OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 2


Pages: 1 <2> 3

Meantime, the king was surrounded by the infuriated patriots, shouting, "No veto!" "no priests!" "no aristocrats!" One of these fellows poked at the king a red nightcap on the point of a pike, the symbol of liberty. Louis took it, and put it on his head; and, to appease the rabid mass, joined in the cry of "Vive la liberte!" "Vive la nation!" shouted they, and Louis cried, "Yes; vive la nation! I am its best friend!" The heat and stench of the chamber, from the dense press of so unclean a multitude, and from the hot weather, were overwhelming. Louis complained of it, and a man handed him a bottle of wine that he had brought with him. Though he had long lived in fear of being poisoned, he took a good draught - to the health of the nation. This produced a burst of loud applause. But this was but for a moment; a tall man mounted on a table in front of the king, and began a fierce harangue, every word of which was violent accusation. He demanded in the name of the hundred thousand souls which surrounded him, that the patriot ministers should be instantly recalled; that the decrees against the priests, and for the camp of twenty thousand men, near Paris, should be sanctioned. Louis, standing on a chair, assured them that he would do everything that was proper, but that was not the place or manner of expressing his consent. He would stand by the constitution. This only produced a fresh torrent of threats from butcher Legendre and others, who told him, that, if he did not instantly yield his assent, he should perish.

In this most humiliating and perilous condition Louis continued for more than two hours, when mayor Petion arrived, and affirmed that he had only just learned the situation in which the king was. Louis replied, "That is very astonishing, for I have been in this situation these two hours." Every one who has attended to this narrative, and has seen Petion preparing all the steps of this outrage, must be astonished at the deliberate falsehood of the man. He had held very different language as he crossed the court to the palace. Addressing the mob, he said, "The eighty-three departments will follow your example; the king will not be able to avoid acquiescing in the manifest will of the people." When in the presence of the king, and an eye and earwitness of the violence, insult, and menace used towards him, Petion did nothing, till some of the constitutionalists present told him to look to his conduct, for he would be called to account for it. He then warned them that they had come to petition, and the petition having been read, amid the confusion, by Huguenin, he desired them to depart, lest their enemies should misrepresent their conduct. The assembly now, too - its members having first gone to dinner, well aware of what was doing at the palace - sent a deputation to demand the evacuation of the palace. By the joint efforts of the mayor and these members of assembly, the mob was at length induced slowly to retire; but not before poor Louis had been four mortal hours in that condition of insult and violence. All this time, too, the queen, her ladies, and the children, had been under similar circumstances. The mob had crowded upon them, and vilified them. The most scurrilous and obscene language was applied to the queen. To a woman who was thus casting filth and curses upon her, she asked whether she had ever done her any injury? The jacobiness said, " No, but that she was the curse of the nation, and the cause of all its troubles." " You have been told so," said Marie Antoinette; " but you have been deceived. I am the wife of the king of France; I am mother of the dauphin; I am, therefore, a Frenchwoman. Never shall I see my own country again; never can I be happy or unhappy but in France. I was happy when you all loved me." The woman was melted by this appeal; she burst into tears; said she saw that the queen was really a good woman, and went away.

During this terrible time a jacobin had thrust a red cap on the dauphin's head. Santerre, as he was helping to clear the apartment, saw the child smothering under the heat and the cap, and snatched it from his head. These were all the little touches of human nature that marked this cruel scene. So soon as the royal family could meet after the departure of the mob, they sate down, and shed torrents of tears. The king was so absorbed by the impressions of what had occurred, that he did not perceive that the red cap was still on his head till the queen reminded him of it, when he tore it off, and flung it from him in indignation. Fresh deputies soon arrived from the assembly to learn the state of the palace. The queen went over the house with them, showing them the shattered doors and demolished furniture, and was not sparing of her resentment on this treatment. Merlin de Thionville, one of the stanchest of republicans, was moved to tears by her emotion. "You weep," said the queen, " to see the king and his family treated so cruelly by a people whom he has always wished to render happy." " It is true, madam," replied Merlin, "I weep over the misfortunes of a beautiful, tender-hearted woman, the mother of a family; but do not mistake; there is not one of my tears for the king or the queen; I hate kings and queens! This is the only feeling they inspire me with - this is my religion!"

