murder and death. He exclaims to President Tronjolly, apropos of the Vendéan children: “The guillotine, always the guillotine!”130 In relation to the drownings: “You judges must have verdicts; pitch them into the water, which is much more simple.” Addressing the popular club of Nantes, he says: “The rich, the merchants, are all monopolisers, all antirevolutionists; denounce them to me, and I will have all their heads under the national razor. Tell me who the fanatics are that shut their shops on Sunday and I will have them guillotined.” “When will the heads of those rascally merchants fall?” “I see beggars here in rags; you are as big fools at Ancenis as at Nantes. Don’t you know that the money, the wealth of these old merchants, belongs to you, and is not the river there?” “My brave b——, my good sans-culottes your time is come! Denounce them to me! The evidence of two good sans-culottes is all I want to make the heads of those old merchants tumble!” “We will make France a grave-yard rather than not regenerate it in our own way.”131 His steady howl ends in a cry of anguish: “We shall all be guillotined, one after the other!”132 Such is the mental state to which the office of representative on mission leads. Below Carrier, who is on the extreme verge, the others, less advanced, likewise turn pale at the lugubrious vision, which is the inevitable effect of their work and their mandate. Beyond every grave they dig, they catch a glimpse of the grave already dug for them. There is nothing left for the grave-digger but to dig mechanically day after day, and, in the meantime, make what he can out of his place; he can at least render himself insensible by having “a good time.”
Most of them follow this course, some instinctively and through lassitude, and others because the display they make adds to their authority. “Dragged along in carriages with six horses, surrounded by guards, seated at sumptuous tables set for thirty persons, eating to the sound of music along with a cortege of actors, courtezans, and pretorians,”133 they impress the imagination with an idea of their omnipotence, and people bow all the lower because they make a grand show. At Troyes, on the arrival of young Rousselin, cannon are discharged as if for the entry of a prince. The entire population of Nevers is called upon to honor the birth of Fouché’s child; the civil and military authorities pay their respects to him, and the National Guards are under arms.134 At Lyons, “The imposing display of Collot d’Herbois resembles that of the Grand Turk. It requires three successive applications to obtain an audience; nobody approaches nearer than a distance of fifteen feet; two sentinels with muskets stand on each side of him, with their eyes fixed on the petitioners.”135 Less menacing, but not less imposing, is the pomp which surrounds the representatives at Bordeaux; to approach them, requires “a pass from the captain of the guards,”136 through several squads of sentinels. One of them, Ysabeau, who, after having guillotined to a considerable extent, has become almost tractable, allows adulation, and, like a Duc de Richelieu coming down from Versailles, tries to play the popular potentate, with all the luxuries which the situation affords. At the theatres, in his presence, they give a ballet in which shepherds form with garlands of flowers the words “Ysabeau, Liberty, Equality.” He allows his portrait to pass from hand to hand, and condescendingly smiles on the artist who inscribes these words at the bottom of an engraving of the day: “An occurrence which took place under Ysabeau, representative of the people.” “When he passes in the street people take off their hats to him, cheer him, and shout ‘Hurrah for Ysabeau! Hurrah for the saviour of Bordeaux, our friend and father!’ The children of aristocrats come and apostrophise him in this way, even at the doors of his carriage; for he has a carriage, and several of them, with a coachman, horses, and the equipage of a former noble, gendarmes preceding him everywhere, even on excursions into the country,” where his new courtiers call him “great man,” and welcome him with “Asiatic magnificence.” There is good cheer at his table, “superb white bread,” called “representatives’ bread,” whilst the rustics of the neighborhood live on roots, and the inhabitants of Bordeaux can scarcely obtain over four ounces per diem of musty bread. There is the same feasting with the representatives at Lyons, in the midst of similar distress. In the reports made by Collot we find a list of bottles of brandy at four francs each, along with partridges, capons, turkeys, chickens, pike, and crawfish; also white bread, “equality bread,” the other kind, assigned to simple mortals, offending this august palate. Add to this the requisitions made by Albitte and Fouché, seven hundred bottles of fine wine, in one lot, another of fifty pounds of coffee, one hundred and sixty ells of muslin, three dozen silk handkerchiefs for cravats, three dozen pairs of gloves, and four dozen pairs of stockings: they provide themselves with a good stock.137 Among so many perambulating satraps, the most audaciously sensual is, I believe, Tallien, the Septembriseur at Paris and guillotineur at Bordeaux, but still more rake and robber, caring mostly for his palate and stomach. Son of the cook of a grand seignor, he is doubtless swayed by family traditions: for his government is simply a larder where, like the head-butler in “Gil Blas,” he can eat and turn the rest into money. At this moment, his principal favorite is Teresa Cabarrus, a woman of society, or one of the demi-monde, whom he took out of prison; he rides about the streets with her in an open carriage, “with a courier behind and a courier in front,” sometimes wearing the red cap and holding a pike in her hand,138 thus exhibiting his goddess to the people. And this is the sentiment which does him the most credit; for, when the crisis comes, the imminent peril of his mistress arouses his courage against Robespierre, and this pretty woman, who is good-natured, begs him, not for murders, but for pardons. Others, as gallant as he is, but with less taste, obtain recruits for their pleasures in a rude way, either as fast-livers on the wing, or because fear subjects the honor of women to their caprices, or because the public funds defray the expenses of their guard-room habits. At Blois, for this species of expenditure, Guimberteau discharges his obligations by drafts on the proceeds of the revolutionary tax.139 Carrier, at Nantes, appropriates to himself the house and garden of a private person for “his seraglio”; the reader may judge whether, on desiring to be a third party in the household, the husband would make objections; at other times, in the hotel Henry IV., “with his friends and prostitutes brought under requisition, he has an orgy”; he allows himself the same indulgence on the galiot, at the drownings; there at the end of a drunken frolic, he is regaled with merry songs, for example, “la gamelle”:140 he must be amused. Some, who are shrewd, think of the more substantial and look out for the future. Foremost among these is Tallien, the king of robbers, but prodigal, whose pockets, full of holes, are only filled to be at once emptied; Javogues, who makes the most of Montbrison; Rovère, who, for eighty thousand francs in assignats, has an estate adjudged to him worth five hundred thousand francs in coin; Fouché, who, in Nièvre, begins to amass the twelve or fourteen millions which he secures later on;141 and so many others, who were either ruined or impoverished previous to the outbreak of the Revolution, and who are rich when it ends: Barras with his domain of Gros Bois; André Dumont, with the Hotel de Plouy, its magnificent furniture, and an estate worth four hundred thousand livres; Merlin de Thionville, with his country-houses, equipages, and domain of Mont-Valérien, and other domains; Salicetti, Rewbell, Rousselin, Chateauneuf-Randon, and the rest of the corrupt Directory cormorants. Without mentioning the taxes and confiscations of which they render no account, they have, for their hoard, the ransoms offered underhandedly by “suspects” and their families; what is more convenient?142 And all the more, because the Committee of General Security, even when informed, let things take their course: to prosecute Montagnards, would be “making the Revolution take a step backward.” One is bound to humor useful servants who have such hard work, like that of September; irregularities, as with these September people, must be overlooked; it is necessary to allow them a few perquisites and give them gratuities.143
All this would not suffice to keep them at work if there were not an attraction of superior force. To the common run of civilised men, the office of Septembriseur is at first disagreeable; but, after a little practice, especially with a tyrannical nature, which, under cover of the theory, or under the pretext of public safety, can satiate its despotic instincts, all repugnance subsides. There is keen delight in the exercise of absolute power; one is glad, every hour, to assert one’s omnipotence and prove it by some act, the most conclusive of all acts being some act of destruction. The more complete, radical and prompt the destruction is, the more conscious one is of one’s strength. However great the obstacle, one is not disposed to recede or stand still; one breaks away all the barriers which men call good sense, humanity, justice, and the satisfaction of breaking them down is great. To crush and to subdue becomes voluptuous pleasure, to which pride gives keener relish, affording a grateful incense of the holocaust which the despot consumes on his own altar; at this daily sacrifice, he is both idol and priest, offering up victims to himself that he may be conscious of his divinity. Such is Saint-Just, all the more a despot because his title of representative on mission is supported by his rank on the Committee of Public Safety: to find natures strained to the same pitch as his, we must leave the modern world and go back to a Caligula, or to a caliph Hakem in Egypt in the tenth century.144 He also, like these two monsters, but with different formulae, regards himself as a God, or God’s vicegerent on earth, invested with absolute power through Truth incarnated in him, the representative of a mysterious, limitless and supreme power, known as the People; to worthily represent this power, it is essential to have a soul of steel.145 Such is the soul of Saint-Just, and only that. All other sentiments merely serve to harden it; all the metallic agencies that compose it—sensuality, vanity, every vice, every species of ambition, all the frantic outbursts, and melancholy vaporings of his youth—are violently commingled and fused together in the revolutionary mould, so that his soul may take the form and rigidity of trenchant steel. Suppose this an animated blade, feeling and willing in conformity with its temper and structure; it would delight in being brandished, and would need to strike; such is the need of Saint-Just. Taciturn, impassible, keeping people at a distance, as imperious as if the entire will of the people and the majesty of transcendent reason resided in his person, he seems to have reduced his passions to the desire of dashing everything to atoms, and to creating dismay. It may be said of him that, like the conquering Tartars, he measures his self-attributed grandeur by what he fells; no other has so extensively swept away fortunes, liberties and lives; no other has so terrifically heightened the effect of his deeds by laconic speech and the suddenness of the stroke. He orders the arrest and close confinement of all former nobles, men and women, in the four departments, in twenty-four hours; he orders the bourgeoisie of Strasbourg to pay over nine millions in twenty-four hours; ten thousand persons in Strasbourg must give up their shoes in twenty-four hours; random and immediate discharges of musketry on the officers of the Rhine army—such are the measures.146 So much the worse for the innocent; there is no time to discern who they are; “a blind man hunting for a pin in a dust-heap takes the whole heap.”147 And, whatever the order, even when it cannot be executed, so much the worse for him to whom it is given, for the captain who, directed by the representative to establish this or that battery in a certain time, works all night with all his forces, “with as many men as the place will hold.”148 The battery not being ready at the hour named, Saint-Just sends the captain to the guillotine. The sovereign having once given an order it cannot be counter-manded; to take back his words would be weakening himself;149 in the service of omnipotence, pride is insatiable, and, to mollify it, no barbaric act is too great. The same appetite is visible in Collot d’Herbois, who, no longer on the stage, plays before the town the melo-dramatic tyrant with all becoming ostentation. One morning, at Lyons, he directs the revolutionary Tribunal to arrest, examine and sentence a youthful “suspect” before the day is over. “Towards six o’clock,150 Collot being at table enjoying an orgy with prostitutes, buffoons, and executioners, eating and drinking to choice music, one of the judges of the Tribunal enters; after the usual formalities, he is led up to the Representative, and informs him that the young man had been arrested and examined, and the strictest enquiries made concerning him; he is found irreproachable and the Court decided to set him free. Collot, without looking at the judge, raises his voice and says to him: ‘I ordered you to punish that young man and I want him out of the way before night. If the innocent are spared, too many of the guilty will escape. Go.’ The music and gaiety begin again, and in an hour the young man is shot.” And so with most of the other pachalics; if any head mentally condemned by the pacha escapes or does not fall soon enough, the latter is indignant at the delays and forms of justice, also against the judges and juries, often selected by himself. Javogues writes an insulting letter to the commission of Feurs which has dared acquit two former nobles. Laignelot, Lecarpentier, Michaud, Monestier, Lebon, break up, recompose, or replace the commissions of Fontenoy, St. Malo, and Perpignan, and the tribunals of Pau, Nismes, and Arras, whose judgments did not please them.151 Lebon, Bernard de Saintes, Dartigoyte, and Fouché rearrest prisoners on the same charge, solemnly acquitted by their own tribunals. Bô, Prieur de la Marne, and Lebon, send judges and juries to prison that do not always vote death.152 Barras and Fréron despatch, from brigade to brigade, to the revolutionary Tribunal in Paris, the public prosecutor and president of the revolutionary Tribunal of Marseilles, for being indulgent to antirevolutionists, because, out of five hundred and twenty-eight prisoners, they guillotined only one hundred and sixty-two.153 To contradict the infallible Representative! That of itself is an offence. He owes it to himself to punish those who are not docile, to rearrest absolved delinquents, and to maintain cruelty with cruelty.
When one has long imbibed a strong and disagreeable draught, not only does the palate get accustomed to the draught, but it often acquires a taste for it; it soon wants to have it stronger; finally, it swallows it pure, completely raw, with no admixture or condiment to disguise its repulsiveness. Such, to certain imaginations, is the spectacle of human gore; after getting accustomed to it they take delight in seeing it. Lequinio, Laignelot, and Lebon invite the executioner to dine with them;154 Monestier, with his cut-throats, is going himself in search of prisoners in the dungeons, so that he may accompany them to the Tribunal and overwhelm them with charges, if they are disposed to defend themselves; after their condemnation, he assists in uniform at their execution.155 Fouché, lorgnette in hand, looks out of his window upon a butchery of two hundred and ten Lyonnese. Collot, Laporte, and Fouché feast together in a large company on shooting days, and, at each discharge, stand up and cheer lustily, waving their hats.156 At Toulon, Fréron, in person, orders and sees executed, the first grand massacre on the Champ de Mars.157 On the Place d’Arras, M. de Vielfort, already tied and stretched out on the plank, awaits the fall of the knife. Lebon appears on the balcony of the theatre, makes a sign to the executioner to stop, opens the newspaper, and, in a loud voice, reads off the recent successes of the French armies; then, turning to the condemned man, exclaims: “Go, wretch, and take the news of our victories to your brethren.”158 At Feurs, where the shootings take place at the house of M. du Rosier, in the great avenue of the park, his daughter, quite a young woman, advances in tears to Javogues, and asks for the release of her husband. “Oh, yes, my dear,” replies Javogues, “you shall have him home tomorrow.” In effect, the next day, her husband is shot, and buried in the avenue.159 It is evident that they get to liking the business. Like their September predecessors, they find amusement in murdering: people around them allude gaily to “the red theatre” and “the national razor.” An aristocrat is said to be “putting his head at the national window,” and “he has put his head through the cat-hole.”160 They themselves enjoy the style and humor of the occupation. “Tomorrow, at seven o’clock,” writes Hugues, “let the sacred guillotine be erected!” “The demoiselle guillotine,” writes Lecarlier, “keeps steadily agoing.”161 “The relatives and friends of emigrés and of refractory priests,” writes Lebon, “monopolise the guillotine.162 … Day before yesterday, the sister of the former Comte de Bethune sneezed in the sack.” Carrier loudly proclaims “the pleasure he has derived” from seeing priests executed: “I never laughed in my life as I did at the faces they made in dying.”163 This is the extreme perversity of human nature, that of a Domitian who watches the features of the condemned, to see the effect of suffering, or, better still, that of the negro who holds his sides with laughter at the aspect of a man being impaled. And this delight of contemplating death throes, Carrier finds it in the sufferings of children. Notwithstanding the remonstrances of the revolutionary Tribunal and the entreaties of President Phelippes,164 he signs on the 29th of Frimaire, year II., a positive order to guillotine without trial twenty-seven persons, of whom seven are women, and, among these, four sisters, Mesdemoiselles de la Metayrie, one of these twenty-eight years old, another twenty-seven, the third twenty-six, and the fourth seventeen. Two days before, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the same tribunal and the entreaties of the same president, he signed a positive order to guillotine twenty-six artisans and farm-hands, among them two boys of fourteen, and two of thirteen years of age. He was driven “in a cab” to the place of execution and he followed it up in detail. He could hear one of the children of thirteen, already bound to the board, but too small and having only the top of the head under the knife, ask the executioner, “Will it hurt me much?” What the triangular blade fell upon may be imagined! Carrier saw this with his own eyes, and whilst the executioner, horrified at himself, died a few days after in consequence of what he had done, Carrier put another in his place, began again and continued operations.
The Rulers (continued)— I.The administrative body at Paris—Composition of the group out of which it was recruited—Deterioration of this group—Weeding-out of the Section Assemblies—Weeding-out of the popular clubs—Pressure of the government—II.Quality of the subaltern leaders—How they rule in the section assemblies—How they seize and hold office—III.A Minister of Foreign Affairs—A General in command—The Paris Commune—A Revolutionary Committee—IV.The administrative staff in the provinces—Jacobinism less in the departmental towns than in Paris—Less in the country than in the towns—The Revolutionary Committees in the small communes—Municipal bodies lukewarm in the villages—Jacobins too numerous in bourgs and small towns—Unreliable or hampered as agents when belonging to the administrative bodies of large or moderate-sized towns—Local rulers recruited on the spot inadequate—V.Importation of a foreign staff—Paris Jacobins sent into the provinces—Jacobins of enthusiastic towns transported to moderate ones—The Jacobins of a chef-lieu spread through the district—Resistance of public opinion—Distribution and small number of really Jacobin agents—VI.Quality of the staff thus formed—Social state of the agents—Their unfitness and bad conduct—The administrators in Seine-et-Marne—Drunkenness and feastings—Committees and Municipalities in the Côte d’Or—Waste and extortions—Traffickers in favors at Bordeaux—Seal-breakers at Lyons—Monopolisers of national possessions—Sales of personal property—Embezzlements and Frauds—A procès-verbal in the office of the mayor of Strasbourg—Sales of real-estate—Commissioners on declarations at Toulouse—The administrative staff and clubs of buyers in Provence—The Revolutionary Committee of Nantes—VII.The Armed Force—National Guard and Gendarmerie—Its composition and operations—The Revolutionary Armies in Paris and in the departments—Quality of the recruits—Their employment—Their expeditions into the country towns—Their exploits in the vicinity of Paris and Lyons—The company of Maratists, the American Hussars and the German Legion at Nantes—General character of the Revolutionary government and of the administrative staff of the Reign of Terror.
To provide these local sovereigns with the subordinate lieutenants and agents which they require,we have the local Jacobin population, and we know how this is recruited1 —outcasts, the infatuated and perverted of every class and degree, especially the lowest, envious and rancorous dependents, small shopkeepers in debt, strolling and dissipated work-men, coffee-house and bar-room idlers, vagrants, tramps, abject prostitutes—in short, every species of “antisocial vermin,” male and female,2 including a few honest crack-brains into which the fashionable theory had freely found its way; the rest, and by far the largest number, are veritable beasts of prey, speculating on the established order of things and adopting the revolutionary faith only because it provides food for their appetites. In Paris, they number five or six thousand, and, after Thermidor, there is about the same number, the same appetites rallying them around the same dogma,3 levellers and terrorists, “some because they are poor, others because they have ceased working at their trade,” infuriate “against the porte-cochère scoundrels, the rich holders of objects of prime necessity,” many “having taken a hand in the Revolution, and ready to do it again provided the rich rascals, monopolists, and merchants can all be killed,” all “frequenters of popular clubs who think themselves philosophers, although most of them are unable to read,” at the head of them the remnant of the most notorious political bandits, the famous post-master, Drouet, who, in the tribune at the Convention, declared himself a “brigand,”4 Javogues, the robber of Montbrison and the “Nero of Ain,”5 the sot Casset, formerly a silk-hand and afterwards the pacha of Thionville, Bertrand, the friend of Charlier, the ex-mayor and executioner of Lyons, Darthé, ex-secretary of Lebon and the executioner at Arras, Rossignol and nine other Septembriseurs of the Abbaye and the Carmelites, and, finally, the great apostle of despotic communism, Baboeuf, who, sentenced to twenty years in irons for the falsification of public contracts, and as needy as he is vicious, rambles about Paris airing his disappointed ambitions and empty pockets along with the swaggering crew who, if not striving to reach the throne by a new massacre,6 tramp through the streets slipshod, for lack of money “to redeem a pair of boots at the shoemakers,” or to sell some snuff-box, their last resource, for a morning dram.7 In this class we see the governing rabble fully and distinctly. Separated from its forced adherents and the official automatons who serve it as they would any other power, it stands out pure and unalloyed by any neutral afflux; we recognise here the permanent residue, the deep, settled slime of the social sewer. It is to this sink of vice and ignorance that the revolutionary government betakes itself for its staff-officers and its administrative bodies.
Nowhere else could they be found. For the daily task imposed upon them, and which must be done by them, is robbery and murder; excepting the pure fanatics, who are few in number, only brutes and blackguards have the aptitudes and tastes for such business. In Paris, as in the provinces, it is from the clubs or popular associations in which they congregate, that they are sought for. Each section of Paris contains one of these clubs, in all forty-eight, rallied around the central club in the Rue St. Honoré, forty-eight district alliances of professional rioters and brawlers, the rebels and blackguards of the social army, all the men and women incapable of devoting themselves to a regular life and useful labor,8 especially those who, on the 31st of May and 2d of June, had aided the Commune and the “Mountain” in violating the Convention. They recognise each other by this sign that, “each would be hung in case of a counter-revolution,”9 laying it down “as an incontestable fact that, should a single aristocrat be spared, all of them would mount the scaffold.”10 They are naturally wary and they cling together: in their clique “every thing is done on the basis of good fellowship;”11 no one is admitted except on the condition of having proved his qualifications “on the 10th of August and 31st of May.”12 And, as they have made their way into the Commune and into the revolutionary committees behind victorious leaders, they are able, through the certificates of civism which these arbitrarily grant or refuse, to exclude, not only from political life but, again, from civil life, whoever is not of their coterie. “See,” writes one of Danton’s correspondents,13 “the sort of persons who easily obtain these certificates, the Ronsins, the Jourdans, the Maillards, the Vincents, all bankrupts, keepers of gambling-hells, and cut-throats. Ask these individuals whether they have paid the patriotic contribution, whether they regularly pay the usual taxes, whether they give to the poor of their sections, to the volunteer soldiers, etc.; whether they mount guard or see it regularly done, whether they have made a loyal declaration for the forced loan. You will find that they have not. … The Commune issues certificates of civism to its satellites and refuses them to the best citizens.” The monopoly is obvious; they make no attempt to conceal it; six weeks later,14 it becomes official: “several revolutionary committees decide not to grant certificates of civism to citizens who are not members of a popular club.” And strict exclusion goes on increasing from month to month. Old certificates are cancelled and new ones imposed, which new certificates have new formalities added to them, a larger number of endorsers being required and certain kinds of guarantees being rejected; there is greater strictness in relation to the requisite securities and qualifications; the candidate is put off until fuller information can be obtained about him; he is rejected at the slightest suspicion:15 he is only too fortunate if he is tolerated in the Republic as a passive subject, if he is content to be taxed and taxed when they please, and if he is not sent to join the “suspects” in prison; whoever does not belong to the band does not belong to the community.
Amongst themselves and in their popular club it is worse, for “the eagerness to get any office leads to every one denouncing each other”;16 consequently, at the Jacobin club in the rue St. Honoré, and in the branch clubs of the quarter, there is constant weeding-out, and always in the same sense, until the faction is purged of all honest or passable alloy and only a minority remains, which has its own way at every balloting. One of them announces that, in his club, eighty doubtful members have already been got rid of; another that, in his club, one hundred are going to be excluded.17 On Ventose 23, in the “Bon-Conseil” club, most of the members examined are rejected: “they are so strict that a man who cannot show that he acted energetically in critical times, cannot form part of the assembly; he is set aside for a mere trifle.” On Ventose 13, in the same club, “out of twenty-six examined, seven only are admitted; one citizen, a tobacco dealer, aged sixty-eight, who has always performed his duty, is rejected for having called the president Monsieur, and for having spoken in the tribune bareheaded; two members, after this, insisted on his being a Moderate, which is enough to keep him out.” Those who remain, consist of the most restless and most loquacious, the most eager for office, the self-mutilated club being thus reduced to a knot of charlatans and rogues.
To these spontaneous eliminations through which the club deteriorates, add the constant pressure through which the Committee of Public Safety frightens and degrades it. The lower the revolutionary government sinks, and the more it concentrates its power, the more servile and sanguinary do its agents and employees become. It strikes right and left as a warning; it imprisons or decapitates the turbulent among its own clients, the secondary demagogues who are impatient at not being principal demagogues, the bold who think of striking a fresh blow in the streets, Jacques Roux, Vincent, Momoro, Hébert, leaders of the Cordeliers club and of the Commune; after these, the indulgent who are disposed to exercise some discernment or moderation in terrorism, Camille Desmoulins, Danton and their adherents; and lastly, many others who are more or less doubtful, compromised or compromising, wearied or eccentric, from Maillard to Chaumette, from Antonelle to Chabot, from Westermann to Clootz. Each of the proscribed has a gang of followers, and suddenly the whole gang are obliged to be turncoats; those who are able to lead, flag, while those who can feel pity, become hardened. Henceforth, amongst the subaltern Jacobins, the roots of independence, humanity, and loyalty, hard to extirpate even in an ignoble and cruel nature, are eradicated even to the last fibre, the revolutionary staff, already so debased, becoming more and more degraded, until it is worthy of the office assigned to it. The confidants of Hébert, those who listen to Chaumette, the comrades of Westermann, the officers of Ronsin, the faithful readers of Camille, the admirers and devotees of Danton, all are bound to publicly repudiate their incarcerated friend or leader and approve of the decree which sends him to the scaffold, to applaud his calumniators, to overwhelm him on trial: this or that judge or juryman, who is one of Danton’s partisans, is obliged to stifle a defence of him, and, knowing him to be innocent, pronounce him guilty; one who had often dined with Desmoulins is not only to guillotine him, but, in addition to this, to guillotine his young widow. Moreover, in the revolutionary committees, at the Commune, in the offices of the Committee of General Safety, in the bureau of the Central Police, at the headquarters of the armed force, at the revolutionary Tribunal, the service to which they are restricted becomes daily more onerous and more repulsive. To denounce neighbors, to arrest colleagues, to go and seize innocent persons, known to be such, in their beds, to select in the prisons the thirty or forty unfortunates who form the daily food of the guillotine, to “amalgamate” them haphazard, to try them and condemn them in a lot, to escort octogenarian women and girls of sixteen to the scaffold, even under the knife-blade, to see heads dropping and bodies swinging, to contrive means for getting rid of a multitude of corpses, and for removing the too-visible stains of blood—of what species do the beings consist, who can accept such a task, and perform it day after day, with the prospect of doing it indefinitely? Fouquier-Tinville himself succumbs. One evening, on his way to the Committee of Public Safety, “he feels unwell” on the Pont-Neuf and exclaims: “I think I see the ghosts of the dead following us, especially those of the patriots I have had guillotined!”18 And at another time: “I would rather plough the ground than be public prosecutor. If I could, I would resign.” The government, as the system becomes aggravated, is forced to descend lower still that it may find suitable instruments; it finds them now only in the lowest depths; in Germinal, to renew the Commune, in Floréal, to renew the ministries, in Prairial, to recompose the revolutionary Tribunal, month after month, purging and reconstituting the committees of each quarter19 of the city. In vain does Robespierre, writing and rewriting his secret lists, try to find men able to maintain the system; he always falls back on the same names, those of unknown persons, illiterate, about a hundred knaves or fools with four or five second-class despots or fanatics among them, as malevolent and as narrow as himself. The purifying crucible has been long and too often used; it has been overheated; what was sound, or nearly so, in the elements of the primitive fluid has been forcibly evaporated; the rest has fermented and become acid; nothing remains in the bottom of the vessel but the lees of stupidity and wickedness, their concentrated and corrosive dregs.
Such are the subordinate sovereigns20 who, for fourteen months in Paris, dispose of fortunes, liberties, and lives as they please. And first, in the section assemblies, which still maintain a semblance of popular sovereignty, they rule despotically and uncontested. “A dozen or fifteen men wearing a red cap,21 well-informed or not, claim the exclusive right of speaking and acting, and if any other citizen with honest motives happens to propose measures which he thinks proper, and which really are so, no attention is paid to these measures, or, if it is, it is only to show the members composing the assemblage of how little account they are. These measures are accordingly rejected, solely because they are not presented by one of the men in a red cap, or by somebody like themselves, initiated in the mysteries of the section.” “Sometimes,” says one of the leaders,22 “we find only ten of the club at the general assembly of the section; but there are enough of us to intimidate the rest. Should any citizen of the section make a proposition we do not like, we rise and shout that he is an intriguer, or a signer (of former constitutional petitions). In this way we impose silence on those who are not in unison with the club.” The operation is all the easier inasmuch as since September, 1793, the majority, composed of beasts of burden, mind the lash. “When something has to be effected that depends on intrigue or on private interest,23 the motion is always put by one of the members of the revolutionary committee of the section, or by one of those fanatical patriots who join in with the committee, and commonly act as its spies. Immediately the ignorant men, to whom Danton has allowed forty sous for each meeting, and who, since that time, flock to the assembly in crowds, where they never came before, welcome the proposition with loud applause, calling for a vote, and the act is passed unanimously, notwithstanding the contrary opinions of all well-informed and honest citizens. Should any one dare make an objection, he would run the risk of imprisonment as a ‘suspect,’24 after being treated as an aristocrat or federalist, or at least, refused a certificate of civism, if he had the misfortune to need one, did his subsistence depend on this, either as employee or pensioner.” In the Maison-Commune section, most of the auditory are masons, “excellent patriots,” says one of the clubbists of the quarter:25 “they always vote on our side; we make them do what we want.” Numbers of day-laborers, cab-drivers, cartmen and workmen of every class, thus earn their forty sous, and have no idea of other demands being made on them. On entering the hall, when the meeting opens, they write down their names, after which they go out “to take a drink,” without thinking themselves obliged to listen to the rigmarole of the orators; towards the end, they come back, make all the noise that is required of them with their lungs, feet and hands, and then go and “take back their card and get their money.”26 With paid applauders of this stamp, they soon get the better of any opponents, or, rather, all opposition is suppressed beforehand. “The best citizens keep silent” in the section assemblies, or “stay away”; these are simply “gambling-shops” where “the most absurd, the most unjust, the most impolitic of resolutions are passed at every moment.27 Moreover, citizens are ruined there by the unlimited sectional expenditure, which exceeds the usual taxation and the communal expenses, already very heavy. At one time, some carpenter or locksmith, member of the Revolutionary Committee, wants to construct, enlarge or decorate a hall, and it is necessary to agree with him. Again, a poor speech is made, full of exaggeration and political extravagance, of which three, four, five, and six thousand impressions are ordered to be printed. Then, to cap the climax, following the example of the Commune, no accounts are rendered, or, if this is done for form’s sake, no fault must be found with them, under penalty of suspicion, etc.” Proprietors and distributors of civism, the twelve leaders have only to agree amongst themselves to share the profits, each according to his appetite; henceforth, cupidity and vanity are free to sacrifice the common weal, under cover of the common interest. The provender is enormous and the summons to it comes from above. “I am very glad,” says Henriot, in one of his orders of the day,28 “to announce to my brethren in arms that all the offices are at the disposal of the government. The actual government, which is revolutionary, whose intentions are pure, and which merely desires the happiness of all, … goes to garrets for virtuous men, … poor and genuine sans-culottes,” and it has the wherewithal to satisfy them—thirty-five thousand places of public employment in the capital alone:29 it is a rich mine; already, before the month of May, 1793, “the Jacobin club boasted of having placed nine thousand agents in the administration,”30 and since the 2d of June, “virtuous men, poor, genuine sans-culottes,” arrive in crowds from “their garrets,” dens and hired rooms, each to grab his share. Setting aside the old offices in the War, Navy, and Public-Works departments, in the Treasury and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which they besiege, and where they install themselves by hundreds and rule, where they constantly denounce all the able employees who stay there, and make vacancies in order to fill them,31 there are twenty new administrative departments which they keep for themselves: commissioners of the first confiscation of national property, commissioners of national property arising from emigrants and the convicted, commissioners of conscripted carriage-horses, commissioners on clothing, commissioners on the collecting and manufacturing of saltpetre, commissioners on monopolies, civil-commissioners in each of the forty-eight sections, commissioners on propagandism in the departments, commissioners on subsistences, and many others; fifteen hundred places are counted in the single department of subsistence in Paris,32 and all are salaried. Here, already, are a number of desirable offices. Some are for the lowest rabble, two hundred, at twenty sous a day, paid to “stump-speakers,” employed to direct opinion in the Palais-Royal, also among the Tuileries groups, as well as in the tribunes of the Convention and of the Hôtel-de-Ville;33 two hundred more at four hundred francs per annum, to waiters in coffee-houses, gambling-saloons, and hotels, for watching foreigners and customers; hundreds of places at two, three, and five francs a day with meals, for the guardians of seals, and for garrisoning the domiciles of “suspects”; thousands, with premiums, pay, and full license, for brigands who, under Ronsin, compose the revolutionary army, and for the gunners, paid guard, and gendarmes of Henriot. The principal posts, however, are those which subject lives and liberties to the discretion of those who occupy them: for, through this more than regal power, they possess all other power, and such is that of the men composing the forty-eight revolutionary committees, the bureaux of the Committee of General Security and of the Commune, and the staff-officers of the armed force. They are the prime-movers and active mainsprings of the system of Terror, all picked Jacobins and tested by repeated selection, all designated or approved by the Central Club, which claims for itself the monopoly of patriotism, and which, erected into a supreme council of the sect, issues no patent of orthodoxy except to its own instruments.34
They immediately assume the tone and arrogance of dictatorship. “Pride has reached the highest point”:35 “One who, yesterday, had nothing to do, and was amiable and honest, has become haughty and insolent because, deceived by appearances, his fellow-citizens have elected him commissioner, or given him some employment or other.” Henceforth, he demeans himself like an aga amongst infidels, and, in command, carries things with a high hand. On the 20th of Vendémiaire, year II., “in the middle of the night,” the committee of the Piques section summons M. Bélanger, the architect. He is notified that his house is wanted immediately for a new bastille. “But, said he, ‘I own no other, and it is occupied by several tenants; it is decorated with models of art, and is fit only for that purpose.’ ‘Your house or a prison.’ ‘But I shall be obliged to indemnify my tenants.’ ‘Either your house or a prison; as to indemnities, we have vacant lodgings for your tenants, as well as for yourself, in La Force, or St. Pelagie.’ Twelve sentinels on the post start off at once and take possession of the premises; the owner is allowed six hours to move out and is forbidden, henceforth, to return; the bureaux, to which he appeals, interpret his obedience as ‘tacit adhesion,’ and, very soon, he himself is locked up.”36 Administrative tools that cut so sharply need the greatest care, and, from time to time, they are carefully oiled:37 on the 20th of July, 1793, two thousand francs are given to each of the forty-eight committees, and eight thousand francs to General Henriot, “for expenses in watching antirevolutionary manoeuvres”; on the 7th of August, fifty thousand francs “to indemnify the less successful members of the forty-eight committees”; three hundred thousand francs to Gen. Henriot “for thwarting conspiracies and securing the triumph of liberty”; fifty thousand francs to the mayor, “for detecting the plots of the malevolent”; on the 10th of September, forty thousand francs to the mayor, president and procureur-syndic of the department, “for measures of security”; on the 13th of September, three hundred thousand francs to the mayor “for preventing the attempts of the malevolent”; on the 15th of November, one hundred thousand francs to the popular clubs, “because these are essential to the propagation of sound principles.” Moreover, besides gratuities and a fixed salary, there are the gratifications and perquisites belonging to the office.38 Henriot appoints his comrades on the staff of paid spies and denunciators, and, naturally, they take advantage of their position to fill their pockets; under the pretext of incivism, they multiply domiciliary visits, make the master of the house ransom himself, or steal what suits them on the premises.39 In the Commune, and on the revolutionary committees, every extortion can be, and is, practiced. “I am acquainted,” says Quevremont, “with two citizens who have been put in prison, without being told why, and, at the end of three weeks or a month, let out—and do you know how? By paying, one of them, fifteen thousand livres, and the other, twenty-five thousand. … Gambron, at La Force, pays one thousand five hundred livres a month not to live amongst lice, and besides this, he had to pay a bribe of two thousand livres on entering. This happened to many others who, again, dared not speak of it, except in a whisper.”40 Woe to the imprudent who, never concerning themselves with public affairs, and relying on their innocence, discard the officious broker and fail to pay up at once! Brichard, the notary, having refused or tendered too late, the hundred thousand crowns demanded of him, is to put his head “at the red window.” And I omit ordinary rapine, the vast field open to extortion through innumerable inventories, sequestrations and adjudications, through the enormities of contractors, through hastily executed purchases and deliveries, through the waste of two or three millions given weekly by the government to the Commune for supplies for the capital, through the requisitions of grain which give fifteen hundred men of the revolutionary army an opportunity to clean out all the neighboring farms, as far as Corbeil and Meaux, and benefit by this after the fashion of the chauffeurs.41 Considering the parties, as above, who have the places, the anonymous robberies are not surprising. Beboeuf, the falsifier of public contracts, is secretary for subsistences to the Commune; Maillard, the Abbaye Septembriseur, receives eight thousand francs for his direction, in the forty-eight sections, of the ninety-six observers and leaders of public opinion; Chrétien, whose smoking-shop serves as the rendezvous of rowdies, becomes a juryman at eighteen francs a day in the revolutionary Tribunal, and leads his section with uplifted sabre;42 De Sade, professor of crimes, is now the oracle of his quarter, and, in the name of the Piques section, he reads addresses to the Convention.
