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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 24

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Favras was put upon his trial, and defended himself ably. Two men, one of whom was the same Houdart who had informed against him, deposed to the reality of the plot for the assassination of La Fayette and Bailly, but they could bring no other evidence of these facts, and there appeared no proof of the twelve hundred cavalry being in readiness, or of the Swiss and Piedmontese army being in motion. La Fayette requested that the part of the charge respecting himself and Bailly might be left out of the trial, but the court would not concede this. Favras demanded to know who was his original accuser: this, too, was refused. He called his own witnesses, and the court refused to hear them, and Favras justly denounced the court as no better than the inquisition. In fact, the whole proceeding was most arbitrary and unjust. No clear proofs of his guilt were adduced, and Favras ought to have been acquitted; but the populace had been exasperated at the acquittal of Besenval, and were furious for the execution of Favras. During the whole trial, crowds surrounded the Chatelet, crying, " A la lanterne" and menacing the judges if they did not condemn Favras; and it is but too apparent that the judges, fearing for their own lives, dared not to acquit him.

In the midst of the trial, the king suddenly appeared in the national assembly. The statements of the witnesses on the trial had again roused the suspicions of the public as to the designs of the court, and he was advised that it would be well, by a decisive step, to dissipate these ideas. Accordingly, on the 4th of February, the assembly, on meeting, were surprised to see arrangements for a royal visit. The steps of the bureau were covered with a carpet sprinkled with fleurs-de-lis; the arm-chair of the secretaries was lowered, and the president was standing beside the seat which he usually occupied. Suddenly there was a cry, " The king is coming!" and Louis entered. The assembly rose, and received him with applause. Louis XVI., standing, read a long and very admirable address to the seated assembly. He referred to the exertions which had been made, not only during the sitting of the assembly, but previously in the parliaments, to allay the troubles which had fallen on France, and to supply the wants of the people. He begged them to remember that, ten years ago, and before a public call was made for a states-general, he had recommended such a step, and that, since the meeting of the assembly, he added, to use his own words, " I have seconded, by all the means in my power, that grand organisation on which depends the welfare of France; and I think it necessary to observe, that I am too attentive to the internal condition of the kingdom, my eyes are too open to the dangers of all kinds by which we are encompassed, not to be deeply sensible that, in the present disposition of minds, and considering the actual state of public affairs, it is requisite that a new order of things should be established, or the kingdom may be exposed to all the calamities of anarchy. No doubt," he added, "those who have relinquished their pecuniary privileges, those who will no longer form, as of old, an order in the state, find themselves subjected to sacrifices; but I am persuaded that they will have generosity enough to seek an indemnification in all the public advantages of which the establishment of national assemblies holds out a hope."

Louis added, u I, too, should have losses to enumerate, if, amid the most important interests of the state, I could dwell upon personal considerations; but I feel a compensation that satisfies me, a full and entire compensation, in the increase of the national happiness; and this sentiment comes from the very bottom of my heart. I will defend, therefore - I will uphold constitutional liberty, the principles which the public wish, in accordance with my own, has sanctioned. I will do more; and, in concert with the queen, who shares all my sentiments, I will early adapt the heart and mind of my son to the new order of things which circumstances have brought about. I will accustom him, from his very first years, to seek happiness in the happiness of the French, and ever to acknowledge that, in spite of the language of flatterers, a wise constitution will preserve him from the dangers of inexperience, and that a just liberty adds a new value to the sentiments of affection and loyalty, of which the nation has for so many years given such touching proofs to its kings! "

The manly sentiments of this speech were certainly followed by vehement applause, but, at the conclusion of this promise on behalf of the queen and the dauphin, the whole assembly burst forth in thunders of acclamation, all hands were stretched towards the king, and there were loud cries for the queen and the royal infant. Louis concluded by calling on all who still kept aloof from a spirit of concord that was become so necessary, to make a sacrifice to him of all the recollections that afflicted them, exclaiming, " I will repay them with my gratitude and affection!" and the assembly was in a rapture of delight. The king was conducted back to the Tuileries by the multitude, shouting and rejoicing.

