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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 13

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The guns of the municipality were already firing to alarm the town, but the news had flown through it long before. At the first wild cry that the royal family had fled, the mob rushed from all quarters towards the Tuileries, burst in, and traversed every apartment like maniacs, flinging down and treating with savage rudeness everything that came in their way. Having ascertained that the escape was too real, they shrieked for the head of La Fayette. Nothing could be more imminent than the peril of both himself and Bailly, who had been just represented as deep in the plot for this very evasion. La Fayette, at the head of his national guards, had first galloped to the Hotel de Ville, where he only arrived in time to snatch from the clutches of the infuriated mob the duke d'Aumont, the commander of the sixth division of the national guards. He was here joined by Bailly, which only increased the danger; and, as they proceeded towards the Tuileries, they were pursued by the raging mob hissing and hooting.

Scarcely had the assembly recovered from the first shock of M. Beauharnais' announcement, when the mob arrived at the door of the assembly, bringing as prisoner M. Robeuf, an aide-de-camp of La Fayette, whom they had seized and grossly abused. Robeuf said he had left a brother officer in the hands of the rabble, who, he feared, had already murdered him. Rewbell, the friend of Robespierre, accused M. La Fayette and his guards of complicity with the royalist plot; but Barnave rose and zealously defended La Fayette a3 a stanch and steady friend of the revolution, and moved that the assembly should order all citizens to be armed, and to maintain peace, receiving no orders but from the assembly. This was unanimously voted. Several of the king's ministers were admitted, who all declared that they knew nothing whatever of the plan for carrying off the king. Charles de Lameth moved that the assembly should order the committee of research to use all diligence to discover the authors of the crime, and should also appoint a number of its members as an executive government, but D'Andre reminded them this could not be constitutionally done without the consent of the king, who was absent. Upon this, the assembly decreed, that, until some other arrangement should be made, the decrees of the assembly should be put into execution by the ministers without further need of sanction; and that, instead of heading decrees with " Louis, by the grace of God," &c., it should head them with " The national assembly decrees, commands, and orders," &c. In the midst of other difficulties, respecting the putting the great seal to decrees, and of legalising the acts of ministers, a letter from M. Montmorin, the minister of foreign affairs, announced that the people were besieging him in his house, so that he could not appear before the assembly. Presently after La Fayette came in full uniform, on which a cry was raised of "No uniforms here!" But this the president overruled by saying that M. La Fayette was summoned from immediate duty to report to the assembly.

La Fayette desired to introduce his aide-de-camp, M. Gouvion, to show that he had been tome time informed that preparations had been making for the flight of the royal family, and that, in consequence, he had used extraordinary precautions. Gouvion had, in fact, drawn his information from too sure a source. It was from a woman, his mistress, who belonged to the queen's wardrobe. " As," says madame Campan, " she had been placed with the queen at the time of her marriage, her majesty was accustomed to see her, and was pleased with her address and intelligence. Her situation was above that of a woman of her class; her salary and emoluments had been gradually increased, until they afforded her an income of about twelve thousand francs. She was handsome; she received in her apartments above the queen's, in the little rooms between the two floors, several deputies of the tiers etat; and she had M. de Gouvion as her lover. We shall soon see how far she carried her ingratitude." In fact, she was a regular spy on the queen and the royal family; she had furnished herself with a double key to the queen's cabinet, and was thus able to discover every preparation made. The queen, one evening, had been packing her jewels, shut up alone with madame Campan, and, when she went out, she locked the door, and took the key with her; yet, by the depositions of this woman, shown to the queen on her return from Varennes, she had entered the cabinet after the queen left it, and had seen the diamonds wrapped in cotton-wool, lying ready for packing on the sofa. This was decisive, as a proof that she had spied every action, and given notice of it to Gouvion.

Gouvion professed, in consequence of this information, to have been extraordinarily vigilant, and not to be able to account for the king escaping through a certain back-door, as it was alleged he had done, for he asserted that both himself and five other officers had been before the door all night. Gouvion stated that M. Sillery, the husband of madame Genlis, had also received warning of the intended flight, but this he denied.

