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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 18

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But the court was soon alarmed by the report that the old French guards intended to march from Paris to Versailles, and, after removing the body-guard and the Versailles national guard, to do the duty at the palace themselves, in order to prevent the royal family escaping to Metz. These French guards had deserted the king's service, and had become incorporated with the national guard of Paris, under the name of Centre Grenadiers. La Fayette, on the 17th of September, wrote to St. Priest, one of the ministers, to assure him that there was no truth in this report, and therefore no danger; but he placed a detachment of soldiers at the bridge of Sevres to prevent any such march, and managed to stop the French guards. D'Estaing, however, to whom La Fayette's letter was communicated by St. Priest, did not feel satisfied, and proposed to bring the regiment of Flanders to Versailles, and the assembly being applied to for its sanction, declared it was no business of theirs; and thus, neither encouraging nor discouraging the measure, it was sent for. It arrived on the 23rd of September; and, at the sight of the long train of tumbrils and wagons that followed, great alarm seized both the people of Versailles and the assembly. Mirabeau, who, by a word, could have prevented the coming of the regiment, now denounced it as dangerous. News flew to Paris that a counter-revolution was preparing, and that the foreigners would be marched on the city. All this terror of one single regiment showed a disposition to feign alarm, rather than the real existence of it; but the court committed the great folly of administering fresh reasons for jealousy. The officers of the life-guards showed a most lively desire to fraternise with those of the Flanders regiment, and the courtiers were equally attentive to them. The officers of the Flanders regiment were not only presented at the king's levee, but invited to the queen's drawing-room, and treated in the most flattering manner. The gardes du corps gave a grand dinner to welcome them; and, what was extraordinary, they were allowed to give it in the theatre of the palace. This took place on the 2nd of October. The boxes were filled by people belonging to the court. The officers of the national guard were amongst the guests. After the wine had circulated some time amongst the three hundred guests, the soldiers, both q£ the Flanders regiment and of the other corps, the company, with drawn swords, and heated by champagne, drank the health of the royal family; the toast of the nation was rejected or omitted. The grenadiers in the pit demanded to be allowed to drink the royal healths, and goblets of wine were handed to them, and they drank the health of the king, the queen, the dauphin, and the rest of the royal family amid mutual shaking of hands and loud shouts of " Vive le Roi! Vive la Reine! " The band of the Flanders regiment struck up the very expressive and celebrated song of Blondel when seeking his captive king, Coeur de Lion -

O Richard! o mon roi!
L'univers t'abandonne -

" O, Richard! 0, my king! all the world abandons thee!" The whole company caught the royal infection. They vowed to die for the king, as if he were in imminent danger. Cockades, white or black, but all of one colour, were distributed; and it is said the tricolour was trodden under foot. In a word, the whole company was gone mad with champagne and French sentiment, and hugged and kissed each other in a wild frenzy. At this moment a door opened, and the king and queen, leading the dauphin by the hand, entered, and at the sight the tumult became boundless. The cries of " Vive le Roi! Vive la Reine! " were redoubled; "O Richard! o mon Roi!" and "Peut-on affliger ce qu'on aime!" - "Can we afflict what we love?'' - were played, amid tears and sobs from every side. Numbers flung themselves at the feet of the royal pair, and escorted them back to their apartments.