The assembly voted thanks to the king and queen; and, as Louis had voluntarily vowed to uphold the constitution, it declared that it was fitting for the deputies to do the same. Every deputy, therefore, took the civic oath to be faithful to the nation, to the law, and to the king; and to uphold, with all his power, the constitution. The supplementary members, the deputies of communes, desired also to take the oath; the tribunes and galleries followed their example, and on all sides nothing was heard but the words, " I swear it!" The Hotel de Ville followed the example of the assembly; all swore there, and so commune after commune throughout France did the same. Rejoicings were ordered, which appeared to be general and sincere. Here, then, surely Was a foundation for a permanent harmony in any country except France. If the king was honest, if the people had any appreciation of sincerity, nothing could be so easy as the future progress of constitutional reform. But in this strange capital and country, a very few days had dissipated this ardent ebullition of sentiment; the court had fallen back into its old suspicions of the people, and the people into theirs of the court.

The trial of Favras went on, and he was condemned to be hanged in the Place de Greve, to show the equality of all men. Favras prophesied to his judges, that if life could be taken on evidence like that brought against him, no man would long be safe. But the fact appears plain that the judges did not dare to acquit him. The mob demanded his life; and the lives of judges who should dare to acquit him would not have been worth much. Favras was conducted to the Hotel de Ville, and was hanged at night by torch-light, and amid the yells and jeers of the populace. He declared that his whole crime was that of receiving a hundred louisd'ors to endeavour to dispose the public favourably towards the king; but there must have been more than this, for the queen expressed much uneasiness lest he should disclose particulars which would be dangerous to them in his last moments. He once, indeed, asked whether, if he gave the names of those with whom he had acted, he could he saved? but the answer was not satisfactory, and he said he would carry his secrets along with him. The rumour of these things deepened the suspicions of the court; and the folly of the friends of Favras dreadfully aggravated them. On the Sunday after the execution, " as the royal family were dining in public, and members of the officers of the national guards present, the widow and child of Favras were presented to Marie Antoinette. The queen was confounded; did not venture to take any notice of the widow and her son; and, as soon as dinner was over, hurrying to her private apartment, she exclaimed to madame Campan that they were undone; that the people would believe that the widow and child in deep mourning had been presented to her at her request, and that the royalists would censure her for not taking notice of them. Whilst, however, complaining that the folly of their own friends were ruining them, the queen privately sent relief to the widow, for Favras died poor.

Every day made the queen and her friends the more sensible that their only safety was in flight; and Marie Antoinette, had it depended on her, would soon have accomplished this escape. Plan after plan was passed, but the inertness of the king rendered them all abortive. At this very moment, an excellent opportunity presented itself. The officer of the national guard on duty was secretly in their favour. All was made ready, relays of horses were provided, the queen had packed up her jewels; but the king continued playing at whist, and, at last, said he could not consent to be carried off. That high - spirited and beautiful woman must be dragged down to the block by her slug of a husband! As Louis would not escape, many of his friends thought he ought now to put himself heartily into the revolution, and do all in his power to secure the favour of the national assembly. On the contrary, the American, Governeur Morris, anxiously recommended that the king should remain quiescent, and let things take their course. He argued, and he wrote to the queen, urging this view of affairs, that matters were becoming so miserable for the people, that, ere long, they would grow sick of the revolution, and return to the king for his guidance and protection, when it would be in his power to form a proper constitution.

But no such salutary effects were to be expected from studied inaction on the part of the king. The assembly and the people were determined not to stop short of a complete and democratic revolution. They had no confidence in the court, and the court had none in them. The queen's party looked to Austria for support, and numbers of the courtiers were in correspondence with the count D'Artois and the royalist refugees, who were actively mustering forces and exciting disaffection in the south. Another great dependence of the court was on the marquis de Bouille, who had the command of the army at Metz, where he extended his authority over a vast extent of frontier. Bouillö was firmly attached to the royal cause, and was ready to risk his life to serve it. But he had no confidence in his relative, La Fayette, the commandant of the national guard, whom he held to be too deeply committed to the revolution for them to work at all together. Whilst La Fayette, therefore, wrote earnestly to Bouille to co-operate with him in support of the throne, Bouille only returned a cold answer to La Fayette, of whom the queen, at least, was suspicious; for. when La Fayette urged the king and queen to go heartily into the revolution with the assembly, in order to be able to moderate it, they received his advice with impatience, though the king declared him an honest man.