Let us examine some of these figures closely: the nearer they are to the eye and foremost in position, the more the importance of the duty brings into light the unworthiness of the potentate. There is already one of them, whom we have seen in passing, Buchot, twice noticed by Robespierre under his own hand as “a man of probity, energetic, and capable of fulfilling the most important functions,”43 appointed by the Committee of Public Safety “Commissioner on External Relations,” that is to say, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and kept in this important position for nearly six months. He is a school-master from the Jura,44 recently disembarked from his small town and whose “ignorance, low habits, and stupidity surpass any thing that can be imagined. … The chief clerks have nothing to do with him; he neither sees nor asks for them. He is never found in his office, and when it is indispensable to ask for his signature on any legislative matter, the sole act to which he has reduced his functions, they are compelled to go and force it from him in the Café Hardy, where he usually passes his days.” It must be borne in mind that he is envious and spiteful, avenging himself for his incapacity on those whose competency makes him sensible of his incompetency; he denounces them as Moderates, and, at last, succeeds in having a warrant of arrest issued against his four chief clerks; on the morning of Thermidor 9, with a wicked leer, he himself carries the news to one of them, M. Miot. Unfortunately for him, after Thermidor, he is turned out and M. Miot is put in his place. With diplomatic politeness, the latter calls on his predecessor and “expresses to him the usual compliments.” Buchot, insensible to compliments, immediately thinks of the substantial, and the first thing he asks for is to keep provisionally his apartment in the ministry. On this being granted, he expresses his thanks and tells M. Miot that it was very well to appoint him, but “for myself, it is very disagreeable. I have been obliged to come to Paris and quit my post in the provinces, and now they leave me in the street.” Thereupon, with astounding impudence, he asks the man whom he wished to guillotine to give him a place as ministerial clerk. M. Miot tries to make him understand that for a former minister to descend so low would be improper. Buchot regards such delicacy as strange, and, seeing M. Miot’s embarrassment, he ends by saying: “If you don’t find me fit for a clerk, I shall be content with the place of a servant.” This estimate of himself shows his proper value.
The other, whom we have also met before, and who is already known by his acts,45 general in Paris of the entire armed force, commander-in-chief of one hundred and ten thousand men, is that former servant or under-clerk of the procureur Formey, who, dismissed by his employer for robbery, shut up in Bicêtre, by turns a spy and bully for a travelling show, barrier-clerk, and September butcher, purged the Convention on the 2d of June—in short, the famous Henriot, and now a common soldier and sot. In this latter capacity, spared on the trial of the Hébertists, he is kept as a tool, for the reason, doubtless, that he is narrow, coarse, and manageable, more compromised than anybody else, good for any job, without the slightest chance of becoming independent, unemployed in the army,46 having no prestige with true soldiers, a general for street parade and an interloper and lower than the lowest of the mob; his mansion, his box at the Opera-Comique, his horses, his importance at festivals and reviews, and, above all, his orgies make him perfectly content. Every evening, in full uniform, escorted by his aides-de-camp, he gallops to Choisy-sur-Seine, where, in the domicile of a flatterer named Fauvel, along with some of Robespierre’s confederates or the local demagogues, he revels. They toss off the wines of the Duc de Coigny, smash the glasses, plates and bottles, betake themselves to neighboring dance-rooms and kick up a row, bursting in doors, and breaking benches and chairs to pieces—in short, they have a good time. The next morning, having slept himself sober, he dictates his orders for the day, veritable masterpieces in which the silliness, imbecility, and credulity of a numskull, the sentimentality of the drunkard, the clap-trap of a mountebank, and the tirades of a cheap philosopher form an unique compound, at once sickening and irritating, like the fiery, pungent mixtures of low groggeries, which suit his audience better because they contain the biting, mawkish ingredients that compose the adulterated brandy of the Revolution. He is posted on foreign transactions, and knows what makes the famine: “A lot of bread has been lately found in the privies: the Pitts and Cobourgs and other rascals who want to enslave justice and reason, and assassinate philosophy, must be called to account for this. Headquarters, etc.”47 He has theories on religions and preaches civic modesty to all dissenters: “The ministers and sectaries of every form of worship are requested not to practice any further religious ceremonies outside their temples. Every good sectarian will see the propriety of observing this order. The interior of a temple is large enough for paying one’s homage to the Eternal, who requires no rites that are repulsive to every thinking man. The wise agree that a pure heart is the sublimest homage that Divinity can desire. Headquarters, etc.” He sighs for the universal idyllic state, and invokes the suppression of the armed force: “I beg my fellow-citizens, who are led to the criminal courts out of curiosity, to act as their own police; this is a task which every good citizen should fulfill wherever he happens to be. In a free country, justice should not be secured by pikes and bayonets, but through reason and philosophy. These must maintain a watchful eye over society; these must purify it and proscribe thieves and evil-doers. Each individual must bring his small philosophic portion with him and, with these small portions, compose a rational totality that will enure to the benefit and welfare of all. Oh, for the time when functionaries shall be rare, when the wicked shall be overthrown, when the law shall become the sole functionary in society! Headquarters, etc.” Every morning, he preaches in the same pontifical strain. Imagine the scene—Henriot’s levee at headquarters, and a writing table, with, perhaps, a bottle of brandy on it; on one side of the table, the rascal who, while buckling on his belt or drawing on his boots, softens his husky voice, and, with his nervous twitchings, flounders through his humanitarian homily; on the other side the mute, uneasy secretary, who may probably spell, but who dares not materially change the grotesque phraseology of his master.
The Commune which employs the commanding-general is of about the same alloy, for, in the municipal sword, the blade and hilt, forged together in the Jacobin shop, are composed of the same base metal. Fifty-six, out of eighty-eight members, whose qualifications and occupations are known, are decidedly illiterate, or nearly so, their education being rudimentary, or none at all.48 Some of them are petty clerks, counter-jumpers and common scribblers, one among them being a public writer; others are small shopkeepers, pastry-cooks, mercers, hosiers, fruit-sellers and wine-dealers; others, finally, are simple mechanics or even laborers, carpenters, joiners, cabinet-makers, locksmiths, and especially three tailors, four hair-dressers, two masons, two shoemakers, one cobbler, one gardener, one stone-cutter, one paver, one office-runner, and one domestic. Among the thirty-two who are instructed, one alone has any reputation, Paris, professor at the University and the assistant of Abbé Delille. Only one, Dumetz, an old engineer, steady, moderate, and attending to the supplies, seems a competent and useful workman. The rest, collected from amongst the mass of unknown demagogues, are six art-apprentices or bad painters, six business-agents or ex-lawyers, seven second- or third-rate merchants, one teacher, one surgeon, one unfrocked married priest, all of whom, under the political direction of Mayor Fleuriot-Lescot and Payen, the national agent, bring to the general council no administrative ability, but the faculty for verbal argumentation, along with the requisite amount of talk and scribbling indispensable to a deliberative assembly. And it is curious to see them in session. Toward the end of September, 1793,49 one of the veterans of liberal philosophy and political economy, belonging to the French Academy and ruined by the Revolution, the old Abbé Morellet, needs a certificate of civism, to enable him to obtain payment of the small pension of one thousand francs, which the Constituent Assembly had voted him in recompense for his writings; the Commune, desiring information about this, selects three of its body to enquire into it. Morellet naturally takes the preliminary steps. He first writes “a very humble, very civic note,” to the president of the General Council, Lubin Jr., formerly an art-apprentice who had abandoned art for politics, and is now living with his father a butcher, in the rue St. Honoré; he calls on this authority, and passes through the stall, picking his way amongst the slaughter-house offal; admitted after some delay, he finds his judge in bed, before whom he pleads his cause. He then calls upon Bernard, an ex-priest, “built like an incendiary and ill-looking,” and respectfully bows to the lady of the house, “a tolerably young woman, but very ugly and very dirty.” Finally, he carries his ten or a dozen volumes to the most important of the three examiners, Vialard, “ex-ladies’ hair-dresser”; the latter is almost a colleague, “for,” says he, “I have always liked mechanicians, having presented to the Academy of Sciences a top which I invented myself.” Nobody, however, had seen the petitioner in the streets on the 10th of August, nor on the 2d of September, nor on the 31st of May; how can a certificate of civism be granted after such evidences of lukewarmness? Morellet, not disheartened, awaits the all-powerful hair-dresser at the Hôtel-de-Ville, and accosts him frequently as he passes along. He, “with greater haughtiness and distraction than the most unapproachable Minister of War would show to an infantry lieutenant,” scarcely listens to him and walks on; he goes in and takes his seat, and Morellet, much against his will, has to be present at ten or twelve of these meetings. What strange meetings, to which patriotic deputations, volunteers and amateurs come in turn to declaim and sing; where the president, Lubin, “decorated with his scarf,” shouts the Marseilles Hymn five or six times, “Ca Ira,” and other songs of several stanzas, set to tunes of the Comic Opera, and always “out of time, displaying the voice, airs, and songs of an exquisite Leander. … I really believe that, at the last meeting, he sung alone in this manner three quarters of an hour at different times, the assembly repeating the last line of the verse.” “How odd!” exclaims a common woman alongside of Morellet, “how droll, passing all their time here, singing in that fashion! Is that what they come here for?” Not alone for that: after the circus-parade is over, the ordinary haranguers, and especially the hair-dresser, come and propose measures for murder “in infuriate language and with fiery gesticulation.” Such are the good speakers50 and men for show. The others, who remain silent, and hardly know to write, act and do the rough work. A certain Chalaudon, member of the Commune,51 is one of this order, president of the revolutionary committee of the section of “L’Homme armé,” and probably an excellent man-hunter; for “the government committees assigned to him the duty of watching the right bank of the Seine, and, with extraordinary powers conferred on him, he rules from his back shop one half of Paris. Woe to those he has reason to complain of, those who have withdrawn from, or not given him, their custom! Sovereign of his quarter up to Thermidor 10, his denunciations are death-warrants. Some of the streets, especially that of Grand Chantier, he “depopulates.” And this Marais exterminator is a “cobbler,” a colleague in leather, as well as in the Commune, of Simon the shoemaker, the preceptor and murderer of the young Dauphin.
Still lower down than this admirable municipal body, let us try to imagine, from at least one complete example, the forty-eight revolutionary committees who supply it with hands. There is one of them of which we know all the members, where the governing class, under full headway, can be studied to the life.52 This consists of the nomadic and interloping class which is revolutionary only through its appetites; no theory and no convictions animate it; during the first three years of the Revolution it pays no attention to, or cares for, public matters; if, since the 10th of August, and especially since the 2d of June, it takes any account of these, it is to get a living and gorge itself with plunder. Out of eighteen members, simultaneously or in succession, of the “Bonnet Rouge,” fourteen, before the 10th of August and especially since the 2d of June, are unknown in this quarter, and had taken no part in the Revolution. The most prominent among these are three painters, heraldic, carriage and miniature, evidently ruined and idle on account of the Revolution, a candle-dealer, a vinegar-dealer, a manufacturer of saltpetre, and a locksmith; while of these seven personages, four have additionally enhanced the dignity of their calling by vending tickets for small lotteries, acting as pawnbrokers or as keepers of a biribi53 saloon. Seated along with these are two upper-class domestics, a hack-driver, an ex-gendarme dismissed from the corps, a cobbler on the street corner, a runner on errands who was once a carter’s boy, and another who, two months before this, was a scavenger’s apprentice, the latter penniless and in tatters before he became one of the Committee, and since that, well clad, lodged and furnished; finally, a former dealer in lottery-tickets, himself a counterfeiter by his own admission, and a jail-bird. Four others have been dismissed from their places for dishonesty or swindling, three are known drunkards, two are not even Frenchmen, while the ring-leader, the man of brains of this select company is, as usual, a seedy, used-up lawyer, the ex-notary Pigeot, and expelled from his professional body on account of bankruptcy. He is probably the author of the following speculation: After the month of September, 1793, the Committee, freely arresting whomsoever it pleased in the quarter, and even out of it, makes a haul of “three hundred heads of families” in four months, with whom it fills the old barracks it occupies in the rue de Sèvres. In this confined and unhealthy tenement, more than one hundred and twenty prisoners are huddled together, sometimes ten in one room, two in the same bed, and, for their keeping, they pay three hundred francs a day. As sixty-two francs of this charge are verified, there is of this sum (not counting other extortions or concessions which are not official), two hundred and thirty-eight francs profit daily for these honest contractors. Accordingly, they live freely and have “the most magnificent dinners” in their assembly chamber; the contribution of ten or twelve francs apiece is “nothing” for them. But, in this opulent St. Germain quarter, so many rich and noble men and women form a herd which must be conveniently stalled, so as to be the more easily milked. Consequently, toward the end of March, 1794, the Committee, to increase its business and fill up the pen, hires a large house on the corner of the boulevard possessing a court and a garden, where the high society of the quarter is assigned lodgings of two rooms each, at twelve francs a day, which gives one hundred and fifty thousand livres per annum, and, as the rent is twenty-four hundred francs, the Committee gain one hundred and forty-seven thousand six hundred livres by the operation; we must add to this twenty sorts of profit in money and other matters—taxes on the articles consumed and on supplies of every description, charges on the despatch and receipt of correspondence and other gratuities, such as ransoms and fees. A penned-up herd refuses nothing to its keepers,54 and this one less than any other; for if this herd is plundered it is preserved, its keepers finding it too lucrative to send it to the slaughter-house. During the last six months of Terror, but two out of the one hundred and sixty boarders of the “Bonnet Rouge” Committee are withdrawn from the establishment and handed over to the guillotine. It is only on the 7th and 8th of Thermidor that the Committee of Public Safety, having undertaken to empty the prisons, breaks in upon the precious herd and disturbs the well-laid scheme, so admirably managed. It was only too well-managed, for it excited jealousy; three months after Thermidor, the “Bonnet Rouge” committee is denounced and condemned; ten are sentenced to twenty years in irons, with the pillory in addition, and, among others, the clever notary,55 amidst the jeerings and insults of the crowd. And yet these are not the worst; their cupidity had mollified their ferocity. Others, less adroit in robbing, show greater cruelty in murdering. In any event, in the provinces as well as in Paris, in the revolutionary committees paid three francs a day for each member, the quality of one or the other of the officials is about the same. According to the pay-lists which Barère keeps, there are twenty-one thousand five hundred of these committees in France.56
Had the laws of March 21 and September 5, 1793, been strictly enforced, there would have been forty-five thousand of these revolutionary committees, instead of twenty-one thousand five hundred, composed of five hundred and forty thousand members and costing the public five hundred and ninety-one millions per annum.57 This would have made the regular administrative body, already twice as numerous and twice as costly as under the ancient régime, an extra corps expending, “simply in surveillance,” one hundred millions more than the entire taxation of the country, the greatness of which had excited the people against the ancient régime. Happily, the poisonous and monstrous mushroom obtains but one-half its growth; neither the Jacobin seed nor the bad atmosphere it required to make it spread could be found anywhere. “The people of the provinces,” says a contemporary,58 “are not up to the level of the Revolution; it opposes old habits and customs and the resistance of inertia to innovations which it does not understand.” “The ploughman is an estimable man,” writes a missionary representative, “but he is generally a poor patriot.”59 In effect, there is on the one hand, less of human sediment in the departmental towns than in the great Parisian sink, and, on the other hand, the rural population, preserved from intellectual miasmas, better resists social epidemics than the urban population. Less infested with vicious adventurers, less fruitful in disordered intellects, the provinces supply a corps of inquisitors and terrorists with greater difficulty.
And first, in the thousands of communes which have less than five hundred inhabitants,60 in many other villages of greater population, but scattered61 and purely agricultural, especially in those in which patois is spoken, there is a scarcity of suitable subjects for a revolutionary committee. People make use of their hands too much; hands with a tough skin do not write easily; nobody wants to take up a pen, especially to keep a register that may be preserved and some day or other prove compromising. It is already a difficult matter to recruit a municipal council, to find a mayor, the two additional municipal officers, and the national agent which the law requires; in the small communes, these are the only agents of the revolutionary government, and I fancy that, in most cases, their Jacobin fervor is moderate. Municipal officer, national agent or mayor, the real peasant of that day belongs to no party, neither royalist nor republican;62 he has too few ideas, too transient and too sluggish, to enable him to form a political opinion. All he comprehends of the Revolution is that which nettles him, or that which he sees every day around him, with his own eyes; to him ’93 and ’94 are and will remain “the time of bad paper (money) and great fright,” and nothing more.63 Patient in his habits, he submits to the new as he did to the ancient régime, bearing the load put on his shoulders, and stooping down for fear of a heavier one. He is often mayor or national agent in spite of himself; he has been obliged to take the place and would gladly throw the burden off. For, as times go, it is onerous; if he executes decrees and orders, he is certain to make enemies; if he does not execute them, he is sure to be imprisoned; he had better remain, or go back home “Gros-jean,” as he was before. But he has no choice; the appointment being once made and confirmed, he cannot decline, nor resign, under penalty of being a “suspect”; he must be the hammer in order not to become the anvil. Whether he is a wine-grower, miller, ploughman or stone-breaker, he must act accordingly in self-defence, unless to “petition for his removal,” when Terror begins to decide, on the ground that “he writes badly,” that “he knows nothing whatever about law and is unable to enforce it”; that “he has to support himself with his own hands”; that “he has a family to provide for, and is obliged to drive his own cart” or vehicle; in short, entreating that he “may be relieved of his charge.”64 These involuntary recruits are evidently nothing more than common laborers; if they drag along the revolutionary cart they do it like their horses, because they are pressed into the service.
Above the small communes, in the large villages possessing a revolutionary committee, and also in certain bourgs, the horses in harness often pretend to draw and do not, for fear of crushing some one. At this epoch, a straggling village, especially when isolated, in an out-of-the-way place and on no highway, is a small world in itself, much more secluded than now-a-days, much less accessible to Parisian verbiage and outside pressure; local opinion here preponderates; neighbors support each other; they would shrink from denouncing a worthy man whom they had known for twenty years; the moral sway of honest folks suffices for keeping down “blackguards.”65 If the mayor is republican, it is only in words, perhaps for self-protection, to protect his commune, and because one must howl along with the other wolves. Moreover, in other bourgs, and in the small towns, the fanatics and rascals are not sufficiently numerous to fill all the offices, and, in order to fill the vacancies, those who are not good Jacobins have been pushed forward or admitted into the new administrative corps, lukewarm, indifferent, timid, or needy men, who take the place as an asylum or ask for it as a means of subsistence. “Citizens,” one of the recruits, more or less under restraint, writes later on,66 “I was put on the Committee of Surveillance of Aignay by force, and installed by force.” Three or four madmen on it ruled, and if one held any discussion with them, “it was always threats. … Always trembling, always afraid, that is the way I passed eight months doing duty in that miserable place.” Finally, in medium-sized or large towns, the dead-lock produced by collective dismissals, the pell-mell of improvised appointments, and the sudden renewal of an entire set of officials, threw into the administration, willingly or not, a lot of pretended Jacobins who, at heart, are Girondists or Feuillantists, but who, having been overoratorical, are assigned offices on account of their stump-speeches, and who thenceforth sit alongside of the worst Jacobins, in the worst employment. “Member of the Feurs Revolutionary Committee—those who make that objection to me,” says a Clermont advocate,67 “are persuaded that those only who secluded themselves, felt the Terror. They are not aware, perhaps, that nobody felt it more than those who were compelled to execute its decrees. Remember that the handwriting of Couthon which designated some citizen for an office also conveyed a threat, and in case of refusal, of being declared ‘suspect,’ a threat which promised in perspective the loss of liberty and the sequestration of property! Was I free, then, to refuse?” Once installed, the man must act, and many of those who do act let their repugnance be seen in spite of themselves: at best, they cannot be got to do more than mechanical service. “Before going to court,” says a judge at Cambray, “I swallowed a big glass of spirits to give me strength enough to preside.” He leaves his house with no other intention than to finish the job, and, the sentence once pronounced, to return home, shut himself up, and close his eyes and ears. “I had to pronounce judgment according to the jury’s declaration—what could I do?”68 Nothing, but remain blind and deaf: “I drank. I tried to ignore everything, even the names of the accused.” It is plain enough that, in the local official body, there are too many agents who are weak, not zealous, without any push, unreliable, or even secretly hostile; these must be replaced by others who are energetic and reliable, and the latter must be taken wherever they can be found.69 This reservoir in each department or district is the Jacobin nursery of the principal town; from this, they are sent into the bourgs and communes of the conscription. The central Jacobin nursery for France is in Paris, from whence they are despatched to the towns and departments.
Consequently, swarms of Jacobin locusts from Paris constantly overspread the provinces, also from the local country-towns, the surrounding country. In this cloud of destructive insects, there are diverse figures and of diverse shapes: in the front rank, are the representatives on mission, who are to take command in the departments; in the second rank, “the political agents,” who, assigned the duty of watching the neighboring frontier, take upon themselves the additional duty of leading the popular club of the town they reside in, or of urging on its administrative body.70 Besides that, there issue from the Paris headquarters in the rue St. Honoré, select sans-culottes, who, empowered by, or delegates from, the Committee of Public Safety, proceed to Lyons, Marseilles, Bordeaux, Tonnerre, Rochefort, and elsewhere, to act as missionaries among the too inert population, or form the committees of action and the tribunals of extermination that are recruited with difficulty on the spot.71 Sometimes also, when a town is in bad repute, the popular club of a sounder-minded city sends its delegates there, to bring it into line; thus, four deputies of the Metz club arrive without notice in Belfort, catechise their brethren, associate with them the local Revolutionary Committee, and, suddenly, without consulting the municipality, or any other legal authority, draw up a list of “moderates, fanatics, and egoists,” on whom they impose an extraordinary tax of one hundred and thirty-six thousand six hundred and seventeen livres;72 in like manner, sixty delegates from the club of Côte d’Or, Haute-Marne, Vosges, Moselle, Saone-et-Loire and Mont-Terrible, all “tempered by the white heat of Pêre Duchesne,” proceed to Strasbourg at the summons of the representatives, where, under the title of “propagandists,” they are to regenerate the town.73 At the same time, in each department, the Jacobins of the principal town are found scattered along the highways, that they may inspect their domain and govern their subjects. Sometimes, it is the representative on mission, who, personally, along with twenty “hairy devils,” makes his round and shows off his peregrinating dictatorship; again, it is his secretary or delegate who, in his place and in his name, comes to a second-class town and draws up his documents.74 At another time, it is “a committee of investigation and propagandism” which, “chosen by the club and provided with full powers,” comes, in the name of the representatives, to work up for a month all the communes of the district.75 Again, finally, it is the revolutionary committee of the principal town, which, “declared central for the whole department,”76 delegates one or the other of its members to go outside the walls, and purge and recompose suspected municipalities. Thus does Jacobinism descend and spread itself, step by step, from the Parisian centre to the smallest and remotest commune: throughout the province, whatever its hue may be, positive or indistinct, the administration, imported into or imposed upon this, stamps it with its red stigma.
But the stamp is only superficial; for the sans-culottes, naturally, are not disposed to confer offices on any but men of their own kidney, while in the provinces, especially in the rural districts, these men are rare. As one of the representatives says: there is a “dearth of subjects.” At Macon, Javogues tries in vain;77 he finds in the club only “disguised federalists”; the people, he says, “will not open their eyes: it seems to me that this blindness is due to the physique of the country, which is very rich.” Naturally, he storms and dismisses; but, even in the revolutionary committee, none but dubious candidates are presented to him for selection; he does not know how to manage in order to renew the local authorities. “They play into each others’ hands,” and he ends by threatening to transfer the public institutions of the town elsewhere, if they persist in proposing to him none but bad patriots. At Strasbourg,78 Couturier, and Dentzel, on mission, report that: “owing to an unexampled coalition among all the capable citizens, obstinately refusing to take the office of mayor, in order, by this course, to clog the wheels, and subject the representatives to repeated and indecent refusals,” he is compelled to appoint a young man, not of legal age, and a stranger in the department. At Marseilles, write the agents,79 “in spite of every effort and our ardent desire to republicanise the Marseilles people, our pains and fatigues are nearly all fruitless. … Public spirit among owners of property, mechanics and journeymen is everywhere detestable. … The number of discontented seems to increase from day to day. All the communes in Var, and most of those in this department are against us. … It is a race to be destroyed, a country to be colonised anew.” … “I repeat it, the only way to work out the Revolution in the federalised departments, and especially in this one, is to transport all the indigenous population who are able to bear arms, scatter them through the armies and put garrisons in their places, which, again, will have to be changed from time to time.” At the other extremity of the territory, in Alsace, “republican sentiments are still in the cradle; fanaticism is extreme and incredible; the spirit of the inhabitants in general is in no respect revolutionary. … Nothing but the revolutionary army and the venerated guillotine will cure them of their conceited aristocracy. The execution of the laws depends on striking off the heads of the guilty, for nearly all the rural municipalities are composed only of the rich, of clerks of former bailiffs, almost always devoted to the ancient régime.”80 And in the rest of France, the population, less refractory, is not more Jacobin; here where the people appear “humble and submissive” as in Lyons and Bordeaux, the inspectors report that it is wholly owing to terror;81 there, where opinion seems enthusiastic, as at Rochefort and Grenoble, they report that it is “artificial heat.”82 At Rochefort, zeal is maintained only “by the presence of five or six Parisian Jacobins.” At Grenoble, Chépy, the political agent and president of the club, writes that “he is knocked up, worn out, and exhausted, in trying to keep up public spirit and maintain it on a level with events,” but he is “conscious that, if he should leave, all would crumble.” There are none other than Moderates at Brest, at Lille, at Dunkirk; if this or that department, the Nord, for instance, hastened to accept the Montagnard constitution, it is only a pretence: “an infinitely small portion of the population answered for the rest.”83 At Belfort, where “from one thousand to twelve hundred fathers of families alone are counted,” writes the agent,84 “one popular club of thirty or forty members, at the most, maintains and enforces the love of liberty.” In Arras, “out of three or four hundred members composing the popular club” the weeding-out of 1793 has spared but “sixty-three, one-tenth of whom are absent.”85 At Toulouse, “out of about fourteen hundred members” who form the club, only three or four hundred remain after the weeding-out of 1793,86 “mere machines, for the most part,” and “whom ten or a dozen intriguers lead as they please.” The same state of things exists elsewhere, a dozen or two determined Jacobins—twenty-two at Troyes, twenty-one at Grenoble, ten at Bordeaux, seven at Poitiers, as many at Dijon—constitute the active staff of a large town:87 the whole number might sit around one table. The Jacobins, straining as they do to swell their numbers, only scatter their band; careful as they are in making their selections, they only limit their number. They remain what they always have been, a small feudality of brigands superposed on conquered France.88 If the terror they spread around multiplies their serfs, the horror they inspire diminishes their proselytes, while their minority remains insignificant because, for their collaborators, they can have only those just like themselves.
Thus, on closely observing the final set of officials of the revolutionary government, in the provinces as well as at Paris, we find few besides the eminent in vice, dishonesty, and misconduct, or, at the very least, in stupidity and grossness. First, as is indicated by their name, they all must be, and nearly all are, sans-culottes, that is to say, men who live from day to day on their daily earnings, possessing no income from capital, confined to subordinate places, to petty trading, to manual services, lodged or encamped on the lowest steps of the social ladder, and therefore requiring pay to enable them to attend to public business;89 it is on this account that decrees and orders allow them wages of three, five, six, ten, and even eighteen francs a day. At Grenoble, the representatives form the municipal body and the revolutionary committee, along with two health-officers, three glovers, two farmers, one tobacco-merchant, one perfumer, one grocer, one belt-maker, one innkeeper, one joiner, one shoemaker, one mason, while the official order by which they are installed, appoints “Teyssière, licoriste,” national agent.90 At Troyes,91 among the men in authority we find a confectioner, a weaver, a journeyman-weaver, a hatter, a hosier, a grocer, a carpenter, a dancing-master, and a policeman, while the mayor, Gachez, formerly a common soldier in the regiment of Vexin, was, when appointed, a school-teacher in the vicinity. At Toulouse,92 a man named Terrain, a pie-dealer, is installed as president of the administration; the revolutionary committee is presided over by Pio, a journeyman-barber; the inspiration, “the soul of the club,” is a concierge, that of the prison. The last and most significant trait is found at Rochefort,93 where the president of the popular club is the executioner. If such persons form the select body of officials in the large towns, what must they be in the small ones, in the bourgs and in the villages? “Everywhere they are of the meanest,”94 cartmen, sabot- (wooden shoe) makers, thatchers, stone-cutters, dealers in rabbit-skins, day laborers, idle mechanics, many without any pursuit, or mere vagabonds who had already participated in riots or jacqueries, loungers in the groggeries, having given up work and designated for a public career only by their irregular habits and incompetency to follow a private career. Even in the large towns, it is evident that discretionary power has fallen into the hands of nearly raw barbarians; one has only to note in the old documents, at the Archives, the orthography and style of the committees empowered to grant or refuse civic cards, and draw up reports on the opinions and pursuits of prisoners. “His opinions appear insipid (Ces opignons paroisse insipide).95 … He is married (but) without children.” (Il est marie cent (sans) enfants). … Her profession is wife of Paillot-Montabert, her income is living on her income; these relations are with a woman we pay no attention to; we presume her opinions are like her husband’s.”96 The handwriting, unfortunately, cannot be represented here, being that of a child five years old.97
“As stupid as they are immoral,”98 says Representative Albert, of the Jacobins he finds in office at Troyes. Low, indeed, as their condition may be, their feeling and intelligence are yet lower because, in their professions or occupations, they are the refuse instead of the élite, and, especially on this account, they are turned out after Thermidor, some, it is true, as Terrorists, but the larger number as either dolts, scandalous or crazy, mere interlopers, or mere valets. At Rheims, the president of the district is99 “a former bailiff, on familiar terms with the spies of the Robespierre régime, acting in concert with them, but without being their accomplice, possessing none of the requisite qualities for administration”; another administrator is likewise “a former bailiff, without means, negligent in the highest degree and a confirmed drunkard”: alongside of these sit “a horse-dealer, without any means, better suited for jockeying than governing, moreover a drunkard; a dyer, lacking judgment, open to all sorts of influences, pushed ahead by the Jacobin faction, and having used power in the most arbitrary manner, rather, perhaps, through ignorance than through cruelty; a shoemaker, entirely uninstructed, knowing only how to sign his name,” and others of the same character. In the Tribunal, a judge is noted as “true in principle, but whom poverty and want of resources have driven to every excess, a turncoat according to circumstances in order to get a place, associated with the leaders in order to keep the place, and yet not without sensibility, having, perhaps, acted criminally merely to keep himself and his family alive.” In the municipal body, the majority is composed of an incompetent lot, some of them being journeymen-spinners or thread-twisters, and others second-hand dealers or shopkeepers, “incapable,” “without means,” with a few crack-brains among them: one, “his brain being crazed, absolutely of no account, anarchist and Jacobin”; another, “very dangerous through lack of judgment, a Jacobin, overexcited”; a third, “an instrument of tyranny, a man of blood capable of every vice, having assumed the name of Mutius Scaevola, of recognised depravity and unable to write.” Similarly, in the Aube districts, we find some of the heads feverish with the prevailing epidemic, for instance, at Nogent, the national agent, Delaporte, “who has the words ‘guillotine’ and ‘revolutionary tribunal’ always on his lips, and who declares that if he were the government he would imprison doctor, surgeon, and lawyer, who delights in finding people guilty and says that he is never content except when he gets three pounds’ weight of denunciations a day.” But, apart from these madcaps, most of the administrators or judges are either people wholly unworthy of their offices, because they are “inept,” “too uneducated,” “good for nothing,” “too little familiar with administrative forms,” “too little accustomed to judicial action,” “without information,” “too busy with their own affairs,” “unable to read or write,” or, because “they have no delicacy,” are “violent,” “agitators,” “knaves,” “without public esteem,” and more or less dishonest and despised.100 A certain fellow from Paris, was, at first, at Troyes, a baker’s apprentice,101 and afterwards a dancing-master; he next figured at the Club, making headway, doubtless, through his Parisian chatter, until he stood first and soon became a member of the district. Appointed an officer in the sixth battalion of Aube, he behaved in such a manner in Vendée that, on his return, “his brethren in arms” broke up the banner presented to him, “declaring him unworthy of such an honor, because he cowardly fled before the enemy.” Nevertheless, after a short plunge, he came again to the surface and, thanks to his civil compeers, was reinstated in his administrative functions; during the Terror, he was intimate with all the Terrorists, being one of the important men of Troyes. The mayor of the town, Gachez, an old soldier and ex-schoolmaster, is of the same stuff as this baker’s apprentice. He, likewise, was a Vendéan hero; only, he was unable to distinguish himself as much as he liked, for, after enlisting, he failed to march; having pocketed the bounty of three hundred livres, he discovered that he had infirmities and, getting himself invalided, he served the nation in a civil capacity. “His own partisans admit that he is a drunkard and that he has committed forgery.” Some months after Thermidor he is sentenced to eight years imprisonment and put in the pillory for this crime. Hence, “almost the entire commune is against him; the women in the streets jeer him, and the eight sections meet together to request his withdrawal.” But Representative Bô reports that he is every way entitled to remain, being a true Jacobin, an admirable terrorist and “the only sans-culotte mayor which the commune of Troyes has to be proud of.”102
It would be awarding too much honor to men of this stamp, to suppose that they had convictions or principles; they were governed by animosities and especially by their appetites,103 to satiate which they104 made the most of their offices. At Troyes, “all provisions and eatables are drawn upon to supply the table of the twenty-four” sans-culottes105 to whom Bô entrusted the duty of weeding-out the popular club; before the organisation of “this regenerating nucleus” the revolutionary committee, presided over by Rousselin, the civil commissioner, carried on its “feastings” in the Petit-Louvre tavern, “passing nights in tippling” and in the preparation of lists of suspects.106 In the neighboring provinces of Dijon, Beaune, Semur and Aignay-le-Duc, the heads of the municipality and of the club always meet in taverns and groggeries. At Dijon, we see “the ten or twelve Hercules of patriotism traversing the town, each with a chalice under his arm”:107 this is their drink-cup; each has to bring his own to the Montagnard inn; there, they imbibe copiously, frequently, and between two glasses of wine “declare who are outlaws.” At Aignay-le-Duc, a small town with only half a dozen patriots “the majority of whom can scarcely write, most of them poor, burdened with families, and living without doing anything, never quit the groggeries, where, night and day, they revel”; their chief, a financial ex-procureur, now “concierge, archivist, secretary, and president of the popular club,” holds municipal council in the bar-room. “On leaving, they put for female aristocrats,” while one of them declares “that if the half of Aignay were slaughtered the other half would be all the better for it.” There is nothing like drinking to excite ferocity to the highest pitch. At Strasbourg the sixty propagandist mustachioed patriots lodged in the college in which they are settled fixtures, have a cook provided for them by the town, and they revel day and night “on the choice provisions put in requisition,” “on wines destined to the defenders of the country.”108 It is, undoubtedly, on issuing from these orgies that they proceed, sword in hand, to the popular club,109 vote and force others to vote “death to all prisoners confined in the Seminary to the number of seven hundred, of every age and of both sexes, without any preliminary trial.” For a man to become a good cut-throat, he must first get intoxicated;110 such was the course pursued in Paris by those who did the work in September: the revolutionary government being an organised, prolonged, and permanent Septembrisade, most of its agents are obliged to drink hard.111
For the same reasons when the opportunity, as well as the temptation, to steal, presents itself, they steal. At first, during six months, and up to the decree assigning them pay, the revolutionary committees “take their pay themselves”;112 they then add to their legal salary of three and five francs a day about what they please: for it is they who assess the extraordinary taxes, and often, as at Montbrison, “without making any list or record of collections.” On Frimaire 16, year II., the financial committee reports that “the collection and application of extraordinary taxes is unknown to the government; that it was impossible to supervise them, the National treasury having received no sums whatever arising from these taxes.”113 Two years after, four years after, the accounts of revolutionary taxation, of forced loans, and of pretended voluntary gifts, still form a bottomless pit; out of forty billions of accounts rendered to the National Treasury only twenty are found to be verified; the rest are irregular and worthless. Besides, in many cases, not only is the voucher worthless or not forthcoming, but, again, it is proved that the sums collected disappeared wholly or in part. At Villefranche, out of one hundred and thirty-eight thousand francs collected, the collector of the district deposited but forty-two thousand; at Baugency, out of more than five hundred thousand francs collected, there were only fifty thousand deposited; at la Réole, out of at least five hundred thousand francs collected, there were but twenty-two thousand six hundred and fifty deposited. “The rest,” says the collector at Villefranche, “were wasted by the Committee of Surveillance.” “The tax-collectors,” writes the national-agent at Orleans, “after having employed terror gave themselves up to orgies and are now building palaces.”114 As to the expenses which they prove, they almost always consist of “indemnities to members of revolutionary committees, to patriots, and to defray the cost of patriotic missions,” to maintaining and repairing the meeting-rooms of the popular clubs, to military expeditions, and to succoring the poor, so that three or four hundred millions in gold or silver, extorted before the end of 1793, hundreds of millions of assignats extorted in 1793 and 1794, in short, almost the entire product of the total extraordinary taxation115 was consumed on the spot and by the sans-culottes. Seated at the public banqueting table they help themselves first, and help themselves copiously.
