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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 26

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Thus, Mirabeau became plain M. Riquetti, La Fayette M. Motte, and the nobles were reduced to the use of names by which nobody knew them. Mirabeau, on being accosted by his real name by the reporters in the assembly, exclaimed hastily, "With your Riquetti you have puzzled all Europe for three days." The names of himself and others, as La Fayette, &c., continued, however, in use, from mere custom, in spite of the law, and the aristocracy, in their own circles, who persisted in addressing each other by their titular names.

Whilst the assembly was in the effervescence of this extraordinary act, and had, on the other hand, been decreeing that due honour should be done to the heroes of the Bastille at the coming fete of federation, a deputation was announced from the representatives of many foreign nations, praying to be admitted to a seat on this great occasion. This deputation was headed by one of the most singular mortals who had risen into notice on the reefing crest of thiä revolution, namely, Anacharsis Clootz. He appeared at the bar of the assembly, followed by a numerous train in the costume of Englishmen, and men of all countries of Europe, and not only so, but of Indians, Arabs, Chaldeans, &c. These so-called foreigners, of so many nationalities, were, however, chiefly Parisian porters, thus masqueraded; and were introduced by Clootz as "The Embassy of the Human Race," to whom he declared the French revolution would extend the blessings of liberty and sound reason.

This Clootz, whose real name was John Baptist Clootz, was a Prussian baron, a native of Cleves, and nephew 01 the strange metaphysical writer, Pauw, canon of Xanten. He had been educated in Paris, and had imbibed all the new philosophy, with the enthusiasm for the Greek and Roman classics which accompanied it. Clootz became first deist, then atheist, and casting aside the names of John Baptist, he adopted the pagan and classical one of Anacharsis; and, in imitation of the Anacharsis of the abbé Barthelemy, he travelled into different countries to survey mankind. In England he had introduced himself to Burke, and Fox, and other reformers; and for some time remained a correspondent of Burke's, and he excited much attention by his lavish expenditure and strange opinions. By the time of the breaking out of the French revolution he was become essentially insane, and ready to play any wild part in it; and, like so many others, terminated his career under the bloody reign of Robespierre.

Being introduced to the assembly as M. the baron de Clootz, of Val-de-Grace, Prussian, and this to an assembly which had just abolished all titles in France, Clootz made a bombastic speech, in which he declared a number of foreigners, from all regions of the earth, demanded to participate in the glorious fete of liberty which Frenchmen were about to celebrate, to the consternation of tyrants all over the world. Clootz's speech - the rankest fustian - was applauded throughout by the most deafening acclamations from senate and galleries, and his request, for himself and his bedizened porters, was granted, on condition that they should tell to all the nations of the earth what they had seen when they returned to their native countries, which they might safely promise. This pitiable farce has been represented as sage and significant, by tending to alarm the despots of other countries with the fears of the same revolutionary leaven amongst their own subjects; but it was more likely to stimulate them to fall on France and endeavour to crush the nuisance in its birth-place, if it roused them at all. But, in fact, it was too contemptible. Thiers says, " Such scenes, which appear ridiculous to those who are not eye-witnesses, make a deep impression upon those who are." But, except upon Frenchmen, the impression, under any circumstances, must be that of astonishing absurdity.

Whilst the assembly was in the fervour of this extraordinary 19th of June, and the speech of the orator of the human race, Alexander Lameth drew the attention of the deputies to the equestrian statue of Louis XIV., which displayed him trampling on four figures in chains, representing, in allegory, Franche-Comte. and three other provinces which he had annexed to France. He declared that it was monstrous to leave these figures to insult the brave citizens of those provinces when they came to Paris, where every man now was free and equal. Maury opposed the measure, but it was carried directly by acclamation.

