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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 15

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The condition, not only of Paris, but of all France, was enough to justify the fears of the aristocracy. Emissaries from the capital, after the destruction of the Bastille, spread themselves into every province, carrying with them the same spirit of insurrection. At Lyons, Metz, Caen, Rouen, and other places, the people rose, destroyed the customhouses, fought with troops, but more generally fraternised with them. In Brest, Cherbourg, St. Lo, and other places, they seized the magazines of arms and ammunition; and the tricolour flag, now formed by adding the two colours of the city of Paris, red and blue, to the white one of the king, was everywhere hoisted. It was no longer a people in insurrection, but a people universally armed and in power. In many places, as in the Lyonnais, Dauphiny, Burgundy, Upper Auvergne, the peasantry chased away the aristocracy, burnt their chateaux, and plundered their estates.

Paris was rejoiced to hear that Broglie and the new ministry had suddenly resigned, that the king was going to recall Necker, and was himself coming to pay a visit to his good people of Paris. When the rumour had taken proper effect, Bailly, in the capacity of mayor, proceeded to Versailles, and invited his majesty to visit Paris, which, notwithstanding the terrified dissuasions of the queen and the court, Louis resolved to do. Accordingly, on the day on which the princes quitted Versailles to escape from the kingdom, Louis, accompanied by two hundred deputies and a vast throng of people, set out for his turbulent capital. The queen and his family parted with him in agonies of tears, scarcely hoping to see him again alive. The body-guard attended him to the bridge of Sevres, where they halted to await his return. Bailly received the king at the gates of Paris, and, on offering to him the same keys which had been offered to Henry IV., said, u Sire, that good king had conquered his people; at present, it is the people who have re-conquered their king." After a long speech, followed by other speeches and ceremonies, he passed through the gates, and found himself surrounded by a double file of the new national guards, each file three deep, and extending all the way to, the Hotel de Ville. Behind and around these new guards, or militia, were calculated to be assembled two hundred thousand people, many of them armed, too, with muskets or pikes. The cries which he heard were not " Vive le Roi!" but "Vive la nation! Vive le tiers etat!" In the dense mass, he observed not only monks, but women shouldering muskets. The deputies walked after him through the armed lane. There were guns also fired, less for joy, it would seem, than for destruction. The balls whistled close past the royal coach as it passed the Place Louis Quinze; the marquis de Culieres had his hat struck by one, and a lady not far off was killed. On alighting at the Hotel de Ville, Bailly presented him with the tricolour cockade, which he had no option but to accept and place on his hat. He thus ascended the stairs under an arch of swords crossed over his head, as it was said, as a mark of honour, but more obviously as a mark of subjection to the national weapons. On reaching the hall, Louis requested the swords to be sheathed, and made a short and conciliatory speech. He was addressed, in reply, by Moreau de Saint-Mery and Lally-Tollendal, who declared that this was the happiest day that Paris had ever seen, when its king came into it as the regenerator of the national liberty, the restorer of the public rights, and the father of his people. A statue of Louis was voted in honour of the event, to be placed on the site of the Bastille - an event which never took place. Louis, having recognised the national guards, the appointments of Bailly and Lafayette, and all the new arrangements, was conducted to an open window, with the tricolour cockade in his hat, at sight of which the crowds burst into stunning clamours of applause, and hailed him as the citizen king. Poor puppet of a king, what humiliations were yet in store for him! After this, he was permitted to return to his carriage, which he found covered with tricolour ribbons, and to take his departure. Right thankful was he once more to catch a sight of his own guards, posted on the bridge of Sevres, and to be received with rapturous emotion by his family, the queen throwing herself into his arms, in a transport of joy at his safe return. Easy and complying as was the temper of Louis, he felt deeply the degradation of the part that he had been made to play. For a time, all endeavour by the court to resist the popular tendencies appeared crushed by terror. The king consented to the recall of Necker; M. de Liancourt, a friend of the king, was appointed president of the assembly, in the place of Bailly; and the nobles, who had hitherto absented themselves from the sittings, now attended and voted. Thus was the assembly apparently amalgamated, and the revolution completed.