It was now resolved that a letter addressed to the queen, and found in her apartment, should be submitted to the committee of research, and that possession should be immediately taken of the money in the treasury. M. Laporte, minister of the civil list, now appeared, with a memoir of the king's, which he had left in the hands of a valet-de-chambre. It was, after some discussion, agreed to have it read, and the reading must have been a particularly bitter experiment on the feelings of the greater part of the assembly. Louis, in this document, no longer played the part of the acquiescent; but he detailed a catalogue of undeniable truths, enough to have maddened a man of strong feelings, and which had evidently sunk deep, even into a timid and submissive nature like that of the king. It stated that the king had been a real prisoner ever since the 6th of October, 1789, when they brought him from Versailles to Paris; that his own misfortunes had been hard to bear; but when he saw that the assembly had destroyed royalty itself, had invaded the property of the church and of individuals, and had introduced universal anarchy, it became intolerable. The king complained of the miserable condition of the Tuileries, in which they had compelled him to live; of the dismissal of his gardes-du-corps, who had been so faithful to him; and of the massacre of two of them under his very eyes. Still more emphatically did he complain of the infamous language and savage behaviour towards the queen from the very commencement of the revolution; and, as this was exhibited against a woman who had shown herself a faithful wife, and of a conduct quite heroic, it was clearly intended, through her, to wound the king. The king had, the paper again repeated, been made a prisoner in his own states and in his own house. Those who were placed as guards were, in fact, his keepers; and the commandant of the national guard, his especial keeper. He was surrounded not by those whom he could trust, but those whom he most distrusted. The memoir declared that the king had been most willing to go along with the assembly in all real reforms, but that he had soon found himself left without any freedom of action. " The assembly," he said, " has put the king out of the constitution, in refusing him the right of sanctioning the constitutional acts, and classing as constitutional acts whatever other acts they think proper, and in curtailing and limiting his veto. They have allowed him twenty-five million livres, which are entirely absorbed by the expenses of his household. They have left him the usufruct of some domains, with embarrassing forms, and have deprived him of the patrimony of his ancestors. Let the different points of the administration be examined, and it will be seen that the king is set aside in all of them. He has no share in the making of laws, he can only humbly beg the assembly to occupy themselves about such or such a matter. As for the administration of justice and the appointment of the judges, he has no share in it. There remained a last prerogative, the most beautiful of all, that of pardoning and commuting punishments - you have taken that, too, from the king!"

The proclamation, which was addressed to the French nation, went on to say that the society of jacobins had usurped the real sovereignty of the people; that the clubs ruled not only the king but the assembly; that, as for the monarch, though declared to be the head of the army, he had never been able to make any appointments in it, or dispositions of it. It was the same in the civil administration - they determined everything; the king was a cypher. The despotism of these clubs was a thousand times worse than the one that had been overthrown. Such a government it was impossible to perpetuate, and of that men of any reflection became every day more convinced. The clamour of the clubs, their journals, and their pamphlets, overawed the assembly, and established anarchy and terror. It then recapitulated the proposal to carry off the king from Versailles and shut the queen up in a convent; the insults to the king and queen at the fete of federation; the harsh treatment of the queen's aunts, because they simply wished to visit Rome from religious motives; the still more shameful treatment of the gentlemen who, from pure love to the monarch, had, on the day of poniards, assembled at the Tuileries to prevent any outrage to the royal family; the obstruction to the intended removal to St. Cloud; and the forcing of the letter to the foreign ambassadors from the king. " After all these sufferings, and seeing the impossibility of hindering the evil, it is natural that the king should endeavour to put himself in safety. Frenchmen," it added, " and you whom the king was wont to call the inhabitants of the good city of Paris, place no confidence in the suggestions of the factions. Return to your king; he will ever be your friend, when your holy religion shall be respected, when government shall be placed on a proper footing, and liberty established on a solid basis." The proclamation then concluded by prohibiting the ministers from signing any orders in his name, and ordered the keeper of the seals to deliver to him the great seal whenever he demanded it.

After this plain outspeaking there could be no further misunderstanding betwixt the king and the assembly. It would have been more politic to have reserved it till the king was certainly past all peril; but there it was, a clear and full confession of the royal opinion of the revolution, and a detail of truths such as made the assembly, and especially the cote gauche, foam with rage.

