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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 34


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Petion published a miserable and contemptible apology for his conduct; but the audacious Robespierre mounted the tribune of the jacobins, and exclaimed, " Against whom think you that you have to strive? Against the aristocracy? - No. Against the court? - No: against a general who has long entertained great designs against the people. It is not the national guards that view these preparations with alarm. It is the genius of La Fayette that conspires in the staff. It is the genius of La Fayette that conspires in the municipality. It is the genius of La Fayette that perverts the minds of so many good citizens, who would otherwise be for us. La Fayette is the most dangerous of all the enemies of liberty, because he wears the mask of patriotism." He declared that he had only obtained the command of the French armies to turn them against the revolution. He declared that it was not Bouille who had crushed these brave Swiss and their fellow-patriots at Nancy, but La Fayette by his hand. This was turning all the pikes and guns of the jacobin mob of France against the head of La Fayette. The monster was already anticipating blood.

At the opening of the sitting of the assembly, a member demanded that the soldiers of Chateauvieux, these Swiss should be admitted to pay their respects to the legislative body. M. de Jaucourt resisted this with indignation; he declared that it was the way to create universal insurrection. M. Gouvion, who had a brother in the national guards at Nancy, pierced with twenty-five bayonet wounds by these mutineers, demanded whether he was to be condemned to behold the assassins of his brother? In vain; the Swiss were admitted, and Collot D'Herbois presented them, and made an harangue in their honour. Gouvion, scarlet with indignation, quitted the assembly at one door as the Swiss entered by the other, vowing that he would never again enter a place where the murderers of his brother had been welcomed. He applied to the minister of war for a commission in the army of the north, and fell there.

The Swiss entered, attended by the national guard, and filed through the hall, with drums beating and cries of " Vive la nation!" After them marched crowds of people, with tricolour flags and pikes on their shoulders, men and women; then came all the clubs of Paris, displaying before the president the flags of honour given to the Swiss by the departments through which they had just passed; then Gouchon, the agitator of the faubourg St. Antoine, with a red cap on a pike, announced that that faubourg had manufactured ten thousand pikes to defend the liberties of their country. This scene in the parliament of the nation was strange enough, but it was far surpassed on the following Sunday. This is Lamartine's summary of this unparalleled procession and fete: -

" It was no longer the people of liberty but the people of anarchy in high revel - revolt armed against the laws. For instance: - Mutinous soldiers as conquerors; a colossal galley, an instrument of punishment and shame, crowned with flowers, as an emblem; abandoned women and girls, collected from the lowest haunts of infamy, carrying and kissing the broken fetters of these galley-slaves; forty trophies, bearing the forty names of these Swiss; civic crowns on the names of these murderers of citizens; busts of Voltaire, Rousseau, Franklin, Sidney - the greatest philosophers and most virtuous patriots mingled with the ignoble busts of these malefactors, and sullied by the contact; these soldiers themselves, astonished, if not ashamed of their glory, advancing in the midst of a group of rebellious French guards, in all the glorification of the abandonment of their banners, and the want of discipline. The march closed by a car, imitating in its form the prow of a galley; in this car the statue of Liberty, armed, in anticipation, with the bludgeon of September, and wearing the bonnet rouge - an emblem borrowed from Phrygia by some, from the galleys by others. The book of the constitution, carried processionally in this fete, -as if the constitution must be present at the homage decreed to those who were armed against the laws; bands of male and female citizens, the pikes of the fabourg, the absence of the civic bayonets, fierce threats, theatrical music, demagogue hymns, derisive halts at the Bastille, the Hotel de Ville, the Champ de Mars; at the altar of the country vast and multitudinous rounds danced several times by chains of men and women round the triumphal galley, amid the foul chorus of the air of the 'Carmagnole;' embraces more obscene than patriotic between these women and the soldiers, who threw themselves into each other's arms; and, in order to put the copestone on this debasement of the laws, Petion, the mayor of Paris, the magistrates of the people, assisting personally at this fete, and sanctioning this insolent triumph over the laws by the weakness of their complicity. Such was this fete, a humiliating copy of the 14th of July - an infamous parody of an insurrection, which parodied a revolution. France blushed, good citizens were alarmed, the national guard began to be afraid of pikes, the city to fear the faubourgs, and the army herein received the signal of the most perfect disorganisation."