This Merlin de Thionville, a bailiff and municipal officer from the Moselle, made up with Chabot and Bazire what was called the triumvirate, who, every day through the session, made it a point to denounce the ministers, as Cato denounced Carthage. We shall soon see him again exerting all his influence, spite of the tears he shed to-day, for the destruction of the king.

The next day great indignation existed in the public mind, at least in that portion of it which was not altogether given up to jacobin influence, at the outrage committed upon the palace and the domestic life of the royal family. There was a considerable reaction: it was declared by the constitutional party that it had been an attempt to murder the king. The Feuillants, in the assembly, proposed a law against armed petitions, and against suffering armed bodies to file through the hall. This was consented to. M. Davierholdt called for proceedings against the disturbers. " Proceedings," exclaimed a member, " against forty thousand people!" "Well, then," replied the proposer, " if you cannot punish forty thousand men, at least punish the guard which made no defence - at least do something."

Towards evening, there was a fear that the mob were about to renew the scenes of the day before. Roederer, the procureur syndic, a most active officer of the directory of the department, appeared at the bar of the assembly, and announced that fresh riots were on the eve of breaking out; that a great mob was already collected round the palace. The jacobins and Girondists ridiculed the message, and said, if the king was afraid, let him take refuge again in the assembly. But they had soon evidence that there was plenty of irritation abroad betwixt the opposing parties. The grenadiers of the section Filles St. Thomas, which was an aristocratic quarter, had mounted guard in front of the Tuileries, and kept the gathering mob in awe. As Petion was on his way to the palace to report on the condition of the city, followed by a sans-culotte throng, the grenadiers reproached the mayor for his neglect of yesterday, rattled their muskets on the pavement, and told him they were ready for him and his riotous crew to-day. Very soon a deputation from the portion of national guards that had accompanied Petion demanded a hearing by the assembly, and charged the grenadiers of Filles St. Thomas with insulting the suite of the mayor, pulling the noses of some, and tripping up the heels of others. Petion very soon appeared himself, and reported that order everywhere prevailed. On this the jacobins cried out that Roederer had been imposing on the assembly with lies, though it was equally evident that their own friends of the national guards must, in that case, have told a false story too, for they had equally appealed against that disorder which Petion affirmed existed nowhere. The report of Roederer, however, was soon proved to be true enough; the mob had only been kept in check by the firm aspect of the grenadiers.

In the evening, Petion presented himself before the king, and assured him that there was no cause of alarm; that the people in the morning were not armed, and had only wanted to plant a tree of liberty. The king was naturally full of resentment at the Conduct of Petion and the municipality; Petion replied that their proceedings would soon be known. "They ought," said the king, "to be known to all France; that it was a scandal to all France that a mob should be allowed to break open his doors, force his guard, and insult the person of the king and his family." Petion replied that the king ought to know that his person would always be respected. Louis was so incensed at this that he bade Petion, in a loud, angry tone, to hold his tongue. Petion continued to speak. " Be silent! " said Louis. " It befits not the magistrate of the people," said Petion, "to be silent when he does his duty and speaks the truth." " The tranquillity of Paris," said the king, " rests on your head." " I know my duty," replied Petion; " I shall perform it." " Enough, then; go and perform it," cried Louis - "Retire!" With that he turned his back on the mayor, and left him.

The queen, who had witnessed the scene, though apt to speak out smartly herself, was alarmed at this undisguised anger on the part of the king. " Do you not think the king has been very sharp? " she said to Roederer. " Do you not believe that this will injure him? " Roederer, evidently to abate her alarm, said the king was very right to bid a man hold his tongue who would speak and would not listen. The royalists lodged a complaint against Petion and the municipality before the departmental directory, accusing them of inciting the mob to attack the palace, instead of preventing them, as was their duty. The directory suspended Petion from his functions as mayor; but the assembly, immediately on hearing Petion at their bar, restored him to the exercise of his powers. Both parties appealed to the public by proclamation. The king, in his proclamation, declared that a multitude, instigated by certain factious persons, had broken, by force of arms, into his house, and grossly insulted his person and office. The proclamation added, " The king has opposed to the threats and the insults of the factions nothing but his conscience, and his love of the public weal. He knows not where the factions will stop, but to whatever excesses they proceed, they shall never wring from him a consent to anything that he deems contrary to the public interest. If those who wish to overthrow the monarchy have need of another crime, they have it in their power to commit it. The king recommends all the administrative bodies and municipalities to provide for the safety of persons and property."