So far, therefore, from the king being able to produce an advantage to himself by quietly waiting, he was losing influence every day by the jealousies which the partisans of the court excited in the assembly and the people. The party of the refugees was divided in itself. It had Calonne for its minister at Turin, but he was no more able to unite the court factions than he had been, when minister of the realm, to induce the nobles and clergy to submit to taxation. The high nobility insisted on none but foreign aid being employed for the recovery of the ancient power of the court, and this from their jealousy of the provincial noblesse, and still more of the bourgeoisie. On the contrary, the petty nobles, and the citizens who had emigrated and made up the second party, were for calling out all the catholic and royalist population in France to put down the revolution, which was based partly on atheism and partly on protestantism, according to M. Fromont, who urged this plan upon them, and to renounce all reliance on foreign aid; they were to stifle a strong passion by a still stronger; religious zeal was to stifle the republican mania. In fact, the catholic royalists had seen, with resentment, toleration conferred on the protestants, and they trusted to arouse the spirit of fanatic intolerance in their behalf. This party proving the stronger, the clergy, furious at the confiscation of their property, were only too ready to second these views. They took advantage, during the solemnities of Easter, to preach up persecution of the protescants, who had shown, as was, from a mere principle of gratitude, natural, a zealous support of the assembly and the revolution. In consequence of this bigot crusade of the clergy, and the active exertions of the emissaries of the refugees at Turin, there were popular outbreaks at Montpellier, Nismes, Montaubon, and other places in the south, and the rage of the catholics was turned against the protestants and the revolution. Charles Lameth complained, in the assembly, that the festival of Easter had been abused to excite the people against the new laws. The clergy started to their feet, and threatened to quit the assembly in a body if such a charge were admitted. Dom Gerle, a carthusian, proposed that the catholic religion should be declared the religion of the state. The clergy and a great number of catholic deputies raised a clamorous acclamation. The president adjourned to the next day. A vast crowd collected, and La Fayette thought it prudent to double the usual guard. A violent debate, amounting to an actual tumult, took place, but the motion was rejected. But the commotion in Paris was followed by an equal commotion in the provinces. The patriots attributed all. these excitements to the instigations of the refugee court at Turin. The national guards turned out, and actual fights took place betwixt royalist and revolutionist parties. At Marseilles, the national guards drove the royalist officers out of the castle and forts, and made the troops swear to the constitution. At Valence, on the Rhine, the viscount de Voisins, the commandant, was murdered; all the old antipathies of those regions betwixt catholic and protestant were let loose, and the brother of Mirabeau announced in the assembly that civil war had begun, and that all the south was in flames.

It was from this state of warfare in the south, and especially in the valley of the Rhone, that the famous federations, destined to produce such decided influence on the revolution, took their rise. Fearing attacks from the fanatic catholics and their allies, the refugees, the municipal authorities, the national guard, and the people of Etoile took an oath to be true to the constitution and to one another towards the close of the year 1789. The neighbouring town of Montelimart immediately followed the example, and also made a federation with the people of Etoile. The practice spread all over the towns of the south, which swore, " in the face of God and their country," to be true to one another, to liberty, and to the national assembly, even unto death. The people of the country joined those of the towns, and from the south the federations spread northward, and towns federated with towns, districts with districts, departments with departments, till France was one universal federation. These acts of federation were celebrated by music and firing of guns. The national assembly and La Fayette applauded the movement. This close union of a whole armed nation, binding itself to support all the laws which the assembly had made, or should make hereafter, presented an awful view of the overwhelming power of the assembly to those unfavourable to the revolution. Accordingly, there was an attempt made in April to put an end to the term of the present members. It was represented that the people were about to meet to elect their magistrates; that the term for which the deputies had been elected, which was in most cases only for one year, was near expiring, and that the people might as well be authorised to elect the new deputies at the same time. They had met in May, 1789, and it was now April of 1790.

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