But it was in reality far from such completion. Nothing could be as yet more unsettled than the condition of Paris. Every class was asserting its own independence, and organising itself for dictating to every other class. As the national assembly had assumed a great authority, the assembly of electors did the same in the city; and almost every trade and description of people did the same in their own quarters. The shoemakers, tailors, bakers, domestic servants, &c., met at the Louvre, in the Place Louis XV., in the Champs Elysees, and deliberated on public affairs, though the assembly of electors repeatedly forbade them. These gave great embarrassment to the rulers at the Hotel de Ville, but the meetings at the Palais Royal gave far more. At the same time, the electors found all kinds of authorities meeting at the Hotel de Ville, civil, judicial, military. The judges at first, doubting their own powers, referred accused persons to its tribunal; the national guard had its head-quarters there. And thus the electors, divided into several committees, were labouring incessantly in all sorts of duties. Bailly himself was greatly engrossed by the committee in distributing provisions, in purchasing corn, and sending it to the most distressed quarters. This was often intercepted by the starving people, and carried off before reaching its proposed destination. The committee sold corn at a loss, that the bakers might sell bread cheap; but the scarcity was not relieved in the city by this means, for the country people flocked in and bought it up. The condition of the people was as miserable as ever, for there was no confidence in the trading world, and all kinds of articles of subsistence were kept back.

The situation of La Fayette, at the head of the national guard, was as harassing and unsatisfactory as that of Bailly, at the head of the municipality. La Fayette, who had a real passion for liberty, but still more personal vanity, and no great courage, was always thrusting himself before the public eye, enjoying his popularity extremely, but finding it very hard to steer his way respectably betwixt king and people. He professed to desire earnestly to preserve the monarchy, and yet every atom of his influence depended on his pleasing the mob. Hence he often appeared in dilemmas that no man of great self-respect could tolerate; was suspected by the court from the first, and finally suspected and rejected by the people. He had now to contend with all sorbs of rumours, and all the caprices of an ignorant and triumphant multitude. He found himself called upon every hour of the day to endeavour to suppress the madness of the multitude released from all legal restraint, and thirsting for blood and vengeance, as French mobs have thirsted in all ages. Every day he saw himself unable to prevent the commission of the most terrible deeds, though at the head of fifty thousand nominal soldiers. In fact, had La Fayette resolutely striven to reduce these mad crowds to order and decency, and had his city militia supported him, he would have become, in one week, the object of the mob's most bloody hatred. For his own credit, he ought to have resigned; but what then would have been the consequences? Who should take his place? Much as he has been blamed for continuing in a position in which he could do little, the question arises whether a less popular man would not have done still less, or a sterner one have led to still more sanguinary results.

The treatment of Messrs. Foulon and Berthier will exemplify the lawless fury of the Paris mob, and the unenviable position of both Bailly and La Fayette. Foulon, who had formerly been an intendant, and a councillor of state, had been named as one of the ministers to succeed Necker. He was a man of a hard and rapacious character, said to be the most unpopular man in France. When the people were clamouring for bread, he was reported to have said the canaille might eat hay; that grass and thistles were good enough for them. The populace determined that he should not escape them now. He had fled and concealed himself in the village of Vitry, on the road to Fontainebleau, and had given out that he was dead. But the secret of his being still alive was not well kept by his servants. He was seized by the syndic of the village; and, with a truss of hay on his back, a collar of nettles round his neck, and a bouquet of thistles on his bosom, he was kicked and cursed all the way to Paris, and to the Hotel de Ville. Bailly proposed that he should be tried, but the people cried out, " Hang him!" Bailly sent for La Fayette and the national guard to protect him; but it was in vain. La Fayette declared that he would not permit the prisoner to be executed without trial; that without law there was no liberty. But, spite of law, or liberty, or La Fayette, the sovereign mob dragged the old man out - he was in his seventy-fifth year - and hanged him on the memorable lamp-post in the Place de Greve, at the corner of the rue de la Vannerie. The son-in-law of Foulon, Berthier de Sauvigny, was equally detested by the people. He was at once a debauched libertine and a tyrant to the people. Hard, active, and courageous, he was a scion of a race of solicitors, or petty judges; was, like Foulon, a minister of three days with Broglie; and had shown himself particularly active in collecting troops, arms, and preparing cartouches for the subjection of Paris by the court. Like his father-in-law, he had fled, on the capture of the Bastille, to Compigne. He was taken, and brought to Paris in a chaise, which for leagues had been pursued by the infuriated people, and his life had been preserved only by the most determined efforts of the guards. When he arrived at the Hotel de Ville, the mob cried, "Finish with him! The Faubourg St. Antoine is coming! The Palais Royal is coming! they will have his head." To prevent the rabble seizing him, Bailly ordered the national guards to surround him, and make away with him to the Abbaye prison; but the desperate mob set the guards at defiance, tore him from them, and would have hanged him; but Berthier, strong and courageous, snatched a musket to defend himself, and the next moment was transpierced by a hundred pikes. The ferocious mob tore out his heart, cut off his head, and carried them in triumph to the very table of the magistrates at the Hotel de Ville.

