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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 27

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But these hollow amenities were not yet at an end. The municipality had ordered a grand dinner at the chateau of La Muette, not a mile from the Champ de Mars, and there five-and-twenty thousand persons sate down at tables ranged in the avenues of the park. But La Fayette was in danger of not reaching the place alive. He was surrounded by thousands of unknown men, who, on pretence of embracing him in the enthusiasm of the day, pulled him from his horse, and he was actually smothering in the embraces of these Judas friends, when he was rescued by one of his aides-de-camp and a body of soldiers. Meantime, all Paris was one festal scene. The Champs Elysees were lighted up by lamps hung in the trees, and by bonfires; and there, and on the site of the Bastille, there was dancing. Carriages were forbidden to drive about, that they might not interrupt the free enjoyment and circulation of the people by the noise of wheels, and clanking of horses' hoofs, and the continual cries of "Gare!" - "Take care!" The wealthy were expected to make themselves part of the people, and to move about on foot as they did. So long as the federalists remained in Paris, it was one continuous series of entertainments, dances, and rejoicings. Besides the ball on the site of the terrible old Bastile, now converted into an open square, there was a regatta, fireworks, a ball and refreshments in the Halle au Ble.

On Sunday, the 18th, La Fayette reviewed the federates in the Champ de Mars; on Monday, there was a large review, including, not only federalists, but troops of the line and marines, at which the king, the queen, and the dauphin, were present. The queen was particularly gracious, and gave her hand to be kissed by the federalists, and the kind words which she addressed to some of them, especially the young soldiers of Lorraine, deeply touched them, and awoke a spark of the ancient loyalty. Before the federalists quitted the capital, they went to pay their homage to the king. All of them testified the most profound respect, the warmest attachment. The chief of the Bretons dropped on his knees, and presented his sword to Louis, swearing that it should never be stained with any but the blood of his enemies. Louis restored him his sword, embraced him, and was deeply affected. "Sire," rejoined the Breton officer, "all the French, if I may judge from our hearts, love, and will love you, because you are a citizen king."

Let us see. These were but the mere phosphorous gleams of that strange thing, French sentiment, or the honest expression of the more loyal and better-natured few. The republican orators and journalists had witnessed this fete with gall and detestation. Everything like affection for the monarchy or the monarch irritated them to madness. Men, with all the tiger and the demon in their nature, and destined to wade through torrents of blood, and to extinguish one another in it - Carra, Danton, Marat, Camille Desmoulins, and Robespierre. Carra denounced them as an "idolatrous people, who saw only the king and La Fayette, and not their own importance." He abused them as the most despicable of slaves, because they assembled under the windows of the Tuileries, and shouted, "Vive la Reine! " Why, he demanded, did they not cry, "Vivent les Polignacs!" the queen's great favourites. "Vive the Red-book of the Noblesse! " "Vive the Trianon! " the queen's palace. "Vive Lambesc!" "Vivent the protectors of the conspiracy against Paris! " "Vivent the iron railings of the Tuileries, with cannon-balls behind them! " "Vivent the authors of the project to carry the king to Metz! " "Vive the grant of twenty-five millions to the king! " &c. He denounced " the mayor Bailly, and all the rogues and swindlers that manage French affairs! How shameful that gaudy throne set apart for the king in the Champ de Mars, who is nothing but the first servant of the people!" And then he added an undoubted truth as it regarded the weathercock nature of Frenchmen, "Ah, thoughtless citizens! Are you ignorant of the fact that liberty is not made for a vain and frivolous nation, without morals, without character, without principles, changing with every wind and every new doctrine? Let not your enemies, however, count upon your momentary enthusiasm. Whatever may be the form of oath which your lips have pronounced, your heart has only sworn to be true to the country, and to liberty and equality. Any other engagement into which you may have been surprised will vanish like a dream, and, at the first palpable treachery of the court and aristocracy, your audacity will be the spark to kindle the fire that is to consume them all!"