Forthwith all Paris was busy with preparations for the great fete of the 14th of July. The national assembly appointed a committee to superintend the preparations, and this committee issued orders to all the departments for sending up one man from every two hundred of the national guards, to attend on that day, and represent the national guards of the whole kingdom. The next thing was to prepare the Champ de Mars, a great area, extending from the military school to the Seine. As it was feared that wooden stages for the spectators in so vast a scene, would break down, it was determined to remove the earth from the middle of the area to each side, so that the great mass of the spectators would stand on properly-sloping hills on each hand, and thus overlook all the actors and the ceremonies in the centre. Twelve thousand labourers worked day and night at this removal of earth, and yet it was feared that the operations could not be completed by the 14th of July. Then a great enthusiasm seized all classes, and crowds rushed to assist. Then a few thousand of the national guards attended every day in turns to labour at this national affair - churchmen, soldiers, gentlemen, elegant ladies, were seen digging or carrying earth. " The civic invitation," says Ferrieres, " electrified all heads: the women shared and propagated the enthusiasm. Seminarists, scholars, nuns, Carthusians, grown old in solitude, were seen quitting their cloisters, hurrying to the Champ de Mars, with shovels upon their shoulders, bearing banners adorned with patriotic emblems. The dishevelled courtesan is placed beside the modest matron; the capuchin draws the truck with the chevalier of St. Louis; the porter with the petit-mäitre of the Palais Royal; the sturdy fishwoman drives the wheelbarrow filled by the hands of the delicate and nervous lady. Wealthy people, indigent people, well-dressed people, ragged people, old men, boys, comedians, Cent-Suisses, clerks, working and resting, actors and spectators, exhibited to the astonished eye a scene full of life and bustle. Moving taverns, portable shops, increased the gaiety of this vast picture. Songs, shouts of joy, the sound of drums and military instruments, that of spades and wheelbarrows, mingled with the voices of the labourers. As soon as the clock strikes nine, the mixed multitude separates into groups; every citizen joins the section of the city to which he belongs; the foremost bands begin to march off; and, by degrees, they all return into Paris, preceded by lighted torches, drums and fifes. From time to time they give vent to sarcasms against the aristocrats, and they go home singing, "Ca iral ga ira!"

The day having arrived, and the plan of its proceedings being pre-arranged by the national assembly, and Te Deum having been sung the evening before in Notre Dame, at which the federates and the municipal authorities attended, and the catacombs beneath Paris having been searched - for there was a terrifying rumour that the aristocrats were intending to imitate the abortive scheme of Guy Fawkes, and blow up all the assembly and half of the patriots at once - at a very early hour of the morning the people hurried to the Champ de Mars to secure good places. Unfortunately, it was raining torrents. The federalists, ranged by departments, under eighty-three banners, set out at eight o'clock from the site of the Bastille. The deputies' of the troops of the line and the navy; the Parisian national guards, in their blue uniform, with staves; bands of music and colours of the sections bearing wreaths of oaks, enclosing the words, "National Confederation at Paris, the 14th of July, 1790," opened and closed the procession.

The federalists passed through the rues St. Martin, St. Dennis, and St. Honord, and proceeded by the Cours la Keine to a bridge of boats constructed across the river. They were greeted by the way by the acclamations of an immense concourse, which filled the streets, the windows of the houses, and the quays. Dripping with wet, the federalists danced farandoles, shouting, "Long live our brethren, the Parisians!" Wine, ham, sausages, were let down from the windows for them, amid cheers. The national assembly joined the procession at the Place Louis Quinze, it being then about ten o'clock, and walked between a battalion of the veterans and the boys from the military school; "recalling," says Thiers, "the memory of ancient Sparta," for the boys were armed like their fathers; and, on all occasions during the revolution, the French imagined themselves to be imitators of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The road leading to the Champ de Mars was one mass of people, shouting, clapping their hands, and singing, "Ca ira!" The Quai de Ghaillot and the heights of Passy presented a long amphitheatre, brilliant and variegated with the gay dresses of ladies. La Fayette, mounted on his splendid white charger, rode about keeping order, the rain and perspiration trickling from his face. A man, pushing from the crowd, with a bottle in one hand and a glass in the other, cried, " General, you are hot! here, take a glass! " La Fayette took it and drank it off, amid the applauses of the people.

