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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 21

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Meantime, the elements of confusion were on all sides rising into more intense and ominous action. The king and queen were in deep correspondence with Vienna, certain that no hope for them now existed in any party in France. Barnave and the Lameths still promised them support from the constitutional party; but this party was already broken up, and the remains of it trampled under the feet of the republicans. The assembly, in its last few days, vainly essayed to curb the furies wüich they had fostered. The finances were incurably bad; the army was thoroughly jacobinised; and, in discussing these matters, the two great parties in the assembly attacked each other without any regard to decency. They threatened each other with their fists; they called one another infamous and lousy beggars! Chabroud demanded a vigorous law for enforcing discipline in the army, and Alexander Lameth charged the frightful insubordination amongst the soldiers everywhere to the letters and instigations of Petion and Robespierre. He asked how could there be the necessary subordination where the soldiers quoted to their officers the Rights of Man, and then set them at defiance? Robespierre defended himself and the army. Very rude words, and the lie direct passed betwixt Lameth and Robespierre. Estournel declared that the horrible jacobin faction should be put down; and Chabroud's motion was passed, establishing the punishment of death for all officers, commissioned or non-commissioned, who disobeyed orders, and twenty years in the galleys for all soldiers who, after a third proclamation, persisted in disobedience.

On the 29th of September, the very next day, Chapelier presented a report on political clubs, and on the perilous system of jacobin affiliation. But all these measures were now too late. These clubä should have been nipped in the bud. But the assembly had supported them so long as they helped to strengthen it in its attacks on the throne; and now they were become all-powerful. It was now in vain to proclaim, as this report did, that no society, club, or association of citizens could, under any form, have any political existence, or exercise any inspection over the acts of legal and constitutional powers. Robespierre, who knew that the days of the assembly were numbered, and that all the measures for returning a thoroughly jacobin assembly were complete, threw off his usually mild manner, and he recalled to their attention their own law, which conferred the most unlimited freedom of discussion and of action on all citizens. He bade them remember how they had themselves eulogised the jacobin clubs, and individually had frequented them. " But," he continued, " it is said, we have no longer any occasion for these clubs - the revolution is finished. We shall see! For my part, when I see on one side a constitution, only just born, beset by enemies interior and exterior; when I see that discourses and external signs are changed, but that actions are all the same, and that men's hearts can only be changed by a miracle; when I see intrigue, falsehood, and calumny studiously spreading alarms, and sowing the seeds of future troubles and discords; when I see the chiefs of opposite factions fighting less for. the cause of the revolution than for the power of domineering in the name of the monarch; when, on the other side, I see the exaggerated zeal with which they are prescribing blind obedience, and proscribing the very name of liberty when I see the extraordinary means they are now employing to kill public spirit, and bring about the resurrection of prejudices, and trivialities, and the old idolatries, I do not believe that the revolution is finished yet!"

The law against clubs was passed, but it was a dead letter as it passed, and only seemed to whet the edge of the guillotine for those who passed it. Robespierre was applauded frantically by the galleries, and his words were preparing all the rabble of France for the sanguinary scenes about to follow. The assembly, on the eve of its extinction was endeavouring to bind with ropes of sand men whom no law, human or divine, could bind, who had been allowed to exist when they might readily have been crushed, and who were now in force to crush all that dared to dispute with them.

In the midst of these violent, unseemly, and ominous altercations, the assembly passed a decree granting to Jews all the rights of citizenship, and, like England, declaring all slaves setting foot on the soil of France free. At the same time, they seized and incorporated with France the city and district of Avignon, which had been purchased, in 1348, by pope Clement VI., of Joan, queen of Naples and countess of Provence, to whom it belonged, and which ever since then had remained a fief of the papacy.