The following morning the life-guards gave a breakfast to the officers of the Flanders regiment, and similar mad scenes took place. They were afterwards admitted to the presence of the queen, who said she had been delighted with the dinner of Thursday. All this was little less than madness on the part of the royal family. They knew that the army at large was disaffected to royalty, and of what avail was the drunken follies of two regiments? If they really sought to escape to Metz, it could only have been done by the utmost quiet and caution. The Flanders regiment could have guarded them thither. But now the certain consequence must be to rouse all the fury of Paris, and bring it down upon them. This was the instant result. Paris, in alarm, cried, "To Versailles!" On the night of the 4th of October the streets were thronged with excited people; the national guards were under arms everywhere, and maintained some degree of order. On the morning of the 5th the women took up the matter. They found no bread at the bakers', and they collected in crowds, and determined to march to the Hotel de Ville, and demand it of the mayor. They seized on any weapons that came to hand - broomsticks, old muskets, bludgeons, or cutlasses. A girl seized a drum and beat it before them. Thus drumming and shouting, they collected an ever-increasing number on the way from the Faubourg St. Antoine to the Place de Greve, where they found a detachment of the national guards posted before the Hotel de Ville. The guard presented bayonets, and bade them keep off; but, crying that they would see Father Bailly, they rushed on, throwing volleys of stones; and the guard, not prepared to kill women, opened, and left a passage to the hotel. This virago army burst into the hotel; but, finding none of the authorities sitting, they ranged over the whole house, and, finding some clerks just jumping out of bed in their fright, they called for bread, seized the books and papers on the bureau, swearing that they would burn them all, for the commune were only fit to be hanged, and Bailly and La Fayette before all the rest. That their words were not mere bravados they showed by seizing the abbé Lefevre, who had distributed the powder so boldly on the night of the attack on the Bastille, and hanging him to a beam; but? leaving him there, he was fortunately cut down before he was dead.

The women had refused to allow the men to join them, declaring that they were not fit for the work they were going to do; but numbers had followed them, better armed than themselves, and they now assisted them to break open doors, where they obtained seven or eight hundred muskets, three bags of money, and two small cannon. As they were proceeding to made a bonfire of the papers, which would probably have burnt the whole place down, the commander of the national guard gave up the matter in despair; but one Stanilas Maillard, a riding-messenger of the municipality, with more address, called out to them to desist; that there was a much better thing to do - to march at once to Versailles, and compel the court to furnish bread, and that he would be their leader. He seized a drum and beat it; the women cried lustily, " To Versailles! " Some ran to the tower of the hotel and sounded the tocsin. The bells soon began to ring out from every steeple in Paris; the whole population was afloat; and men and women, armed with all sorts of weapons, followed their new leader, who had been one of the heroes of the Bastille, and he marched them to the Champs Elysees. There he arranged his motley and ever- increasing army: the women in a compact body in the middle, the men in front and rear. Horses, wagons, carriages of all kinds, were seized on wherever they were seen; some of these were harnessed to the cannon, and then Maillard, drumming at their head, put his army in motion, and on they went towards Versailles, stopping every carriage that they met, and compelling even ladies to turn again and accompany them.

Meantime, La Fayette and Bailly, summoned by this strange news, had hurried to the Hotel de Ville, where they found the national guards and the French guards drawn up, and demanding to be led to Versailles. The French guards declared that the nation had been insulted by the Flanders regiment - the national cockade trampled on; and that they would go and bring the king to Paris, and then all would be well. Bailly and La Fayette attempted to reason with them; but they, and thousands upon thousands of armed rabble again collected there, only cried, "Bread! bread! lead us to Versailles!" There was nothing for it but to comply; and, at length, La Fayette declared that he would conduct them there. He mounted his white horse, and this second army, about three o'clock in the afternoon, marched in the track of the amazons who had already reached Versailles.

Unfortunately for the king, the national assembly had just submitted to him their votes on the constitution and the declaration of rights, and that very morning the king had returned an equivocating answer. The assembly expected a simple and entire confirmation of their decrees; but Louis had been advised to seem to acquiesce, and yet not really to do it. He signified his assent to the constitutional articles, and found excellent maxims in the declaration of rights; but he considered that such important matters demanded fuller consideration before being ratified, and that they could not be properly decided till the constitution was complete. He declared that he would never consent that the resolutions of the assembly should be valid without the entire sanction of the executive power in the hands of the monarch. This was certainly bringing the matter to an issue, and there could be no doubt what would be the result. Had the king been prepared for a coup- d'etat, that would have been prudent language; but, as it was, with the whole of Paris in insurrection, and the bulk of the troops in league with the people, this conduct, at this moment, was the height of folly. It must produce an instant collision, which royalty, there and then, had no ability to sustain. The assembly would have compelled the king's consent of itself; but, as it happened, all Paris was marching to support it.