The effect of these diabolical lupercalia was instant all over the kingdom. The rabble and the national guards, awed by the rabble, were in frightful disunion. Whilst the people of Paris were still feting the rebel Swiss, the people of Marseilles rose on a Swiss regiment, on the plea that it was aristocratic in its feelings, compelled them to lay down their arms, and expelled them from Aix, where they were quartered. Every-1 where emissaries were sent from town to town to rouse the people to fall on the sellers of corn and flour, which were scarce. The mayor of Estampes, Simoneau, a bold man endeavoured to convince the rioters there that this conduct by terrifying the sellers of grain from the market, would make flour still dearer; but, finding it vain, hoisted the red flag, proclaimed martial law, and advanced against the insurgents at the head of the municipality, but was speedily attacked with pitchforks and guns, and murdered. The government, which had witnessed the mob fete with amazement, remained helpless and paralysed by this state of national anarchy. The Feuillants, with the hopeless expectation of producing a reaction, on the 3rd of June held a fete of their own in the Champ de Mars. They carried an image of Law, as the jacobins had carried one of Liberty, and, instead of singing hymns and burning incense to that goddess, they sang hymns and burnt incense before a bust of the murdered mayor of Estampes. It was like a poor burlesque of the popular festival, and, instead of reaction, produced only further exasperation.

Such was the state of things at the moment that war was about to burst abroad, and to deluge all Europe with long years of bloodshed and misery. Dumouriez had no sooner come into office than he laid down a great military plan. He proposed that wherever France extended to what he called her natural limits - that is, to the Rhine, the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the sea - they should act only on the defensive; but in the Netherlands, where the territory did not extend to the Rhine, and in Savoy, where it did not extend to the Alps, there they should act on the offensive, and carry France to what he called its boundaries by the genuine laws of nature. This plan was adopted. There were three French armies stretching across the north-west frontiers. Rochambeau lay with his division of forty thousand infantry and eight thousand cavalry between Dunkirk and Philipville; Luckner lay on the Rhine, between Weissembourg and Basle, with nearly as strong a force; and La Fayette occupied the central position between Philipville and Weissembourg with forty-five thousand infantry and seven thousand cavalry. As Rochambeau was old and ill-disposed, La Fayette was intrusted with the invasion of the Netherlands. The Austrians had only thirty thousand men in Belgium, and La Fayette was to make a dash on that division of the Netherlands. To enter at Namur, and push on for Liege, which would make him complete master of the Netherlands, La Fayette was to be strengthened by a reinforcement of thirty thousand infantry, so that he would be seventy-five thousand strong before the emperor could advance to his attack. The plan was for La Fayette to march from Givet on Namur, at the same time that a division of his army of ten thousand men, under general Biron, should march upon Möns, where Beaulieu, the Austrian general, was posted with only two thousand five hundred men. On the same day, major-general Theobald Dillon was to advance with three thousand six hundred men from Lille, in Tournay, and to surprise that place. The French calculated on the Belgian population, which had been strongly inoculated with the spirit of the revolution. The two smaller divisions were punctual in their movements; but La Fayette, instead of marching simultaneously, remained strengthening himself in his position at Givet. General Biron set out from Valenciennes, and, on the 29th of April, crossed the Belgian frontiers, and the next day marched towards Möns. But no sooner did the French cavalry come in sight of some light troops, said only to amount to about five hundred men, than they fled, crying that they were betrayed. Beaulieu's horse pursued and captured Biron's baggage and military chest. On the very same day, Dillon's division, on their march from Lille to Tournay, fled, with the very same cry, from nine hundred Austrians who had issued from Tournay. The French officers found all endeavours, in both cases, to rally their men in vain; and Dillon was murdered by his own men on re-entering Lille with a lieutenant-colonel and an unsworn priest. La Fayette, hearing this strange news, did not venture to quit Givet.

