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.)

The Feast of the Federates on the 14th of July - A fresh Attack on the Tuileries planned - Robespierre denounces La Fayette in the Jacobin Club, and in his Journal - The Jacobins in the Assembly demand a National Convention - The Duke of Brunswick, at the head of the Allied Armies, announces his March on France - The Marseillaise Federates arrive in Paris - Are received by the Assembly - They fight with the Grenadiers - The King sends a Message to the Assembly denying ail knowledge of the Designs of the Allies - Petion, Mayor of Paris, demands from the Assembly the Dethronement of the King - Fresh Plan for the King's Escape again abortive - Grand Attack on the Tuileries - Flight of the Royal Family to the Assembly - The Palace stormed and plundered - Massacre of the Swiss Guards - Deposition of the King - March of Dumouriez against the Allies.
Pages: <1> 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Out of doors, the jacobins and their journals urged on the catastrophe. Camille Desmoulins declared that there was a horrible plot against the people. At a grand meeting of the jacobin club, on the 13th, the day prior to the anniversary, he said that marshal Luckner had been seen in Paris; that La Fayette had returned secretly; and that they meant to repeat the massacre of the Champ de Mars on the morrow. The king and royal family were to be then carried off by them to the Austrian camp. All these were, of course, sheer falsehoods; but they were the usual way of rousing the mad fury of the people, and they served their purpose. Merlin and Chabot confirmed these lies, declaring that they had seen letters from the queen to La Fayette, and from La Fayette in answer, which had been intercepted, and which proved ail this. Robespierre added his solemn affirmation to these invectives. He asserted that it was true that not only La La Fayette but Narbonne had arrived in Paris. Some deadly plot against liberty were certainly on foot; and he did not forget to repeat his "delenda est Carthago " cry against La Fayette. He called on the federates to avenge the country on that base wretch; in fact, he stimulated them to murder him on the first opportunity.

The 14th of July had arrived. As had been recommended by Chabot, in the assembly, the federates, about five thousand in number, mustered in the Faubourg St. Antoine, and, mingling with the pikemen and pikewomen, marched to the square of the Bastille. There they were joined by the national guards, now greatly thinned of their respectable portion, the bankers, stock-brokers, merchants, lawyers, and men of property, who had refused to serve under brutal jacobin and sans-culotte officers who had been appointed. The troops of the line and the gendarmerie were also there; and a deputation of the national assembly arrived about noon, and the president, amid the din of martial music, and the far wilder din of some hundreds of thousands of rude revolutionists, laid the foundation-stone of that column of liberty which now stands there. No sooner was the stone laid, than a rabid orator of the Faubourg made a fierce harangue, declaring that all the kings of the earth were conspiring to crush France, and calling on the people to swear to crush all kings. The enormous crowd then marched through the city to the Champ de Mars, with the usual accompaniments of flags flying, statues of liberty, and tables of the Rights of Man carried, and pikes, with red caps of liberty on them, and the whole dingy mass bawling, " Long live Petion! Petion or Death! " Petion had been reinstated by a decree of the assembly the evening before, and was, in truth, the hero of the day.

Even Thiers, the advocate of so much that shocks other nations in the French revolution, could not help exclaiming, on the occasion of the entrance of this throng into the Champ de Mars, " How times had changed since the 14th of July, 1790! There was neither that magnificent altar, with three hundred officiating priests; nor that extensive area covered by sixty thousand national guards, richly dressed and richly organised; nor those lateral tiers of seats, crowded by an immense multitude, intoxicated with joy and delight; nor, lastly, that balcony where the ministers, the royal family, and the assembly were accommodated at the first federation. Everything was changed. People hated each other, as after a hollow reconciliation, and all the emblems indicated war. Eighty-three tents represented the eighty-three departments. Beside each of these stood a poplar, from the top of which waved flags of the three colours. A large tent was destined for the assembly and the king, and another for the administrative bodies of Paris. Thus all France seemed to be encamped in the presence of the enemy. The altar of the country was but a truncated column, placed at the foot of those tiers of seats which had been left in the Champ de Mars ever since the first ceremony. On one side was seen a monument, covered with yew and cypress, for those who had died, or were destined soon to die, on the frontiers; on the other, an immense tree, called 'The Tree of Feudalism.' It rose from the centre of a vast pile, and bore on its branch crowns, blue ribbons, tiaras, cardinals' hats, St. Peter's keys, ermine mantles, doctors' caps, bags of law proceedings, titles of nobility, escutcheons, coats of arms, &c. The king was to be invited to set fire to it.