No sooner was the king's answer read, than there arose a loud murmur and agitation. Robespierre said it was not for the king to criticise the assembly; and Petion reminded the assembly of the dinner to the life-guards. In the midst of the angry debate, Mirabeau received the news of the mob's proceedings, and, hastening up to Mounier, the president, said, "Paris is marching on us. Pretend to be unwell; run over to the palace, and tell the king to accept purely and simply; " but Mounier, who disapproved of nearly every article in the constitution, and who was of all things adverse to centreing the whole power of the nation in one chamber, replied, " Paris is marching on us! Well, so much the better. Let them come and kill us all - all, you understand; and then affairs will go on all the better." Mirabeau, who was disappointed in not being able to frighten Mounier, said, " That is a fine thing to say," and returned to his seat.

The debate continued till three o'clock in the afternoon, when the assembly declared that Mounier should go to the king and demand his instant and full acceptance. Mounier was in the act of rising to proceed on his mission, when Maillard, at the head of his amazon army, demanded admittance. He was desired to enter, and the whole posse of women, wet, draggled, jaded, but armed with clubs, muskets, and broomsticks, rushed after him, demanding bread. Maillard, obtaining some degree of silence, spoke in their behalf. He said that for three days the people of Paris had had no bread; that they were desperate and ready to strike; that, so far from the assembly assisting the people to bread, there were those amongst them who were bribing the millers not to grind corn; that Juigne, archbishop of Paris, had written a letter to a miller to this effect, and that the people were well informed of these things, and knew the names of the guilty ones. He was informed that the abbé Gregoire had been charged to denounce this letter, and he was desired to treat the assembly with proper dignity. Maillard replied that they were all equals, all citizens, and the women shouted in support of him, "Yes; we are all equals - we are all citizens!" The women and the mob generally outside, who were standing in drenching rain, caught these cries, and repeated them frantically.

Mounier was ordered then to proceed on his mission to the king; but no sooner did he issue from the door, than thousands of women surrounded him, and insisted on accompanying him. He selected six to follow him, but many more joined them. "It was on foot," says Mounier, " in the mud, and under a violent storm of rain. The Paris women intermixed with a certain number of men, ragged and ferocious, and uttering frightful howlings. As we approached the palace, we were taken for a desperate mob. Some of the gardes-du-corps pricked their horses amongst us, and dispersed us. It was with difficulty that I made myself known, and equally difficult it was to make our way into the palace. Instead of six women, I was compelled to admit twelve. The king received them graciously; but, separated from their own raging and rioting class, the women were overcome by the presence of the king, and Louison Chabry, a handsome young girl of seventeen, could say nothing but the word 'Bread!' She would have fallen on the floor, but the king caught her in his arms, embraced and encouraged her; and this settled completely the rest of the women, who knelt and kissed his hand. Louis assured them that he was very sorry for them, and would do all in his power to have Paris well supplied with bread. They then went out blessing him and all his family, and declared to those outside that never was there so good a king. At this the furious mob exclaimed that they had been tampered with by the aristocrats, and were for tearing them to pieces; and, seizing Louison, they were proceeding to hang her on a lamp-post, when some of the gardes-du-corps, commanded by the count de Guiche, interfered and rescued her." One Brunout, an artisan of Paris, and a hero of the Bastille, having advanced so as to be separated from the women, the guards struck him with the flat of their swords. There was an instant cry that the guards were massacreing the people; and, the national guards of Versailles being called on to protect them, one of them discharged a musket, and broke the arm of M. de Savonieres, one of the life-guards. The firing on the lifeguards by the national guards then continued, and the lifeguards filed off, firing, in return, as they went. The mob, now triumphant, attempted to fire two pieces of cannon, which they turned upon the palace; but the powder was wet, and would not go off. The king having, meantime, heard the firing, sent the duke of Luxembourg to order that the guards should not fire, but retire to the back of the palace.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 18

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