On the 30th of September Louis proceeded to the assembly in order to dissolve it. On this occasion, as on all such public occasions, Louis spoke the sentiments which were put into his mouth by his ministers and advisers, as the most safe. Although he detested the assembly and all its work, he professed to admire their constitution, and the zeal and patriotism which they had displayed. He expressed his regret that they were not, indeed, sitting longer to consolidate their legislation; and well might he do that, if he looked round and noticed the members of the national convention, who were already elected, and impatiently awaiting the departure of the present deputies. The jacobins had laid great stress on the election of the new deputies before the dissolution of the assembly. Whilst the deputies were in Paris, occupied in passing decrees that were soon to be blown to all the winds of heaven, the elections might be carried on with less interference from them, though that could have availed little. The clubs had worked up the great mass of the population to their own pitch, and they had returned an assembly in which there was, with the exception of Condorcet and one or two others, not a single man having any claims to aristocratic origin. They were republicans of the deepest dye, with scarcely half a-dozen constitutionalists of any weight amongst them. They were men never heard of before; but all zealots in republican principles, low attorneys, infidels, club orators, newspaper writers, and unprincipled adventurers of various shades and grades. Amongst them were Brissot, Gorsas, Carra, Guadet, Garats, and hundreds of still more obscure men, but destined soon to an infamous notoriety. There was no Robespierre, no Petion, because they had tied not only their own hands but those of all their colleagues from serving in this new assembly; but Petion and Robespierre had taken care to secure posts in which they could exercise an influence paramount to all others, and by which they could at pleasure denounce and decimate the deputies themselves. Petion was elected mayor of Paris in place of Bailly, and Robespierre to the new office of Public Accuser to the criminal tribunal!

When the king had retired, Thouret, the president, announced that the national assembly had terminated its session, and was at an end. The new deputies assembled the very next day, the 1st of October, and assumed the name of the National Legislative Assembly. Before proceeding to the acts of this new assembly, it is necessary to acquaint ourselves with its leading characters and leading parties.

As the jacobins had expected, the elections of the departments had occupied but little attention. The public gaze had been fixed on the acts of the assembly about to retire, so that a race of new men appeared, which seemed at first to divide itself into two parties - the cote droit, or constitutional party, and the cote gauche, or democratic party; but the latter party soon divided itself into two, the Mountain and the Gironde. It is difficult to discern the distinguishing traits of these two revolutionary parties. At first, they all worked together, clearly for the downfall of the monarchy. Robespierre, Petion, Marat, Danton, were associated with those who afterwards divided themselves into the Gironde, with Condorcet, Brissot, the Rolands, Vergniaud, &c. Though Robespierre, Petion, and Danton were no longer in the assembly, they ruled the jacobin party there from the clubs. It was not till the question of war arose that the split took place. The Girondists were for war, Robespierre was obstinately against it. At first he stood nearly alone. Jacobins and Girondists were alike for war; he stood firm against it, and by degrees, though he did not draw the jacobins very soon to his views, he drew them speedily away from the Girondists.

This party of the Girondists had been growing and forming for some time. It took its rise originally at Bordeaux, the great commercial city of the department of the Gironde.

Bordeaux was of Roman origin. It had always displayed a great love of independence, which its parliaments had continually kept alive. It had of late years become the great commercial link betwixt France and the revolutionised United States. It had early, too, become leavened with the new philosophy; it was the birth-place of Montaigne and Montesquieu. The Gironde sent up to the new assembly twelve deputies, all as yet unknown, but all deeply imbued with the new principles. Amongst them were Ducos, Guadet, Lafond-Ladebat, Grangeneuve, Gensonne, and Vergniaud. These, on arriving in Paris, soon found themselves mixed up, at the house of Condorcet and the Rolands, with Robespierre, Danton, Petion, Buzot, Brissot, Carra-Louvet, Thomas Paine, and, in fact, nearly all the thorough revolutionists. The active centre of the whole party, up to the period of the question of the war against the emigrants, was madame Roland, and such she continued to be of the Girondists after their separation into a distinct party, and after that they had become the antagonists of the Mountain or jacobin party. To obtain, therefore, a clear idea of the Girondists, we must at once make ourselves acquainted with this remarkable woman. We have her autobiography written in prison previous to her execution by the guillotine.