A second windfall, equally gross. Enjoying the right to dispose arbitrarily of fortunes, liberties and lives, they can traffic in these, while no traffic can be more advantageous, both for buyers and sellers. Any man who is rich or well-off, in other words, every man who is likely to be taxed, imprisoned, or guillotined, gladly consents “to compound,” to redeem himself and those who belong to him. If he is prudent, he pays, before the tax, so as not to be overtaxed; he pays, after the tax, to obtain a diminution or delays; he pays to be admitted into the popular club. When danger draws near he pays to obtain or renew his certificate of civism, not to be declared “suspect,” not to be denounced as a conspirator. After being denounced, he pays to be allowed imprisonment at home rather than in the jail, to be allowed imprisonment in the jail rather than in the general prison, to be well treated if he gets into this, to have time to get together his proofs in evidence, to have his record (dossier) placed and kept at the bottom of the file among the clerk’s registers, to avoid being inscribed on the next batch of cases in the revolutionary Tribunal. There is not one of these favors that is not precious; consequently, ransoms without number are tendered, while the rascals116 who swarm on the revolutionary committees, need but open their hands to fill their pockets. They run very little risk, for they are held in check only by their own kind, or are not checked at all. In any large town, two of them suffice for the issue of a warrant of arrest “save a reference to the Committee within twenty-four hours,” with the certainty that their colleagues will kindly return the favor.117 Moreover, the clever ones know how to protect themselves beforehand. For example, at Bordeaux, where one of these clandestine markets had been set up, M. Jean Davilliers, one of the partners in a large commercial house, is under arrest in his own house, guarded by four sans-culottes; on the 8th of Brumaire, he is taken aside and told “that he is in danger if he does not come forward and meet the indispensable requirements of the Revolution in its secret expenditures.” A prominent man, Lemoal, member of the revolutionary committee and administrator of the district, had spoken of these requirements and thought that M. Davilliers should contribute the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand livres. Upon this, a knock at the door is heard; Lemoal enters and all present leave the room, while Lemoal merely asks: “Do you consent?” “But I cannot thus dispose of my partners’ property.” “Then you will go to prison.” At this threat the poor man yields and gives his note to Lemoal at twenty days, payable to bearer, for one hundred and fifty thousand livres, and, at the end of a fortnight, by dint of pushing his claims, obtains his freedom. Thereupon, Lemoal thinks the matter over, and deems it prudent to cover up his private extortion by a public one. Accordingly, he sends for M. Davilliers: “It is now essential for you to openly contribute one hundred and fifty thousand livres more for the necessities of the Republic. I will introduce you to the representatives to whom you should make the offer.” The chicken being officially plucked in this way, nobody would suppose that it had been first privately plucked, and, moreover, the inquisitive, if there were any, would be thrown off the scent by the confusion arising from two sums of equal amount. M. Davilliers begs to be allowed to consult his partners, and, as they are not in prison, they refuse. Lemoal, on his side, is anxious to receive the money for his note, while poor Davilliers, “struck with terror by nocturnal arrests,” and seeing that Lemoal is always on the top of the ladder, concludes to pay; at first, he gives him thirty thousand livres, and next, the charges, amounting in all to forty-one thousand livres, when, being at the end of his resources, he begs and entreats to have his note returned to him. Lemoal, on this, considering the chicken as entirely stripped, becomes mollified, and tears off in presence of his debtor “the signature in full of the note,” and, along with this, his own receipts for partial payments underneath. But he carefully preserves the note itself, for, thus mutilated, it will show, if necessary, that he had not received anything, and that, through patriotism, he had undoubtedly wished to force a contribution from a merchant, but, finding him insolvent, had humanely cancelled the written obligation.118 Such are the precautions taken in this business. Others, less shrewd, rob more openly, among others the mayor, the seven members of the military commission surnamed “the seven mortal sins,” and especially their president, Lacombe, who, by promising releases, extracts from eight or nine captives three hundred and fifty-nine thousand six hundred livres.119 Through these manoeuvres, writes a strict Jacobin,120 “Many of those who had been declared outlaws returned to Bordeaux by paying; of the number who thus redeemed their lives, some did not deserve to lose it, but, nevertheless, they were threatened with execution if they did not consent to everything. But material proofs of this are hard to obtain. These men now keep silent, for fear, through open denunciation, of sharing in the penalty of the traffickers in justice, and being unwilling to expose (anew) the life they have preserved.” In short, the plucked pigeon is mute, so as not to attract attention, as well as to avoid the knife; and all the more, because those who pluck him hold on to the knife and might, should he cry out, despatch him with the more celerity. Even if he makes no outcry, they sometimes despatch him so as to stifle in advance any possible outcry, which happened to the Duc du Châtelet and others. There is but one mode of self-preservation121 and that is, “to pay one’s patrons by instalments, like nurses by the mouth, on a scale proportionate to the activity of the guillotine.” In any event, the pirates are not disturbed, for the trade in lives and liberties leaves no trace behind it, and is carried on with impunity for two years, from one end of France to the other, according to a tacit understanding between sellers and buyers.
There is a third windfall, not less large, but carried on in more open sunshine and therefore still more enticing. Once the “suspect” is incarcerated, whatever he brings to prison along with him, whatever he leaves behind him at home, becomes plunder; for, with the incompleteness, haste and irregularity of papers,122 with the lack of surveillance and known connivance, the vultures, great and small, could freely use their beaks and talons. At Toulouse, as in Paris and elsewhere, commissioners take from prisoners every object of value and, accordingly, in many cases, all gold, silver, assignats, and jewelry, which, confiscated for the Treasury, stop half-way in the hands of those who make the seizure.123 At Poitiers, the seven scoundrels who form the ruling oligarchy, admit, after Thermidor, that they stole the effects of arrested parties.124 At Orange, “Citoyenne Riot,” wife of the public prosecutor, and “citoyennes Fernex and Ragot,” wives of two judges, come in person to the record-office to make selections from the spoils of the accused, taking for their wardrobe silver shoe-buckles, laces, and fine linen.125 But all that the accused, the imprisoned and fugitives can take with them, amounts to but little in comparison with what they leave at home, that is to say, under sequestration. All the religious or seignorial chateaux and mansions in France are in this plight, along with their furniture, and likewise most of the fine bourgeois mansions, together with a large number of minor residences, well-furnished, and supplied through provincial economy; besides these, nearly every warehouse and store belonging to large manufacturers and leading commercial houses; all this forms colossal spoil, such as was never seen before, consisting of objects one likes to possess, gathered in vast lots, which lots are distributed by hundreds of thousands over the twenty-six thousand square miles of territory. There are no owners for this property but the nation, an indeterminate, imperceptible personage; no barrier other than so many seals exists between the spoils and the despoilers, that is to say, so many strips of paper held fast by two ill-applied and indistinct stamps. Bear in mind, too, that the guardians of the spoil are the sans-culottes who have made a conquest of it; that they are poor; that such a profusion of useful or precious objects makes them feel the bareness of their homes all the more; that their wives would dearly like to lay in a stock of furniture; moreover, has it not been held out to them from the beginning of the Revolution, that “forty-thousand mansions, palaces, and chateaux, two-thirds of the property of France, would be the reward of their valor”?126 At this very moment, does not the representative on mission authorise their greed? Are not Albitte and Collot d’Herbois at Lyons, Fouché at Nevers, Javogues at Montbrison, proclaiming that the possessions of antirevolutionists and a surplus of riches form “the patrimony of the sans-culottes”?127 Do they not read in the proclamations of Monestier,128 that the peasants “before leaving home may survey and measure off the immense estates of their seigneurs, choose, for example, on their return, whatever they want to add to their farm … tacking on a bit of field or rabbit-warren belonging to the former count or marquis”? Why not take a portion of his furniture, any of his beds or clothes-presses? It is not surprising that, after this, the slip of paper which protects sequestrated furniture and confiscated merchandise should be ripped off by gross and greedy hands! When, after Thermidor, the master returns to his own roof it is generally to an empty house; in this or that habitation in the Morvan,129 the removal of the furniture is so complete that a bin turned upside down serves for a table and chairs, when the family sit down to their first meal.
In the towns the embezzlements are often more brazenly carried out than in the country. At Valenciennes, the Jacobin chiefs of the municipality are known under the title of “seal-breakers and patriotic robbers.”130 At Lyons, the Maratists, who dub themselves “the friends of Chalier,” are, according to the Jacobins’ own admission, “brigands, thieves, and rascals.”131 They compose, to the number of three or four hundred, the thirty-two revolutionary committees; one hundred and fifty of the leading ones, “all administrators,” form the popular club; in this town of one hundred and twenty thousand souls they number, as they themselves state, three thousand, and they firmly rely on “sharing with each other the wealth of Lyons.” This huge cake belongs to them; they do not allow that strangers, Parisians, should have a slice,132 and they intend to eat the whole of it, at discretion, without control, even to the last crumb. As to their mode of operations, it consists in “selling justice, in trading on denunciations, in holding under sequestration at least four thousand households,” in putting seals everywhere on dwellings and warehouses, in not summoning interested parties who might watch their proceedings, in expelling women, children, and servants who might testify to their robberies, in not drawing up inventories, in installing themselves as “guardians at five francs a day,” themselves or their boon companions, and in “general squandering, in league with the administrators.” It is impossible to stay their hands or repress them, even for the representatives. “Take them in the act,133 and you must shut your eyes or they will all shout at the oppression of patriots; they do this systematically so that nobody may be followed up. … We passed an order forbidding any authority to remove seals without our consent, and, in spite of the prohibition, they broke into a storehouse under sequestration, … forced the locks and pillaged, under our own eyes, the very house we occupy. And who are these devastators? Two commissioners of the Committee who emptied the storehouse without our warrant, and even without having any power from the Committee.” It is a sack in due form, and day after day; it began on the 10th of October, 1793; it continued after, without interruption, and we have just seen that, on Floréal 28, year II., that is to say, April 26, 1794, after one hundred and twenty-three days, it is still maintained.
The last haul and the richest of all. In spite of the subterfuges of its agents, the Republic, having stolen immensely, and although robbed in its turn, could still hold on to a great deal; and first, to articles of furniture which could not be easily abstracted, to large lots of merchandise, also to the vast spoil of the palaces, chateaux, and churches; next, and above all, to real estate, fixtures, and buildings. Its necessities require it to put all this on the market, and whoever wants anything has only to come forward as a buyer, the last bidder becoming the legal owner and at a cheap rate. The wood cut down in one year very often pays for a whole forest.134 Sometimes a chateau can be paid for by a sale of the iron-railings of the park, or the lead on the roof. Here are found chances for a good many bargains, and especially with objects of art. “The titles alone of the articles carried off, destroyed, or injured, would fill volumes.”135 On the one hand, the commissioners on inventories and adjudications, “having to turn a penny on the proceeds of sales,” throw on the market all they can, “avoiding reserving” objects of public utility and sending collections and libraries to auction with a view to get their percentages. On the other hand, nearly all these commissioners are brokers or second-hand dealers who alone know the value of rarities, and openly depreciate them in order to buy them in themselves, “and thus ensure for themselves exorbitant profits.” In certain cases the official guardians and purchasers who are on the look-out take the precaution to “disfigure” precious articles “so as to have them bought by their substitutes and accomplices”: for instance, they convert sets of books into odd volumes, and take machines to pieces; the tube and object-glass of a telescope are separated, which pieces the rogues who have bought them cheap know how to put together again.” Often, in spite of the seals, they take in advance “antiques, pieces of jewelry, medals, enamels, and engraved stones”; nothing is easier, for “even in Paris in Thermidor, year II., agents of the municipality use anything with which to make a stamp, buttons, and even large pennies, so that whoever has a sou can remove and restamp the seals as he pleases”; having been successful, “they screen their thefts by substituting cut pebbles and counterfeit stones for real ones.” Finally, at the auction sales, “fearing the honesty or competition of intelligent judges, they offer money (to these) to stay away from the sales; one case is cited of a bidder being knocked down.” In the meantime, at the club, they shout with all their might; this, with the protection of a member of the municipality or of the Revolutionary Committee, shelters them from all suspicion. As for the protector, he gets his share without coming out into the light. Accuse, if you dare, a republican functionary who secretly, or even openly, profits by these larcenies; he will show clean hands. Such is the incorruptible patriot, the only one of his species, whom the representatives discover at Strasbourg, and whom they appoint mayor at once. On the 10th of Vendémiaire, year III.,136 there is found “in his apartments” a superb and complete assortment of ecclesiastical objects, “forty-nine copes and chasubles, silk or satin, covered with gold or silver; fifty-four palles of the same description;” a quantity of “reliquaries, vases and spoons, censers, laces, silver and gold fringe, thirty-two pieces of silk,” etc. None of these fine things belong to him; they are the property of citizen Mouet, his father. This prudent parent, taking his word for it, “deposited them for safe keeping in his son’s house during the month of June, 1792 (old style)”; could a good son refuse his father such a slight favor? It is very certain that, in ’93 and ’94, during the young man’s municipal dictatorship, the elder did not pay the Strasbourg Jew brokers too much, and that they did business in an off-hand way. By what right could a son and magistrate prevent his father, a free individual, from looking after “his own affairs” and buying according to trade principles, as cheap as he could?
If such are the profits on the sale of personal property, what must they be on the sale of real estate? It is on this traffic that the fortunes of the clever terrorists are founded. It accounts for the “colossal wealth peaceably enjoyed,” after Thermidor, of the well-known “thieves” who, before Thermidor, were so many “little Robespierres,” each in his own canton, “the patriots” who, around Orleans, “built palaces,” who, “exclusives” at Valenciennes, “having wasted both public and private funds, possess the houses and property of emigrants, knocked down to them at a hundred times less than their value.”137 On this side, their outstretched fingers shamelessly clutch all they can get hold of; for the obligation of each arrested party to declare his name, quality and fortune, as it now is and was before the Revolution, gives local cupidity a known, sure, direct and palpable object. At Toulouse, says a prisoner,138 “the details and value of an object were taken down as if for a succession,” while the commissioners who drew up the statement, “our assassins, proceeded, beforehand and almost under our eyes, to take their share, disputing with each other on the choice and suitableness of each object, comparing the cost of adjudication with the means of lessening it, discussing the certain profits of selling again and of the transfer, and consuming in advance the pickings arising from sales and leases.” In Provence, where things are more advanced and corruption is greater than elsewhere, where the purport and aims of the Revolution were comprehended at the start, it is still worse. Nowhere did Jacobin rulers display their real character more openly, and nowhere, from 1789 to 1799, was this character so well maintained. At Toulon, the demagogues in the year V., as in the year II., are139 “former workmen and clerks in the Arsenal who had become ‘bosses’ by acting as informers and through terrorism, getting property for nothing, or at an insignificant price, and plotting sales of national possessions, petty traders from all quarters with stocks of goods acquired in all sorts of ways, through robberies, through purchases of stolen goods from servants and employees in the civil, war, and navy departments, and through abandoned or bought-up claims; in fine, from refugees from other communes who pass their days in coffee-houses and their nights in houses of ill-fame.” The leading officials at Draguignan, Brignolles, Vidauban, and Fréjus, are of this sort. At Marseilles, after Thermidor, the intermittent returns to Terrorism always restore to office,140 the same justiciary and police gangs, “once useful mechanics, but tired of working, and whom the profession of paid clubbists, idle guardians,” and paid laborers “has totally demoralized,” scoundrels in league with each other and making money out of whatever they lay their hands on, like thieves at a fair, habitually living at the expense of the public, “bestowing the favors of the nation on those who share their principles, harboring and aiding many who are under the ban of the law and calling themselves model patriots, in fine, in the pay of gambling-hells and houses of prostitution.”141 In the rural districts, the old bands “consisting of hordes of homeless brigands” who worked so well during the anarchy of the Constituent and Legislative assemblies, form anew during the anarchy of the Directory; they make their appearance in the vicinity of Apt “commencing with petty robberies and then, strong in the impunity and title of sans-culottes, break into farm-houses, rob and massacre the inmates, strip travelers, put to ransom all who happen to cross their path, force open and pillage houses in the commune of Gorges, stop women in the streets, tear off their rings and crosses,” and attack the hospital, sacking it from top to bottom, while the town and military officers, just like them, allow them to go on.142 Judge by this of their performances in the time of Robespierre, when the vendors and administrators of the national possessions exercised undisputed control. Everywhere, at that time, in the departments of Var, Bouches-du-Rhone, and Vaucluse, “a club of would-be patriots” had long prepared the way for their exactions. It had “paid appraisers” for depreciating whatever was put up for sale, and false names for concealing real purchasers; “a person not of their clique, was excluded from the auction-room; if he persisted in coming in they would, at one time, put him under contribution for the privilege of bidding,” and, at another time, make him promise not to bid above the price fixed by the league, while, to acquire the domain, they paid him a bonus. Consequently, “national property” was made way with “for almost nothing,” the sharpers who acquired it never being without a satisfactory warrant for this in their own eyes. Into whose hands could the property of antirevolutionists better fall than into those of patriots? According to Marat, the martyr apostle and canonised saint of the Revolution, what is the object of the Revolution but to give to the lowly the fortunes of the great?143 In all national sales everywhere, in guarding sequestrations, in all revolutionary ransoms, taxes, loans and seizures, the same excellent argument prevails; nowhere, in printed documents or in manuscripts, do I find any revolutionary committee which is at once terrorist and honest. Only, it is rare to find specific and individual details regarding all the members of the same committee. Here, however, is one case, where, owing to the lucky accident of an examination given in detail, one can observe in one nest, every variety of the species and of its appetites, the dozen or fifteen types of the Jacobin hornet, each abstracting what suits him from whatever he lights on, each indulging in his favorite sort of rapine. At Nantes, “Pinard, the great purveyor of the Committee,144 orders everything that each member needs for his daily use to be carried to his house.” “Gallou takes oil and brandy,” and especially “several barrels from citizen Bissonneau’s house.” “Durassier makes domiciliary visits and exacts contributions”; among others “he compels citizen Lemoine to pay twenty-five hundred livres, to save him from imprisonment.” “Naud affixes and removes seals in the houses of the incarcerated, makes nocturnal visits to the dwellings of the accused and takes what suits him.” “Grandmaison appropriates plate under sequestration, and Bachelier plate given as a present.” “Joly superintends executions and takes all he can find, plate, jewelry, precious objects.” “Bolognié forces the return of a bond of twenty thousand livres already paid to him.” “Perrochaux demands of citoyenne Ollemard-Dudan fifty thousand livres, to prevent her imprisonment,” and confiscates for his own benefit sixty thousand livres’ worth of tobacco, in the house of the widow Daigneau-Mallet, who, claiming it back, is led off by him to prison under the pretext of interceding for her. “Chaux frightens off by terrorism his competitors at auction sales, has all the small farms on the Baroissière domain knocked down to him, and exclaims concerning a place which suits him, ‘I know how to get it! I’ll have the owner arrested. He’ll be very glad to let me have his ground to get out of prison.’ ” The collection is complete, and ranged around a table, it offers samples which, elsewhere in France, are found scattered about.
The last manipulators of the system remain, the hands which seize, the armed force which takes bodily hold of men and things. The first who are employed for this purpose are the National Guard and the ordinary gendarmerie. Since 1790, these bodies are of course constantly weeded out until only fanatics and instruments are left;145 nevertheless, the weeding-out continues as the system develops itself. At Strasbourg,146 on Brumaire 14, the representatives have dismissed, arrested, and sent to Dijon the entire staff of the National Guard to serve as hostages until peace is secured; three days afterwards, considering that the cavalry of the town had been mounted and equipped at its own expense, they deem it aristocratic, bourgeois, and “suspect,” and seize the horses and put the officers in arrest. At Troyes, Rousselin, “National civil commissioner,” dismisses, for the same reason, and with not less despatch, the whole of the gendarmes at one stroke, except four, and “puts under requisition their horses, fully equipped, also their arms, so as to at once mount well-known and tried sans-culottes.” On principle, the poor sans-culottes, who are true at heart and in dress, alone have the right to bear arms, and should a bourgeois be on duty he must have only a pike, care being taken to take it away from him the moment he finishes his rounds.147
But, alongside of the usual armed force, there is still another, much better selected and more effective, the reserve gendarmerie, a special, and, at the same time, movable and resident body, that is to say, the “revolutionary army,” which, after September 5, 1793, the government had raised in Paris and in most of the large towns. That of Paris, comprising six thousand men, with twelve hundred cannoneers, sends detachments into the provinces—two thousand men to Lyons, and two hundred to Troyes;148 Ysabeau and Tallien have at Bordeaux a corps of three thousand men; Salicetti, Albitte, and Gasparin, one of two thousand men at Marseilles; Ysoré and Duquesnoy, one of one thousand men at Lille; Javogues, one of twelve hundred at Montbrison; others, less numerous, ranging from six hundred down to two hundred men, hold Moulins, Grenoble, Besançon, Belfort, Bourg, Dijon, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Auch, and Nantes.149 When, on March 27, 1794, the Committee of Public Safety, threatened by Hébert, has them disbanded for being Hébertists, many of them are to remain at least as a nucleus, under various forms and names, either as kept by the local administration under the title of “paid guards,”150 or as disbanded soldiers, loitering about and doing nothing, getting themselves assigned posts of rank in the National Guard of their town on account of their exploits; in this way they keep themselves in service, which is indispensable, for it is through these that the régime is established and lasts. “The revolutionary army,”151 say the orders and decrees promulgated, “is intended to repress antirevolutionists, to execute, whenever it is found necessary, revolutionary laws and measures for public safety,” that is to say, “to guard those who are shut up, arrest ‘suspects,’ demolish chateaux, pull down belfries, ransack vestries for gold and silver objects, seize fine horses and carriages,” and especially “to seek for private stores and monopolies,” in short, to exercise manual constraint and strike every one on the spot with physical terror. We readily see what sort of soldiers the revolutionary army is composed of.
Naturally, as it is recruited by voluntary enlistments, and all candidates have passed the purifying scrutiny of the clubs, it comprises none but ultra Jacobins. Naturally, the pay being forty sous a day, it comprises none but the very lowest class. Naturally, as the work is as loathsome as it is atrocious, it comprises but few others152 than those out of employment and reduced to an enlistment to get a living, “hairdressers without customers, lackeys without places, vagabonds, wretches unable to earn a living by honest labor,” “shoulder-hitters” who have acquired the habit of bullying, knocking down, and keeping honest folks under their pikes, a gang of confirmed scoundrels making public brigandage a cloak for private brigandage, inhabitants of the slums glad to bring down their former superiors into the mud, and themselves take precedence and strut about in order to prove by their arrogance and self-display that they, in their turn, are princes. “Take a horse, the nation pays for it!”153 exclaim water-carriers and commissionaires to their comrades in the street, and who, “in a splendid procession,” of three carriages, each drawn by six horses, escorted by a body of sans-culottes on horseback, behind, in front, and each side the doors, are conducting Riouffe and two other “suspects” to prison. The commander of the squad who guards prisoners on the way to Paris, and who “starves them along the road to speculate on them,” is an ex-cook of Agen, having become a gendarme; he makes them travel forty leagues extra, “purposely to glorify himself,” and “let all Agen see that he has government money to spend, and that he can put citizens in irons.” Accordingly, in Agen, “he keeps constantly and needlessly inspecting the vehicle,” winking at the spectators, “more triumphant than if he had made a dozen Austrians prisoners and brought them along himself ”; at last, to show the crowd in the street the importance of his capture, he summons two blacksmiths to come out and rivet, on the legs of each prisoner, a cross-bar cannon-ball weighing eighty pounds.154 The more display these sbirri make of their brutality, the greater they think themselves. At Belfort, a patriot of the club dies, and a civic interment takes place; a detachment of the revolutionary army joins the procession; the men are armed with axes; on reaching the cemetery, the better to celebrate the funeral, “they cut down all the crosses (over the graves) and make a bonfire of them, while the carmagnole ends this ever memorable day.”155 Sometimes the scene, theatrical and played by the light of flambeaux, makes the actors think that they have performed an extraordinary and meritorious action, “that they have saved the country.” “This very night,” writes the agent at Bordeaux,156 “nearly three thousand men have been engaged in an important undertaking, with the members of the Revolutionary Committee and of the municipality at the head of it. They visited every wholesale dealer’s store in town and in the Faubourg des Chartrons, taking possession of their letter-books, sealing up their desks, arresting the merchants and putting them in the Seminiare. … Woe to the guilty!” If the prompt confinement of an entire class of individuals is a fine thing for a town, the seizure of a whole town itself is still more imposing. Leaving Marseilles with a small army,157 commanded by two sans-culottes, they surround Martigne and enter it as if it were a mill. The catch is superb; in this town of five thousand souls there are only seventeen patriots; the rest are Federalists or Moderates. Hence a general disarmament and domiciliary visits. The conquerors depart, carrying off every able-bodied boy, “five hundred lads subject to the conscription, and leave in the town a company of sans-culottes to enforce obedience.” It is certain that obedience will be maintained and that the garrison, joined to the seventeen patriots, will do as they like with their conquest.
In effect, all, both bodies and goods, are at their disposal, and they consequently begin with the country round about, entering private houses to get at their stores, also the farmhouses to have the grain threshed, in order to verify the declarations of their owners and see if these are correct: if the grain is not threshed out at once it will be done summarily and confiscated, while the owner will be sentenced to twelve months in irons; if the declaration is not correct, he is condemned as a monopolist and punished with death. Armed with this order,158 each band takes the field and gathers together not only grain, but supplies of every description. “That of Grenoble, the agent writes,159 does wonderfully; in one little commune alone, four hundred measures of wheat, twelve hundred eggs, and six hundred pounds of butter had been found. All this was quickly on the way to Grenoble.” In the vicinity of Paris, the forerunners of the throng, provided “with pitchforks and bayonets, rush to the farms, take oxen out of their stalls, grab sheep and chickens, burn the barns, and sell their booty to speculators.”160 “Bacon, eggs, butter, and chickens—the peasants surrender whatever is demanded of them, and thenceforth have nothing that they can take to market. They curse the Republic which has brought war and famine on them, and nevertheless they do what they are told: on being addressed, ‘Citizen peasant, I require of you on peril of your head,’ … there is no longer any retreat.”161 Accordingly, they are only too glad to be let off so cheaply. On Brumaire 19, about seven o’clock in the evening, at Tigery, near Corbeil, twenty-five men “with sabres and pistols in their belts, most of them in the uniform of the National Guards and calling themselves the revolutionary army,” enter the house of Gibbon, an old ploughman, seventy-one years of age, while fifty others guard all egress from it, so that the expedition may not be interfered with. Turlot, captain, and aid-de-camp to General Henriot, wants to know where the master of the house is. “In his bed,” is the reply. “Wake him up.” The old man rises. “Give up your arms.” His wife hands over a fowling-piece, the only arm on the premises. The band immediately falls on the poor man, “strikes him down, ties his hands, and puts a sack over his head,” and the same thing is done to his wife and to eight male and two female servants. “Now, give us the keys of your closets”; they want to be sure that there are no fleur-de-lys or other illegal articles. They search the old man’s pockets, take his keys, and, to despatch business, break into the chests and seize or carry off all the plate, “twenty-six table-dishes, three soup-ladles, three goblets, two snuff-boxes, forty counters, two watches, another gold watch and a gold cross.” “We will draw up a procès-verbal of all this at our leisure in Meaux. Now, where’s your silver? If you don’t say where it is, the guillotine is outside and I will be your executioner.” The old man yields and merely requests to be untied. But it is better to keep him bound, “so as to make him ‘shell out.’ ” They carry him into the kitchen and “put his feet into a heated brazier.” He shouts with pain, and indicates another chest which they break open and then carry off what they find there, “seventy-two francs in coin and five or six thousand livres in assignats, which Gibbon had just received for the requisitions made on him for corn.” Next, they break open the cellar doors, set a cask of vinegar running, carry wine upstairs, eat the family meal, get drunk and, at last, clear out, leaving Gibbon with his feet burnt, and garroted, as well as the other eleven members of his household, quite certain that there will be no pursuit.162 In the towns, especially in federalist districts, however, these robberies are complicated with other assaults. At Lyons, whilst the regular troops are lodged in barracks, the revolutionary army is billeted on the householders, two thousand vile, sanguinary blackguards from Paris, and whom their general, Ronsin himself, calls “scoundrels and brigands,” alleging, in excuse for this, that “honest folks cannot be found for such business.” How they treat their host, his wife and his daughters may be imagined; contemporaries glide over these occurrences and, through decency or disgust, avoid giving details.163 Some simply use brutal force; others get rid of a troublesome husband by the guillotine; in the most exceptional cases they bring their wenches along with them, while the housekeeper has to arouse herself at one o’clock at night and light a fire for the officer who comes in with the jolly company. And yet, there are others still worse, for the worst attract each other. We have seen the revolutionary committee at Nantes, also the representative on mission in the same city; nowhere did the revolutionary Sabbat rage so furiously, and nowhere was there such a traffic in human lives. With such band-leaders as Carrier and his tools on the Committee, one may be sure that the instrumentalists will be worthy.