" The oath was to be taken at noon. The king had repaired to the apartments of the military school, where he waited for the national procession, which had gone to lay the first stone of the column of the Bastille. The king displayed a calm dignity." We may interrupt the narrative of Thiers to present the scene as described by Sir Walter Scott: - "The figure made by the king during this pageant formed a striking and melancholy parallel with his actual condition in the state. With hair powdered and dressed, with c10thes embroidered in the ancient court fashion, surrounded and crowded unceremoniously by men of the lowest rank, and in the most wretched garb, he seemed belonging to a former age, but which in the present has lost its fashion and value. He was conducted to the Champ*de Mars under a strong guard, and by a circuitous route, to avoid the insults of the multitude. When he ascended the altar, to go through the ceremonial of the day, all were struck with his resemblance to a victim led to sacrifice: the queen so much so, that she nearly fainted. A few children alone called out, ' Vive le roi! ' This was the last time that Louis was seen in public till he mounted the scaffold."

The queen had been watching the scene with a glass. There were supposed to be half a million of people crowded together on the ground; and the confusion about the altar and the press was such, that the king could not reach the steps of it, except through the utmost exertions of those about him. All around were yelling throngs, shouting, " Long life to Petion! Petion or death!" and having the same words chalked on their hats. There was a model of the Bastille held up conspicuously, and there were printing presses at work, pulling off and distributing patriotic songs. As soon as the king began to mount the steps, the queen gave a loud shriek. " The expression of her countenance on this day," says madame de Staël, " will never be effaced from my memory. Her eyes were swollen with tears; and the splendour of her dress and the dignity of her deportment formed a striking contrast to the train that surrounded her."

As soon as the oath was taken by the king, the people hastened to the tree of feudalism. They were for hurrying the king along with them, that he might set fire to it; but he refused, saying very pertinently, that there was no longer any such thing as feudalism. The king hastened to join the queen, and they returned to the military school, and thence to the palace, not a few wondering at Louis's escape, for they believed he would have been assassinated by the sans culottes; and probably this would have been the case had the federates been stronger in numbers; but there were five hundred Swiss guards, three hundred gensdarmes, and three thousand national guards, who were believed to be faithful to the king, or he would probably never have returned alive from the ground. The queen had the direst forebodings, and declared all was lost. Maton de Varenne, in his history of the events of this year, says that the faithful part of the guards conjured Louis not to let the least chance for his life escape him, offering to force the way out of Paris for him and his family, and to conduct him some distance on the road towards the northern frontiers; but the doomed monarch declined the generous offer, and thus yielded himself and his family to the certain fate of the guillotine.

Every day now more and more federates arrived in Paris from the country. Subscriptions were raised and money was sent them to enable them to march. The assembly voted them thirty sous per day each man. These rude and sanguinary men, educated by the provincial jacobin clubs in a readiness for any crime or horror, though ostensibly collected to augment the armies of the frontiers, and defend the kingdom against the invaders, swore they would not move from Paris till they had destroyed the interior enemies of the people. They daily took up their position in the galleries of the assembly, to the exclusion of all else, thus overawing the deliberations. The country was, in truth, now delivered up to these jacobin hordes of ruffians. Under the influence of the jacobins thus made paramount, the assembly proceeded to reorganise the army, collected the scattered members of the terrible ex-gardes Françaises into a body of gensdarmes, and ordered the Swiss guards to march to the frontiers. The design was palpably to leave the king wholly in the hands of the jacobinised troops, and open any day to assassination. But the Swiss refused to quit the service for which they had been engaged - the defence of the person of the king. M. d'Affry, the commander, produced the capitulations under which the Swiss served, and positively refused to quit Paris. It was necessary to proceed to the terrible extremities contemplated, in spite of this obstacle.

The jacobins and their myrmidons, the federates, took into their hands the whole executive of the country. They abandoned all disguise as to their objects. A committee of federates, calling itself " The Central Committee of Insurrection," sate daily in one of the rooms at the jacobin club. The members of this committee were at first only five, in order to secure some necessary secrecy to their measures. As for their end, it was simply to rouse a republican revolution in every corner of France, and then to march to the palace, and seize and depose, or murder, the king. The five original members were Vaugeois, grand vicar - in fact, an apostate priest; Debessé, of La Drôme; Guillaume, a professor, from Caen; Simon, newspaper editor, of Strasburg; and Galissot, of Langres. But to these were soon added Carra, Gorsas, Fournier; the Alsacien, Westermann; Kienlin, of Strasburg; Santerre, Alexandre, commander of the faubourg St. Marceau; a Pole named Lazouski, captain of the gunners in the artillery of St. Marceau; Antoine, of Metz, an ex-constituent; and Langrey and Garin, two electors. They were soon joined by Camille Desmoulins, Manuel, and Danton, who became their very soul, and directed all their movements. They entered into communication with Barbaroux, who engaged to bring up a picked body of Marseillais, six hundred in number, who were sworn to die or carry out every desperate enterprise of the jacobin faction.