Manon Jean Philipon Roland was the daughter of Gratian Philipon, an engraver and painter in enamel, in Paris. She was born in 1754, consequently, in the present year, at the opening of the new assembly, she was thirty- seven years of age, and perished on the scaffold in 1793, two years afterwards, at the age of thirty-nine. Her father, besides his proper profession of engraver, speculated in diamonds and jewels. He had seven children, who all died in infancy except little Manon, and, in consequence, he was passionately fond of her, and was anxious to make a fortune on her account, but by his endeavours only made himself poorer. The mother of Manon appears to have been a woman of superior judgment, who cultivated the genius which she perceived in her daughter with much judgment, and, as she feared that she might have to struggle with much difficulty through the unsuccessful proceedings of her father, she infused into her the strength and spirit necessary for the severe martyrdoms of life. The little girl at the same time displayed a vivid appetite for knowledge, and read all sorts of books that came to hand. Theology, history, philosophy, music, painting, dancing, the exact sciences, chemistry, foreign tongues and learned languages, she learned all and desired more. The apprentices of her father were made the means of introducing books for her, which they brought into the workshop and purposely left, seeming to forget them. She collected and secreted them. Her father was anxious to make an engraver of her, and a portrait of her when a girl represents her in the workshop with a book in one hand and an engraving tool in the other. But she did not take to this profession, and it was abandoned. She went on reading. Her mother's brother, a priest and cure, gave her instructions in the catholic religion; but at the same time she read Malbranche and Locke, and studied Delolme on the English constitution. This afterwards induced her to visit England, where she was struck by the comparative comfort of the poor, and she wrote in her letters, " Let fools cry out, and slaves laugh and sing, but believe me there are in England men who have a right to laugh at us." But she enlivened this reading by also devouring all the tales, and romances, and travels of that period; not excepting the very freest of the books of Scarron and Voltaire. But Plutarch was her great book, and from him she derived her admiration of great men, or such as appeared to her great men, and her decided republican principle.

" I shall never forget," she writes, "the Lent of 1763, during which I every day carried that book to church, instead of the book of prayers. It was from this moment that I date the impressions and ideas which made me a republican, when I had never formed a thought on the subject." She was, in fact, only nine years of age at this time. After Plutarch, Fenelon made the deepest impression upon her. Tasso and the poets followed. Thus she grew up, and it may be supposed that her secluded sort of life and her manners would have tended to soften a heart that early philosophy had attempted to indurate. She says, "When I read behind the screen which closed up my chamber from my father's apartment, if my breathing was at all loud, I felt a burning blush overspread my cheek, and my altered voice would have betrayed my agitation. I was Eucharis to Telemachus, and Herminia to Tancred. Yet, transformed as I was into them, I never thought of becoming anything to anybody. I made no reflection that individually affected me; I sought nothing around me; it was a dream without awaking. Yet I remember having beheld with much agitation a young painter named Taboral, who called on my father occasionally. He was about twenty years of age, with a sweet voice, intelligent countenance, and blushed like a girl. When I heard him in the atelier, I had always a pencil or something to look after; but, as his presence embarrassed as much as it pleased me, I went away quicker than I entered."

To improve her education, she went for a time into a convent; she then returned to hen father's house, near the Pont Neuf, with views from its roof looking over the Champs Elysees and the houses of Chaillot. She thought the district of the Isle Saint Louis then very beautiful, and, with her mother and her aunt Angelique, inhaled the fresh air with them on summer evenings on those straight quays, watching the course of the graceful river and the distant landscape. In the day time she accompanied her mother to market, and employed herself in the duties of the kitchen. Sometimes she was taken into more aristocratic circles, and there she felt at once the pain and indignation resulting from the rude contrast betwixt the ideal world in which her imagination had indulged and the real one. She was deeply wounded by the manner in which she and her mother or aunt were treated. " My pride took alarm; my blood boiled; I blushed violently. I no longer inquired of myself why this lady was seated on a sofa, and my grandmother or aunt on a low stool. I saw the end of the visit with satisfaction."

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 21

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