Accordingly, several members of the Committee themselves oversee executions and lend a hand in the massacres. One of these, Goullin, a creole from St. Domingo, sensual and nervous, accustomed to treating a negro as an animal and a Frenchman as a white negro, a Septembriseur on principle, chief instigator and director of the “drownings,” goes in person to empty the prison of Bouffay, and, ascertaining that deaths, the hospital and releases, had lessened the number of the imprisoned, adds, of his own authority, fifteen names, taken haphazard, to complete his list. Joly, a commissioner on the Committee, very expert in the art of garroting, ties the hands of prisoners together two and two and conducts them to the river.164 Grandmaison, another member of the Committee, a former dancing-master, convicted of two murders and pardoned before the Revolution, strikes down with his sabre the uplifted hands stretched out to him over the planks of the lighter.165 Pinard, another Committee-commissioner, ransoms, steals off into the country and himself kills, through preference, women and children.166 Naturally, the three bands which operate along with them, or under their orders, comprise only men of their species. In the first one, called the Marat company, each of the sixty members swears, on joining it, to adopt Marat’s principles and carry out Marat’s doctrine. Goullin,167 one of the founders, demands in relation to each member, “Isn’t there some one still more rascally? For we must have that sort to bring the aristocrats to reason!”168 After Frimaire 5 “the Maratists” boast of their arms being “tired out” with striking prisoners with the flat of their sabres to make them march to the Loire,169 and we see that, notwithstanding this fatigue, the business suited them, as their officers intrigued with Carrier to be detailed on the “drowning” service and because it was lucrative. The men and women sentenced to death, were first stripped of their clothes down to the shirt, and even the shift; it would be a pity to let valuable objects go to the bottom with their owners, and therefore the drowners divide these amongst themselves; a wardrobe in the house of the adjutant Richard is found full of jewelry and watches.170 This company of sixty must have made handsome profits out of the four or five thousand drowned. The second band, called “the American Hussars,” and who operated in the outskirts, was composed of blacks and mulattoes, numerous enough in this town of privateers. It is their business to shoot women, whom they first violate; “they are our slaves,” they say; “we have won them by the sweat of our brows.” “Those who have the misfortune to be saved by them, become in their hands idiotic in a couple of days; in any event they are rearrested shortly afterwards and shot. The last band, which is styled “The German Legion,” is formed out of German deserters and mercenaries who can scarcely speak French, or not at all, employed by the Military Commission to despatch the Vendéans picked up along the highways, and who are usually shot in groups of twenty five. “I came,” says an eye-witness,171 “to a sort of gorge where there was a semicircular quarry; there, I noticed the corpses of seventy-five women … naked and lying on their backs.” The victims of that day consisted of girls from sixteen to eighteen years of age. One of them says to her conductor, “I am sure you are taking us to die,” and the German replies in his broken jargon, probably with a coarse laugh, “No, it is for a change of air.” They are placed in a row in front of the bodies of the previous day and shot. Those who do not fall, see the guns reloaded; these are again shot and the wounded despatched with the butt ends of the muskets. Some of the Germans then rifle the bodies, while others strip them and “place them on their backs.” To find workmen for this task, it is necessary to descend, not only to the lowest wretches in France but, again, to the brutes of a foreign race and tongue, and yet lower still, to an inferior race degraded by slavery and perverted by license.
Such, from the top to the bottom of the ladder, at every stage of authority and obedience, is the ruling staff of the revolutionary government.172 Through its recruits and its work, through its morals and modes of proceeding, it evokes the almost forgotten image of its predecessors, for there is an image of it in the period from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. At that time also, society was frequently overcome and ravaged by barbarians; dangerous nomads, malevolent outcasts, bandits turned into soldiers suddenly pounced down on an industrious and peaceful population. Such was the case in France with the “Routiers” and the “Tard-venus,” at Rome with the army of the Constable of Bourbon, in Flanders with the bands of the Duke of Alba and the Duke of Parma, in Westphalia and in Alsace, with Wallenstein’s veterans, and those of Bernard of Saxe-Weimar. They lived upon a town or province for six months, fifteen months, two years, until the town or province was exhausted, alone armed, master of the inhabitant, using and abusing things and persons according to their caprices. But they were declared bandits, calling themselves scorchers (ecorcheurs), riders and adventurers, and not pretenders to being humanitarian philosophers. Moreover, beyond an immediate and personal enjoyment, they demanded nothing; they employed brutal force only to satiate their greed, their cruelty, their lust. The latter add to private appetites a far greater devastation, the systematic and gratuitous ravages enforced upon them by the superficial theory with which they are imbued.
[1. ]Harmand (de la Meuse): “Anecdotes relatives à la Révolution.” “He dressed about like a cab-driver ill at his ease. He had a disturbed look and an eye always in motion; he acted in an abrupt, quick, and jerky way. A constant restlessness gave a convulsive contraction to his muscles and features which likewise affected his manner of walking so that he never stepped but jumped.”
[2. ]Chevremont, “Jean Paul Marat”; also Alfred Bougeard, “Marat” passim. These two works, with numerous documents, are panegyrics of Marat.—Bougeat, i., 11 (description of Marat by Fabre d’Eglantine); ii., 259 and i., 83.—“Journal de la République Française,” by Marat, No. 93, January 9, 1793. “I devote only two out of the twenty-four hours to sleep, and only one hour to my meals, toilette, and domestic necessities. I have not had fifteen minutes play-spell for more than three years.”
[3. ]Chevremont, i., pp. 1 and 2. His family, on the father’s side, was Spanish, long settled in Sardinia. The father, Dr. Jean Mara, had abandoned Catholicism and removed to Geneva where he married a woman of that city; he afterwards established himself in the canton of Neufchatel.
[4. ]“Journal de la République Française.” No. 98, description of “l’Ami du peuple” by himself.
[5. ]Read his novel “Les Aventures du jeune Comte Potowski,” letter 5, by Lucile: “I think of Potowski only. My imagination, inflamed at the torch of love, ever presents to me his sweet image.” Letter of Potowski after his marriage. “Lucile now grants to love all that modesty permits … enjoying such transports of bliss, I believe that the gods are jealous of my lot.”
[6. ]Preface, xx. “Descartes, Helvetius, Haller, Lelat all ignored great principles; man, with them, is an enigma, an impenetrable secret.” He says in a foot-note, “We find evidence of this in the works of Hume, Voltaire, Bonnet, Racine, and Pascal.”
[7. ]“Mémoires Académiques sur la Lumière,” pref., vii. He especially opposes “the differential refrangibility of heterogeneous rays” which is “the basis of Newton’s theory.”
[8. ]Chevremont, i., 74. (See the testimony of Arago, Feb. 24, 1844).
[9. ]Ibid., i., 104. (Sketch of a declaration of the rights of man and of the citizen.)
[10. ]See the epigraph of his “Mémoires sur la Lumière.” “They will force their way against wind and tide.”—Ibid., preface, vii. “Déconvertes de Monsieur Marat,” 1780, 2nd ed., p. 140.
[11. ]“Recherches physiques sur l’electricité,” 1782, pp. 13, 17.
[12. ]Chevremont, i., 59.
[13. ]“De l’Homme,” preface vii. and book iv.
[14. ]“Journal de la République Française,” No. 98.
[15. ]“Journal de la République Française,” by Marat, No. 1.
[16. ]“L’Ami du Peuple” No. 173 (July 26, 1790). The memories of conceited persons, given to immoderate self-expansion, are largely at fault. I have seen patients in asylums who, believing in their exalted position, have recounted their successes in about the same vein as Marat. (Chevremont, i., 40, 47, 54). “The reports of extraordinary cures effected by me brought me a great crowd of the sick. The street in front of my door was blocked with carriages. People came to consult me from all quarters. … The abstract of my experiments on Light finally appeared and it created a prodigious sensation throughout Europe; the newspapers were all filled with it. I had the court and the town in my house for six months. … The Academy, finding that it could not stifle my discoveries tried to make it appear that they had emanated from its body.” Three academic bodies came in turn the same day to see if he would not present himself as a candidate. “Up to the present time several crowned heads have sought me and always on account of the fame of my works.”
[17. ]“Journal de la République Française,” July 6, 1793.
[18. ]Moniteur (Session of the Convention, Sep. 25, 1792). Marat, indeed, is constantly claiming the post of temporary dictator. (“L’Ami du peuple,” Nos. 258, 268, 466, 668 and “Appel à la nation,” p. 53).
[19. ]Cf. Moreau de Tours. “La Folie lucide.”
[20. ]Chevremont, ii., 81. “Shortly after the taking of the Bastille and obliged to oppose the Paris municipality, I stated that I was the eye of the people and that I was of more consequence in the triumph of liberty than an army of one hundred thousand men.”
[21. ]Chevremont, i., 40. (Marat’s letters, 1793.)
[22. ]Journal de la République Française, No. 98.
[23. ]The words of Marat and Panes. (Chevremont, i., 197, 203; also “The Revolution” ii., 290, 2d note).
[24. ]Michelet, “Histoire de la Révolution,” ii., 89. (Narrated by M. Bourdier, Marat’s physician, to M. Serre, the physiologist.) Barbaroux, “Mémoires,” 355, (after a visit to Marat): “You should see how superficially Marat composed his articles. Without any knowledge of a public man he would ask the first person he met what he thought of him and this he wrote down, exclaiming ‘I’ll crush the rascal!’ ”
[25. ]Chevremont, i., 361. (From a pamphlet against Necker, by Marat, July, 1790).
[26. ]“L’Ami du Peuple,” No. 552. (August 30, 1791.)
[27. ]Ibid., No. 626. (Dec. 15, 1791). Cf. “The Revolution,” ii., 129, on the number of armed emigrés. At this date the authorised number as published is four thousand.
[28. ]His filthy imputations cannot be quoted. See in Buchez et Roux, ix., 419 (April 26, 1791), and x., 220 (Nos. for June 17, 19, and 21), his statement against Lafayette; again, his list with its vile qualifications of “rascals and rogues,” who are canvassing for election, and his letters on the Academicians.
[29. ]Buchez et Roux, x., 407 (Sept., 1791).—Cf. Ibid., 473. According to Marat, “It is useless to measure a degree of the meridian; the Egyptians having already given this measure. The Academicians obtained an appropriation of one thousand crowns for the expenses of this undertaking, a small cake which they have fraternally divided amongst themselves.”
[30. ]Chevremont, i., 238–249. “L’Ami du peuple,” Nos. 419, 519, 543, 608, 641. Other falsities just as extravagant are nearly all grotesque. No. 630 (April 15, 1792). “Simonneau, mayor of d’Etampes, is an infamous ministerial monopoliser.”—No. 627 (April 12, 1792). Delessart, the minister, “accepts gold to let a got-up decree be passed against him.” No. 650 (May 10, 1792). “Louis XVI. desired war only to establish his despotism on an indestructible foundation.”
[31. ]Chevremont, i., 106. (Draft of a declaration of the rights of man and of the citizen, 1789).—Ibid., i., 196.
[32. ]“L’Ami du peuple,” Nos. 24 and 274.—Cf. “Placard de Marat,” Sept. 18, 1792. “The National Convention should always be under the eye of the people, so that the people may stone it if it neglects its duty.”
[33. ]“L’Ami du peuple,” Nos. 108–111 (May 20–23, 1790).
[34. ]Ibid., No. 258 (Oct. 22, 1790).
[35. ]Ibid., No. 286 (Novem. 20, 1790).
[36. ]Ibid., No. 198 (August 22, 1790).
[37. ]Ibid., Nos. 523 and 524 (July 19 and 20, 1791).
[38. ]Ibid., No. 626 (Decem. 15, 1791).
[39. ]Ibid., No. 668 (July 8, 1792).—Cf. No. 649 (May 6, 1792). He approves of the murder of General Dillon by his men, and recommends the troops everywhere to do the same thing.
[40. ]Ibid., No. 677 (August 10, 1792). See also subsequent numbers, especially No. 680, Aug. 19th, for hastening on the massacre of the Abbaye prisoners. And Aug. 21st: “As to the officers, they deserve to be quartered like Louis Capet and his manège toadies.”
[41. ]Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 105. (Letter of Chevalier St. Dizier, member of the first Committee of Surveillance, Sep. 10, 1792.)—Michelet, ii., 94. (In December, 1790, he already demands twenty thousand heads).
[42. ]Moniteur, Oct. 26, 1792. (Session of the Convention, Oct. 24th.) “N—: I know a member of the Convention, who heard Marat say that, to ensure public tranquillity, two hundred and seventy thousand heads more should fall.”
[43. ]Danton never wrote or printed a speech. “I am no writer,” he says. (Garat, “Mémoires,” 31.)
[44. ]Garat, Mémoires,” iii.: “Danton had given no serious study to those philosophers who, for a century past, had detected the principles of social art in human nature. He had not sought in his own organisation for the vast and simple combinations which a great empire demands. He had that instinct for the grand which constitutes genius and that silent circumspection which constitutes judgment.”
[45. ]Garat, ibid., 311, 312.
[46. ]The head of a State may be considered in the same light as the superintendent of an asylum for the sick, the demented and the infirm. In the government of his asylum he undoubtedly does well to consult the moralist and the physiologist; but, before following out their instructions he must remember that in his asylum its inmates, including the keepers and himself, are more or less ill, demented, or infirm.
[47. ]De Sybel: “Histoire de l’Europe pendant la Révolution Française,” (Dosquet’s translation from the German) ii., 303. “It can now be stated that it was the active operations of Danton and the first Committee of Public Safety which divided the coalition and gave the Republic the power of opposing Europe. … We shall soon see, on the contrary, that the measures of the “Mountain” party, far from hastening the armaments, hindered them.”
[48. ]Ibid., i., 558, 562, 585. (The intermediaries were Westermann and Dumouriez.)
[49. ]Ibid., ii., 28, 290, 291, 293.
[50. ]Buchez et Roux, xxv., 445. (Session of April 13, 1793.)
[51. ]According to a statement made by Count Theodore de Lameth, the eldest of the four brothers Lameth and a colonel and also deputy in the Legislative Assembly. During the Assembly he was well acquainted with Danton. After the September massacre he took refuge in Switzerland and was put on the list of emigrés. About a month before the King’s death he was desirous of making a last effort and came to Paris. “I went straight to Danton’s house, and, without giving my name, insisted on seeing him immediately. Finally, I was admitted and I found Danton in a bath-tub. “You here!” he exclaimed. “Do you know that I have only to say the word and send you to the guillotine?” “Danton,” I replied, “you are a great criminal, but there are some vile things you cannot do, and one of them is to denounce me.” “You come to save the King?” “Yes.” We then began to talk in a friendly and confidential way. “I am willing,” said Danton, “to try and save the King, but I must have a million to buy up the necessary votes and the money must be on hand in eight days. I warn you that although I may save his life I shall vote for his death: I am quite willing to save his head but not to lose mine.” M. de Lameth set about raising the money; he saw the Spanish Embassador and had the matter broached to Pitt who refused. Danton, as he said he would, voted for the King’s death, and then aided or allowed the return of M. de Lameth to Switzerland. (I have this account through M … who had it from Count Theodore de Lameth’s own lips.)
[52. ]Garat. “Mémoires,” 317. “Twenty times, he said to me one day, I offered them peace. They did not want it. They refused to believe me in order to reserve the right of ruining me.”
[53. ]Cf. the “Ancient Régime,” p. 501.
[54. ]“Danton,” by Dr. Robinet, passim. (Notices by Béon, one of Danton’s fellow-disciples.—Fragment by Saint Albin.)—“The Revolution,” ii., p. 35, foot-note.
[55. ]Emile Bos, “Les Avocats du Conseil du Roi,” 515, 520. (See Danton’s marriage-contract and the discussions about his fortune. From 1787 to 1791, he is found engaged as counsel only in three cases.)
[56. ]Madame Roland, “Mémoires.” (Statement of Madame Danton to Madame Roland.)
[57. ]Expressions used by Garat and Roederer. Larevilliere-Lepaux calls him “the Cyclop.”
[58. ]Fauchet describes him as “the Pluto of Eloquence.”
[59. ]Riouffe, “Mémoires sur les prisons.” In prison “every utterance was mingled with oaths and gross expressions.”
[60. ]Terms used by Fabre d’Eglantine and Garat. Beugnot, a very good observer, had a good idea of Danton.—M. Dufort de Cheverney (manuscript memoirs published by M. Robert de Crèvecoeur), after the execution of Baboeuf, in 1797, had an opportunity to hear Samson, the executioner, talk with a war commissary, in an inn between Vendôme and Blois. Samson recounted the last moments of Danton and Fabre d’Eglantine. Danton, on the way to the scaffold, asked if he might sing. “There is nothing to hinder,” said Samson. “All right. Try to remember the verses I have just composed,” and he sang the following to a tune in vogue:
[61. ]Buchez et Roux, xxi., 108. Speech (printed) by Pétion: “Marat embraced Danton and Danton embraced him. I certify that this took place in my presence.”
[62. ]Buchez et Roux, xxi., 126. (“To Maximilian Robespierre and his royalists,” a pamphlet by Louvet.)—Beugnot, “Mémoires,” i., 250, “On arriving in Paris as deputy from my department (to the Legislative Assembly) Danton sought me and wanted me to join his party. I dined with him three times, in the Cour du Commerce, and always went away frightened at his plans and energy. … He contented himself by remarking to his friend Courtois and my colleague: ‘Thy big Beugnot is nothing but a devotee—you can do nothing with him.’ ”
[63. ]The Cordeliers district. (Buchez et Roux, iv., 27.) Assembly meeting of the Cordeliers district, November 11th, 1789, to sanction Danton’s permanent presidency. He is always reelected, and unanimously. This is the first sign of his ascendency, although sometimes, to save the appearance of his dictatorship, he has his chief clerk Paré elected, whom he subsequently made minister.
[64. ]Buchez et Roux, iv., 295, 298, 401; v., 140.
[65. ]Ibid., viii., 28 (October, 1790).
[66. ]Ibid., ix., 408; x., 144, 234, 297, 417.—Lafayette “Mémoires,” i., 359, 366. Immediately after Mirabeau’s death (April, 1791) Danton’s plans are apparent, and his initiative is of the highest importance.
[67. ]“The Revolution,” ii., 238 (Note) and 283.—Garat, 309: “After the 20th of June everybody made mischief at the chateau, the power of which was daily increasing. Danton arranged the 10th of August and the chateau was thunderstruck.”—Robinet: “Le Procès des Dantonistes,” 224, 229. (“Journal de la Société des amis de la Constitution,” No. 214, June 5, 1792.) Danton proposes “the law of Valerius Publicola, passed in Rome after the expulsion of the Tarquins, permitting every citizen to kill any man convicted of having expressed opinions opposed to the law of the State, except in case of proof of the crime.” (Ibid., Nos. 230 and 231, July 13, 1792.) Danton induces the federals present “to swear that they will not leave the capital until liberty is established, and before the will of the department is made known on the fate of the executive power.” Such are the principles and the instruments, of “August 10” and “September 2.”
[68. ]Garat, 314. “He was present for a moment on the Committee of Public Safety. The outbreaks of May 31 and June 2 occurred; he was the author of both these days.”
[69. ]Decrees of April 6 and 7, 1793.
[70. ]Decree of September 5, 1793.
[71. ]Decree of March 10, 1793.
[72. ]August 1 and 12, 1793.
[73. ]See “The Revolution,” vol. iii., ch. i.—Buchez et Roux, xxv., 285. (Meeting of Nov. 26, 1793.)—Moniteur, xix., 726. Danton (March 16, 1794) secures the passing of a decree that “hereafter prose only shall be heard at the bar of the house.”
[74. ]Archives Nationales, Papers of the Committee of General Security, No. 134.—Letter of Delacroix to Danton, Lille, March 25, 1793, on the situation in Belgium, and the retreat of Dumouriez. … “My letter is so long I fear that you will not read it to the end. … Oblige me by forgetting your usual indolence.”—Letter of Chabot to Danton, Frimaire 12, year II. “I know your genius, my dear colleague, and consequently your natural indolent disposition. I was afraid that you would not read me through if I wrote a long letter. Nevertheless I rely on your friendship to make an exception in my favor.”
[75. ]Lagrange, the mathematician, and senator under the empire, was asked how it was that he voted for the terrible annual conscriptions. “It had no sensible effect on the tables of mortality,” he replied.
[76. ]Garat, 305, 310, 313. “His friends almost worshipped him.”
[77. ]Ibid., 317.—Thibeaudeau, “Mémoires,” i., 59.
[78. ]Quinet, “La Révolution,” ii., 304. (According to the unpublished memoirs of Baudot.) These expressions by Danton’s friends all bear the mark of Danton himself. At all events they express exactly his ideas.
[79. ]Riouffe, 67.
[80. ]Miot de Melito, “Mémoires,” i., 40, 42.—Michelet, “Histoire de la Révolution Française,” vi., 34; v. 178, 184. (On the second marriage of Danton in June, 1793, to a young girl of sixteen. On his journey to Arcis, March, 1794.)—Riouffe, 68, In prison “He talked constantly about trees, the country, and nature.”
[81. ]We can trace the effect of his attitude on the public in the police reports, especially at the end of 1793, and beginning of the year 1794. (Archives Nationales, F7, 3, 61, report of Charmont, Nivose 6, year II.) “Robespierre gains singularly in public estimation, especially since his speech in the Convention, calling on his colleagues to rally and crush out the monsters in the interior, also in which he calls on all to support the new revolutionary government with their intelligence and talents. … I have to state that I have everywhere heard his name mentioned with admiration. They wound up by saying that it would be well for all members of the Convention to adopt the measures presented by Robespierre.”—(Report of Robin, Nivose 8.) “Citizen Robespierre is honored everywhere, in all groupes and in the cafés. At the Café Manouri it was given out that his views of the government were the only ones which, like the magnet, would attract all citizens to the Revolution. It is not the same with citizen Billaud-Varennes.” (Report of the Purveyor, Nivose 9.) “In certain clubs and groups there is a rumor that Robespierre is to be appointed dictator. … The people do justice to his austere virtues; it is noticed that he has never changed his opinions since the Revolution began.”
[82. ]“Souvenirs d’un déporté” by P. Villiers (Robespierre’s secretary for seven months in 1790), p. 2. “Of painstaking cleanliness.”—Buchez et Roux, xxxiv., 94. Description of Robespierre, published in the newspapers after his death; “His clothes were exquisitely clean and his hair always carefully brushed.”
[83. ]D’Hericault, “La Révolution du 9 Thermidor,” (as stated by Daunou).—Meillan, “Mémoires,” p. 4. “His eloquence was nothing but diffusive declamation without order or method, and especially with no conclusions. Every time he spoke we were obliged to ask him what he was driving at. … Never did he propose any remedy. He left the task of finding expedients to others, and especially to Danton.”
[84. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiii., 437, 438, 440, 442. (Speech by Robespierre, Thermidor 8, year II.)
[85. ]Ibid., xxx., 225, 226, 227, 228 (Speech, Nov. 17, 1793), and xxxi., 255 (Speech, Jan. 26, 1794). “The policy of the London Cabinet largely contributed to the first movement of our Revolution. … Taking advantage of political tempests (the cabinet) aimed to effect in exhausted and dismembered France a change of dynasty and to place the Duke of York on the throne of Louis XVI. … Pitt … is an imbecile, whatever may be said of a reputation that has been much too greatly puffed up. A man who, abusing the influence acquired by him on an island placed haphazard in the ocean, is desirous of contending with the French people, could not have conceived of such an absurd plan elsewhere than in a madhouse.”—Cf. Ibid., xxx., 465.
[86. ]Ibid., xxvi., 433, 441 (Speech on the Constitution, May 10, 1793); xxxi., 275. “Goodness consists in the people preferring itself to what is not itself; the magistrate, to be good, must himself immolate himself to the people.” … “Let this maxim be first adopted that the people are good and that its delegates are corruptible.” … xxx., 464. (Speech, Dec. 25, 1793): “The virtues are the appanage of the unfortunate and the patrimony of the people.”
[87. ]Cf. passim, Hamel, “Histoire de Robespierre,” 3 vols. An elaborate panegyric full of details. Although eighty years have elapsed, Robespierre still makes dupes of people through his attitudinising and rhetorical flourishes. M. Hamel twice intimates his resemblance to Jesus Christ. The resemblance, indeed, is that of Pascal’s Jesuits to the Jesus of the Gospel.
[88. ]“The Ancient Régime,” p. 262.
[89. ]Garat, “Mémoires,” 84. Garat who is himself an ideologist, notes “his eternal twaddle about the rights of man, the sovereignty of the people, and other principles which he was always talking about, and on which he never gave utterance to one precise or fresh idea.”
[90. ]Read especially his speech on the Constitution (May 10, 1793), his report on the principles of Republican Government (Dec. 15, 1793), his speech on the relationship between religious and national ideas and republican principles (May 7, 1794), and speech of Thermidor 8.—Carnot: “Mémoires,” ii., 512. “He brought to bear nothing but vague generalities in all business deliberations.”
[91. ]Buchez at Roux, xxxiii., 406. (Speech delivered Thermidor 8th.) The printed copy of the manuscript with corrections and erasures.
[92. ]Ibid., 420, 422, 427.
[93. ]Ibid., 428, 435, 436. “O day forever blessed! What a sight to behold, the entire French people assembled together and rendering to the author of nature the only homage worthy of him! How affecting each object that enchants the eye and touches the heart of man! O honored old age! O generous ardor of the young of our country! O the innocent, pure joy of youthful citizens! O the exquisite tears of tender mothers! O the divine charms of innocence and beauty! What majesty in a great people happy in its strength, power and virtue!” “No, Charmette, No, death is not the sleep of eternity!” “Remember, O, People, that in a republic, etc.” “If such truths must be dissembled then bring me the hemlock!”
[94. ]Speech, May 7, 1794. (On moral and religious ideas in relation to republican principles.)
[95. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiii., 436. “The Verres and Catilines of our country.” (Speech of Thermidor 8th.)—Note especially the speech delivered March 7, 1794, crammed full of classical reminiscences.
[96. ]Ibid., xxxiii., 421. “Truth has touching and terrible accents which reverberate powerfully in pure hearts as in guilty consciences, and which falsehood can no more counterfeit than Salome can counterfeit the thunders of heaven.”—437: “Why do those who yesterday predicted such frightful tempests now gaze only on the fleeciest clouds? Why do those who but lately exclaimed ‘I affirm that we are treading on a volcano,’ now behold themselves sleeping on a bed of roses?”
[97. ]Ibid., xxxii., 360, 361. (Portraits of the encyclopaedists and Hébertists.)
[98. ]Ibid., xxxiii., 408. “Here I must give vent to my feelings.”—xxxii., 475–478, the concluding part.
[99. ]Hamel: “Histoire de Robespierre,” i., 34–76. An attorney at 23, a member of the Rosati club at Arras at 24, a member of the Arras Academy at 25. The Royal Society of Metz awarded him a second prize for his discourse against the prejudice which regards the relatives of condemned criminals as infamous. His eulogy of Gresset is not crowned by the Amiens Academy. He reads before the Academy of Arras a discourse against the civil disabilities of bastards, and then another on reforms in criminal jurisprudence. In 1789, he is president of the Arras Academy, and publishes an eulogy of Dupaty and an address to the Artesian nation on the qualities necessary for future deputies.
[100. ]See his eulogy of Rousseau in the speech of May 7, 1794. (Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 369.)—Garat, 85. “I hoped that his selection of Rousseau for a model of style and the constant reading of his works would exert some good influence on his character.”
[101. ]Fievée, “Correspondence” (introduction). Fievée, who heard him at the Jacobin Club, said that he resembled a “tailor of the ancient régime.” Laréveillère-Lepeaux, “Mémoires.”—Buchez et Roux, xxxiv., 94.—Malouet, “Mémoires,” ii., 135. (Session of May 31, 1791, after the delivery of Abbé Raynal’s address.) “This is the first and only time I found Robespierre clear and even eloquent. … He spun out his opening phrases as usual, which contained the spirit of his discourse, and which, in spite of his accustomed rigmarole, produced the effect he intended.”
[102. ]Courrier de Provence, iii., No. 52 (Octo. 7 and 8, 1789).—Buchez et Roux, vi., 372. (Session of July 10, 1790.) Another similar blunder was committed by him on the occasion of an American deputation. The president had made his response, which was “unanimously applauded.” Robespierre wanted to have his say notwithstanding the objections of the Assembly, impatient at his verbiage, and which finally put him down. Amidst the laughter, “M. l’Abbé Maury demands ironically the printing of M. Robespierre’s discourse.”
[103. ]P. Villiers, p. 2.
[104. ]Cf. his principal speeches in the Constituent Assembly—against martial law; against the veto, even suspensive; against the qualification of the silver marc and in favor of universal suffrage; in favor of admitting into the National Guard nonacting citizens; of the marriage of priests; of the abolition of the death penalty; of granting political rights to colored men; of interdicting the father from favoring any one of his children; of declaring the “Constituants” ineligible to the Legislative Assembly, etc. On royalty: “The King is not the representative but the clerk of the nation.” On the danger of allowing political rights to colored men: “Let the colonies perish if they cost you your honor, your glory, your liberty!”
[105. ]Hamel, i., 76, 77 (March, 1789). “My heart is an honest one and I stand firm; I have never bowed beneath the yoke of baseness and corruption.” He enumerates the virtues that a representative of the Third Estate should possess (26, 83). He already shows his blubbering capacity and his disposition to regard himself as a victim: “They undertake making martyrs of the people’s defenders. Had they the power to deprive me of the advantages they envy, could they snatch from me my soul and the consciousness of the benefits I desire to confer on them.”
[106. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiii. “Who am I that am thus accused? The slave of freedom, a living martyr to the Republic, at once the victim and the enemy of crime!” See this speech in full.
[107. ]Especially in his address to the French people (Aug., 1791), which, in a justificatory form, is his apotheosis.—Cf. Hamel, ii., 212; Speech in the Jacobin Club (April 27, 1792).
[108. ]Hamel, i., 517, 532, 559; ii., 5.
[109. ]Laréveillère-Lepeaux, “Mémoires.”—Barbaroux, “Mémoires,” 358. (Both, after a visit to him.)
[110. ]Robespierre’s devotees constantly attend at the Jacobin Club and in the Convention to hear him speak and applaud him, and are called, from their condition and dress, “the fat petticoats.”
[111. ]Buchez et Roux, xx., 197. (Meeting of Nov. 1, 1792.)—“Chronique de Paris,” Nov. 9, 1792, article by Condorcet. With the keen insight of the man of the world, he saw clearly into Robespierre’s character. “Robespierre preaches, Robespierre censures; he is animated, grave, melancholy, deliberately enthusiastic and systematic in his ideas, and conduct. He thunders against the rich and the great; he lives on nothing and has no physical necessities. His sole mission is to talk, and this he does almost constantly. … His characteristics are not those of a religious reformer, but of the chief of a sect. He has won a reputation for austerity approaching sanctity. He jumps up on a bench and talks about God and Providence. He styles himself the friend of the poor; he attracts around him a crowd of women and ‘the poor in spirit,’ and gravely accepts their homage and worship. … Robespierre is a priest and never will be anything else.” Among Robespierre’s devotees Madame de Chalabre must be mentioned (Hamel, i., 525), a young widow (Hamel, iii., 524), who offers him her hand with an income of forty thousand francs. “Thou art my supreme deity,” she writes to him, “and I know no other on this earth! I regard thee as my guardian angel, and would live only under thy laws.”
[112. ]Fievée, “Correspondance,” (introduction).
[113. ]Report of Courtois on the papers found in Robespierre’s domicile. Justificatory documents No. 20, letter of the Secretary of the Committee of Surveillance of Saint Calais, Nivose 15, year II.
[114. ]Ibid., No. 18. Letter of V——, former inspector of “droits reservés,” Feb. 5, 1792.
[115. ]Ibid., No. 8. Letter of P. Brincourt, Sedan, Aug. 29, 1793.
[116. ]Ibid., No. 1. Letter of Besson, with an address of the popular club of Menosque, Prairial 23, year II.
[117. ]Ibid., No. 14. Letter of D——, member of the Cordeliers Club, and former mercer, Jan. 31, 1792.
[118. ]Ibid., No. 12. Letter by C——, Chateau Thierry, Prairial 30, year II.
[119. ]Hamel, iii., 682. (Copied from Billaud-Varennes’ manuscripts, in the Archives Nationales).
[120. ]Moniteur, xxii., 175. (Session of Vendémiaire 18, year III. Speech by Laignelot.) “Robespierre had all the popular clubs under his thumb.”
[121. ]Garat, 85. “The most conspicuous sentiment with Robespierre, and one, indeed, of which he made no mystery, was that the defender of the people could never see amiss.”—(Bailleul, quoted in Carnot’s Memoirs, i., 516.) “He regarded himself as a privileged being, destined to become the people’s regenerator and instructor.”
[122. ]Speech of May 16, 1794, and of Thermidor 8, year II.
[123. ]Buchez et Roux, x., 295, 296. (Session June 22, 1791, of the Jacobin Club.)—Ibid., 294.—Marat spoke in the same vein: “I have made myself a curse for all good people in France.” He writes, the same date: “Writers in behalf of the people will be dragged to dungeons. ‘The friend of the people,’ whose last sigh is given for his country, and whose faithful voice still summons you to freedom, is to find his grave in a fiery furnace.” The last expression shows the difference in their imaginations.
[124. ]Hamel, ii., 122. (Meeting of the Jacobin Club, Feb. 10, 1792.) “To obtain death at the hands of tyrants is not enough—one must deserve death. If it be true that the earliest defenders of liberty became its martyrs they should not suffer death without bearing tyranny along with them into the grave.”—Cf., ibid., ii., 215. (Meeting of April 27, 1792.)
[125. ]Hamel, ii., 513. (Speech in the Convention, Prairial 7, year II.)
[126. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiii., 422, 445, 447, 457. (Speech in the Convention, Thermidor 8, year II.)
[127. ]Buchez et Roux, xx., 11, 18. (Meeting of the Jacobin Club, Oct. 29, 1792.) Speech on Lafayette, the Feuillants, and Girondists, xxxi., 360, 363. (Meeting of the Convention, May 7, 1794.) On Lafayette, the Girondists, Dantonists, and Hébertists.—xxxiii., 427. (Speech of Thermidor 8, year II.)
[128. ]Garat, “Mémoires,” 87, 88.
[129. ]Buchez et Roux, xxi., 107. (Speech of Pétion on the charges made against him by Robespierre.) Pétion justly objects that “Brunswick would be the first to cut off Brissot’s head, and Brissot is not fool enough to doubt it.”
[130. ]Garat, 94. (After the King’s death and a little before the 10th of March, 1793.)
[131. ]Ibid., 97. In 1789 Robespierre assured Garat that Necker was plundering the Treasury, and that people had seen mules loaded with the gold and silver he was sending off by millions to Geneva.—Carnot, “Mémoires,” i., 512. “Robespierre,” say Carnot and Prieur, “paid very little attention to public business, but a good deal to public officers: he made himself intolerable with his perpetual mistrust of these, never seeing any but traitors and conspirators.”
[132. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiii., 417. (Speech of Thermidor 8, year II.)
[133. ]Ibid., xxxii., 361 (Speech May 7, 1794), and 359. “Immorality is the basis of despotism, as virtue is the essence of the Republic.”
[134. ]Ibid., 371.
[135. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiii., 195. (Report of Couthon and decree in conformity therewith, Prairial 22, year II.) “The revolutionary Tribunal is organised for the punishment of the people’s enemies. … The penalty for all offences within its jurisdiction is death. Those are held to be enemies of the people who shall have misled the people, or the representatives of the people, into measures opposed to the interests of liberty; those who shall have sought to create discouragement by favoring the undertakings of tyrants leagued against the Republic; those who shall have spread false reports to divide or disturb the people; those who shall have sought to misdirect opinion and impede popular instruction, produce depravity and corrupt the public conscience, diminish the energy and purity of revolutionary and republican principles, or stay their progress. … Those who, charged with public functions, abuse them to serve the enemies of the Revolution, vex patriots, oppress the people, etc.”