The foreign ambassadors sent to state their fears from the excitement of the people, and to submit to the assembly that some means of security might be adopted; but the assembly decreed that Paris was tranquil, and the ambassadors were in no danger, although the mob had been threatening the houses of the ambassadors of Austria, Prussia, and Sardinia. General Rochambeau, whom we saw, some time ago, commanding in America, and who held the greatest military post next to Bouillö, was summoned to the bar of the assembly and interrogated as to the sentiments of the officers of the army. He declared that they would all cheerfully swear fidelity and devotion to the assembly; and it was decreed that such an oath should be put to all the officers. Information was brought in that the municipality was sitting day and night to preserve order, and to execute the decrees of the assembly. A decree was next issued for the arrest of the king, and a counter-proclamation sent off in all directions; and, after ordering the whole of the national guards to be called out, and a liberal scale of payment fixed for the time they should be on service, the assembly began to feel more at ease.

Whilst these transactions were taking place in the assembly, Paris was like a hive of bees in swarm. In every quarter there was a running and a buzzing beyond all description. Danton armed the Faubourg St. Antoine with pikes, against what enemy it was difficult to conceive, for, instead of invasion or an insurrection, there had been only the flight of a harmless king and his family. The jacobins and their creatures, the mob, were busy pulling down everything like a royal statue or a royal name; a crown or a sceptre, or the mere name of king, or queen, or prince over a shop, was actively obliterated. The king's bust in the Place de Greve, which was lit up at night by the ominous lanterne, was destroyed, and many a plaster cast of him besides. The walls were placarded with all kinds of insults to the king and his family. Poor Louis was described as a fat hog who had escaped from his style, and a moderate reward was promised to any one who should bring him back to it. Others were for first leading him to the frontiers, and then kicking him across them. On the queen all the obscenity and filth of the language were cast. She was a modern Messalina, a Lucretia Borgia, the Fury of France. The Cordeliers - or, as it now styled itself, the Society of the Rights of Man - declared that every member should be armed with poniards, and swore, one and all, to exterminate tyrants. " Only one thing remains," raved Marat in his journal, " to save you from the precipice to which your unworthy chiefs have dragged you, and that is to name instantly a military tribune, a supreme dictator, to slaughter all the chief traitors that are known. You are lost beyond all hope if you listen to your present chiefs, who will cajole you till the enemies are at your gates. Name your tribune this very day! Let him be that citizen who has hitherto shown you the greatest zeal, and fidelity, and knowledge. Swear to him an inviolable devotion, and obey him religiously in all that he orders for the destruction of your mortal enemies! This is the moment for striking off the heads of the ministers and their subalterns; of La Fayette and all the villains of his staff; of Bailly and all his counterrevolution municipals, and of all the traitors of the national assembly. Make a beginning by getting possession of all their persons, if you are yet in time; seizing this moment for breaking up the national guards, who have betrayed liberty. Call forth all the patriots of the departments; call the Bretons to your succour; storm the arsenal; disarm the alguazils of the police and customs; prepare to defend your rights, to avenge liberty, and to exterminate your implacable enemies. A dictator, a tribune - a military tribune, or you are lost for ever!"

This tribune and dictator, of course, he intended to be himself; and the bloody, wolfish language showed frightfully the monster that was panting to be let loose on all those who yet withheld for awhile the coming chaos of horror and mutual frenzy of murder. Whilst the Cordeliers and their would-be butcher, Marat, were thus breathing death and suspicion around them, the jacobin club was doing the very same thing. The moment Robespierre could escape from the assembly he hastened thither, and delivered a speech of the most diabolical tendency- -all death and accusation to everybody but the rankest revolutionists. He congratulated the nation on the flight of the king, as the greatest blessing that could have befallen it. He considered that day as the consummation of the revolution. The forty millions of livres allowed to the royal individual were thus saved. He knew, and all France knew, these forty millions only amounted to twenty-five millions. But what alarmed him above everything, was the air of unanimity amongst all parties. It suited him to believe all this was hollow, and to make use of it as a means of serving that universal suspicion, and subsequent mutual assassination, in which he hoped to mount to an infernal eminence. " Since this morning," he exclaimed, " all our enemies speak the same language as ourselves. All the world is uniting together; all have the same visage; but beware of the wolves! It is not upon the support of the emperor Leopold and the king of Sweden, nor upon the army of emigrants beyond the Rhine, that the king counts; we can beat all the brigands of Europe that are leaguing against us. No! it is in the midst of us, it is in this very capital, that the fugitive king has left those resources and supporters upon which he relies for a triumphant return. You know that three million Frenchmen under arms for liberty are invincible by foreign nations. Where, then, is our weakness? There must be a powerful royalist party, and intelligences, and plots in the midst of us; and yet, if you look around you, you will share in my alarm at seeing that all men are wearing the same mask of patriotism."

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 13

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