These rampant republicans, bent on reducing everything to one level, spoke of the king simply as Louis Capet, and the queen as Louis Capet's wife, and the dauphin as the boy Capet, and we shall see that they succeeded, ere long, in bringing everything down to a literal equality, lopping off heads as wantonly as a lazy clown lops off the heads of thistles or wild flowers with a switch, and concluding by having their own heads rolled into the same bloody dust. Recriminations and heart-burnings sprang out of this festival betwixt the court and the people, instead of mutual confidence. The aristocracy saw in it only a new and general compact against monarchy and against their own order. The court were accused of having granted a passage for the Austrian troops into the country of Liege; and St. Priest was accused of having favoured the escape of persons charged with counter-revolutionary principles; and, in its anger, the court ordered the prosecution of the authors of the disturbances of the 5th and 6th of October, the march to Versailles, and the forcible conveyance of the king to Paris. The two persons chiefly named were Mirabeau and the duke of Orleans; but Mirabeau was only named as a cloak; the real aim was to drive away the duke of Orleans, who had returned from England, and was more popular than ever. But Mirabeau, though in the pay of the court, would not be silent, as was wished, for he deemed that the accusations really proceeded from the aristocracy, who hated him. He ascended the tribunal, and defended both himself and the duke, exclaiming, as he pointed to the right side of the assembly, where sate the aristocrats, that it was there whence the mischief came; that they were the authors of these proceedings, and that the country would prepare a most implacable vengeance for them. The speech was received with vehement acclamations, and the assembly resolved that there was no ground of accusation whatever against these distinguished individuals.

But whilst the court was defeated in its attempt against the man whom they believed to have been at the bottom of the Versailles affair - namely, Orleans - the fete of the federation was scattering its fruits all over France. If the projectors of this fete - and La Fayette and the abbé Fauchet, who, in one of his sermons, told the people that it was the aristocracy who crucified the Son of God, both lay claim to the honour of suggesting it - if they had purposely sought by it to completely revolutionise the whole army, they could not have calculated better. Every regiment, not only of the provincial national guards, but of the troops of the line, and sailors from the chief ports, had sent their deputies to Paris to the fete. These were feasted, caressed, and flattered, and thoroughly indoctrinated with the most boiling spirit of the revolution. They returned to their different districts as the French soldiers had returned from America, carrying the doctrine of the most unlimited equality and independence with them. In quick time, they had demoralised the whole army. Bouillö, the cousin of La Fayette, had taken indefatigable pains to keep his soldiers free from the infection, and steady to their oaths and their standards. But now he had to write in his memoirs, " This confederation poisoned the minds of the troops. On their return from the capital, they brought with them the seeds of corruption. These they instilled into their comrades, and in a fortnight, or at most a month, the whole army was in a state of the most terrible insurrection." Bouille, who hated La Fayette, though his relation, did not hesitate to attribute the scheme of the federation to him, as a means of regaining popularity, which, he asserted, he was fast losing; and that he was desirous of throwing the army into the hands of the people, and of alienating them from their officers, who were of the aristocratic class. He regarded the fete of the federation as having destroyed the last prop of the throne, and he became all the more anxious that the royal family should make their escape from France. The queen was most anxious for it too, and believed that by the aid of Bouille it might be readily accomplished; but she never could move her timid and apathetic husband to the necessary determination. In the month of May, before the fete of the federation had removed their best chances with the army, the queen had contrived an admirable plan for the escape of the whole family to Bouille, but the king's dull inertia prevented it. She was then strongly advised to escape herself; but, though she felt quite assured what would be her fate if she remained, nothing would induce her to leave her husband and child. Her person was not safe for a day. Her attendants - and especially madame Campan, and her physician, M. Vicq d'Azyr - were apprehensive that she would be poisoned; but she replied - " No; they will not employ a single grain of poison: the Brinvilliers are not of this age; they will kill me by calumny." Her attendants took all possible precautions for her safety; she herself took none. Yet people, both with good and evil intentions, frequently managed to approach when the national guards were lax in their duty. Soon after the federation, the court was allowed to go to St. Cloud for the summer months; and a fellow of the name of Rotondo made his way to the part of the gardens where the queen spent much time with her children almost every day, in the hope of assassinating her. Fortunately, the day proved rainy, and the queen was not there. On another occasion, as the queen was working at her embroidery-frame near a window, and madame Campan, according to her custom, was reading to her, they heard a number of persons talking in a low voice under the balcony. On madame Campan looking out, she saw a few priests and old knights of St. Louis, and some young knights of Malta, with a group of country people, altogether about fifty, who had taken advantage of the absence of the national guards to endeavour to approach and catch a glimpse of the queen. Marie Antoinette immediately went out upon the balcony to gratify them; and they said, in a whisper - " Madame, be of good courage; good French people suffer for you; they pray for you, and Heaven will hear their prayers. "We love you, we respect you; we revere our virtuous king!" The queen burst into tears; and the women said, " See, she weeps! Poor queen!" But madame Campan, terrified lest this should be observed by any of the national guards, led the queen in, raising her own eyes to heaven as she did so, to denote the cruel necessity of caution. The group understood it, and said, " The lady is right. Adieu, madame! " and dispersed.