[136. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxv., 290. (“Institutions,” by Saint-Just.) “The Revolution is chilled. Principles have lost their vigor. Nothing remains but red-caps worn by intrigue.”—Report by Courtois, “Pièces justificatives” No. 20. (Letter of Pays and Rompillon, president and secretary of the Committee of Surveillance of Saint-Calais, to Robespierre, Nivose 15, year II.) “The Mountain here is composed of only a dozen or fifteen men on whom you can rely as on yourself; the rest are either deceived, seduced, corrupted, or enticed away. Public opinion is debauched by the gold and intrigues of honest folks.”
[137. ]Report by Courtois, N. 43.—Cf. Hamel, iii., 43, 71.—(The following important document is on file in the Archives Nationales, F7, 4,446, and consists of two notes written by Robespierre in June and July, 1793): “Who are our enemies? The vicious and the rich. How may the civil war be stopped? Punish traitors and conspirators, especially guilty deputies and administrators; … make terrible examples; … proscribe perfidious writers and antirevolutionists; … internal danger comes from the bourgeois; to overcome the bourgeois, rally the people; … the present insurrection must be kept up; … It is necessary that the same plan of insurrection should go on step by step. … The sans-culottes should be paid and remain in the towns. They ought to be armed, worked up, taught.”
[138. ]The Committee of Public Safety, and Robespierre especially, knew of and commanded the drownings of Nantes, as well as the principal massacres by Carrier, Turreau, etc. (De Martel, “Etude sur Fouché,” 257–265.)—Ibid., (“Types révolutionnaires,” 41–49.)—Buchez et Roux, xxxiii., 101 (May 26, 1794.) Report by Barère and decree of the Convention ordering that “No English prisoners should be taken.” Robespierre afterwards speaks in the same sense. Ibid., 458. After the capture of Newport, where they took five thousand English prisoners, the French soldiers were unwilling to execute the Convention’s decree, on which Robespierre (speech of Thermidor 8) said: “I warn you that your decree against the English has been cruelly violated; England, ill-treated in our discourses, is favored by our arms.”
[139. ]On the Girondists, Cf. “The Revolution,” ii., 216.
[140. ]Buchez et Roux, xxx., 157. Sketch of a speech on the Fabre d’Eglantine factim.—Ibid., 336. Speech at the Jacobin Club against Clootz.—xxxii., abstract of a report on the Chabot affair, 18.—Ibid., 69. Speech on maintaining Danton’s arrest.
[141. ]Ibid., xxx., 378. (Dec. 10, 1793.) With respect to the women who crowd the Convention in order to secure the liberty of their husbands: “Are republican women insensible to the proprieties of citizenship by remembering that they are wives?”
[142. ]Hamel, iii., 196.—Michelet, v., 394, abstract of the judicial debates on the disposition of the Girondists: “The minutes of this decree are found in Robespierre’s handwriting.”
[143. ]De Martel, “Types révolutionnaires,” 44. The instructions sent to the revolutionary Tribunal at Orange are in Robespierre’s handwriting.—(Archives Nationales, F7, 4,439.)
[144. ]Merlin de Thionville.
[145. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 71. (On Danton.) “Before the day is over we shall see whether the Convention will shatter an idol a long time rotten. … In what respect is Danton superior to his fellow-citizens? … I say that the man who now hesitates is guilty. … The debate, just begun, is a danger to the country.”—Also the speech in full, against Clootz.
[146. ]Ibid., xxx., 338. “Alas, suffering patriots, what can we do, surrounded by enemies fighting in our own ranks! … Let us watch, for the fall of our country is not far off,” etc.—These cantatas, with the accompaniments of the celestial harp, are terrible to one who considers the circumstances. For instance, on the 3d of September, 1792, while the massacres are going on, Robespierre enters the tribune of the electoral assembly and “declares that he will calmly face the steel of the enemies of public good, and carry with him to his grave the satisfaction of having served his country, the certainty of France having preserved its liberty.—(Archives Nationales, C. ii., 58–76.)
[147. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 360, 371. (Speech of May 7, 1794.) “Danton, the most dangerous, if he had not been the most cowardly, of the enemies of his country. … Danton, the coldest, the most indifferent, during his country’s greatest peril.”
[148. ]Ibid., xxxiv., 94.—Cf. the description of him by Fievée, who saw him in the tribune at the Jacobin Club.
[149. ]Merlin de Thionville “A vague, painful anxiety, due to his temperament, was the sole source of his activity.”
[150. ]Barère, “Mémoires.” “He wanted to rule France influentially rather than directly.”—Buchez et Roux, xiv., 188. (Article by Marat.) During the early sessions of the Legislative Assembly, Marat saw Robespierre on one occasion, and explained to him his plans for exciting popular outbreaks, and for his purifying massacres. “Robespierre listened to me with dismay, turned pale, and kept silent for some moments. This interview confirmed me in the idea I always had of him, that he combined the enlightenment of a wise senator with the uprightness of a genuine good man and the zeal of a true patriot, but that he equally lacked the views and boldness of a statesman.”—Thibaudeau, “Mémoires,” 58.—He was the only member of the Committee of Public Safety who did not join the department missions.
[151. ]Buchez et Roux, xx., 198. (Speech of Robespierre in the Convention, November 5, 1792.)
[152. ]All these statements by Robespierre are opposed to the truth.— (“Procès-verbaux des Séances de la Commune de Paris.”) Sep. 1, 1792, Robespierre speaks twice at the evening session.—The testimony of two persons, both agreeing, indicate, moreover, that he spoke at the morning session, the names of the speakers not being given. “The question,” says Pétion (Buchez et Roux, xxi., 103), “was the decree opening the barriers.” This decree is under discussion at the Commune at the morning session of September 1: “Robespierre, on this question, spoke in the most animated manner, wandering off in sombre flights of imagination: he saw precipices at his feet and plots of liberticides; he designated the pretended conspirators.”—Louvet (ibid., 130), assigns the same date (except that he takes the evening for the morning session), for Robespierre’s first denunciation of the Girondists: “Nobody, then,” says Robespierre, “dare name the traitors? Very well, I denounce them. I denounce them for the security of the people. I denounce the liberticide Brissot, the Girondist faction, the villainous committee of twenty-one in the National Assembly. I denounce them for having sold France to Brunswick and for having received pay in advance for their baseness.”—Sep. 2 (“Procès-verbaux de la Commune,” evening session), “MM. Billaud-Varennes and Robespierre, in developing their civic sentiments, … denounce to the Conseil-Général the conspirators in favor of the Duke of Brunswick, whom a powerful party want to put on the throne of France.”—September 3, at 6 o’clock in the morning (Buchez et Roux, 16, 132, letter of Louvet), commissioners of the Commune present themselves at Brissot’s house with an order to inspect his papers; one of them says to Brissot that he has eight similar orders against the Gironde deputies and that he is to begin with Guadet. (Letter of Brissot complaining of this visit, Moniteur, Sep. 7, 1792.) This same day, Sep. 3, Robespierre presides at the Commune. (Granier de Cassagnac, “Les Girondins” ii., 63.) It is here that a deputation of the Mauconseil section comes to find him, and he is charged by the “Conseil” with a commission at the Temple.—Septem. 4 (Buchez et Roux, xxi., 106, Speech of Pétion), the Commune issues a warrant of arrest against Roland; Danton comes to the Mayoralty with Robespierre and has the warrant revoked; Robespierre ends by telling Pétion: “I believe that Brissot belongs to Brunswick.”—Ibid., 506. “Robespierre (before Septem. 2), took the lead in the Conseil.”—Ibid., 107. “Robespierre,” I said, “you are making a good deal of mischief. Your denunciations, your fears, hatreds, and suspicions, excite the people.”
[153. ]Garat, 86.—Cf. Hamel, i., 264. (Speech, June 9, 1791.)
[154. ]“The Revolution,” ii., 338, 339. (Speech, Aug. 3, 1792.)
[155. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiii., 420. (Speech, Thermidor 8.)
[156. ]Ibid., xxxii., 71. (Speech against Danton.) “What have you done that you have not done freely?”
[157. ]Ibid., xxxiii., 199 and 221. (Speech on the law of Prairial 22.)
[158. ]Mirabeau said of Robespierre: “Whatever that man has said, he believes in it.”—Robespierre, Duplay’s guest, dined every day with Duplay, a juryman in the revolutionary Tribunal and cooperator for the guillotine, at eighteen francs a day. The talk at the table probably turned on the current abstractions; but there must have been frequent allusions to the condemnations of the day, and, even when not mentioned, they were in their minds. Only Robert Browning, at the present day, could imagine and revive what was spoken and thought in those evening conversations before the mother and daughters.
[159. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiii., 151.—Cf. Dauban, “Paris en 1794,” p. 386 (illustration), and 392, “Fête de l’Etre Supreme à Sceaux,” according to the programme drawn up by the patriot Palloy. “All citizens are requested to be at their windows or doors, even those occupying lodgings in by-streets.”—Ibid., 399. “Youthful citizens will strew flowers at each station, fathers will embrace their children and mothers turn their eyes upward to heaven.”—Moniteur, xxx., 653. “Plan of the fête in honor of the Supreme Being, drawn up by David, and decreed by the National Convention.”
[160. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiii., 176. (Narrative by Valate.)
[161. ]Hamel, iii., 541.
[162. ]Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 178, 180.
[163. ]Ibid., 177 (Narrative by Vilate). Ibid., 170, Notes by Robespierre on Bourdon (de l’Oise) 417. Passages erased by Robespierre in the manuscript of his speech of Thermidor 8.—249. Analogous passages in his speech as delivered, all these indications enable us to trace the depths of his resentment.
[164. ]Ibid., 183. Memoirs of Billaud-Varennes, Collot d’Herbois, Vadier, and Barère. “The next day after Prairial 22, at the morning session (of the Committee of Public Safety) … I now see, says Robespierre, that I stand alone, with nobody to support me, and, getting violently excited, he launched out against the members of the Committee who had conspired against him. He shouted so loud as to collect together a number of citizens on the Tuileries terrace.” Finally, “he pushed hypocrisy so far as to shed tears.” The nervous machine, I imagine, broke down.—Another member of the Committee, Prieur (Carnot, “Mémoires,” ii., 525), relates that, in the month of Floréal, after another equally long and violent session, “Robespierre, exhausted, became ill.”
[165. ]Carnot, “Mémoires,” ii., 526. “As his bureau was in a separate place, where none of us set foot, he could retire to it without coming in contact with any of us, as in effect, he did. He even made a pretence of passing through the committee rooms, after the session was over, and he signed some papers; but he really neglected nothing, except our common discussions. He held frequent conferences in his house with the presidents of the revolutionary Tribunals, over which his influence was greater than ever.”
[166. ]Dauban, “Paris en 1794,” 563.—Archives Nationales, AF.II., 58. The signature of Robespierre, in his own handwriting, is found affixed to many of the resolutions of the Committee of Public Safety, passed Thermidor 5 and 7, and those of Saint-Just and Couthon after this, up to Thermidor 3, 6, and 7. On the register of the minutes of the Committee of Public Safety, Robespierre is always recorded as present at all meetings between Messidor 1 and Thermidor 8, inclusive.
[167. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 4,438. Report to the Committee of Public Safety by Herman, Commissioner of the Civil and Police administrations and of the Courts, Messidor 3, year II. “The Committee charged with a general supervision of the prisons, and obliged to recognise that all the rascals mostly concerned with liberticide plots are … still in the prisons, forming a band apart, and rendering surveillance very troublesome; they are a constant source of disorder, always getting up attempts to escape, being a daily assemblage of persons devoting themselves wholly to imprecations against liberty and its defenders. … It would be easy to point out in each prison, those who have served, and are to serve, the diverse factions, the diverse conspiracies. … It may be necessary, perhaps, to purge the prisons at once and free the soil of liberty of their filth, the refuse of humanity.” The Committee of Public Safety consequently “charges the Commission to ascertain in the prisons of Paris … who have been more specially concerned in the diverse factions and conspiracies that the National Convention has destroyed.” The word “approved” appears at the foot of the resolution in Robespierre’s handwriting, then the signature of Robespierre, and lower down, those of Billaud and Barère. A similar resolution providing for the 7th of Messidor, signed by the same parties and five others, is despatched the same day. (M. de Martel came across and made use of this conclusive document before I did, most of it being quoted in “Les Types Révolutionnaires.”)
[168. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiii., 434.
[1. ]Thibaudeau: “Mémoires,” i., 47, 70.—Durand-Maillane, “Mémoires,” 183.—Vatel, “Charlotte Corday et les Girondins,” ii., 269. Out of the seventy-six presidents of the Convention eighteen were guillotined, eight transported, twenty-two declared outlaws, six incarcerated, three who committed suicide, and four who became insane, in all sixty-one. All who served twice perished by a violent death.
[2. ]Moniteur, xviii., 38. (Speech by Amar, reporter, Oct. 3, 1793.) “The apparently negative behavior of the minority in the Convention, since the 2d of June, is a new plot hatched by Barbaroux.”
[3. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, viii., 44. Election of Collot d’Herbois as president by one hundred and fifty-one out of two hundred and forty-one votes, June 13, 1793.—Moniteur, xvii., 366. Election of Hérault-Séchelles as president by one hundred and sixty-five out of two hundred and thirty-six votes, Aug. 3, 1793.
[4. ]“The Revolution,” vol. iii., ch. i.—Mortimer-Ternaux, vii., 435. (The three substitutes obtain, the first, nine votes, the second, six votes, and the third, five votes.)
[5. ]Marcelin Boudet, “Les Conventionnels d’ Auvergne,” 206.
[6. ]Dussault: “Fragment pour servir à l’histoire de la Convention.”
[7. ]Sainte-Beuve: “Causeries du Lundi,” v., 216. (According to the unpublished papers of Siéyès.)
[8. ]Words of Michelet.
[9. ]Moniteur, xx., 95, 135. (Sessions of Germinal II. in the Convention and at the Jacobin club.)
[10. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 17. (Sessions of Ventose 26, year II. Speech of Robespierre.) “In what country has a powerful senate ever sought in its own bosom for the betrayers of the common cause and handed them over to the sword of the law? Who has ever furnished the world with this spectacle? You, my fellow citizens.”
[11. ]Miót de Melito, “Mèmoires,” i. 44. Danton, at table in the ministry of Foreign Affairs, remarked: “The Revolution, like Saturn, eats its own children.” As to Camille Desmoulins, “His melancholy already indicated a presentiment of his fate; the few words he allowed to escape him always turned on questions and observations concerning the nature of punishment, inflicted on those condemned by the revolutionary Tribunal and the best way of preparing oneself for that event and enduring it.”
[12. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiii., 363, 357. (Police reports on the deputies, Messidor 4, and following days.)—Vilate: “Coups secrètes de la Révolution du 9 et 10 Thermidor,” a list designated by Barère.—Denunciation by Lecointre. (2d ed. p. 13.)
[13. ]Thibaudeau, i., 47. “Just as in ordinary times one tries to elevate oneself, so does one strive in these times of calamity to lower oneself and be forgotten, or atone for one’s inferiority by seeking to degrade oneself.”
[14. ]Madame Roland: “Mémoires,” i., 23.
[15. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167. This set of papers contains five hundred and thirty-seven police reports, especially those of Nivose, year II. The following is a sample Report of Nivose 25, year II. “Being on a deputation to the Convention, some coleagues took me to dine in the old Breteuil gardens, in a large room with a nice floor. … The bill-of-fare was called for, and I found that after having eaten a ritz soup, some meat, a bottle of wine, and two potatoes, I had spent, as they told me, eight francs twelve sous, because I am not rich. ‘Foutre!’ I say to them, how much do the rich pay here? … It is well to state that I saw some deputies come into this large hall, also former marquises, counts, and knights of the poniard of the ancient régime … but I confess that I cannot remember the true names of these former nobles … for the devil himself could not recognise those b—— disguised like sans-culottes.”
[16. ]Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 237, 308. (July 5 and 14, 1793.)—Moniteur, xix., 716. (Ventose 26, year II.) Danton secures the passage of a decree “that nothing but prose shall be heard at the bar.” Nevertheless, after his execution, this sort of parade begins again. On the 12th of Messidor, “a citizen admitted to the bar reads a poem composed by him in honor of the success of our arms on the Sambre.” (Moniteur, xvi., 101.)
[17. ]Moniteur, xviii., 369, 397, 399, 420, 455, 469, 471, 479, 488, 492, 500, etc.—Mercier, “Le Nouveau Paris,” ii., 96.—Dauban, “La Demagogie en 1793,” 500, 505. (Articles by Prud’homme and Diurnal by Beaulieu.)
[18. ]Moniteur, xviii., 420, 399.—“Ah, le bel oiseau,” was a song chosen for its symbolic and double meaning, one pastoral and the other licentious.
[19. ]De Goncourt, “La Société française pendant la Revolution,” 418. (Article from “Pêre Duchesne.”)—Dauban, ibid., 506. (Article by Prud’homme.) “Liberty on a seat of verdure, receives the homage of republicans, male and female, … and then … she turns and bestows a benevolent regard on her friends.”
[20. ]Moniteur, xviii., 399. Session of Brumaire 20, on motion of Thuriot: “I move that the Convention attends the temple of Reason to sing the hymn to Liberty.”—“The motion of Thuriot is decreed.”
[21. ]Mercier, ibid., 99. (Similar scenes in the churches of St. Eustache and St. Gervais.)
[22. ]Durand-Maillane, “Mémoires,” 182.—Grégoire, “Mémoires,” ii., 34. On the 7th of November, 1793, in the great scene of the abjurations, Grégoire alone resisted, declaring: “I remain a bishop; I invoke freedom of worship.” “Outcries burst forth to stifle my voice the pitch of which I raised proportionately. … A demoniac scene occurred, worthy of Milton. … I declare that in making this speech I thought I was pronouncing sentence of death on myself.” For several days, emissaries were sent to him, either deputies or bandits, to try and make him retract. On the 11th of November a placard posted throughout Paris declared him responsible for the continuance of fanaticism. “For about two years, I was almost the only one in Paris who wore the ecclesiastical costume.”
[23. ]Moniteur, xviii., 480. (Session of Brumaire 30.) N. … “I must make known the ceremony which took place here today. I move that the speeches and details of this day be inserted in full in the bulletin, and sent to all the departments.” (Another deputy): “And do not neglect to state that the Right was never so well furnished.” (Laughter and applause.)
[24. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 103. (Germinal 11.)—Moniteur, xx., 124. (Germinal 15.) Decree for cutting short the defence of Danton and his accused associates.
[25. ]Moniteur, xx., 226. (Germinal 26. Report by Saint-Just and decree on the police.)—Ibid., xix., 54. (Report by Robespierre, and decree on the principles of revolutionary government, Nivose 5.)—Ibid., xx., 567, 589. Prairial 6 (Decree forbidding the imprisonment of any Englishman or Hanoverian), and xxi., 13. (Messidor 16.)
[26. ]Moniteur, xx., 544. After the effort of Ladmiral against Collot d’Herbois, the latter appears in the tribune. “The loudest applause greets him from all sides of the house.”—Ibid., xxi., 173. (Messidor 21.) On the report of Barère who praises the conduct of Joseph Lebon, criticising nothing but “somewhat harsh formalities,” a decree is passed to the order of the day, which is “adopted unanimously with great applause.”
[27. ]Moniteur, xx., 698, 715, 716, 719. (Prairial 22 and 24.) After the speeches of Robespierre and Couthon, “Loud and renewed applause; the plaudits begin over again and are prolonged.” Couthon, having declared that the Committee of Public Safety was ready to resign, “on all sides there were cries of No, No.”—Ibid., xxi., 268. (Thermidor 2.) Eulogy of the revolutionary government by Barère and decree of the police “unanimously adopted amidst the loudest applause.”
[28. ]Moniteur, xxi., 329.
[29. ]Lafayette, “Mémoires,” iv., 330. “At last came the 9th of Thermidor. It was not due to people of common sense. Their terror was so great that an estimable deputy, to whom one of his colleagues put the question, no witness being present, ‘how long must we endure this tyranny?’ was upset by it to such a degree as to denounce him.”
[30. ]Sainte-Beuve, “Causeries du Lundi,” v., 209. (Siéyès’ unpublished papers.)—Moniteur, xviii., 631, containing an example of both the terror and style of the most eminent men, among others of Fourcroy the celebrated chemist, then deputy, and later, Counsellor of State and Minister of Public Instruction. He is accused in the Jacobin Club, Brumaire 18, year II., of not addressing the Convention often enough, to which he replies: “After twenty years’ devotion to the practice of medicine I have succeeded in supporting my sans-culotte father and my sans-culottes sisters. … As to the charge made by a member that I have given most of my time to science. … I have attended the Lycée des Arts but three times, and then only for the purpose of sans-culotteising it.”
[31. ]Michelet, “Histoire de la Révolution,” v., preface xxx (3rd ed.). “A young man and trying to find something to do, I was directed to an ultra Review, to a well-known philanthropist, devoted to education, to the people, and to the welfare of humanity. I found a very small man of a melancholy, mild and tame aspect. We were in front of the fire, on which he fixed his eyes without looking at me. He talked a long time, in a didactic, monotonous tone of voice. I felt ill at ease and sick at heart, and got away as soon as I could. It was this little man, I afterwards learned, who hunted down the Girondists, and had them guillotined, and which he accomplished at the age of twenty.”—His name is Julien de la Drôme. I saw him once when quite young. He is well known: first, through his correspondence, and next, by his mother’s diary. (“Journal d’une bourgeoise pendant la Revolution,” ed. Locroy.)—We have a sketch of David (“La Demagogie à Paris en 1793,” by Dauban, a fac-simile at the beginning of the volume), representing Queen Marie Antoinette led to execution. Madame Julien was at a window along with David looking at the funeral convoy, whilst he made the drawing.—Madame Julien writes in her “Journal,” September 3, 1792: “To attain this end we must will the means. No barbarous humanity! The people are aroused, the people are avenging the crimes of the past three years.”—Her son, a sort of raw, sentimental Puritan, fond of bloodshed, was one of Robespierre’s most active agents. He remembered what he had done, as is evident by Michelet’s narrative, and cast his eyes down, well knowing that his present philanthropy could not annihilate past acts.
[32. ]Archives Nationales, AF. II., 46. Register of the Acts of the Committee of Public Safety, vol. ii., orders of August 3, 1793.
[33. ]On the concentration and accumulation of business, cf. Archives Nationales, ibid., acts of Aug. 4, 5, 6, 1793; and AF. II., 23, acts of Brumaire 1 and 15, year II.—On the distribution and despatch of business in the Committee and the hours devoted to it, see Acts of April 6, June 13, 17, 18, Aug. 3, 1793, and Germinal 27, year II.—After August 3, two sessions were held daily, from 8 o’clock in the morning to 1 o’clock in the afternoon, and from 7 to 10 o’clock in the evening; at 10 o’clock, the Executive Council met with the Committee of Public Safety, and papers were signed about 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning.—The files of AF. II., 23 to 42, contain an account of the doings of the Committee, the minutes of its meetings and of its correspondence. A perusal of these furnishes full details concerning the initiative and responsibility of the Committee. For example (Nivose 4, year II., letters to Fréron and Barras, at Marseilles), “The Committee commend the vigorous measures you have sanctioned in your orders at Marseilles. Marseilles, through you, affords a great example. Accustomed, as you are, to wielding thunderbolts, you are best calculated for still governing it. … How glorious, citizen colleagues, to be able like you, after long continued labors and immortal fame, how gratifying, under such auspices, to return to the bosom of the National Convention!”—(AF. II., 36, Pluviose 7, year II., letter to the representatives on mission at Bordeaux, approving of the orders issued by them against merchants.) “Concealed behind the obscurity of its complots, mercantilism cannot support the ardent, invigorating atmosphere of Liberty; Sybaritic indolence quails before Spartan virtue.”—(AF. II., 37, Pluviose 20, letter to Prieur de la Marne, sent to Nantes to replace Carrier.) “Carrier, perhaps, has been badly surrounded; … his ways are harsh, the means he employs are not well calculated to win respect for the national authority: … he is used up in that city. He is to leave and go elsewhere.”—(AF. II., 36, Nivose 21, letter to Fouché, Laporte, and Albitte, at Commune-affranchie, signed by Billaud-Varennes and composed by him.) “The Convention, Nivose 1, has approved of the orders and other measures taken by you. We can add nothing to its approval. The Committee of Public Safety subjects all operations to the same principles, that is to say, it conforms to yours and acts with you.”
[34. ]Sainte-Beuve, “Nouveaux Lundis,” viii., 105. (Unpublished report by Vice-admiral Villaret-Joyeuse, May 28, 1794.)
[35. ]Carnot, “Mémoires,” i., 107.
[36. ]Ibid., i., 450, 523, 527, “we often ate only a morsel of dry bread on the Committee’s table.”
[37. ]Moniteur, xxi., 362. (Speech by Cambon, Session of Thermidor 11, year II.)
[38. ]Beugnot, “Mémoires,” ii., 15. (Stated by Jean Bon himself in a conversation at Mayence in 1813.)
[39. ]Gaudia, duc de Gaéte, “Mémoires,” i., 16, 28. “I owed my life to Cambon personally, while, through his firmness, he preserved the whole Treasury department, continually attacked by the all-powerful Jacobin club.”—On the 8th of Thermidor, Robespierre was “very severe on the administration of the Treasury, which he accused of an aristocratic and antirevolutionary spirit. … Under this pretext, it was known that the orator meant to propose an act of accusation against the representative charged with its surveillance, as well as against the six commissioners, and bring them before the revolutionary Tribunal, whose verdict could not be doubtful.”—Buchez et Roux, xxxiii., 431, 436, 441. Speech by Robespierre, Thermidor 8, year II. … “Machiavellian designs against the small fund-holders of the State. … A contemptible financial system, wasteful, irritating, devouring, absolutely independent of your supreme oversight. … Antirevolution exists in the financial department. … Who are its head administrators? Brissotins, Feuillants, aristocrats, and well-known knaves—the Cambons, the Mallarmés, the Ramels!”
[40. ]Carnot, “Mémoires,” i., 425.
[41. ]Moniteur, xxiv., 47, 50. (Session of Germinal 2, year II.) Speeches by Lindet and Carnot with confirmatory details.—Lindet says that he had signed twenty thousand papers.—Ibid., xxxiii., 591. (Session of Ventose 12, year III. Speech by Barère.) “The labor of the Committee was divided amongst the different members composing it, but all, without distinction, signed each other’s work. I, myself, knowing nothing of military affairs, have perhaps, in this matter, given four thousand signatures.”—Ibid., xxiv., 74. (Session of Germinal 6, year III.) Speech of Lavesseur, witness of an animated scene between Carnot and Robespierre concerning two of Carnot’s clerks, arrested by order of Robespierre.—Carnot adds “I had myself signed this order of arrest without knowing it.”—Ibid., xxii., 116. (Session of Vendémiaire 8, year II., speech by Carnot in narrating the arrest of General Huchet for his cruelties in Vendée.) On appearing before the Committee of Public Safety, Robespierre defended him and he was sent back to the army and promoted to a higher rank: I was obliged to sign in spite of my opposition.”
[42. ]Carnot, “Mémoires,” i., 572. (Speech by Carnot, Germinal 2, year III.)
[43. ]Sénart, “Mémoires,” 145, 153. (Details on the members of the two committees.)
[44. ]Reports by Billaud on the organisation of the revolutionary government, November 18, 1793: and on the theory of democratic government, April 20, 1794.—Reports by Robespierre on the political situation of the Republic, November 17, 1793; and on the principles of revolutionary government, December 5, 1793.—Information on the genius of revolutionary laws, signed principally by Robespierre and Billaud, November 29, 1793.—Reports by Robespierre on the principles of political morality which ought to govern the Convention, February 5, 1794; and on the relationship between religious and moral ideas and republican principles, May 7, 1794.
[45. ]Billaud no longer goes on mission after he becomes one of the Committee of Public Safety. Robespierre never went. Barère, who is of daily service, is likewise retained at Paris.—All the others serve on the missions and several repeatedly, and for a long time.
[46. ]Moniteur, xxiv., 60. The words of Carnot, session of Germinal 2, year III.—Ibid., xxii., 138, words of Collot, session of Vendémiaire 12, year III. “Billaud and myself have sent into the departments three hundred thousand written documents, and have made at least ten thousand minutes (of meetings) with our own hand.”
[47. ]Dussault, “Fragment pour servir à l’histoire de la Convention.”
[48. ]Thibaudeau, i., 49.
[49. ]Arnault, “Souvenirs d’un Sexagénaire,” ii., 78.
[50. ]“Mémoires d’un Bourgeois de Paris,” by Véron, ii., 14. (July 7, 1815.)
[51. ]Cf. Thibaudeau, “Mémoires,” i., 46. “It seemed, then, that to escape imprisonment, or the scaffold, there was no other way than to put others in your place.”
[52. ]Carnot, “Mémoires,” i., 508.
[53. ]Carnot, i., 527. (Words of Prieur de la Cote d’Or.)
[54. ]Carnot, ibid., 527. (The words of Prieur.)
[55. ]“La Nouvelle Minerve,” i., 355, (Notes by Billaud-Varennes, indited at St. Domingo and copied by Dr. Chervin.) “We came to a decision only after being wearied out by the nightly meetings of our Committee.”
[56. ]Decree of September 17, 1793, on “Suspects.” Ordinance of the Paris Commune, October 10, 1793, extending it so as to include “those who, having done nothing against the Revolution, do nothing for it.”—Cf. “Papers seized in Robespierre’s apartments,” ii., 370, letter of Payan. “Every man who has not been for the Revolution has been against it, for he has done nothing for the country. … In popular commissions, individual humanity, the moderation which assumes the veil of justice, is criminal.”
[57. ]Mortimer-Ternaux, viii., 394, and following pages; 414 and following pages (on the successive members of the two committees).
[58. ]Wallon, “Histoire du Tribunal Révolutionaire,” iii., 129–131. Hérault de Séchelles, allied with Danton, and accused of being indulgent, had just given guarantees, however, and applied the revolutionary régime in Alsace with a severity worthy of Billaud. (Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. v., 141.) “Instructions for civil commissioners by Hérault, representative of the people” (Colmar, Frimaire 2, year II.), with suggestions as to the categories of persons that are to be “sought for, arrested, and immediately put in jail,” probably embracing nineteen-twentieths of the inhabitants.
[59. ]Dauban, “Paris en 1794,” 285, and following pages. (Police Reports, Germinal, year II.) Arrest of Hébert and associates “Nothing was talked about the whole morning but the atrocious crimes of the conspirators. They were regarded as a thousand times more criminal than Capet and his wife. They ought to be punished a thousand times over. … The popular hatred of Hébert is at its height. … The people cannot forgive Hébert for having deceived them. … Popular rejoicings were universal on seeing the conspirators led to the scaffold.”
[60. ]Moniteur, xxiv., 53. (Session of Germinal 2, year III.) Words of Prieur de la Côte d’Or: “The first quarrel that occurred in the Committee was between Saint-Just and Carnot; the latter says to the former, ‘I see that you and Robespierre are after a dictatorship.’ ”—Ibid., 74. Levasseur makes a similar statement.—Ibid., 570. (Session of Germinal 2, year III., words of Carnot): “I had a right to call Robespierre a tyrant every time I spoke to him. I did the same with Saint-Just and Couthon.”
[61. ]Carnot, i., 525. (Testimony of Prieur.) Ibid., 522. Saint-Just says to Carnot: “You are in league with the enemies of the patriots. It is well for you to know that a few lines from me could send you to the guillotine in two days.”
[62. ]Buchez et Roux, xxx., 185. (Reply of Billaud, Collot, Vadier, and Barère to the renewed charges against them by Lecointre.)—Moniteur, xxiv., 84. (Session of Germinal 7, year III.) Words of Barère: “On the 4th of Thermidor, in the Committee, Robespierre speaks like a man who had orders to give and victims to point out.”—“And you, Barère,” he replies, “remember the report you made on the 2nd of Thermidor.”
[63. ]Saint-Just, report on the Girondists, July 8, 1793; on the necessity of imprisoning persons inimical to the Revolution, Feb. 26, 1794; on the Hébertists, March 13; on the arrest of Hérault-Séchelles and Simond, March 17; on the arrest of Danton and associates, March 31; on a general policy, April 15.—Cf., likewise, his report on declaring the government revolutionary until peace is declared, Oct. 10, 1793, and his report of the 9th of Thermidor, year II.
[64. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxi., 346. (Report of March 13, 1794.)—xxxii., 314. (Report of April 15.)
[65. ]See “The Revolution,” ii., 313.
[66. ]A single phrase often suffices to give the measure of a man’s intellect and character. The following by Saint-Just has this merit. (Apropos of Louis XVI. who, refraining from defending himself, left the Tuileries and took refuge in the Assembly on the 10th of August.) “He came amongst you; he forced his way here. … He resorted to the bosom of the legislature; his soldiers burst into the asylum. … He made his way, so to say, by sword thrusts into the bowels of his country that he might find a place of concealment.”
[67. ]Particularly in the long report on Danton containing a historic survey of the factions (Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 76), and the report on the general police (Ibid., 304), with another historic document of the same order. “Brissot and Ronsin (were) recognised royalists. … Since Necker a system of famine has been devised. … Necker had a hand in the Orleans faction. … Double representation (of the Third Estate) was proposed for it.” Among other charges made against Danton; after the fusillade on the Champ de Mars in July, 1791: “You went to pass happy days at Arcis-sur-Aube, if it is possible for a conspirator against his country to be happy. … When you knew that the tyrant’s fall was prepared and inevitable you returned to Paris on the 9th of August. You wanted to go to bed on that evil night. … Hatred, you said, is insupportable to me and (yet) you said to us ‘I do not like Marat,’ etc.” There is an apostrophe of nine consecutive pages against Danton, who is absent.
[68. ]Buchez et Roux, Ibid., 312. “Liberty emanated from the bosom of tempests; its origin dates with that of the world issuing out of chaos along with man, who is born dissolved in tears.” (Applause.)—Ibid., 308. Cf. his portrait, got up for effect, of the “revolutionary man” who is “a treasure of good sense and probity.”
[69. ]Ibid., 312. “Liberty is not the chicanery of a palace; it is rigidity towards evil.”
[70. ]Barère, “Mémoires,” i. 347. “Saint-Just … discussed like a vizier.”
[71. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 314. “Are the lessons furnished by history, the examples afforded by all great men, lost to the universe? These all counsel us to lead obscure lives; the lowly cot and virtue form the grandeurs of this world. Let us seek our habitations on the banks of streams, rock the cradles of our children and educate them in Disinterestedness and Intrepidity.”—As to his political or economic capacity and general ideas, read his speeches and his “Institutions” (Buchez et Roux, xxviii., 133; xxx., 305, xxxv., 369), a mass of chemical and abstract rant.