According to the jacobin and Girondist system, there required now only some startling fact to rouse the fury of the whole tribe of sans culottes, and such facts even the Girondist leaders thought excusable, however unprincipled. If the court could have murdered some patriotic member of the assembly, this would have thrown the whole nation into a flame; but, as it did not murder any such member, it was proposed by Chabot that the imputation of such a murder should be thrown upon it. Grangeneuve, a, man of limited understanding, offered himself as a victim, if some of the jacobins would assassinate him at night when returning from the assembly, and charge it on the court. Chabot, professing to be lost in admiration at this proof of patriotism, proposed to join him in death. They agreed to meet at a certain spot, where they were to be fallen upon and slain. Grangeneuve desired that they would kill him outright, and not leave him in misery. At the appointed time, Grangeneuve declared that he was on the spot, but that Chabot did not come; and no obliging assassins appearing either, he went home and went to bed. Chabot, on the contrary, protested that he could not find Grangeneuve, and the probability is, that both were more ready to make a boast of dying than to suffer death, and that neither even went to the place. Madame Roland, in relating this farce, seems to betray no sense of the infamy of the scheme, had it really been carried into effect. She seems to think, however, that the failure was owing to the cowardice of Chabot. Some other means were to be sought, and all seemed sensible that to conduct so decisive an enterprise, they must select some chief who should unite the efforts of the party, and lead them to its grand coup-détat. Who was this man? The different merits of Desmoulins, Marat, Barbaroux, Robespierre, and Danton, were weighed, and in all something was found wanting. Desmoulins was audacious and impassioned, but destitute of the lungs necessary for the orator of the mob, and of the necessary activity; Marat was ready to murder any amount of aristocrats, but had excited too much horror even for the leader of such a faction; Barbaroux was not bloody enough; and Robespierre was deemed, though cunning as the old serpent, much too cowardly. Barbaroux had interviews with both Marat and Robespierre on this subject. Marat proposed that all aristocrats should be compelled to wear a white ribbon on the arm, so that the people might know them, and kill them; but then he included royalists, Feuillants, and Girondists, all under the class to be exterminated; and he desired nothing so much as to be put at the head of two hundred Neapolitans, armed with daggers, and with a muff on the left arm as a shield, with whom he could traverse France and make a révolution! Barbaroux left him in horror. As for Robespierre, Barbaroux left him, convinced that he designed to make himself a permanent dictator. Danton, bold, and capable of commanding the people by his daring impetuosity, appeared the most likely man; but Danton was still in the pay of the court, and his avarice made him shrink from this post, which required the sacrifice of his base pay, for which he did nothing!

No leadership could, therefore, be established. So far from this, the insurrectional committee was divided in its counsels. The court were informed of this by its spies, and took measures not to attack the republicans, but to strengthen themselves so as to be able to wait the arrival of the allies. A club, called the French club, was formed, consisting of artisans and soldiers of the national guard, who had weapons concealed in the building where they met, not far from the palace, so that they could be ready to hasten there on an emergency. This club cost the court ten thousand francs a-day. A Marseillaisr of the name of Lieutaud, was also employed to send people into the tribunes, the coffee-houses, and public places, to, speak in favour of the king. It was proposed to call together the constitutional guard, which, though disbanded, had always received its pay. But all endeavours to protect the royal family could not blind the king's friends to the awful perils menacing him, and there were various proposals to him for flight or abdication. M. Malsherbes and others advised abdication; but the majority advised flight. It was proposed that the king and royal family should escape into Normandy. The duke of Liancourt, who was in the full confidence of the king, and who commanded that province, offered to put his whole fortune at the king's service, and to conduct the royal family to Gaillon, or to meet La Fayette, who should escort him to the army. It was contended that from the Castle of Gaillon the king, if necessary, could easily escape to the coast, and so to England. The count de Narbonne and madame de Staël had another plan; which was to carry the king to Compiègne, and thence, through the forest of Ardennes, to the Rhine. But, with his usual indecision, Louis could not be induced to accept any one plan, but waited, like a fascinated creature, to be destroyed by his enemies.

>>> Next page >>>
Pages: <1> 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

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

Camille Desmoulins
Camille Desmoulins >>>>
Chateau de Versales
Chateau de Versales >>>>
The Royal family of France
The Royal family of France >>>>
Boulevards of Paris
Boulevards of Paris >>>>
Paris >>>>
Upper Rhine
Upper Rhine >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About