The news of this astonishing cowardice of the soldiery caused great consternation in Paris. La Fayette and Rochambeau wrote complaining of Dumouriez and the Gironde ministry; the Girondists accused the jacobins of inciting the troops to this conduct; and the jacobins blamed the incompetence of the Gironde. De Grave, the minister of war, a young man of no ability, who had acted under the councils of Dumouriez, threw up his post, which was taken by Servan, who was in league with madame Roland against Dumouriez. All parties blamed La Fayette, who had boasted of hastening to Liege, and there giving the law to the Netherlands and to Austria. The jacobins loudly vociferated that nothing better could be expected from confiding an army to officers who were not patriots. This was the very thing which the jacobins had all along been preaching against; this was at the bottom of the fete to the insurgent Swiss, and of the arming of the people with pikes. The simultaneous flight of two French forces in different places, with the cry of being betrayed, told plainly enough that it was the work of the jacobins. It was an occurrence that appeared completely to justify all the speeches of Robespierre on the war. And now, indeed, Marat, in his paper of the 3rd of May, told the soldiers and the people that he had, six months before, assured them that this would be the case; that the generals, all varlets of the court, would betray the nation, and deliver up the frontiers; and he proposed that all the generals should be hanged. One member of the assembly moved that Marat should be proceeded against, for this atrocious proposition, by the assembly; and another that Roy on, editor of the Ami du Roi, a Feuillant paper, should be proceeded against for his denunciations of the jacobins.

There was an internecine war amongst the factions Carra, the Girondist editor, charged the ex-ministers, Montmorin and Molleville, as being in league with a certain secret Austrian committee in the palace for the betrayal of the country; and he declared that he had his information from three members of the assembly, Merlin, Bazire, and Chabot, who were also members of the committee of research, and also active members of the cordelier and jacobin clubs. The accused ex-ministers cited Carra before the juge-de-paix, Lariviere, to make good his charges; and this magistrate arrested Merlin, Bazire, and Chabot; but these men pleaded their inviolability as members of the assembly, and were released. Lariviere was then summoned before the assembly for daring to arrest members of the assembly; and he declared before that body that he had only acted according to the forms of his office; and he added that he could trace no secret committee in the Tuileries; that he had examined madame de Lamballe and other persons, and was satisfied that the whole was an empty and malicious report. The bold and honest magistrate was committed to the prison at Orleans to be tried by the high court there, for having infringed the privileges of the assembly, in the persons of its members; and he was massacred in prison in September, with the other prisoners.

Lariviere being removed out of the way, Brissot and Gensonne pledged themselves to prove the existence and pernicious doings of the Austrian committee. They promised proofs, but they produced none but mere garbled scraps of the letters of the ex-ministers; and they demanded a decree of accusation against the late ministers, Montmorin, Molleville, and Duport. But, before this decree could be drawn up, the attention of the assembly was called to a report from the committee of research, that there had been a great burning of mysterious papers in a furnace of a china manufacturer at Sevres, belonging to the king. It was stated that, on the 26th of May, M. Laporte, treasurer to the civil list, had paid an unexpected visit to the china manufactory, and that, in the afternoon of the same day, there arrived fifty-two bales of papers, which had been consumed in the furnace. Merlin immediately declared that it was probable that these papers were from the correspondence of the secret Austrian committee. M. Laporte was immediately summoned before the assembly, and he stated that not fifty-two but thirty bales of paper had been burned by his order; that they were merely the edition of a life of a notorious woman, madame de la Mothe, which had been bought up as obscene, and which he thought it better for public morals should be destroyed; that the work had nothing to do with the question of liberty. M. Regnier, director of the works, and several workmen, were examined; but they had not read any of the papers, which they said appeared to be all printed like a book. The simple facts of this burning we have from madame Campan. She says that the king had indeed many private papers and letters which would compromise many persons, if found. He had, therefore, a closet made in an inner corridor of his apartments, by a locksmith, who had worked for him for more than ten years, but who was yet secretly a traitor; that the opening into this closet was so coloured as to look like the rest of the wall. But madame Campan, suspecting the locksmith, informed the queen, and advised her to warn the king. Accordingly, a portfolio of the most dangerous papers was taken out, and committed to the keeping of madame Campan. Amongst these papers was one showing that the king had expressed to his council a strong opinion against the war. There were others, which the queen thought would be fatal to the king should he be brought to trial, and these papers be found. But the papers burnt at Sevres, madame Campan says, like M. Laporte, were a scandalous life of madame de la Mothe, the woman who had been so infamously mixed up with the affair of the diamond necklace. This life was full of vile calumnies against Marie Antoinette. It was printed in London by a Mr. Robinson, and sent over to Paris to be sold. The publisher there offered the whole edition, through a priest, to the queen, who refused to buy it up. Whilst madame Campan was telling Marie Antoinette at dinner what had now taken place about this scandalous book in the assembly, she says, "The king blushed, and hung down his head over his plate. The queen said, 'Do you know anything of this, sir?'

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 34

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