[72. ]Carnot, i., 527. (Narrated by Prieur.) “Often when hurriedly eating a bit of dry bread at the Committee table, Barère with a jest, brought a smile on our lips.”
[73. ]Véron, ii., 14.—Arnault, ii., 74.—Cf., passim, “Mémoires de Barère,” and the essay on Barère by Macaulay.
[74. ]Vilate, Barère Edition, 184, 186, 244. “Fickle, frank, affectionate, fond of society, especially that of women, in quest of luxuries and knowing how to spend money.”—Carnot, ii., 511. In Prieur’s eyes, Barère was simply “a good fellow.”
[75. ]Moniteur, xxi., 173. (Justification of Joseph Lebon and “his somewhat harsh ways.”) “The Revolution is to be spoken of with respect, and revolutionary measures with due regard. Liberty is a virgin, to raise whose veil is a crime.”—And again: “The tree of Liberty grows when watered with the blood of tyrants.”
[76. ]Moniteur, xx., 580, 582, 583, 587.—“Campagnes de la Revolution Française dans les Pyrénées Orientals,” by Fervel, ii., 36 and following pages.—General Dugommier, after the capture of Toulouse, spared the English general O’Harra, taken prisoner in spite of the orders of the Convention, and received the following letter from the Committee of Public Safety. “The Committee accepts your victory and your wound as compensations.” On the 24th of December, Dugommier, that he may not be present at the Toulon massacres, asks to return to the Convention and is ordered off to the army of the eastern Pyrenees.—In 1797, there were thirty thousand French prisoners in England.
[77. ]Moniteur, xviii., 291. (Speech by Barère, session of Brumaire 8, year II.) At this rate, there are one hundred and forty deputies on mission to the armies and in the departments.—Before the institution of the Committee of Public Safety (April 7, 1793), there were one hundred and sixty representatives in the departments, sent there to hasten the levy of two hundred thousand men. (Moniteur, xvii., 99, speech by Cambon, July 11, 1793.)—The Committee gradually recalled most of these representatives and, on the 16th July, only sixty-three were on mission.—(Ibid., xvii., 152, speech by Gossuin, July 16.)—On the 9th of Nivose, the Committee designated fifty-eight representatives for settling up the revolutionary government in certain places and fixing the limits of their jurisdictions. (Archives Nationales, AF., II., 22.) Subsequently, several were recalled, and replaced by others.—The letters and orders of the representatives on mission are classed in the National Archives according to departments, in two series, one of which comprises missions previous to Thermidor 9, and the other missions after that date.
[78. ]Thibaudeau, “Histoire du Terrorisme dans le department de la Vienne,” p. 4. “Paris, Brumaire 15, the sans-culotte Piorry, representative of the people to the sans-culottes composing the popular club of Poitiers.”
[79. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 116. (Letter of Laplanche, Orleans, September 10, 1793.—“Also procès-verbaux of the Orleans sections, September 7.) “I organised them, after selecting them from the popular club, into a revolutionary Committee. They worked under my own eye, their bureau being in an adjoining chamber. … I required sure, local information, which I could not have had without collaborators of the country. … The result is that I have arrested this night more than sixty aristocrats, strangers or ‘suspects.’ ”—De Martel, “Études sur Fouche,” 84. Letter of Chaumette, who posted Fouché concerning the Nevers Jacobins. “Surrounded by royalists, federalists, and fanatics, representative Fouché had only 3 or 4 persecuted patriots to advise him.”
[80. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 88. Speech by Rousselin, Frimaire 9.—Ibid., F7, 4,421. Speech and orders issued by Rousselin, Brumaire 25.—Cf. Albert Babeau, “Histoire de Troyes pendant la Revolution,” vol. ii. Missions of Garnier de Rousselin and Bô.
[81. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 145. (Order of Maignet, Avignon, Floréal 13, year II., and proclamation of Floréal 14.)—Ibid., AF., II., 111, Grenoble. Prairial 8, year II. Similar orders issued by Albitte and Laporte, for renewing all the authorities of Grenoble.—Ibid., AF., II., 135. Similar order of Ricord at Grasse, Pluviose 28, and throughout the Var.—Ibid., AF., II., 36. Brumaire, year II., circular of the Committee of Public Safety to the representatives on mission in the departments: “Before quitting your post, you are to effect the most complete purification of the constituted authorities and public functionaries.”
[82. ]Decrees of Frimaire 6 and 14, year II.
[83. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 22. Acts of the Committee of Public Safety, Nivose 9, year II.
[84. ]Ibid., AF., II., 37. Letter to the Committee on the War, signed by Barère and Billaud-Varennes, Pluviose 23, year II.
[85. ]Ibid., AF., II., 36. Letter of the Committee of Public Safety to Lecarpentier, on mission in l’Orne, Brumaire 19, year II. “The administrative bodies of Alençon, the district excepted, are wholly gangrened; all are Feuillants, or infected with a no less pernicious spirit. … For the choice of subjects, and the incarceration of individuals, you can refer to the sans-culottes: the most nervous are Symaroli and Préval.—At Montagne, the administration must be wholly removed, as well as the collector of the district, and the post-master; … purify the popular club, expel nobles and limbs of the law, those that have been turned out of office, priests, muscadins, etc. … Dissolve two companies, one the grenadiers and the other the infantry who are very muscadin and too fond of processions. … Reform the staff and officers of the National Guard. To secure more prompt and surer execution of these measures of security you may refer to the present municipality, the Committee of Surveillance and the Cannoneers.”
[86. ]Ibid., AF., II., 37. To Ricord, on mission at Marseilles, Pluviose 7, year II. He is rudely lectured: he softens, he went and lodged with N. Même, a suspect; he is too favorable to the Marseilles people who, during the siege “made sacrifices to procure subsistances”; he blamed their arrest, etc.—Floréal 13, year II., to Bouret on mission in the Manche and at Calvados. “The Committee are under the impression that you are constantly deceived by an insidious secretary who, by the bad information he has given you, has often led you to give favorable terms to the aristocracy, etc.”—Ventose 6, year II., to Guimberteau, on mission near the army on the coasts of Cherbourg: “The Committee is astonished to find that the military commission established by you, undoubtedly for striking off the heads of conspirators, was the first to let them off. Are you not acquainted with the men who compose it? For what have you chosen them? If you do not know them, how does it happen that you have summoned them for such duties?”—Ibid., and Ventose 23, order to Guimberteau to investigate the conduct of his secretary.
[87. ]See especially in the “Archives des Affaires Étrangérès,” vols. 324 to 334, the correspondence of secret agents sent into the interior.
[88. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 37, to Fromcastel on mission in Indre-et-Loire, Floréal 13, year II. “The Committee sends you a letter from the people’s club of Chinon, demanding the purging and organisation of all the constituted authorities of this district. The Committee requests you to proceed at once to carry out this important measure.”
[89. ]Words of Robespierre, session of the Convention September 24, 1793.—On another representative, Merlin de Thionville, who likewise stood fire, Robespierre wrote as follows: “Merlin de Thionville, famous for surrendering Mayence, and more than suspected of having received his reward.”
[90. ]Guillon, ii., 207.—“Fouché,” by M. de Martel, 292.
[91. ]Hamel, iii., 395, and following pages.—Buchez et Roux, xxx., 435. (Session of the Jacobin Club, Nivose 12, year II. Speech of Collot d’Herbois.) “Today I no longer recognise public opinion; had I reached Paris three days later, I should probably have been indicted.”
[92. ]Marcelin Boudet, “Les Conventionnels d’Auvergne,” 438. (Unpublished memoir of Maignet.)
[93. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiv., 165, 191. (Evidence of witnesses on the trial of Carrier.)—Paris, ii., 113, “Histoire de Joseph Lebon.” “The prisons,” says Le Bon, “overflowed at St. Pol. I was there and released two hundred persons. Well, in spite of my orders, several were put back by the Committee of Surveillance, authorised by Lebas, a friend of Darthé. What could I do against Darthé supported by Saint-Just and Lebas? He would have denounced me.”—Ibid., 128, apropos of a certain Lefèvre, “veteran of the Revolution,” arrested and brought before the revolutionary Tribunal by order of Lebon. “It was necessary to take the choice of condemning him, or of being denounced and persecuted myself, without saving him.”—Beaulieu, “Essai,” v., 233. “I am afraid and I cause fear was the principle of all the revolutionary atrocities.”
[94. ]Ludovic Sciout, “Histoire de la Constitution civile du Clergé,” iv., 136. (Orders of Pinét and Cavaignac, Pluviose 22, and Ventose 2.)—Moniteur, xxiv., 469. (Session of Prairial 30, year III., denunciation of representative Laplanche at the bar of the house, by Boismartin.) On the 24th of Brumaire, year II., Laplanche and General Seepher installed themselves at St. Lô in the house of an old man of seventy, a M. Lemonnier then under arrest. “Scarcely had they entered the house when they demanded provisions of every kind, linen, clothes, furniture, jewelry, plate, vehicles and title-deeds—all disappeared.” Whilst the inhabitants of St. Lô were living on a few ounces of brown bread, “the best bread, the choicest wines, pillaged in the house of Lemonnier, were lavishly given in pans and kettles to General Seepher’s horses, also to those of representative Laplanche.” Lemonnier, set at liberty, could not return to his emptied dwelling then transformed into a storehouse. He lived at the inn, stripped of all his possessions, valued at sixty thousand livres, having saved from his effects only one silver table-service, which he had taken with him into prison.
[95. ]Marcelin Boudet, 446. (Notes of M. Ignace de Barante.) Also 440. (Unpublished memoir of Maignet).
[96. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 59. Extract from the minutes of the meetings of the People’s Club of Metz, and depositions made before the Committee of Surveillance of the Club, Floréal 12, year II., on the conduct of representative Duquesnoy, arrived at Metz the evening before at six o’clock.—There are thirty-two depositions, and among others those of M. Altmayer, Joly, and Clédat. One of the witnesses states: “As to these matters, I regarded this citizen (Duquesnoy) as tipsy or drunk, or as a man beside himself.”—This is customary with Duquesnoy.—Cf. Paris, “His. de Joseph Lebon,” i., 273, 370.—“Archives des Affaires Étrangérès,” vol. 329. Letter of Gadolle, September II, 1793. “I saw Duquesnoy, the deputy, dead drunk at Bergues, on Whit-Monday, at 11 o’clock in the evening.”—“Un Séjour en France, 1792 to 1796, p. 136. “His naturally savage temper is excited to madness by the abuse of strong drink. General de —— assures us that he saw him seize the mayor of Avesnes, a respectable old man, by the hair on his presenting him with a petition relating to the town, and throw him down with the air of a cannibal.” “He and his brother were dealers in hops at retail, at Saint Pol. He made this brother a general.”
[97. ]Alexandrine des Echerolles, “Une famille noble sous la Terreur,” 209. At Lyons, Marin, the commissioner, “a tall, powerful, robust man with stentorian lungs,” opens his court with a volley of “republican oaths.” … The crowd of solicitors melts away. One lady alone dared present her petition. “Who are you?” She gives her name. “What! You have the audacity to mention a traitor’s name in this place?” Get away! and, giving her a push, he put her outside the door with a kick.
[98. ]Ibid. A mass of evidence proves, on the contrary, that people of every class gave their assistance, owing to which the fire was almost immediately extinguished.
[99. ]Ibid. The popular club unanimously attests these facts, and despatches six delegates to enter a protest at the Convention. Up to the 9th of Thermidor, no relief is granted, while the tax imposed by Duquesnoy is collected. On the 5th Fructidor, year II., the order of Duquesnoy is cancelled by the Committee of Public Safety, but the money is not paid back.
[100. ]Paris, i., 370. (Words of Duquesnoy to Lebon.)
[101. ]Carnot, “Mémoires,” i., 414. (Letter of Duquesnoy to the central bureau of representatives at Arras.)
[102. ]“Un Séjour en France,” 158, 171.—Manuscript journal of Mallet-Dupan (January, 1795).—Cf. his letters to the Convention, the jokes of jailors and sbirri, for instance.—(Moniteur, xviii., 214, Brumaire 1, year II.)—Lacretelle, “Dix Années d’ Epreuves,” 178. “He ordered that everybody should dance in his fief of Picardy. They danced even in prison. Whoever did not dance was “suspect.” He insisted on a rigid observance of the fêtes in honor of Reason, and that everybody should visit the temple of the Goddess each decadi, which was the cathedral (at Noyon). Ladies, bourgeoises, seamstresses, and cooks, were required to form what was called the chain of Equality. We dragoons were forced to be performers in this strange ballet.”
[103. ]De Martel, “Fouché,” 418. (Orders of Albitte and Collot, Nivose 13, year II.)
[104. ]Camille Boursier, “Essai sur la Terreur en Anjou,” 225. Letter of Vacheron, Frimaire 15, year II. “Républiquain, it is absolutely necessary, immediately, that you have sent or brought into the house of the representatives, a lot of red wine, of which the consumption is greater than ever. People have a right to drink to the Republic when they have helped to preserve the Commune you and yours live in. I hold you responsible for my demand.” Signed, le républiquain, Vacheron.”
[105. ]Ibid., 210. Deposition of Madame Edin, apropos of Quesnoy, a prostitute, aged twenty-six, Brumaire 12, year III.; and of Rose, another prostitute. Similar depositions by Benaben and Scotty.
[106. ]Dauban, “La Demagogie en 1793,” p. 369. (Extracts from the unpublished memoirs of Mercier de Rocher.)—Ibid., 370. “Bourdon de l’Oise had lived with Tuncq at Chantonney, where they kept busy emptying bottles of fine wine. Bourdon is an excellent patriot, a man of sensibility, but, in his fits of intoxication, he gives himself up to impracticable views.” “Let those rascally administrators,” he says, “be arrested!” Then, going to the window—he heard a runaway horse galloping in the street—“That’s another antirevolutionist! Let ’em all be arrested!”—Cf. “Souvenirs,” by General Pélleport, p. 21. At Perpignan, he attended the fête of Reason. “The General in command of the post made an impudent speech, even to the most repulsive cynicism. Some prostitutes, well known to this wretch, filled one of the tribunes; they waved their handkerchiefs and shouted “Vive la Raison!” After listening to similar harangues by representatives Soubrang and Michaud, Pélleport, although half cured (of his wound) returns to camp: “I could not breathe freely in town, and did not think that I was safe until facing the enemy along with my comrades.”
[107. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 332; correspondence of secret agents, October, 1793. “Citizen Cusset, representative of the people, shows no dignity in his mission; he drinks like a Lapithe, and when intoxicated commits the arbitrary acts of a vizier.” For the style and orthography of Cusset, see one of his letters. (Dauban, “Paris en 1794,” p. 14.)—Berryat St. Prix, “La Justice Révolutionnaire” (2d ed.), 339.
[108. ]Ibid., 371. (According to “Piecés et Documents” published by M. Fajon.)—Moniteur, xxiv., 453. (Session of Floréal 24, year III.) Address of the Commune of St. Jean du Gard.—xxi., 528. (Session of Fructidor 2, year III.) Address of the Popular Club of Nismes.
[109. ]Moniteur, xxiv., 602. (Session of Prairial 13, year III.) Report of Durand-Meillan: “This denunciation is only too well supported by documents. It is for the Convention to say whether it will hear them read. I have to state beforehand that it can hear nothing more repulsive nor better authenticated.”—De Martel, “Fouché, 246. (Report of the constituted authorities of la Nièvre on the missions of Collot d’Herbois, Laplanche, Fouché, and Pointe, Prairial 19, year III.) Laplanche, a former Benedictine, is the most foul-mouthed.” In his speech to the people of Moulins-Engelbert, St. Pierre-le-Montier, and Nevers, Laplanche asked girls to surrender themselves and let modesty go. “Beget children,” he exclaims, “the Republic needs them. Continence is the virtue of fools.” Bibliotheque Nationale, Lb. 41, No. 1802. (Denunciation, by the six sections of the Dijon commune to the Convention, of Leonard Bourdon and Piochefer Bernard de Saintes, during their mission in Côte d’ Or.) Details on the orgies of Bernard with the municipality, and on the drunkenness and debaucheries of Bourdon with the riff-raff of the country; authentic documents proving the robberies and assassinations committed by Bernard. He pillaged the house of M. Micault, and, in four hours, had this person arrested, tried and guillotined; he attended the execution himself, and that evening, in the dead man’s house, danced and sung before his daughter with his acolytes.
[110. ]“Souvenirs,” by General Pélleport, p. 8. He, with his battalion, is inspected in the Place du Capitale, at Toulouse, by the representative on mission. “It seems as if I could see that actor. He tossed his hideous, plumed head and dragged along his sabre like a toy soldier, that he might appear brave. It made me feel sad.”
[111. ]Fervel, “Campagnes des Français dans les Pyrénées Orientals,” i., 169. (October, 1793.)—Ibid., 201, 206.—Cf. 188. Plan of Fabre for seizing Roses and Figuières, with eight thousand men, without provisions or transports. “Fortune is on the side of fools,” he said. Naturally the scheme fails. Collioure is lost, and disasters accumulate. As an offset to this the worthy general Dagobert is removed. Commandant Delatre and chief-of-staff Ramel are guillotined. In the face of the impracticable orders of the representatives the commandant of artillery commits suicide. On the devotion of the officers and enthusiasm of the troops. Ibid., 105, 106, 130, 131, 162.
[112. ]Sybel (Dosquet’s translation [French]), ii., 435; iii., 132, 140. (For details and authorities, cf. the Memoirs of Marshal Soult.)
[113. ]Gouvion St. Cyr, “Mémoires sur les campagnes de 1792 à la paix de Campio-Formio,” i., pp. 91 to 139.—Ibid., 229. “The effect of this was to lead men who had any means to keep aloof from any sort of promotion.”—Cf., ibid., ii., 131 (November, 1794), the same order of things still kept up. By order of the representatives the army encamps during the winter in sheds on the left bank of the Rhine, near Mayence, a useless proceeding and mere literary parade. “They would listen to no reason; a fine army and well-mounted artillery were to perish with cold and hunger, for no object whatever, in quarters that might have been avoided.” The details are heart-rending. Never was military heroism so sacrificed to the folly of civilian commanders.
[114. ]See Paris, “Histoire de Joseph Lebon,” i., ch. I, for biographical details and traits of character.
[115. ]Ibid., i., 13. His mother became crazy and was put in an asylum. Her derangement, he says, was due to “her indignation at his vows and at his appointment to the curacy of Nouvelle-Vitasse.”
[116. ]Ibid., i., 123. Speech by Lebon in the church of Beaurains.
[117. ]Ibid., ii., 71, 72.—Cf. 85. “Citizen Chamonart, wine-dealer, standing at the entrance of his cellar, sees the representative pass, looks at him and does not salute him. Lebon steps up to him, arrests him, treats him as an “agent of Pitt and Cobourg.” … “They search him, take his pocket-book and lead him off to the Anglaises (a prison).”
[118. ]Ibid., ii., 84.
[119. ]Moniteur, xxv., 201. (Session of Messidor 22, year III.) “When in the tribune (of the Convention) prison conspiracies were announced … my dreams were wholly of prison conspiracies.”
[120. ]Ibid., 211. (Explanations given by Lebon to the Convention.)—Paris, ii., 350, 351. (Verdict of the jury.)
[121. ]Paris, ii., 85.
[122. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiv., 181. (Depositions of Monneron, a merchant.).
[123. ]Ibid., 184. (Deposition of Chaux.)—Cf. 200. (Depositions of Monneron and Villemain, merchants.).
[124. ]Ibid., 204. (Deposition of Lamarie, administrator of the department.).
[125. ]Ibid., 173. (Deposition of Erard, a copyist.)—168. (Deposition of Thomas, health officer.) “To all his questions, Carrier replied in the grossest language.”
[126. ]Ibid., 203. (Deposition of Bonami, merchant.)
[127. ]Ibid., 156. (Deposition of Vaujois, public prosecutor to the military commission.)
[128. ]Ibid., 169. (Deposition of Thomas.)—Berryat Saint-Prix, pp. 34, 35.—Buchez et Roux, 118. “He received the members of the popular club with blows, also the municipal officers with sabre thrusts, who came to demand supplies.” … “He draws his sabre (against the boatman) and strikes at him, which he avoids only by running away.”
[129. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiv., 196. (Deposition of Julien.) “Carrier said to me in a passion: ‘It is you, is it, you d—— beggar, who presumes to denounce me to the Committee of Public Safety. … As it is sometimes necessary for the public interests to get rid of certain folks quickly, I won’t take the trouble to send you to the guillotine, I’ll be your executioner myself!”
[130. ]Ibid., 175. (Deposition of Tronjolly.) 295. (Depositions of Jean Lavigne, a shopkeeper; of Arnandan, civil commissioner; also of Corneret, merchant.) 179. (Deposition of Villemain).—Berryat Saint-Prix, 34. “Carrier, says the gendarme Desquer, who carried his letters, was a roaring lion rather than an officer of the people.” “He looked at once like a charlatan and a tiger,” says another witness.
[131. ]Ibid., xxxiv., 204. (Deposition of Lamarie.)
[132. ]Ibid., 183. (Deposition of Caux.)
[133. ]Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” ii., 6. (Memorial of Feb. 1, 1794.) On André Dumont, “Un Séjour en France,” 158, 171.—On Merlin de Thionville, Michelet, vi., 97.
[134. ]De Martel, “Fouché,” 109.
[135. ]Mallet-Dupan, ii., 46.
[136. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 413, 423. (Letter of Julien to Robespierre.)
[137. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 111. An order issued by Bourbotte, Tours, Messidor 5, year II., “requiring the district administration to furnish him personally, as well as for the citizens attached to his commission, forty bottles of red wine and thirty of white wine, to be taken from the cellars of emigrés, or from those of persons condemned to death; and, besides this, fifty bottles of common wine other than white or red.”—On the 2d of Messidor, ale is drank and there is a fresh order for fifty bottles of red wine, fifty of common wine, and two bottles of brandy.—De Martel, “Fouché,” 419, 420.—Moniteur, xxiv., 604. (Session of Prairial 13, par iii.) “Dugué reads the list of charges brought against Mallarmé. He is accused … of having put in requisition whatever pleased him for his table and for other wants, without paying for anything, not even for the post-horses and postillions that carried him.”—Ibid. 602. Report of Perès du Gers. “He accuses Dartigoyte … of having taken part with his secretaries in the auction of the furniture of Daspe, who had been condemned; of having kept the most valuable pieces for himself, and afterwards fixing their price; of having warned those who had charge of the sale that confinement awaited whoever should bid on the articles he destined for himself.”—Laplanche, ex-Benedictine, said in his mission in Loiret, that “those who did not like the Revolution must pay those who make it.”
[138. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 426. (Extract from the Memoirs of Sénart.)—Hamel, iii., 565. (Description of Teresa’s domicile by the Marquis de Paroy, a petitioner and eye-witness.)
[139. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiii., 12. (Extract from the Memoirs of Sénart.) “The certified copies of these drafts are on file with the Committee of General Security.”
[140. ]Report of Courtois, 360. (Letters of Julien to Robespierre, Pluviose 15 and 16, year II.)—Buchez et Roux, xxxiv., 199, 200, 202, 203, 211. (Depositions of Villemain, Monneron, Legros, Robin.)—Berryat Saint-Prix, 35. (Depositions of Fourrier and of Louise Courant, sempstress.)
[141. ]See, on Tallien, “Mémoires de Sénart.”—On Javogues, Moniteur, xxiv., 461, Floréal 24, III. Petition against Javogues, with several pages of signatures, especially those of the inhabitants of Montbrison: “In the report made by him to the Convention he puts down coin and assignats at seven hundred and seventy-four thousand six hundred and ninety-six francs, while the spoils of one person provided him with five hundred thousand francs in cash.”—On Fouché, De Martel, 252.—On Dumont, Mallet-Dupan, “Manuscript notes.” (January, 1795.)—On Rovère, Michelet, vi., 256.—Carnot, ii., 87. (According to the Memoirs of the German Olsner, who was in Paris under the Directory): “The tone of Barras’ Salon was that of a respectable gambling house; the house of Rewbell resembled the waiting-room of an inn at which the mail-coach stops.”
[142. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 391, and xxxiii., 9. (Extracts from the Memoirs of Sénart.)
[143. ]Carnot, “Mémoires,” i. 416. Carnot, having shown to the Committee of Public Safety, proofs of the depredations committed on the army of the North, Saint-Just got angry and exclaimed: “It is only an enemy of the Republic that would accuse his colleagues of depredations, as if patriots hadn’t a right to everything!”
[144. ]As to Caligula see Suetonius and Philo.—With respect to Hakem, see “L’Exposé de la Religion des Druses,” by M. de Sacy.
[145. ]Saint-Just, speaking in the Convention, says: “What constitutes a republic is the utter destruction of whatever is opposed to it.”
[146. ]Orders issued by Saint-Just and Lebas for the departments of Pas-de-Calais, Nord, la Somme et l’Aisne.—Cf. “Histoire de l’Alsace,” by Stroebel, and “Recueil de pièces authentiques pour servir à l’histoire de la Révolution à Strasbourg,” 3 vols.—Archives Nationales AF., II., 135, orders issued Brumaire 10, year II., and list of the one hundred and ninety-three persons taxed.
[147. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxi., 32. (Saint-Just’s reply to Mayor Monet.)—De Sybel, ii., 447, 448. At the first interview Saint-Just said to Schneider: “Why use so much ceremony? You know the crimes of the aristocrats? In the twenty-four hours taken for one investigation you might have twenty-four condemned.”
[148. ]“Journal de marche du sergent Fricasse,” p. 34. (Narrative by Marshal Soult.)
[149. ]Cf. in the Bible, the story of Ahasuerus who, out of respect for his own majesty, cannot retract the order he has issued against the Jews, but he turns the difficulty by allowing them to defend themselves.
[150. ]Mallet-Dupan, ii., 47.
[151. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, “La Justice Révolutionnaire,” xvii.—Marcelin Boudet, “Les Conventionnels d’Auvergne,” 269.—Moniteur, Brumaire 27, year III., report by Calès.
[152. ]Paris, “Histoire de Joseph Lebon,” i., 371; ii., 341, 344.—De Martel, “Fouché,” 153.—Berryat Saint-Prix, 347, 348.
[153. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, 390. Ibid., 404. (On Soubrié, executioner at Marseilles, letter of Lazare Giraud, public prosecutor): “I put him in the dungeon for having shed tears on the scaffold, in executing the antirevolutionists we sent to be executed.”
[154. ]Moniteur, xviii., 413. (Session of the Convention, letter of Lequinio and Laignelot, Rochefort, Brumaire 17, year II.) “We have appointed the patriot Anse guilloteneur and we have invited him, in dining with us, to come and assume his prescribed powers, and water them with a libation in honor of the Republic.”—Paris, ii., 72.
[155. ]Marcelin Boudet, 270. (Testimony of Bardanèche de Bayonne.)
[156. ]Guillon, “Histoire de la ville de Lyons pendant la Révolution,” ii., 427, 431, 433.
[157. ]“Mémoire du Citoyen Fréron,” (in the Barrière collection), p. 357. (Testimony of a survivor.)
[158. ]Paris, ii., 32.
[159. ]Delandine, “Tableaux des prisons de Lyons,” p. 14.
[160. ]Camille Boursier, “Essai sur la Terreur en Anjou,” 164. (Letter of Boniface, ex-Benedictine, president of the Revolutionary Committee, to Representative Richard, Brumaire 3, year II.) “We send you the said Henri Verdier, called de la Saurinière. … It will not be long before you will see that we make the guillotine a present. … The Committee begs you to send him sacram sanctam guillotinam, and the republican minister of his worship. … Not an hour of the day passes that new members do not come to us whom we desire to initiate in its mysteries, (sic).”
[161. ]Thibaudière, “Histoire du Terrorisme dans le départment de la Vienne,” 34, 48.—Berryat Saint-Prix, 239.
[162. ]Archives Nationales F7, 4,435. (Letter of Lebon, Floréal 23, year II.)—Paris, i., 241.
[163. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxiv., 184, 200. (Depositions of Chaux, Monnéron and Villemain.)
[164. ]Register of the revolutionary Tribunal of Nantes, copied by M. Chevrier. (M. Chevrier has kindly sent me his manuscript copy.)—Berryat Saint-Prix, 94.—Archives Nationales, F7, 4,591. (Extract from the acts of the Legislative Committee, session of Floréal 3, year III. Restitution of the confiscated property of Alexander Long to his son.) Dartigoyte, at Auch, did what Carrier did at Nantes. “It follows from the above abstract duly signed that on the 27th Germinal, year II., between eight and nine o’clock in the evening, Alexandre Long, Sr., was put to death on the public square of the commune of Auch by the executioner of criminal sentences, without any judgment having been rendered against the said Long.”—In many places an execution becomes a spectacle for the Jacobins of the town and a party of pleasure. For instance, at Arras, on the square devoted to executions, a gallery was erected for spectators with a room for the sale of refreshments, and, during the execution of M. de Montgon, the “Ca ira” is played on the bass drum. (Paris, ii., 158, and i., 159.) A certain facetious representative has rehearsals of the performance in his own house. “Lejeune, to feed his bloodthirsty imagination, had a small guillotine put up, on which he cut off the heads of all the poultry consumed at his table. … Often, in the middle of the repast, he had it brought in and set to work for the amusement of his guests.” (Moniteur, xxiv., 607, session of June 1, 1795, letter from the district of Besançon, and with the letter, the confirmatory document.) “This guillotine, says the reporter, is deposited with the Committee of Legislation.”
[1. ]“The Revolution,” ii., pp. 298–304, and p. 351.
[2. ]Should the foregoing testimony be deemed insufficient, the following, by those foreigners who had good opportunities for judging, may be added: (Gouverneur Morris, letter of December 3, 1794.) “The French are plunged into an abyss of poverty and slavery, a slavery all the more degrading because the men who have plunged them into it merit the utmost contempt.”—Meissner, “Voyage à Paris” (at the end of 1795), p. 160. “The (revolutionary) army and the revolutionary committees were really associations organised by crime for committing every species of injustice, murder, rapine, and brigandage with impunity. The government had deprived all men of any talent or integrity of their places and given these to its creatures, that is to say, to the dregs of humanity.”—Baron Brinckmann, Chargé d’Affaires from Sweden. (Letter of July 11, 1799.) “I do not believe that the different classes of society in France are more corrupt than elsewhere; but I trust that no people may ever be ruled by as imbecile and cruel scoundrels as those that have ruled France since the advent of its new state of freedom. … The dregs of the people, stimulated from above by sudden and violent excitement, have everywhere brought to the surface the scum of immorality.”
[3. ]Fleury, “Baboeuf,” 139, 150.—Granier de Cassagnac, “Histoire du Directoire,” ii., 24–170.—(Trial of Baboeuf, passim.) The above quotations are from documents seized in Baboeuf’s house, also from affidavits made by witnesses, and especially by Captain Grizel.
[4. ]Moniteur, session of September 5, 1793. “Since our virtue, our moderation, our philosophic ideas, are of no use to us, let us be brigands for the good of the people; let us be brigands!”
[5. ]An expression of Couthon’s on Javogues.
[6. ]Baboeuf, “Le Tribune du Peuple,” No. 40. Apologising for the men of September, he says that “they are simply priests, the sacrificers of a just immolation for public security. If anything is to be regretted it is that a larger and more general Second of September did not sweep away all starvers and all despoilers.”
[7. ]Granier de Cassagnac, ii., 90. (Deposition of Grisel.) Rossignol says, “That snuff-box is all I have to live on.” “Massard could not obtain a pair of boots belonging to him at the shoemaker’s, because he had no money.”
[8. ]Archives Nationales, Cf. 3,1167. (Report of Robin, Nivose 9.) “The women always had a deliberative voice in the popular assemblies of the Pantheon section,” and in all the other clubs they attended the meetings.
[9. ]Moniteur, xix., 103. (Meeting of the Jacobin club, Dec. 28, 1793.) Dubois-Crancé puts the following question to each member who passes the weeding-out vote: “What have you done that would get you hung in case of a counter-revolution?”
[10. ]Ibid., xvii., 410. (Speech by Montaut, Jacobin club, Brumaire 21, year II.)
[11. ]Dauban, “Paris in 1794,” 142. (Police report of Ventose 13, year II.)
[12. ]Morellet, “Mémoires,” ii.
[13. ]Dauban, 26, 35. (Note drawn up in January, 1794, probably by the physician Quevremont de Lamotte.)—Ibid., 82.—Cf. Morellet, ii., 434–470. (Details on the issue of certificates of civism, in September, 1793.)
[14. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167. (Report by Latour-Lamontagne, Ventose 1, year II.) “It is giving these associations too much influence; it is destroying the jurisdiction of the general assemblies (of the section.) We find accordingly, that these are being deserted and that the cabalists and intriguers succeed in making popular clubs the centres of public business in order to control affairs more easily.”
[15. ]Dauban, ibid., 203. (Report by Bacon, Ventose 19.) “In the general assembly of the Maison Commune section all citizens of any rank in the companies have been weeded out. The slightest stain of incivism, the slightest negligence in the service, caused their rejection. Out of twenty-five who passed censorship—nineteen at least were rejected. … Most of them are either shoe-makers, cooks, carpenters, tailors, or eating-house keepers.”
[16. ]Ibid., 141. (Report by Charmont, Ventose 12.)—Ibid, 140. “There is only one way, it is said at the Café des Grands Hommes, on the boulevard, to keep from being arrested, and that is to cabal for admission into the civil and revolutionary committees when there happens to be a vacancy. Before salaries were attached to these places nobody wanted them; since that, there are disputes as to who shall be appointed.”
[17. ]Ibid., 307. (Report of Germinal 7.)
[18. ]Wallon, “Histoire du Tribunal Revolutionaire,” iv., 129.
[19. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 46. (Act of the Committee of Public Safety, Prairial 15.) “Citizens Pillon, Gouste and Né, members of the Revolutionary Committee of the Marat section, are removed. Their duties will be performed by citizens Martin, Majon, and Merel. Manville, rue de la Liberté, No. 32, is appointed on the said Revolutionary Committee to complete it, composed only of eleven members.” And other similar acts.
[20. ]Duverger, decree of Frimaire 14, year II. “The application of revolutionary laws and measures of general security and public safety is confided to the municipalities and revolutionary committees.” See, in chapter ii., the extent of the domain thus defined. It embraces nearly everything. It suffices to run through the registers of a few of the revolutionary committees, to verify this enormous power and see how they interfere in every detail of individual life.
[21. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167. (Report, Nivose 1, year II., by Leharival.)
[22. ]Dauban, ibid., 307. (Report of March 29, 1794.) It here relates to the “Piques” Section, Place Vendome.
[23. ]Dauban, 308. (Note found among Danton’s papers and probably written by the physician, Quevremont de Lamotte.)