La Fayette, having thus shown that he was utterly impotent to restrain the wild atrocities of these brutal Parisians, now declared that he would resign; and a man of a deeper and more manly nature would have done it prereraptorily; but La Fayette was a genuine Frenchman - light, vain, and greedy of notoriety - and being entreated by Bailly, and by the national guard, and the fickle people, who promised ever after to obey him implicitly - which they never did - he remained.

The same popular despotism which destroyed Foulon and Berthier on the 22nd of July, recalled Necker to a momentary gleam of power. Almost at the very moment of this bloody tragedy, Necker met at Basle the Polignacs, whom he had left high in court favour at Versailles. They it was who informed him that the people were insisting on his return to office. He set out and traversed France, amid the shouts and caresses of the people. It was a journey of triumph - a popular ovation of the most enthusiastic kind. His most discerning friends had in vain warned him to decline all return to office, for that France was in a condition that defied all government. But to no purpose. Necker - vain as La Fayette - believed himself the only man who could save France. He arrived at Versailles on the 28th of July, and was received by the assembly with enthusiasm. On the 30th he proceeded to Paris amid the acclamations of the people, who strewed flowers in his path, covered him with wreaths and bouquets, and shouted with all their might, " Vive Necke!" " Vive le ministre du people!" He shed tears of emotion, and thought how easy it would be to govern so amiable a people At the Hotel de Ville these flatteries were renewed. Necker was seated on the bench beside the chief magistrate, Bailly, and was complimented in speeches as the destined saviour of his country. His wife, his daughter Madame De Stael, and many other ladies, were present to witness his triumph. He was hailed as the tutelary angel of France. The very next day the tutelary angel was abandoned, and all his roseate dream of glory and beneficence was gone!

The baron de Besenval, who had commanded the troops in Paris, was in prison. Necker demanded his pardon, the more so because Besenval had always been his opponent. He demanded pardon for Besenval, and an amnesty for all other offenders. The assembly at the Hotel de Ville immediately applauded such magnanimity, such tenderness, and passed a resolution pardoning all their enemies! Necker returned in tears of joy and in triumph to Versailles; and the very next morning the national assembly, instigated by the districts, passed a resolution declaring the motion of the Hotel de Ville null, and that the baron de Besenval must be detained. It was fortunate for Besenval that he was not liberated, for he would have been assassinated, such was the animosity of the multitude against him; but, fortunately for him, he was ordered to be kept in safe custody at Brie- Compte-Robert, where he was seized. But Necker was lost, as Bailly told him he would be, if he recommended an amnesty. The districts had not merely sent to the assembly at Versailles, warning them against sanctioning the amnesty, but they menaced more bloody work than ever if the amnesty were not annulled. The assembly complied, and Necker was no longer the hero of the mob, but detested as a traitor for procuring the amnesty. This was the profound statesman who thought he alone could save the country; this was the amiable people whom he thought he could so easily lead. Never was popular idol lifted so high, and debased so low in a single day! Bailly had warned Necker of the consequences, and refused to sign the decree for an amnesty when it was voted. He knew the people better than Necker. He knew that they would never rest till they had satiated their vengeance on their old oppressors. He declared it useless, dangerous, and unconstitutional. Necker ruined himself by his act, which was in appearance humane, but which would have been more so, because more effectual, had he, instead of a free pardon, called for a proper tribunal to try every one before condemned. As it was, Mignet says very truly, " He unchained the people against himself, without obtaining anything, and let loose the districts upon the electors. From that moment he began to wrestle with the revolution, which he believed he could master, because, for a moment, he had been the hero of it. But a man counts for very little in a revolution which moves the masses; the movement either drags him on, or leaves him behind; he must either precede it, or fall. Never was there a time that made more evident the subordination of men to things. Revolutions employ many chiefs, but when they give themselves up to it, to one alone." This could only be eventually stopped by a man with military power to support him.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 15

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