To neutralise the effect of the royal proclamation, Petion issued another. He assured the public that efforts were making to sow dissension betwixt the armed and the unarmed citizens; that the most innocent meetings of the people were misrepresented, and he warned them to avoid appearing in arms, and to avoid snares that were being laid for them.

These proclamations tended only to render more bitter and determined the two parties to whom they were addressed. The jacobinised portion of the public, of the national guards, the municipalities, and patriot clubs, applauded Petion's proclamation, and were all the more determined to prosecute their designs on the monarchy, but at the same time to keep out of the way of grape shot as long as possible. They compelled the ministers to go down to the assembly and state what they had done to prevent mischief resulting from the royal refusal to banish the unsworn priests, and to establish the camp of twenty thousand men near Paris. On the other hand, the constitutionalists, whether in the assembly, the national guards, or in the provinces, spoke out strongly on the breach of the laws, and on the outrage to the king. A great number of addresses were sent up from the country in this tone. In Paris, an address of this kind received twenty thousand signatures. From Rouen, Havre, the Ain, the Seine, the Oise, the Pas de Calais, the Aisne, and numerous other districts, poured into the assembly petitions strongly condemning the proceedings of the mob and the apathy of the Paris municipality; - from Arras, Herault, and other places, came petitions excusing and almost approving of them.

But the constitutional party was not content with mere petitions. They consulted with La Fayette, and it was resolved that a decided step should be taken to mark their indignation at the events of the 20th of June. La Fayette felt this indignation deeply, and he was fully prepared to carry out this design. His regiments were in the act of sending up addresses to express their sense of the outrage upon the king; but La Fayette ordered them to be suppressed, assuring his troops that he would go up personally and declare to the assembly his own and their feelings on the subject. He induced marshal Luckner to address a letter to the king, which would support him in his personal proceedings. He then went to Paris, calculating on the cordial co-operation of the court and of the national guards. He arrived on the 28th of June, and the same day presented himself at the doors of the assembly, and requested a hearing. His arrival had already spread wonder and curiosity throughout Paris. He was admitted and welcomed with plaudits by the right side, but with silence by the tribunes and the left.

La Fayette then stated that he had arranged with marshal Luckner for the security and activity of the camp during his absence. He said that his letter of the 16th had been denied to be really his. He was come to assure them that it was his, and to make the sentiments more impressive by his personal affirmation. The outrages of the 20th of June, he said, had excited the deepest indignation both in himself and in his army. The army had been preparing numerous addresses, but he superseded them, by coming voluntarily to make their feelings known to the assembly and the nation. He then called upon the assembly to prosecute the ringleaders of the atrocities of the 20th of June, and he renewed his onslaught on the jacobins and

Girondists, by calling on the assembly to suppress a sect which grasped at the national sovereignty, and whose speeches and journals left no doubt respecting the wickedness of their designs.

The president replied in the usual formal style, "That the assembly would uphold the laws, and would examine his petition." He was invited to the honours of the sitting; whereupon he seated himself on the benches of the right. The jacobins and Girondists, who were not likely to forget or forgive his denunciation of them, cried out that his place was on the bench of the petitioners; and though the right warmly resisted this, La Fayette rose and removed to the petitioners' bench. Guadet, the Girondist, immediately launched a fierce philippic at him. He asked whether the minister at war had given the general leave of absence from his army; and he desired that the extraordinary commission should report on the question, whether a general had a right to address the assembly on a purely political question. He asked if the enemy was vanquished and the country saved, since M. La Fayette could quit his army and resort to Paris. "No!" he exclaimed, answering for himself; "the country is not delivered, and our situation is not changed, yet the general of one of our armies is in Paris!" Raymond defended La Fayette, and moved that his petition should be examined by the extraordinary commission, which, after a violent debate and two divisions, was carried.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 <2> 3

Pictures for The Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 2


Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About