[24. ]Dauban, ibid., 125. (Report of Bérard, Ventose 10.) In the words of a woman belonging to the Bonne-Novelle section: “My husband has been in prison four months. And what for? He was one of the first at the Bastille: he has always refused places so that the good sans-culottes might have them, and, if he has made enemies, it was because he was unwilling to see these filled by ignoramuses or new-comers, who, vociferating and apparently thirsting for blood, have created a barrier of partisans around them.”
[25. ]Dauban, ibid., 307. (Report of March 29, 1794.)
[26. ]Ibid., 150. (Report of Ventose 14.)—Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167. (Reports of Nivose 9 and 25.) “A great many citizens are found in the sections who are called out after the meeting, to get forty sous. I notice that most of them are masons, and even a few coach drivers belonging to the nation, who can do without the nation’s indemnity, which merely serves them for drink to make them very noisy.” “The people complain, because the persons to whom the forty sous are given, to attend the section assemblies, do nothing all day, being able to work at different trades … and depending on these forty sous.”
[27. ]Dauban, ibid., 312. (Note by Quevremont.)—Moniteur, xviii., 568. (Meeting of the Commune, Frimaire 11, year II.) “The Beaurepaire section advertises that wishing to put a stop to the cupidity of the wine-dealers of the arrondissement, it has put seals on all their cellars.”
[28. ]Dauban, ibid., 345. (Order of the day by Henriot, Floréal 9.)
[29. ]Mallet-Dupan, ii., 56. (March, 1794.)
[30. ]Buchez et Roux, xxvii., 10. (Speech by Barbaroux, May 14, 1793.)—Report on the papers found in Robespierre’s apartment, by Courtois, 285. (Letter by Collot d’Herbois Frimaire 3, year II., demanding that Paris Jacobins be sent to him at Lyons.) “If I could have asked for our old ones I should have done … but they are necessary at Paris, almost all of them having been made mayors.”
[31. ]Meissner, “Voyage à Paris” (at the end of 1795), 160. “Persons who can neither read nor write obtain the places of accountants of more or less importance.”—Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 324. (Denunciations of Pio to the club, against his colleagues.) Dauban, ibid., 35. (Note by Quevremont, Jan., 1794.) “The honest man who knows how to work cannot get into the ministerial bureaux, especially those of the War and Navy departments, as well as those of Commerce and of the Departments, without having his feelings tried.—Offices are mostly filled by creatures of the Commune who very often have neither talent nor integrity. Again, the denumciations, always welcomed, however frivolous and baseless they may be, turn everything upside down.”
[32. ]Moniteur, xxiv., 397. (Speech of Dubois-Crancé in the Convention Floréal 16, year III.)—Archives Nationales, F7, 3,1167. (Report by Rolin, Nivose 7, year II.) “The same complaints are heard against the civil Commissioners of the section, most of whom are unintelligent, not even knowing how to read.”
[33. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 1411. (August, 1793.) “Plan adopted” for the organisation of the Police, “excepting executive modifications.” In fact, some months later, the number of claqueurs, male and female, is much greater, and finally reaches a thousand. (Beaulieu, “Essais,” v., 110.)—The same plan comprehends fifteen agents at two thousand four hundred francs, “selected from the frequenters of the clubs,” to revise the daily morning lists; thirty at one thousand francs, for watching popular clubs, and ninety to twelve hundred francs for watching the section assemblies.
[34. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 4,436. (Letter of Bouchotte, Minister of War, Prairial 5, year II.) “The appointment of Ronsin, as well as of all his staff, again excited public opinion. The Committee, to assure itself, sent the list to the Jacobin club, where they were accepted.”—Ibid., AF., II., 58. “Paris, Brumaire 11, year II., club of the Friends of Liberty and Equality, in session at the former Jacobin club, rue St. Honoré. List of the citizens who are to set out for Lyons and act as national commissioners. (Here follow their names.) All the citizens designated have undergone the inspection of the said club, at its meeting this day.” (Here follow the signatures of the President and three secretaries.)—“Journal des Débats et Correspondence de la Société des Jacobins, No. 545, 5th day of the 3d month of the year II.—In relation to the formation of a new Central club: “Terrasson is of opinion that this club may become liberticide, and demands a committee to examine into it and secure its extinction. The committee demanded by Terrasson is appointed.” It is evident that they hold on energetically to this monopoly.—Cf. Moniteur, xix., 637. (Ventose 13.) Motion adopted in the Jacobin club, obliging the ministers to turn out of office any individual excluded from the club.
[35. ]Dauban, ibid., 307. (Report of Germinal 9.)
[36. ]Moniteur, xxii., 353. (Session of Brumaire 20, year III. Reclamation made by M. Bélanger at the bar of the Convention.)
[37. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 40. (Acts passed by the Committee of Public Safety at the dates indicated.) Beaulieu, “Essais,” v., 200. (Ibid.) The registers of the Committee of Public Safety contain a number of similar gratuities paid to provincial clubs and patriots, for instance, AF., II. 58 (Brumaire 8), fifty thousand francs to Laplanche, and (Brumaire 9), fifty thousand francs to Couthon, “to maintain public spirit in Calvados, to revive public spirit in Lyons,” “to aid, as required, the less successful patriots who zealously devote their time to the service of their country.”
[38. ]Dauban, ibid., 171 (report of Ventose 17), and 243 (report of Ventose 25), on the civil-committees and revolutionary committees, who order meat served to them before serving it to the sick, and who likewise serve the good friends of their wives.—Ibid., 146. (Report of Ventose 10.) … Archives Nationales, F7, 2,475. (Register of the deliberations of the Revolutionary Committee of the Piques sections, Brumaire 27, year II.) “The Committee orders that the two-horse cab belonging to Lemarche be henceforth at the service of the section and of the Committee when measures of security are concerned.” In this register, and others of the same series, we clearly see the inside of a committee and its vast despotism. Style and orthography, with almost all, are of the same low order.
[39. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 1411. (Report of Aug. 21 and 22, 1793.) “General Henriot sent me several … who made use of the authority of the Committee of Public Safety and General Security, as well as of that which he delegated to me, to make domiciliary visits at the houses of individuals who were not assured patriots; but that did not warrant their receiving money and even abstracting it.”
[40. ]Dauban, ibid., 36 and 48. (Case of the Notary, Brichard.)
[41. ]Cf. “The Revolution,” ii., 302, 303.—Mercier, “Paris pendant la Révolution,” i., 151.—Moniteur, xviii., 660. (Session of Frimaire 24, speech by Lecomtre in the Convention.)—On robberies and the bribes paid, see, among other documents, “Mémoires sur les Prisons,” i., 290. (Eighty thousand francs of bribes given to the head of the police force by Perisial, keeper of an eating-house, for the privilege of feeding prisoners in St. Lazare.)
[42. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxv., 77. (Trial of Fouquier-Tinville.) Testimony of Robillard: “Another day, in the general assembly, he struck a citizen with his sabre.”
[43. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxv., 407. (Lists in Robespierre’s handwriting.)
[44. ]Miot de Melito, “Mémoires,” i., 46–51.—Buchot is not the only one of his species in the ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the archives of this ministry, vol. 324, may be found the sayings and doings of a certain Pio, an Italian refugee who slipped into the place, simulating poverty, and displaying patriotism, and who denounces his chief and colleagues.—The ex-notary Pigeot, condemned to twenty years in irons and put in the pillory, Frimaire 9, year III., will come to the surface; he is encountered under the Directory as introducer of ambassadors.—Concerning one of the envoys of the Directory to Switzerland, here is a note by Mallet-Dupan. (“Anecdotes manuscrites,” October, 1797.) “The Directorial ambassador, who has come to exact from the Swiss the expulsion of the body-guard, is named Mingot, of Belfort, a relation of Rewbell’s, former body-guard to M. le Comte d’Artois.—He came to Zurich with a prostitute, a seamstress of Zurich, established in Berne. He was living with her at the expense of the Zurich government. Having invited the family of this creature, that is to say a common horse-driver with his wife and some other persons, to dinner, they drank and committed such excesses that the driver’s wife, who was big with child, gave birth to it in the midst of the banquet. This creature gave Mingot a disease which has laid him up at Basle.”
[45. ]“The Revolution,” ii., 338, 348, 354.
[46. ]Martel, “Types Révolutionnaires,” 136–144.—The Minister of War appoints Henriot brigadier-general, July 3, 1793, and major-general on the 19th of September, and says in a postscript, “Please communicate to me the order of your services,” unknown in the ministry because they were of no account.—On the orgies at Choisy-sur-Seine, v. (Archives, W., 2, 500–501), see investigation of Thermidor 18 and 19, year II., made at Boisy-sur-Seine by Blache, agent of the Committee of General Security. Boulanger, brigadier-general, and Henriot’s first lieutenant, was an ex-companion jeweller.
[47. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 1411. Orders of the day by Henriot, September 16, Vendémiaire 29, year II., and Brumaire 19, year II. Many of these orders of the day are published in Dauban (“Paris en 1794”), p. 33. “Let our enemies pile up their property, build houses and palaces, let them have them, what do we care, we republicans, we do not want them! All we need to shelter us is a cabin, and as for wealth, simply the habits, the virtues and the love of our country. Headquarters, etc.”—P. 43: “Yesterday evening a fire broke out in the Grand Augustins. … Everybody worked at it and it was put out in a very short time. Under the ancient régime the fire would have lasted for days. Under the system of freemen the fire lasted only an hour. What a difference! … Headquarters, etc.”
[48. ]Wallon, “Histoire du Tribunal Révolutionnaire de Paris,” v. 252, 420. (Names and qualifications of the members of the Commune of Paris, guillotined Thermidor 10 and 11.) The professions and qualifications of some of its members are given in Eymery’s Biographical Dictionary, in Morellet’s Memoirs and in Arnault’s Souvenirs.—Moniteur, xvi., 710. (Verdicts of the revolutionary Tribunal, Fructidor 15, year II.) Forty-three members of the civil or revolutionary committees, sectional commissioners, officers of the National Guard and of the cannoneers, signed the list of the Council-general of the Commune as present on the 9th of Thermidor and are put on trial as Robespierre’s adherents. But they promptly withdrew their signatures, all being acquitted except one. They are leaders in the Jacobin quarter and are of the same sort and condition as their brethren of the Hôtel-de-Ville. One only, an ex-collector of rentes, may have had an education; the rest are carpenters, floor-tilers, shoemakers, tailors, wine-dealers, eating-house keepers, cartmen, bakers, hair-dressers, and joiners. Among them we find one ex-stone-cutter, one ex-office runner, one ex-domestic, and two sons of Samson the executioner.
[49. ]Morellet, “Mémoires,” i., 436–472.
[50. ]On the ascendency of the talkers of this class see Dauban (“Paris en 1794,” pp. 118–143). Details on an all-powerful clothes-dealer in the Lombards Section. If we may believe the female citizens of the Assembly “he said everywhere that whoever was disagreeable to him should be turned out of the popular club.” (Ventose 13, year II.)
[51. ]Arnault, “Souvenirs d’un Sexagénaire,” iii., 111. Details on another member of the Commune, Bergot, ex-employee at the Halle-aux-Cuirs and police administrator, may be found in “Mémoires des Prisons,” i., 232, 239, 246, 289, 290. Nobody treated the prisoners more brutally, who protested against the foul food served out to them, than he. “It is too good for b—— who are going to be guillotined.” … “He got drunk with the turnkeys and with the commissioners themselves. One day he staggered in walking, and spoke only in hiccoughs: he would go in in that condition. The house-guard refused to recognize him; he was arrested” and the concierge had to repeat her declarations to make the officer of the post “give up the hog.”
[52. ]“Mémoires sur les Prisons,” i., 211. (“Tableau Historique de St. Lazare.”) The narrator is put into prison in the rue de Sèvres in October, 1793.—II., 186. (“An historical account of the jail in the rue de Sèvres.”) The narrator was confined there during the last months of the Reign of Terror.
[53. ]A game of chance.
[54. ]“Un Séjour en France de 1792 à 1795,” 281. “We had an appointment in the afternoon with a person employed by the Committee on National Domains; he was to help my friend with her claims. This man was originally a valet to the Marquise’s brother; on the outbreak of the Revolution he set up a shop, failed, and became a rabid Jacobin, and, at last, member of a revolutionary committee. As such, he found a way … to intimidate his creditors and obtain two discharges of his indebtedness without taking the least trouble to pay his debts.” … “I know an old lady who was kept in prison three months for having demanded from one of these patriots three hundred livres which he owed her.” (June 3, 1795.) “I have generally noticed that the republicans are either of the kind I have just indicated, coffee-house waiters, jockeys, gamblers, bankrupts, and low scribblers, or manual laborers more earnest in their principles, more ignorant and more brutal, all spending what they have earned in vulgar indulgence.”
[55. ]Schmidt, “Tableaux Historiques de la Révolution Française,” ii., 248, 249. (Agent’s reports, Frimaire 8, year III.) “The prosecution of Carrier is approved by the public, likewise the condemnation of the former revolutionary committee called the “Bonnet-Rouge.” Ten of its members are condemned to twenty years in irons. The public is overjoyed.”—Ibid., (Frimaire 9), “The people rushed in crowds to the square of the old commune building to see the members of the former revolutionary committee of the Bonnet-Rouge sections, who remained seated on the bench until six o’clock, in the light of flambeaux. They had to put up with many reproaches and much humiliation.”—“Un Séjour en France,” 286, (June 6, 1795). “I have just been interrupted by a loud noise and cries under my window; I heard the names Scipio and Solon distinctly pronounced in a jeering and insulting tone of voice. I sent Angelique to see what was the matter and she tells me that it is a crowd of children following a shoemaker of the neighborhood who was member of a revolutionary committee … and had called himself Scipio Solon. As he had been caught in several efforts at stealing he could no longer leave his shop without being reviled for his robberies and hooted at under his Greek and Roman names.”
[56. ]Barère, “Mémoires,” ii., 324.
[57. ]Moniteur, xxii., 742. (Report by Cambon, Frimaire 6, year II.)—Ibid., 22.—Report by Lindet, September 20, 1794): “The land and navy forces, war and other services, deprive agricultural pursuits and other professions of more than one million five hundred thousand citizens. It would cost the Republic less to support six million men in all the communes.”—“Le Departement des Affaires Étrangérès,” by Fr. Masson, 382. (According to “Paris à la fin du dix-huitieme siècle,” by Pujoulx, year IX.): “At Paris alone there are more than thirty thousand (government) clerks; six thousand at the most do the necessary writing; the rest cut away quills, consume ink and blacken paper. In old times, there were too many clerks in the bureaux relatively to the work; now, there are three times as many, and there are some who think that there are not enough.”
[58. ]“Souvenirs de M. Hua,” a parliamentary advocate, p. 96. (A very accurate picture of the bourg Coucy-le-Chateau, in Aisne, from 1792 to 1794.)—“Archives des Affaires Étrangérès,” vol. 334. (Letter of the agents, Thionville, Ventose 24, year II.) The district of Thionville is very patriotic, submits to the maximum and requisitions, but not to the laws prohibiting outside worship and religious assemblies. “The apostles of Reason preached in vain to the people, telling them that, up to this time, they had been deceived and that now was the time to throw off the yoke of prejudice: ‘we are willing to believe that, thus far, we have been deceived, but who will guarantee us that you will not deceive us in your turn?’ ”
[59. ]Lagros: “La Revolution telle qu’elle est.” (Unpublished correspondence of the Committee of Public Safety, i., 366. Letter of Prieur de la Marne.) “In general, the towns are patriotic; but the rural districts are a hundred leagues removed from the Revolution. … Great efforts will be necessary to bring them up to the level of the Revolution.”
[60. ]According to the statistics of 1866 (published in 1869) a district of one thousand square kilometres contains on an average, thirty-three communes above five hundred souls, twenty-three from five hundred to one thousand, seventeen bourgs and small towns from one thousand to five thousand, and one average town, or very large one, about five thousand. Taking into account the changes that have taken place in seventy years, one may judge from these figures of the distribution of the population in 1793. This distribution explains why, instead of forty-five thousand revolutionary committees, there were only twenty-one thousand five hundred.
[61. ]“Souvenirs des M. Hua,” 179. “This country (Coucy-le-Chateau) protected by its bad roads and still more by its nullity, belonged to that small number in which the revolutionary turmoil was least felt.”
[62. ]Among other documents of use in composing this tableau I must cite, as first in importance, the five files containing all the documents referring to the mission of the representative Albert, in Aisne and Marne. (Ventose and Germinal, year III.) Nowhere do we find more precise details of the sentiments of the peasant, of the common laborer and of the lower bourgeois from 1792 to 1795. (Archives Nationales, D. §§ 2 to 5.)
[63. ]Dauban, “La Demagogie en 1793,” xii. (The expression of an old peasant, near St. Emilion, to M. Vatel engaged in collecting information on the last days of Pétion, Guadet and Buzot.)
[64. ]Archives Nationales, D. § I., 5. (Petition of Claude Defert, miller, and national agent of Turgy.) Numbers of mayors, municipal officers, national agents, administrators and notables of districts and departments solicit successors, and Albert compels many of them to remain in office.—(Joint letter of the entire municipality of Landreville; letter of Charles, stone-cutter, mayor of Trannes; Claude Defert, miller, national agent of Turgy; of Elegny, meat-dealer; of a wine-grower; municipal official at Merrex, etc.) The latter writes: “The Republic is great and generous; it does not desire that its children should ruin themselves in attending to its affairs; on the contrary, its object is to give salaried (emolumentaires) places to those who have nothing to live on.”—Another, Mageure, appointed mayor of Bar-sur-Seine writes, Pluviose 29, year III.: “I learned yesterday that some persons of this community would like to procure for me the insidious gift of the mayoralty,” and he begs Albert to turn aside this cup.
[65. ]“Souvenirs de M. Hua,” 178–205. “M. P——, mayor of Crépy-au-Mont, knew how to restrain some low fellows who would have been only too glad to revolutionise his village. … And yet he was a republican. … One day, speaking of the revolutionary system, he said: ‘They always say that it will not hold on; meanwhile, it sticks like lime.’ ” “A general assembly of the inhabitants of Coucy and its outskirts was held, in which everybody was obliged to undergo an examination, stating his name, residence, birth-place, present occupation, and what he had done during the Revolution.” Hua avoids telling that he had been a representative in the Legislative Assembly, a notorious fact in the neighborhood. “Not a voice was raised to compromise me.” Ibid., 183. (Reply of the Coucy Revolutionary Committee to that of Meaux.)
[66. ]“Frochot,” by Louis Passy, 175. (Letter of Pajot, member of the Revolutionary Committee of Troyes, Vendémiaire, year III.)—Archives Nationales, F7, 4,421. (Register of the Revolutionary Committee of Troyes.) Brumaire 27, year II. Incarceration of various suspects, among others of “Lerouge, former lawyer, under suspicion of having constantly and obstinately refused revolutionary offices.” Also, a person named Corps, for “having refused the presidency of the district tribunal at the time of its organisation, under the pretext of consulting the Chambre des Comptes; also for being the friend of suspects, and for having accepted office only after the Revolution had assumed an imposing character.”
[67. ]Marcelin Boudet, “Les Conventionnels d’Auvergne,” 161. (Justification of Etienne Bonarmé, the last months of 1794.)
[68. ]Paris, “Histoire de Joseph Lebon,” ii., 92. (Declaration by Guérard, lawyer, appointed judge at Cambrai, by the Cambrai Revolutionary Committee.)—Ibid., 54. (Declaration by Lemerre, appointed juryman without his knowledge, in the Cambrai court.) “What was my surprise, I, who never was on a jury in my life! The summons was brought to me at a quarter to eleven (à onze heur moin un car—specimen of the orthography) and I had to go at eleven without having time to say good-by to my family.”
[69. ]Report by Courtois on the papers found in Robespierre’s domicile, 370. (Letter of Maignet to Payan, administrator of the department of Drôme, Germinal 20, year II.) “You know the dearth of subjects here. … Give me the names of a dozen outspoken republicans. … If you cannot find them in this department (Vaucluse) hunt for them either in the Drôme or the Isère, or in any other. I should like those adapted to a revolutionary Tribunal. I should even like, in case of necessity, to have some that are qualified to act as national agents.”
[70. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vols. 322 to 334, and 1409 to 1411.—These agents reside in Nismes, Marseilles, Toulouse, Tarbes, Bordeaux, Auch, Rochefort, Brest, Bergues, Givèt, Metz, Thionville, Strasbourg, Colmar, Belfort, and Grenoble, and often betake themselves to towns in the vicinity. The fullest reports are those of Chépy, at Grenoble, whose correspondence is worthy of publication; although an ultra Jacobin, he was brought before the revolutionary Tribunal as a moderate, in Ventose, year II. Having survived (the Revolution) he became under the Empire a general Commissary of Police at Brest. Almost all of them are veritable Jacobins, absolutist at bottom, and they became excellent despotic tools.
[71. ]Buchez et Roux, xxx., 425.—Twenty-four commissioners, drawn by lot from the Jacobins of Paris, are associated with Collot d’Herbois. One of them, Marino, becomes president of the temporary Committee of Surveillance, at Lyons. Another, Parrien, is made president of the Revolutionary Committee.—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 59. (Deliberations in the Paris Jacobin Club, appointing three of their number to go to Tonnerre and request the Committee of Public Safety “to give them the necessary power, to use it as circumstances may require, for the best good of the Republic.” Frimaire 6, year II.)—Order of the Committee of Public Safety, allowing two thousand francs to the said parties for their travelling expenses.”—Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 333. The agents sent to Marseilles affix their signatures, “sans-culottes, of Paris,” and one of them, Brutus, becomes president of the Marseilles revolutionary Tribunal.
[72. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 49. Papers relating to the revolutionary tax of Belfort, giving all the amounts and names. (Brumaire 30, year II.) Here is the formula: “Citizen X … (male or female) will pay in one hour the sum of ———, under penalty of being considered suspect and treated as such.”
[73. ]“Recueil des Pièces Authentiques Concernant la Révolution à Strasbourg,” i., 128, 187. (Expressions of the representative Baudot in a letter dated Brumaire 29, year II.)
[74. ]Archives Nationales: the acts and letters of the representatives on mission are classed by departments.—On the delegates of the representatives on mission, I will cite but one text. (Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 333, letter of Garrigues, Auch, Pluviose 24, year II.) “A delegate of Dartigoyte goes to I’Isle and, in the popular club, wants the curé of the place to get rid of his priestly attributes. The man answers, so they tell me, that he would cheerfully abstain from his duties, but that, if, in addition to this, they used force he would appeal to the Convention, which had no idea of interfering with freedom of opinion. ‘Very well,’ replied Dartigoyte’s emissary, ‘I appeal to a gendarme,’ and he at once ordered his arrest.”
[75. ]Lallier, “Une Commission D’énquête et de Propagande,” p. 7. (It is composed of twelve members, selected by the club of Nantes, who overrun the district of Ancenis, six thousand francs of fees being allowed it.)—Babeau, ii., 280. (Despatch of sixty commissioners, each at six francs a day by the Troyes administration, to ascertain the state of the supplies on hand, Prairial, year II.)
[76. ]For example, at Bordeaux and at Troyes.—Archives Nationales F7, 4,421. Register of the Revolutionary Committee of Troyes, fol. 164. Two members of the Committee betake themselves to the commune of Lusigny, dismiss the mayor and justice, and appoint in the place of the latter “the former curé of the country, who, some time ago, abjured sacerdotal fanaticism.”—Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 332. (Letter of Desgranges, Bordeaux, Brumaire 15, year II.) The representatives have just instituted “a revolutionary committee of surveillance composed of twelve members, selected with the greatest circumspection. All the committees established in the department are obliged to correspond with it, and fulfill its requisitions.”
[77. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 58. (Letter of Javogues to Collot d’Herbois, Brumaire 28, year II.)
[78. ]“Recueil des Pièces Authentiques,” etc., i., 195. (Acts passed Jan. 21, 1793.)
[79. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 326. (Letters from Brutus, September 24; from Topino-Lebrun, jr., September 25 and October 6, 1793.)—Vol. 330. (Letters from Brutus, Nivose 6, year II.) The character of the agent is often indicated orthographically. For example, vol. 334, letter from Galon-Boyer, Brumaire 18, year II. “The public spirit is (et for est) generally bad. Those who claim to be patriots know no restraint (frin for frein). The rest are lethargic (en létargie) and federalism appears innate.”
[80. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 1411. (Letter of Haupt, Brumaire 26, year II.)—Vol. 333. (Letter of Blessman and Haüser, Pluviose 4, year II.)
[81. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 333. (Letter of Chartres and of Caillard, Commune Affranchie, Nivose 21.)—Vol. 331. (Letters of Desgranges, at Bordeaux, Brumaire 8 and Frimaire 3.) “The offerings in plate and coin multiply indefinitely; all goes right. The court-martial has condemned Dudon to death, son of the ex-procureur-général in the former parliament at Bordeaux, Roullat, procureur-syndic of the department, Sallenave, merchant. These executions excite sympathy, but nobody murmurs.”
[82. ]Ibid., vol. 333. (Letter of Cuny, sr., Nivose 20.) Vols. 331, 332. (Letters of Chépy, passim, and especially those dated Frimaire 11.)—Vol. 329. (Letter of Chépy, August 24, 1793.) “At Annecy, the women have cut down the liberty-pole and burnt the archives of the club and of the commune. At Chambéry, the people wanted to do the same thing.”—Ibid. (September 18, 1793.) “The inhabitants around Mont Blanc show neither spirit nor courage; the truth is, an antirevolutionary spirit animates all minds.”—Ibid. (Letter of August 8, 1793.) “Not only have the citizens of Grenoble, who were drawn by lot, not set out on the expedition to Lyons, but, even of those who have obeyed the laws, several have returned with their arms and baggage. No commune between St. Laurent and Lyons would march. The rural municipalities, badly tainted with the federal malady, ventured to give the troops very bad quarters, especially those who had been drafted.”
[83. ]Ibid. (Letter of Cuny, jr., Brest, Brumaire 6.) “There are, in general, very few patriots at Brest; the inhabitants are nearly all moderates.”—(Letter of Gadolle, Dunkirk, July 26, 1793.)—(Letter of Simon, Metz, Nivose, year II.) “Yesterday, on the news of the capture of Toulon being announced in the theatre, … I noticed that only about one-third of the spectators gave way to patriotic enthusiasm; the other two-thirds remained cold, or put on a long face.”
[84. ]Ibid. (Letter of Haupt, Belfort, September 1, 1793.)
[85. ]Report by Courtois on the papers found in Robespierre’s domicile, p. 274. (Letter of Darthé, Ventose 29, year II.)
[86. ]“Tableau des Prisons de Toulouse,” by citizen Pescayre (published in year III.), p. 101.
[87. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 4,421. (Register of the Revolutionary Committee, established at Troyes, Brumaire 11, year II.)—Albert Babeau, vol. ii., passim.—Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 332, Chépy (letter, Brumaire 6, Grenoble). “The sections had appointed seven committees of surveillance. Although weeded out by the club, they nevertheless alarmed the sans-culottes. … Representative Petit-Jean has issued an order, directing that there shall be but one committee at Grenoble composed of twenty-one members. This measure is excellent and ensures the triumph of sans-culotteism.”—Archives Nationales, F7, 4,434. (Letter of Pérrieu to Brissot, Bordeaux, March 9, 1793.) Before June 2, the national club “of Bordeaux, composed of Maratists, did not comprise more than eight or ten individuals at most.”—Moniteur, xxii., 133. (Speech by Thibeaudeau on the popular club of Poitiers, Vendémiaire 11, year III.)—Ibid. (Session of Brumaire 5, year III., letter of Calès, and session of Brumaire 17, year III., report by Calès.) “The popular club of Dijon made all neighboring administrative bodies, citizens and districts tremble. All were subject to its laws, and three or four men in it made them. This club and the municipality were one body.” “The Terror party does not exist here, or, if it does exist, it does not amount to much: out of twenty thousand inhabitants there are not six who can legitimately be suspected of belonging to it.”
[88. ]Baroly, “Les Jacobins Demasqués,” (iv. 8vo., of 8pp., year III). “The Jacobin club, with its four hundred active members at Paris, and the four thousand others in the provinces, not less devoted, represent the living force of the Revolution.”
[89. ]Archives Nationales, D. § I., 10. (Orders of representatives Delacroix, Louchet, and Legendre, Nivose 12, year II.) “On the petition of the Committee of Surveillance of Evreux, which sets forth that all its members are without means, and that it will be impossible for them to continue their duties since they are without resources for supporting their families,” the representatives allow three of them two hundred and seventy francs each, and a fourth one hundred and eighty francs, as a gratuity (outside of the three francs a day).
[90. ]Ibid. AF., II., iii. (Order of Albitte and Laporte, Prairial 18, year II.)
[91. ]Albert Babeau, ii., 154–157.—Moniteur, xxii., 425. (Session of Brumaire 13, year III. Speech by Cambon.) “A government was organised in which surveillance alone cost five hundred and ninety-one millions per annum. Every man who tilled the ground or worked in a shop, at once abandoned his pursuit for a place on the Revolutionary Committees … where he got five francs a day.”
[92. ]“Tableau des Prisons de Toulouse,” by citizen Pescare, 162, 166, 435.
[93. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, “La Justice Révolutionaire,” (second edition) p. xix.—Ibid., xiv. At Rochefort there is on the revolutionary Tribunal a mason, a shoemaker, a calker, and a cook; at Bordeaux, on the military commission, an actor, a wine-clerk, a druggist, a baker, a journeyman-gilder, and later, a cooper and a leather-dresser.
[94. ]I give this as I got it in my conversations with old peasants.—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 111. (Order of the Representative Ichon, Messidor 18, year II.) “The popular club of Chinon will be immediately regenerated. Citizens (I omit their names), the following showing their occupations: shoemaker, policeman, sabot-maker, cooper, carter, shoemaker, joiner, butcher, carpenter, and mason, will form the committee which is to do the weeding-out and choose successors among those that offer to become members of the club.”—Ibid., D., §1, 10. (Orders of the Representatives Delacroix, Louchet, and Legendre, on mission in the department of Seine-Inférieure for the purpose of removing, at Conchez, the entire administration, and for forming there a new revolutionary committee, with full powers, Frimaire 9, year II.) The members of the committee, the nature of which is indicated, are two coopers, one gardener, two carpenters, one merchant, a coach-driver, and a tailor. (One finds in the archives, in the correspondence of the representatives, plenty of orders appointing authorities of the same sort.)
[95. ]Albert Babeau, ii., 296.
[96. ]Sa profession est fame de Paillot-Montabert; son revenu est vivre de ses revenus; ces relation son d’une fame nous ny portons pas d’atantion; ces opignons nous les presumons semblable, à ceux de son mary.
[97. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 4,421. Order of the Committee of Surveillance of the third section of Troyes, refusing civic certificates to seventy-two persons, or sending them before the Central Committee as “marchands d’argant, aristocrate, douteux, modére, intrigant, egoiste fanatique. Fait et areté par nous, membre du commité le ans et jour susdit.”—“Mémoire des Commissaires de la 5e seiscion dite de la liberté nommé par le citoyen de Baris (Paris) pour faire les visite de l’argenteri ché les citoyens de la liste fait par les citoyens Diot et Bailly et Jaquin savoir depence du 13 et 14 et 15 Frimaire pour leur nouriture du troyes jour monte à 24 fr.
[98. ]Albert Babeau, ii., 154.
[99. ]Archives Nationales, D., § 1, 5. (Mission of Representative Albert, in Aube and in Marne.)—These notes are made on the spot, with a thorough knowledge of the situation, by zealous republicans who are not without common-sense and of average honesty (chiefly in Pluviose and Ventose, year III).—Letter of Albert to the directories of the two departments.—Prairial 3, year II. “I am satisfied, during the course of my mission, of the necessity of reorganising the municipalities throughout both departments.”
[100. ]Ibid. Orders of Albert, Ventose 5, and Pluviose 29, year III., reorganising the courts and administrations in the districts of Ervy, Arcis and Nogent-sur-Seine, with a tabular statement of the names of those removed and the reasons for so doing.
[101. ]Petition of Jean Nicolas Antoine, former member of the Directory of the district of Troyes for twenty-eight months. (Ventose 9, year III.) Shut up in Troyes, he asks permission to go to Paris, “I have a small lot of goods which it is necessary for me to sell in Paris. It is my native town and I know more people there than anywhere else.”—Ibid. Information furnished on Antoine by the Conseil-général of the Commune of Troyes.
[102. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 59. (Memorials dated Messidor 28, year II., by an emissary of the Committee of Public Safety, sent to Troyes, Prairial 29, to report on the situation of things and on the troubles in Troyes.)—Albert Babeau, ii., 203, 205 and 112, 122.—Cf. 179. “Gachez, intoxicated, about eleven o’clock at night, with several women as drunk as himself, compelled the keeper of the Temple of Reason to open the doors, threatening him with the guillotine.”—Ibid., 166. He addressed the sans-culottes in the popular club: “Now is the time to put yourselves in the place of the rich. Strike, and don’t put it off!”—Ibid., 165. “Forty-two thousand six hundred and thirty-three livres were placed in the hands of Gachez and the committee, as secret revolutionary service money. … Between December 4 and 10 Gachez received twenty thousand livres, in three orders, for revolutionary expenses and provisional aid.” “The leaders of the party disposed of these sums without control and, it may be added, without scruple.” Gachez hands over only four thousand livres to the sectional poor-committee. On Nivose 12, there remains in the treasury of the poor fund only three thousand seven hundred and thirty-eight livres, twelve thousand having been diverted or squandered.
[103. ]“Frochot,” by Louis Passy, 172. (Letter of Pajot, member of the revolutionary committee of Aignay-le-Duc.) “Denunciations occupied most of the time at our meetings, and it is there that one could see the hatreds and vengeance of the colleagues who ruled us.”
[104. ]Archives Nationales, D., § 1, No. 4. The following is a sample among others of the impositions of the revolutionary committees. (Complaint of Mariotte, proprietor, former mayor of Chatillon-sur-Seine, Floréal 27, year II.) “On Brumaire 23, year II., I was stopped just as I was taking post at Mussy, travelling on business for the Republic, and provided with a commission and passport from the Minister of War. … I was searched in the most shameful manner; citizen Ménétrier, member of the committee, used towards me the foulest language. … I was confined in a tavern; instead of two gendarmes which would have been quite sufficient to guard me, I had the whole brigade, who passed that night and the next day drinking, until, in wine and brandy the charge against me in the tavern amounted to sixty francs. And worse still, two members of the same committee passed a night guarding me and made me pay for it. Add to this, they said openly before me that I was a good pigeon to pluck. … They gave me the escort of a state criminal of the highest importance, three national gendarmes, mounted, six National Guards, and even to the Commandant of the National Guard; citizen Mièdan, member of the Revolutionary Committee, put himself at the head of the cortege, ten men to conduct one! … I was obliged to pay my executioners, fifty francs to the commandant, and sixty to his men.”