As the procession approached the Champ de Mars, they crossed the temporary bridge, which was strewn with flowers; amid the thunder of artillery they entered the scene of the festival, through a triumphal arch covered with flags and patriotic inscriptions. Meantime, more than three hundred thousand persons of both sexes, from Paris and the environs, assembled ever since six in the morning, sate on the turf seats, which formed an immense circle, drenched, draggled, sheltering themselves with parasols from the torrents of rain still falling; and, at every momentary cessation of it, adjusting their dresses, and endeavouring to be cheerful. In the centre of this amphitheatre was erected an immense altar, twenty feet high, called the altar of the country, constructed of wood like the triumphal arch, and adorned with flags, garlands, bas-reliefs, and inscriptions regarding liberty and equality. On this altar stood a catholic altar, with candelabra, crucifix, incense, and all the requisites for mass. It was one o'clock before the federalists had taken up their positions, and all the while it poured deluges. They then broke out into dancing farandoles again, and were joined by numbers of the younger citizens. Sixty thousand people, such a corps de ballet as never before was seen, were dancing in the rain, around the altar, whilst the vast multitude sang, " Ca ira!" The very umbrellas hoisted over the dripping multitude were calculated at above one hundred thousand!

At three o'clock, the king, attended by the queen, the dauphin, and a splendid court, issued from the military school, and took their places beneath a grand gallery facing the altar. In the centre of the gallery was a throne covered with violet velvet, and sprinkled with fleurs-de-lis in gold.

This was for the king, and at three feet distance, to the right, was another, of equal height and size, covered with light-blue velvet, and also sprinkled with golden fleurs-de-lis, for the president of the national assembly. Behind these were the seats for the queen, the dauphin, and the rest of the royal family. To the right and left sate the members of the assembly.

When the king took his seat, amid tremendous shouts of " Vive le Roi! " " Vive la Nation! " the sun broke through the clouds, and the rain ceased. The banners were unfurled, and the bands broke forth in one grand burst of music from eighteen hundred instruments. A bishop then advanced to perform mass: it was Talleyrand, a man who sneered at all religion, and yet had been selected to officiate on this singular occasion. Three hundred priests, in white surplices, girt with broad tricoloured scarfs, ranged themselves at the four corners of the altar. Talleyrand, the bishop of Autun, blessed the oriflamme and the eighty-three banners. At the elevation of the host, there was a general discharge of cannon; and then La Fayette dismounted from his white horse, and mounting the steps of the altar, followed by the staff of the Parisian militia, and the deputies of the army and navy, advanced to the front of the throne, where the king handed to him the form of the oath; and La Fayette then approaching the altar, laid his sword upon it, and read the oath; swore himself; and then, raising his right arm, all that vast assembly of soldiers and spectators raised theirs, and cried at one instant, " Je le jure! " - "I swear it! " Four pieces of cannon proclaimed to France the taking of this oath; and all France, at this moment, in all its towns, and villages, and solitary houses, was supposed to join in the act, and cry, 4£ We swear it! " The king then rose, and, stretching his right hand towards the altar, said, "I, king of the French, swear to employ the power delegated to me by the constitutional act of the state, in maintaining the constitution decreed by the national assembly, and accepted by me." The queen, taking the dauphin in her arms, held him up to the people, and said " Here is my son; he joins as well as myself in those sentiments!" This unexpected movement was repaid by a thousand shouts of "Vive le Roi! " "Vive la Reine! " "Vive M. le Dauphin! " The cannon thundered again; the sun shone forth brightly; the music played again with a tempest of sound. There was one universal ecstacy of kissing and embracing amongst the people. What a people!

In any nation of deep feelings and solid principles, after such a compact, such a glowing celebration of the constitution by throne and people, the results must have been the most fixed and permanent. The remaining work of reform must have been easy and prosperous. But all this was but another illustration of that fustian, fungous sentiment which flares up in French bosoms like a flash of loose gunpowder, or like alcohol thrown into the fire, which, in the very act of blazing, expires. The royal family withdrew about five o'clock; the drenched masses began to retire to their homes, and a few days found all parties fallen back into their old temper, distrustful of each other. "This touching festival of the federation," says Thiers, " was but a fugitive emotion. On the morrow all hearts still wished as they had wished the day before, and the war had recommenced." "When the sun shone forth," says Ferneres, " on the close of this scene, it seemed as if it had pleased God himself to witness this mutual contract, and to ratify it by his presence. Yes! he both saw and heard it, and terrible calamities, ever since that day, have desolated France. Providence, ever active and ever faithful, punished the mutual perfidy. It has stricken both monarch and subjects who violated their oath! "

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 26

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