It was during this sojourn at St. Cloud that the effects of insubordination, produced by the fete of federation amongst the troops, had come to a crisis. The troops at Nancy, consisting of four battalions of the king's regiment, two battalions of Swiss of the Chateau-Vieux regiment, with a regiment of cavalry, had mutinied, had imprisoned their officers, and sent a deputation to the assembly to justify themselves. These deputies were very insolent, and were especially supported by the jacobin club. La Fayette, however, arrested the deputies, and the assembly issued an order that the mutineers should return to their duty, and the inhabitants of Nancy to obedience to the law, on pain of being treated as rebels. General de Malseigne and a member of the assembly were dispatched to bring the soldiers to order; and Bouille was commanded to render him all necessary assistance, and to employ force, if necessary. On reaching Bouille's head-quarters at Metz, Bouille thought it best that Malseigne should go on to Nancy, and endeavour, in the first place, to bring the mutineers to reason by peaceable means. Malseigne proceeded boldly to Nancy, where he found that the troops had been joined by five or six thousand men of the neighbourhood, and deserters from other regiments. They had broken open the arsenal, and made themselves masters of five thousand muskets, with ammunition, and eighteen pieces of cannon, which they had loaded with grape-shot. They had exacted money from the authorities, burnt the decrees of the national assembly, and defied it in terms of contempt. They were intending to imprison the principal people of the town as they had done their own officers, and to ransack the city, and hang the chief men.

Malseigne proclaimed the decree of the assembly, and harangued the mutinous troops; but he was glad to escape alive to Luneville, where there were eight squadrons of cavalry; but these cavalry, when the soldiers from Nancy marched against them, delivered up Malseigne to them, and fraternised with them. When Bouille learned this news, he set out for Nancy with about three thousand foot, and one thousand four hundred horse, principally Swiss and Germans, all that he could trust, whilst, in Nancy, he calculated that the revolted troops amounted to ten thousand. On his way, he was met by three deputations, one after another, to whom Bouille declared the conditions on which he would accept a surrender - viz.: that the three regiments at the head of the revolt should deliver up the ringleaders, and themselves quit the town; that they should liberate Malseigne, whom, fortunately, they had not hanged, and their own officers, and deliver up the cannon. These terms they treated with contempt. Bouille sent forward a proclamation, containing the same conditions, and, on arriving at the gates of the town, it was announced to him that his terms should be agreed to. Malseigne and the captive officers of the regiments were sent to him, and he saw the regiments marching out at the opposite gate; but no sooner did he attempt to enter the city, than the cannon, charged to the muzzles with grape were fired on him; there was a murderous discharge of musketry from the windows of the houses, and the regiments turned back and joined in the battle. Bouille was in a terrible dilemma; but he says he blindly committed himself to fortune for the result, and fought the insurgents with such fury, that they were compelled to give back. From half-past four till half-past seven o'clock Bouille was cutting his way to the centre of the town. He had lost forty officers and four hundred men; but he had taken the cannon, and five hundred men prisoners, and was preparing to execute a more desperate vengeance, when the insurgents agreed to march quietly out of the place. He consented, on condition that they marched to different garrisons, which he named, at some distance from each other. Bouille preserved the place from pillage; not a house was broken into, nor an inhabitant killed, except such as were met in arms. He liberated the five hundred prisoners who had fallen into his hands, two hundred of whom were soldiers, and three hundred inhabitants, and none of them were punished; but the Swiss, by the authority of the articles of war under which they served, tried their prisoners by court-martial, shot twenty soldiers, and condemned from fifty to sixty to the galleys, to which they were sent.

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