[105. ]Moniteur, xxi., 261. (Speech by an inhabitant of Troyes in the Jacobin Club, Paris, Messidor 26, year II.)
[106. ]Albert Babeau, ii., 164. (Depositions of the tavern-keeper and of the commissioner, Garnier.)
[107. ]“Frochot,” by Louis Passy, 170, 172. (Letter by Pajot and petition of the Aignay municipality, March 10, 1795.)—Bibliotheque Nationale, L., 41. No. 1802. (Denunciation by six sections of the commune of Dijon to the National Convention.)
[108. ]“Recueil de Pièces Authentiques sur la Révolution de Strasbourg,” i., 187, and letter of Burger, Thermidor 25, year II.
[109. ]Archives Nationales, D., § 1, 6 (file 37).—Letter of the members of the Strasbourg Revolutionary Committee, Ventose 13, year III., indicating to the mayor and municipal officers of Chalons-sur-Marne certain Jacobins of the town as suitable members of the Propaganda at Strasbourg.
[110. ]“Recueil de Pièces Authentiques Concernant la Révolution à Strasbourg,” i., 71. Deposition of the recorder Weis on the circuit of the revolutionary Tribunal, composed of Schneider, Clavel, and Taffin. “The judges never left the table without having become intoxicated with everything of the finest, and, in this state, they resorted to the tribunal and condemned the accused to death.”—Free living and “extravagant expenditure” were common even “among the employees of the government.” “I encountered,” says Meissner, “government carters served with chickens, pastry and game, whilst at the traveller’s table there was simply an old leg of mutton and a few poor side-dishes.” (“Voyage en France,” toward the end of 1795, p. 371.)
[111. ]Some of them, nevertheless, are not ugly, but merely sots. The following is a specimen. A certain Velu, a born vagabond, formerly in the hospital and brought up there, then a shoemaker or a cobbler, afterwards teaching school in the Faubourg de Vienne, and at last a haranguer and proposer of tyrannicide motions, short, stout and as rubicund as his cap, is made President of the Popular club at Blois, then delegate for domiciliary visits, and, throughout the Reign of Terror, he is a principal personage in the town, district, and department. (Dufort de Cheverney, “Mémoires,” (MS.) March 21, 1793 and June, 1793.) In June, 1793, this Velu is ordered to visit the chateau de Cheverney, to verify the surrender of all feudal documents. He arrives unexpectedly, meets the steward, Bambinet, enters the mayor’s house, who keeps an inn, and drinks copiously, which gives Bambinet time to warn M. Dufort de Cheverney and have the suspicious registers concealed.—This done, “Velu is obliged to leave his bottle and march to the chateau.—He assumed haughtiness and aimed at familiarity; he would put his hand on his breast and, taking yours, address you: “Good-day, brother.”—He came there at nine o’clock in the morning, advanced, took my hand and said: “Good-day, brother, how are you?” “Very well, citizen, and how are you?” “You do not tutoyer—you are not up to the Revolution?” “We’ll see—will you step in the parlor?” “Yes, brother, I’ll follow you.”—We enter; he sees my wife who, I may say, has an imposing air. He boldly embraces her and, repeating his gesture on the breast, takes her hand and says: “Good-day, sister.” “Come,” I interpose, “let us take breakfast, and, if you please, you shall dine with me.” “Yes, but on one condition, that tu me tutoie.” “I will try, but I am not in the habit of it.” After warming up his intellect and heart with a bottle of wine, we get rid of him by sending him to inspect the archives-room, along with my son and Bambinet. It is amusing, for he can only read print. … Bambinet, and the procureur, read the titles aloud, and pass over the feudalisms. Velu does not notice this and always tells them to go on.—After an hour, tired out, he comes back: “All right,” he says, “now let me see your chateau, which is a fine one.” He had heard about a room where there were fantocini, in the attic. He goes up, opens some play-books, and, seeing on the lists of characters the name of King and Prince, he says to me: “You must scratch those out, and play only republican pieces.” The descent is by a back-stairs. On the way down he encounters a maid of my wife’s, who is very pretty; he stops and, regarding my son, says: “You must as a good Republican, sleep with that girl and marry her.” I look at him and reply: “Monsieur Velu, listen; we are well behaved here, and such language cannot be allowed. You must respect the young people in my house.” A little disconcerted, he tames down and is quite deferential to Madame de Cheverney.—“You have pen and ink on your table,” he says, “bring them here.” “What for,” I ask, “to take my inventory?” “No, but I must make a procès-verbal. You help me; it will be better for you, as you can fix it to suit you.” This was not badly done, to conceal his want of knowledge.—We go in to dinner. My servants waited on the table; I had not yielded to the system of a general table for all of us, which would not have pleased my servants any more than myself. Curiosity led them all to come in and see us dining together.—“Brother,” says Velu to me, “don’t these people eat with you?” (He saw the table set for only four persons.) I reply: “Brother, that would not be any more agreeable to them than to myself. Ask them.”—He ate little, drank like an ogre, and was talkative about his amours; getting excited, he was sufficiently venturesome in his stories and excited my wife, but he did not go far. Apropos of the Revolution, and the danger we incurred, he said innocently: “Don’t I run as much risk as anybody? It is my opinion that, in three months, I shall have my head off! But we must all take our chance!”—Now and then, he indulged in sans-culottisms. He seized the servant’s hand, who changed his plate: “Brother, I beg you to take my place, and let me wait on you in my turn!” He drank the cordials, and finally left, pleased with his reception.—Returning to the inn, he stays until nine o’clock at night and stuffs himself, but is not intoxicated. One bottle had no effect on him; he could empty a cask and show no signs of it.
[112. ]Moniteur, xxii., 425. (Session of Brumaire 13, year III.) Cambon, in relation to the revolutionary committees, says: “I would observe to the Assembly that they were never paid.” A member replies: “They took their pay themselves.” (“Yes, yes.”—Applause.)
[113. ]Moniteur, xxii., 711. (Report by Cambon, Frimaire 6, year III.)—Cambon stated, indeed, Frimaire 26, year II. (Moniteur, xviii., 680), concerning these taxes: “Not one word, not one sou has yet reached the Treasury; they want to override the Convention which made the Revolution.”
[114. ]Ibid., 720. “The balances reported, of which the largest portion is already paid into the vaults of the National Treasury, amount to twenty millions one hundred and sixty-six thousand three hundred and thirty livres.”—At Paris, Marseilles, and Bordeaux, in the large towns where tens of millions were raised in three-quarters of the districts, Cambon, three months after Thermidor, could not yet obtain, I will not say the returns, but a statement of the sums raised. The national agents either did not reply to him, or did it vaguely, or stated that in their districts there was neither civic donation nor revolutionary tax, and particularly at Marseilles, where a forced loan had been made of four millions.—Cf. De Martel, “Fouché,” p. 245. (Memorial of the Central administration of Nièvre, Prairial 10, year III.) “The account returned by the city of Nevers amounts to eighty thousand francs, the use of which has never been verified. … This tax, in part payment of the war subsidy, was simply a trap laid by the political actors in order to levy a contribution on honest, credulous citizens.”—Ibid., 217. On voluntary gifts and forced taxation cf. at Nantes, the use made of revolutionary taxes, brought out on the trial of the revolutionary committee.
[115. ]Ludovic Sciout, iv., 19. Report of Representative Becker. (Journal des Débats et Décrets, p. 743, Prairial, year III.) He returns from a mission to Landau and renders an account of the executions committed by the Jacobin agents in the Rhenish provinces. They levied taxes, sword in hand, and threatened the refractory with the guillotine at Strasbourg. The receipts which passed under the reporter’s eyes “presented the sum of three millions three hundred and forty-five thousand seven hundred and eighty-five livres, two deniers, whilst our colleague, Cambon, reports only one hundred and thirty-eight thousand paid in.”
[116. ]Moniteur, xxii., 754. (Report of Grégoire, Frimaire 24, year III.) “Rascallery—this word recalls the old revolutionary committees, most of which formed the scum of society and which showed so many aptitudes for the double function of robber and persecutor.”
[117. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 107. (Orders of Representatives Ysabeau and Tallien, Bordeaux, Brumaire 11 and 17, year II.)—Third order, promulgated by the same parties, Frimaire 2, year II., replacing this committee by another of twelve members and six deputies, each at two hundred francs a month. Fourth order, Pluviose 16, year II., dismissing the members of the foregoing committee, as exagérés and disobedient. It is because they regard their local royalty in quite a serious light.—Ibid., AF., II., 46. (“Extracts from the minutes of the meetings of the Revolutionary Committee of Bordeaux,” Prairial, year II.) This extract, consisting of eighteen pages, shows in detail the inside workings of a Revolutionary committee; the number of arrested goes on increasing; on the 27th of Prairial there are one thousand five hundred and twenty-four. The committee is essentially a police office; it delivers certificates of civism, issues warrants of arrest, corresponds with other committees, even very remote, at Limogès, and Clermont-Ferrand, delegates any of its members to investigate concerning this or that “suspect,” to affix seals, to make domiciliary visits. It receives and transmits denunciations, summons the denounced to appear before it, reads interrogations, writes to the Committee of Public Safety, etc. The following are samples of its warrants of arrest: “Citoyen Héry, formerly a (man) milliner, makes a denunciation in this office against Citizen Tauray and wife, in accordance with which the Committee orders their arrest, and seals put on their papers.” “Muller, a riding-master, will be confined in the former Petit Seminaire, under suspicion of aristocracy, according to public opinion.” Another example, Archives Nationales, F7, 2,475. Register of the procès-verbaux of the Revolutionary Committee of the Piquos section, Paris, June 3, 1793. Warrant of arrest against Boucher, grocer, rue Neuve du Luxembourg, “suspect” of incivisme and “having cherished wicked and perfidious intentions against his wife.” Boucher, arrested, declares that, “what he said and did in his house, concerned nobody but himself.” On which he was led to prison.
[118. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 30 (No. 105). Examination of Jean Davilliers, and other ransomed parties.
[119. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, 313. (Trial of Lacombe and his accomplices after Thermidor.)
[120. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 46. (Letter of Julien to the Committee of Public Safety, Bordeaux, Messidor 12, year II.)—Moniteur, xxii., 713. (Report by Cambon, Frimaire 6, year III.) At Verins, citizens were imprisoned and then set at liberty “on consideration of a fee.”—Albert Babeau, ii., 164, 165, 206. (Report by Cambon, Frimaire 6, year II.) “Citoyenne (madame) Deguerrois, having come to procure the release of her husband, a public functionary demanded of her ten thousand livres, which he reduced to six thousand for doing what she desired. … One document attests that Massey paid two thousand livres, and widow Delaporte six hundred livres, to get out of prison.”
[121. ]Mallet-Dupan, “First letter to a Geneva merchant,” (March 1, 1796), pp. 33–35. “One of the wonders of the Reign of Terror is the slight attention given to the trafficking in life and death, characteristic of terrorism. We scarcely find a word on the countless bargains through which ‘suspect’ citizens bought themselves out of captivity, and imprisoned citizens bought off the guillotine. … Dungeons and executions were as much matters of trade as the purchase of cattle at a fair.” This traffic “was carried on in all the towns, bourgs and departments surrendered to the Convention and Revolutionary Committees.” “It has been established since the 10th of August.”—“I will only cite among a multitude of instances the unfortunate Duc du Châtelet; never did anybody pay more for his execution!”—Wallon, “Histoire du Tribunal Révolutionnaire de Paris,” vi., 88. Denunciation of Fouquier-Tinville, signed Saulnie. According to Saulnie he dined regularly twice a week at No. 6 rue Serpente, with one Demay, calling himself a lawyer and living with a woman named Martin. In this den of orgies, the freedom or death of those in prison was bargained for in money with impunity. One head alone, belonging to the house of Boufflers, escaping the scaffold through the intrigues of these vampires, was worth to them thirty thousand livres, of which one thousand were paid down and a bond given for the rest, payable on being set at liberty.—Mallet-Dupan, “Mémoires,” ii., 495. “Fouquier-Tinville received a pension of one thousand crowns a month from Mesdames de Boufflers; the ransom increased one quarter each month on account of the atrocity of the circumstances. This method saved these ladies, whilst those who paid a sum in gross lost their lives. … It was Du Vaucel, fermier-general, who saved the Princess of Tarente … for five hundred louis … after having saved two other ladies for three hundred louis, given to one of the Jacobin leaders.”—Morellet, “Mémoires,” ii., 32. The agent of Mesdames de Boufflers was Abbé Chevalier, who had formerly known Fouquier-Tinville in the office of a procureur an Parliament and who, renewing the acquaintance, came and drank with Fouquier. “He succeeded in having the papers of the ladies Boufflers, which were ready to be sent to the Tribunal, placed at the bottom of the file.”
[122. ]“Tableau des Prisons de Toulouse,” 324. Coudert, of the Municipal Council, shoemaker, charged with the duty of taking silver-plate from the accused, did not know how, or was unwilling, to draw up any other than an irregular and valueless procès-verbal. On this, an accused party objected and refused to sign. “Take care, you,” exclaims Coudert in a rage, “with your ——— cleverness, you are playing the stubborn. You are nothing but a ——— fool! You are getting into a bad box! If you don’t sign, I’ll have you guillotined.” Frequently, there are no papers at all. (De Martel, “Fouché,” p. 236. Memorial by the authorities of Allier, addressed to the Convention, document 9.) October 30, 1793. Order of the revolutionary committee enjoining nocturnal visits in all “suspect” houses in Moulins, to remove all gold, silver and copper. “Eleven parties are made up … each to visit eight or ten houses. Each band is headed by one of the committee, with one municipal officer, accompanied by locksmiths and a revolutionary guard. The dwellings of the accused and other private individuals are searched. They force secretaries and wardrobes of which they do not find the keys. They pillage the gold and silver coin. They carry off plate, jewels, copper utensils, and other effects, bed-clothes, clocks, vehicles, etc. No receipt is given. No statement is made of what is carried off. They rest content by at the end of the month, reporting, in a sort of procès-verbal, drawn up at a meeting of the committee, that, according to returns of the visits made, very little plate was found, and only a little money in gold and silver, all without any calculation or enumeration.”—“Souvenirs et Journal d’un Bourgeois d’Evreux,” p. 93. (February 25, 1795.) The meetings of the popular club “were largely devoted to reading the infamous doings and robberies of the revolutionary committee. … The members who designated ‘suspects’ often arrested them themselves, and drew up a procès-verbal in which they omitted to state the jewels and gold they found.”
[123. ]Ibid., 461. (Vendémiaire 24, year III. Visit of Representative Malarmé.) The former Duc de Narbonne-Lorra, aged eighty-four, says to Malarmé: “Citizen representative, excuse me if I keep my cap on; I lost my hair in that prison, without having been able to get permission to have a wig made; it is worse than being robbed on the road.” “Did they steal anything from you?” “They stole one hundred and forty-five louis d’or and paid me with an acquittance for a tax for the sans-culottes, which is another robbery done to the citizens of this commune where I have neither home nor possessions.” “Who committed this robbery?” “It was Citizen Berger, of the municipal council.” “Was nothing else taken from you?” “They took a silver coffee-pot, two soap-cases and a silver shaving-dish.” “Who took those articles?” “It was Citizen Miot (a notable of the council).” Miot confesses to having kept these objects and not taken them to the Mint.—Ibid., 178. (Ventose 20, year II.) Prisoners all have their shoes taken, even those who had but one pair, a promise being made that they should have sabots in exchange, which they never got. Their cloaks also were taken with a promise to pay for them, which was never done.—“Souvenirs et Journal d’un Bourgeois d’Evreux,” p. 92. (February 25, 1795.) The sessions of the popular club were largely devoted to reading the infamies and robberies of the revolutionary committee. Its members, who designated the suspects, often arrested them themselves; they made levies and reports of these in which they omitted the gold and jewels found.”
[124. ]Moniteur, xxii., 133. (Session of Vendémiaire 11, year III.) Report by Thibaudeau. “These seven individuals are reprobates who were dismissed by the people’s representatives for having stolen the effects of persons arrested. A document is on record in which they make a declaration that, not remembering the value of the effects embezzled, they agree to pay damages to the nation of twenty-two francs each.”
[125. ]Berryat Saint-Prix, 447. Judge Ragot was formerly a joiner at Lyons, and Viot, the public prosecutor, a former deserter from the Penthièvre regiment. “Other accused persons were despoiled. Little was left them other than their clothes, which were in a bad state. Nappier, the bailiff, was, later (Messidor, year III.), condemned to irons for having appropriated a part of the effects, jewels, and assignats belonging to persons under accusation.”
[126. ]The words of Camille Desmoulins in “La France Libre” (August, 1782).
[127. ]De Martel, “Fouché,” 362.—Ibid., 132, 162, 179, 427, 443.—Lecarpentier, in La Manche, constantly stated: “Those who do not like the Revolution, must pay those who make it.”
[128. ]Marcelin Boudet, 175. (Address of Monestier to the popular clubs of Puy-de-Dome, February 23, 1793.)
[129. ]Alexandrine des Echerolles, “Une famille noble sous la Terreur.”
[130. ]Archives Nationales, AF., II., 65. (Letter of General Kermorvan to the president of the Committee of Public Safety, Valenciennes, Fructidor 12, year III.)
[131. ]Report by Courtois, “Sur les papiers de Robespierre,” (Pieces justificatives, pp. 312–324), Letters of Reverchon, Germinal 29, Floréal 7 and 23, and by Laporte, Germinal 24, year II.
[132. ]Ibid. Letter by Laporte: “I do not know what fatality induces patriots here not to tolerate their brethren whom they call strangers. … They have declared to us that they would not suffer any of them to hold office.” The representatives dared arrest but two robbers and despoilers, who are now free and declaiming against them at Paris. “Countless grave and even atrocious circumstances are daily presented to us on which we hesitate to act, lest we should strike patriots, or those who call themselves such. … Horrible depredations are committed.”
[133. ]Ibid. Letter by Reverchon: “These fanatics all want the Republic simply for themselves.” … “They call themselves patriots only to cut the throats of their brethren and get rich.”—Guillon de Montléon, “Histoire de la Ville de Lyons Pendant la Révolution,” iii., 166. (Report by Fouché, April, 1794.) “Innocent persons, acquitted by the terrible tribunal of the Revolutionary Committee, were again consigned to the dungeons of criminals through the despotic orders of the thirty-two committees, because they were so unfortunate as to complain that, on returning home, they could not find the strictly necessary objects they had left there.”
[134. ]Meissner, “Voyage en France dans les Derniers Mois de 1705,” p. 343. “A certain domain was handed over to one of their creatures by the revolutionary departments for almost nothing, less than the proceeds of the first cut of wood.”—Moniteur, xxiii., 397. (Speech by Bourdon de l’Oise, May 6, 1795.) “A certain farmer paid for his farm worth five thousand francs by the sale of one horse.”
[135. ]Moniteur, xxii., 82. (Report by Grégoire, Fructidor 14, year II.) Ibid., 775. (Report by Grégoire, Frimaire 24, year III.)
[136. ]“Recueil de Pièces Authentiques sur la Révolution à Strasbourg,” ii. p. 1. (Procès-verbal, drawn up in the presence of the elder Mouet and signed by him.)
[137. ]Moniteur, xxii., 775. (Report of Grégoire, Frimaire 24, year III.)—Ibid., 711. (Report by Cambon, Frimaire 6, year III.)—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 65. (Letter of General Kermorvan, Valenciennes, Fructidor 12, year III.)
[138. ]“Tableau des Prisons de Toulouse,” 184. (Visit of Ventose 27, year II.)
[139. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 7,164. (Department of Var “Ideé générale et appréciation auc détails sur chaque canton,” year V.)
[140. ]Ibid., F7, 7,171 (No. 7,915).—(Department of Bouches-du-Rhone, “Ideé générale,” year V.)—(Letters of Miollis, Commissioner of the Directory in the department, Ventose 14 and 16, year V. Letter of Gen. Willot to the Minister, Ventose 10, and of Gen. Merle to Gen. Willot, Ventose 17, year V.) “Several sections of anarchists travel from one commune to another exciting weak citizens to riots and getting them to take part in the horrors they are meditating.”—Ibid., F7, 7,164. Letter of Gen. Willot to the Minister, Arles, Pluviose 12, year V:, with supporting documents, and especially a letter of the director of the jury, on the violence committed by, and the reign of, the Jacobins in Arles.) Their party “is composed of the vilest mechanics and nearly all the sailors.” The municipality recruited amongst former terrorists, “has enforced for a year back the agrarian law, devastation of the forests, pillage of the wheat-crops, by bands of armed men under pretext of the right of gleaning, the robbery of animals at the plough as well as of the flocks,” etc.
[141. ]Ibid., F7, 7,171. “These commissioners (of the quarter) notify the exclusives, and even swindlers, when warrants are out against them. … The same measures carried out in the primary assemblies on the 1st of Thermidor last, in the selection of municipal officers, have been successfully revived in the organisation of the National Guard—threats, insults, vociferations, assaults, compulsory ejection from meetings then governed by the amnestied, finally, the appointment of the latter to the principal offices. In effect, all, beginning with the places of battalion leaders and reaching to those of corporals, are exclusively filled by their partisans. The result is that the honest, to whom serving with men regarded by them with aversion is repugnant, employ substitutes instead of mounting guard themselves, the security of the town being in the hands of those who themselves ought to be watched.”
[142. ]Archives Nationales, F7, 3,273. (Letter of Mérard, former administrator and judge in 1790 and 1791, in years III., IV., and V., to the Minister, Apt, Pluviose 15, year III., with personal references and documentary evidence.) “I can no longer refrain at the sight of so many horrors. … The justices of the peace and the director of the jury excuse themselves on the ground that no denunciations or witnesses are brought forward. Who would dare appear against men arrogating to themselves the title of superior patriots, foremost in every revolutionary crisis, and with friends in every commune and protectors in all high places? The favor they enjoyed was such that the commune of Gordes was free of any levy of conscripts and from all requisitions. People thus disposed, they said, to second civic and administrative views, could not be humored too much. … This discouraging state of things simply results from the weakness, inexperience, ignorance, apathy, and immorality of the public functionaries who, since the 18th of Fructidor, year V., swarm, with a few exceptions only, among the constituted authorities. Whatever is most foul and incompetent is in office, every good citizen being frightened to death.”—Ibid. (Letter of Montauban, director of the registry since 1793 to the Minister of the Interior, a compatriot, Avignon, Pluviose 7, year VII.) “Honest folks are constantly annoyed and put down by the authors and managers of the ‘Glacière’ … by the tools of the bloody tribunal of Orange and the incendiaries of Bedouin.” He enjoins secrecy on this letter, which, “if known to the Glacièrists, or Orangeists, would cost him his life.”
[143. ]Ibid., F7, 7,164. (Department of Var, year V., “Ideé Générale.”) “National character is gone; it is even demoralised: an office-holder who has not made his fortune quickly is regarded as a fool.”
[144. ]Moniteur, xxii., 240. (Indictment of the fourteen members of the Revolutionary Committee of Nantes, and the summing-up of the examination, Vendémiaire 23, year II.) When there is no special information concerning the other committees the verdict, on the whole, is nearly always as overwhelming.—Ibid. (Session of Vendémiaire 12, year III. Complaint of a deputation from Ferney.—Voltaire.) “The Gex district was, for over a year, a prey to five or six scoundrels who took refuge there. Under the mask of patriotism they succeeded in getting possession of all the offices. Vexations of every kind, robberies of private houses, squandering of public money, were committed by these monsters.” (The Ferney deputies brought with them the testimony of witnesses.)—Ibid., 290. (Letters of Representative Goupilleau, Beziers, Vendémiaire 28, year III. on the terrorists of Vaucluse.) “These carnivorous fellows, regretting the times when they could rob and massacre with impunity. … Who, six months ago, were starving, and who now live in the most scandalous opulence. … Squanderers of the public funds, robbers of private fortunes. … Guilty of rapine, of forced contributions, of extortions,” etc.—Prudhomme, “Les Crimes de la Révolution,” vi., 79. (On the Revolutionary Committee installed by Fouché at Nevers.) The local investigation shows that the eleven leaders were men of vile character, unfrocked and disreputable priests, lawyers and notaries driven out of their professional bodies, and even from the popular clubs, on account of their dishonesty, penniless actors, surgeons without patients, depraved, ruined, incapable men, and two jail-birds.
[145. ]Beaulieu, iii., 754.—Cf. “The Revolution,” vol. ii., ch. i., § 9.
[146. ]“Recueil de Pièces Authentiques sur la Révolution à Strasbourg,” i., 21.—Archives Nationales D., I., § 6. (Orders by Rousselin, Frimaire 11, year II.)
[147. ]“Un Séjour en France de 1792 à 1795,” p. 409.
[148. ]I have not found a complete list of the towns and departments which had a revolutionary army. The correspondence of representatives on mission and published documents verify the presence of revolutionary armies in the towns mentioned.
[149. ]De Martel, “Fouché,” 338. (Text of the orders of the Commissioners of Public Safety.) The detachment sent to Lyons comprises twelve hundred fusileers, six hundred cannoneers, one hundred and fifty horses. Three hundred thousand livres are remitted as travelling expenses to the commissary, fifty thousand to Collot d’Herbois, and nineteen thousand two hundred to the Jacobin civilians accompanying them.
[150. ]Moniteur. (Session of Brumaire 17, year III.) Letter of Representative Calès to the Convention. “Under the pretext of guarding the prisons, the municipality (of Dijon) had a revolutionary army which I broke up two days ago, as it cost six thousand francs a month, and would not obey the commander of the armed force, and served as a support to intriguers. These soldiers, who were all workmen out of employment, do nothing but post themselves in the tribunes of the clubs, where they, with the women they bring along with them, applaud the leaders, and so threaten citizens who are disposed to combat them, and force these to keep their mouths shut.”—De Martel, “Fouché,” 425. “Javogues, to elude a decree of the Convention (Frimaire 14) suppressing the revolutionary army in the departments, converted the twelve hundred men he had embodied in it in the Loire into paid soldiers.”—Ibid., 132. (Letter of Goulin, Bourg, Frimaire 23.) “Yesterday, at Bourg-Régeriéré, I found Javogues with about four hundred men of the revolutionary army whom he had brought with him on the 20th instant.”
[151. ]Buchez et Roux, xxix., 45.—Moniteur, xx., 67. (Report of Barère, Germinal 7.)—Sauzay, iv., 303. (Orders of Representative Bassal at Bésançon.)
[152. ]We see by Barère’s report (Germinal 7, year II.) that the revolutionary army of Paris, instead of being six thousand men, was only four thousand, which is creditable to Paris.—Mallet-Dupan, ii., 52. (Cf. “The Revolution,” ii., 353.)—Gouvion St. Cyr, i., 137. “In these times, the representatives had organised in Haut-Rhin what they called a revolutionary army, composed of deserters and all the vagabonds and scamps they could pick up who had belonged to the popular club; they dragged along after it what they called judges and a guillotine.”—“Hua, “Souvenirs d’un Avocat,” 196.
[153. ]Riouffe, “Mémoires d’un déténu,” p. 31.
[154. ]Ibid., 37. “These balls were brought out ostentatiously and shown to the people beforehand. The tying of our hands and passing three ropes around our waists did not seem to him sufficient. We kept these irons on the rest of the route, and they were so heavy that, if the carriage had tilted to one side, we should inevitably have had our legs broken. The gate-keepers of the Conciergerie of Paris, who had held their places nineteen years, were astonished at it.”
[155. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, vol. 331. (Letter of Haupt, Belfort, Frimaire 13, year II.)
[156. ]Ibid. (Letter by Desgranges, Bordeaux, Frimaire 10.)
[157. ]Ibid., vol. 332. (Letter of Thiberge, Marseilles, Frimaire 14.) “I surrounded the town with my small army.”
[158. ]Ibid., 331. (Orders of Representative Bassal, Besançon, Frimaire 5.) “No citizen shall keep in his house more than four months’ supplies. … Every citizen with more than this will deposit the surplus in the granary ‘d’abondance’ provided for the purpose. … Immediately on receipt of the present order, the municipality will summon all citizens that can thresh and proceed immediately, without delay, to the threshing-ground, under penalty of being prosecuted as refractory to the law. … The revolutionary army is specially charged with the execution of the articles of this order, and the revolutionary tribunals, following this army with the enforcement of the penalties inflicted according to this order.”—Other documents show us that the revolutionary army, organised in the department of Doubs and in the five neighboring departments, comprises, in all, two thousand four hundred men. (Ibid., vol., 1411. Letter of Meyenfeld to Minister Desforges, Brumaire 27, year II.)—Archives Nationales, AF., II., 111. (Order of Couthon, Maignet, Chateauneuf, Randon, Laporte, and Albitte, Commune-Affranchie, Brumaire 9, year II., establishing in the ten surrounding departments a revolutionary army of one thousand men per department, for the conscription of grain. Each army is to be directed by commissioners, strangers to the department, and is to operate in other departments than in the one where it is raised.)
[159. ]Archives des Affaires Étrangérès, 331. (Letter of Chépy, Frimaire 11.)—Writing one month before this (Brumaire 6), he says: “The farmers show themselves very hostile against the towns and the law of the maximum. Nothing can be done without a revolutionary army.”
[160. ]Mercier, “Paris Pendant la Revolution,” i., 357.
[161. ]Hua, 197. I do not find in any printed or manuscript document but one case of resistance, that of the brothers Chaperon, in the hamlet of Loges, near Sens, who declare that they have no wheat except for their own use, and who defend themselves by the use of a gun. The gendarmerie not being strong enough to overcome them, the tocsin is sounded and the National Guard of Sens and the neighborhood is summoned; bringing cannon, the affair ends with the burning of the house. The two brothers are killed. Previously, however, they had struck down the captain of the National Guard of Sens and killed or wounded nearly forty of their assailants. A surviving brother and a sister are guillotined. (June, 1794. Wallon, iv., 352.)
[162. ]Moniteur, xviii., 663. (Session of Frimaire 24, report by Lecointre.) “The communes of Thieux, Jully, and many others were victims to their brigandage.” “The stupor in the country is such that the poor sufferers dare not complain of these vexations because, they say, they are only too lucky to have escaped with their lives.”—This time, however, these public brigands made a mistake. Gibbon’s son happens to be Lecointre’s farmer. Moreover, it is only accidentally that he mentions the circumstance to his landlord; “he came to see him for another purpose.”—Cf. “The Revolution,” vol. ii., 302. (There is a similar scene in the house of one Ruelle, a farmer, in the Commune of Lisse.)
[163. ]Cf., passim Alfred Lallier, “Le sans-culotte Goullin.”—Wallon. “Histoire du Tribunal Révolutionnaire de Paris,” v., 368. (Deposition of Lacaille.)—In addition to this, the most extraordinary monsters are met with in other administrative bodies, for example, in Nantes, a Jean d’Héron, tailor, who becomes inspector of military stores. “After the rout at Clisson, says the woman Laillet, he appeared in the popular club with a brigand’s ear attached to his hat by way of cockade. His pockets were full of ears, which he took delight in making the women kiss. He exposed other things which he made them kiss and the woman Laillet adds certain details which I dare not transcribe.” (“Le patriote d’Héron,” by L. de la Sicotière, pp. 9 and 10. Deposition of the woman Laillet, fish-dealer, also the testimony of Mellinet, vol. viii., p. 256.)
[164. ]Wallon, v., 368. (Deposition of de Laillet.)
[165. ]Ibid., v., 371. (Deposition of Tabouret.)
[166. ]Ibid., v., 373. (Deposition of Mariotte.)
[167. ]Moniteur, xxii., 321. (Deposition of Philippe Troncjolly.)—Berryat Saint-Prix, “La Justice Révolutionnaire,” 39.
[168. ]Campardon, “Histoire du Tribunal Révolutionnaire,” ii., 30. They have ten francs a day, and full powers conferred on them. (Orders of Carrier and Francastel, October 28, 1793.) “The representatives … confer collectively and individually, on each member of the revolutionary company, the right of surveillance over all ‘suspect’ citizens in Nantes, over strangers who come to or reside there, over monopolists of every sort. … The right to make domiciliary visits wherever they may deem it advisable. … The armed force will everywhere respond to the demands made upon it in the name of the company, or of any individual member composing it.”—Berryat Saint-Prix, p. 42.—Alfred Lallier, “Les Noyades de Nantes,” p. 20. (Deposition of Gauthier.) Ibid., p. 22. “D——,” exclaims Carrier, “I kept that execution for Lamberty. I’m sorry that it was done by others.”
[169. ]Alfred Lallier, ibid., pp. 21 and 90.—Cf. Moniteur, xxii., 331. (Deposition of Victoire Abraham.) “The drowners made quite free with the women, even using them for their own purposes when pleased with them, which women, in token of their kindness, enjoyed the precious advantage of not being drowned.”
[170. ]Campardon, ii., 8. (Deposition of Commeret.)—Berryat Saint-Prix, p. 42.—Ibid., p. 28. Other agents of Carrier, Fouquet, and Lamberty, were condemned specially, “for having saved from national vengeance Madame de Martilly and her maid. … They shared the woman Martilly and the maid between them.” In connection with the “dainty taste” of Jacobins for silk dresses M. Berryat Saint-Prix cites the following answer of a Jacobin of 1851 to the judge d’ instruction of Rheims; on the objection being made to him that the Republic, as he understood it, could not last long, he replied: “Possibly, but say it lasts three months. That’s long enough to fill one’s pocket and belly and rumple silk dresses?” Another of the same species said in 1871: “We shall anyhow have a week’s use of it.” Observers of human nature will find analogous details in the history of the Sepoy rebellion in India against the English in 1803, also in the history of the Indians in the United States. The September massacres in Paris and the history of the combat of 1791 and 1792 have already provided us with the same characteristic documents.
[171. ]Alfred Lallier, “Les Fusillades de Nantes,” p. 23. (Depositions of Picard, commander of the National Guards of the escort.—Cf. the depositions of Jean Jounet, paver, and of Henri Ferdinand, joiner.)
[172. ]Sauzay, “Histoire de la Persécution Révolutionnaire dans le Département du Doubs,” vii., 687. (Letter of Grégoire, December 24, 1796.) “An approximative calculation makes the number of the authors of so many crimes three hundred thousand, for in each commune there were about five or six of these ferocious brutes who, named Brutus, perfected the art of removing seals, drowning, and cutting throats. They consumed immense amounts in constructing ‘Mountains,’ in revellings, and in fêtes every three months which, after the first parade, became parodies, represented by three or four actors in them, and with no audience. These consisted, finally, of a drum-beater and the musical officer; and the latter, ashamed of himself, often concealed his scarf in his pocket, on his way to the Temple of Reason. … But these three hundred thousand brigands had two or three hundred directors, members of the National Convention, who cannot be called anything but scoundrels, since the language provides no other epithet so forcible.”