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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 10


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The next day, Monday, the 3rd of September, the massacre was renewed. Billaud-Varennes, who commended the commencement of the butchery in front of the Abbaye, appeared early in the morning on the same spot, arrayed as the day before, in his scarf and municipal costume, and seeing the heaps of dead everywhere, said, " My friends, by taking the lives of villains you have saved the country. France owes you everlasting gratitude; and the municipality knows how to reward you. It offers you twenty-four hours a-piece, and you shall be immediately paid." The mob, delighted at these words, followed at his heels to the Hôtel de Ville. The president demanded where the money was to be found to pay such hordes. Billaud-Varennes said it must be found, and a message was sent to Roland for an advance. Roland indignantly refused, and the members of the commune had to collect amongst them what they could, and give orders for the rest, and one thousand four hundred and sixty-three livres were entered on the books of the commune as due. Marat demanded an order for the arrest of Roland for refusing to find money for the payment of the assassins, but Danton obtained the order from Marat and suppressed it. All this time the assembly was sitting, making feeble protests against the massacres, but totally powerless to arrest them.

On this second day of the massacre perished the beautiful and amiable princess de Lamballe. She was the widow of the prince de Lamballe, and was superintendant of the queen's household. When the royal family made their escape to Varennes, she went to England; but, hearing of the capture of her mistress, she, unhappily for herself, returned, and resumed her office. The princess's attachment to the queen was her only crime; she had taken no part in the revolution, yet she was seized and confined in La Force. She escaped the firs' day of the massacre, and, towards the morning of that fearful night, she flung herself down to get a little rest. But she was soon aroused by the fresh tumult, and two of the national guard entered her room about eight o'clock, and summoned her below to take her trial. She was asked whether she was acquainted with any plots. She replied that she had never been concerned in any; and she was so well known for her acts of kindness, that many people, at this mock tribunal, cried out for her to be set at liberty. " Let her be set at liberty," said the sham judge; and Thiers says, that his intention was really that she should be liberated; but no sooner did she appear at the door, than she was cut down, and her body stripped and exposed. For two hours it lay on the ground, and was insulted by the mob. When any blood appeared on the skin, some fellows with their handkerchiefs wiped it away to show its beautiful fairness. The dishonoured corpse was then cut to pieces, and carried on pikes through the streets. It was taken to the Temple to increase the horror of the royal captives, who every minute were trembling for their own lives. "We must carry the princess," said the wretches, " to the foot of the throne." Having arrived before the windows of the royal family, they made a great noise to attract attention. The royal family inquired what was the occasion of it. " It is the bloody head of Lamballe," said one of the guards, " which we are anxious to keep you from seeing." At these words, the queen fainted, and was carried away. As the duke of Orleans was sitting at dinner, the gory head of the lovely princess was presented at his window on the pike. The duke rose, and gazed on it without visible emotion or remark. As the brother of the duchess d'Abrantes was driving in his cabriolet, the infuriated and demon-like crowd surrounded it, saying, " He is an aristocrat! " These fellows were mostly naked to the waist, and their arms and breasts were covered with blood. Their countenances were inflamed, and their eyes haggard; in short, they looked hideous. They presented at the carriage window the head of the princess on a pike, with its long auburn hair clotted with blood, and a countenance still lovely. The wretches finished their desecration of the remains of the princess b^ firing one of her legs from a cannon!

The whole of the 3rd, and throughout the following night, the massacres continued. The most thorough and wholesale carnage was at the Bicêtre prison. Several thousands of persons were confined there for ail sorts of misdemeanours. Peltier says - "This prison might be called the receptacle of every vice; it was a hospital also for the cure of the foulest and most loathsome diseases. It was the sink of Paris. Every captive was put to death. It was impossible to calculate the victims; but I have calculated them at six thousand. The work of death never ceased for an instant during eight day s and nights! Pikes, swords, and guns not being sufficient, they had recourse to cannon to exterminate the captives. Then, for the first time, were prisoners seen fighting for their dungeons and their chains."

In this case, it could not be political motives which stimulated the slaughter; for the bulk of the poor wretches, if turned loose, would instinctively have joined the mobs They were sans culottes, like themselves. But it was the sheer fever of the thirst for blood which caused the savages to kill for the sake of killing. They even sent to the commune demanding military force to reduce the prisoners, who were defending themselves with the energy of despair. The commune refused, and the multitude, eventually, massacred the whole of them. At length, the prisons were empty; nearly the whole of their inmates had perished. The numbers have been variously estimated at from six thousand to twelve thousand; and Peltier says they may be, without exaggeration, calculated at eight thousand. To. understand the full atrocity of this massacre - the most disgraceful ever perpetrated in any nation, and of which no nation except that of France - described by its own great apostle, Voltaire, as half monkey and half tiger • - is capable, we must recollect that it was done, with a legislative assembly sitting in helpless apathy; a municipal government openly encouraging it, having first carefully prepared it, and having a body of above fifty thousand armed national guards, in and around Paris, at its command, so that it could, at any moment, have put an end to it.

Sir Archibald Alison says that only three hundred men were actually engaged in the commission of these murders; but this is distinctly denied by Chabot, who was an eyewitness. At the sitting of the jacobin club, on the 29th of October, he declared that he had gone with some friends almost everywhere amongst the mob; that from the Cour de Moines to the prison of the Abbaye, people were obliged to squeeze one another to make a passage for himself and companions; and, alluding to the assertion of Louvet, made in the same debate, that they were not the men of the 10th of August who were the authors of the 2nd of September, and that there were only some two or three hundred persons out, he protested that they were the very same men as on the 10th of August, for he saw them, and that he himself passed under an arch of steel of ten thousand swords! When the work was done, the authorities of the commune pretended to be seized with pity, and issued orders to stop the murders; but Thiers, who excuses the authorities as much a3 he can, is obliged to confess that " there were, however, but few unhappy individuals left to benefit by its pity! " When all was over, the bodies of the murdered were collected, and buried in trenches, which the municipality had dug for the purpose. Their bones were afterwards conveyed to the catacombs and built up, where, says Alison, " they still remain, the monument of crimes unfit to be thought of, and which France would gladly bury in oblivion."

But this was far from the whole extent of the massacres. The authorities at the commune, who had superintended all these horrors, the committee of surveillance, drew up an address, recommending the same butcheries to all the communes in France. They related what was doing in Paris, and added - " Apprised that barbarous hordes are advancing against it, the commune of Paris hastens to inform its brethren, in all the departments, that part of the ferocious conspirators confined in the prisons have been put to death by the people - acts of justice which appeared to it indispensable for repressing by terror the legions of traitors encompassed by its walls at the moment when they were about to march against the enemy; and, no doubt, the nation, after the long series of treasons which have brought it to the brink of the abyss, will eagerly adopt this useful and necessary expedient; and all the French will say, like the Parisians - We are marching against the enemy, and we will not leave behind us brigands to murder our wives and our children. - (Signed) - Duplain, Panis, Sergent, Lenfant, Marat, Lefort, Jourdeuil, administrators of the committer of surveillance, constituted at the Mairie. September 2nd, 1792."

There are two names which do not appear in this document - perhaps, the most diabolical which ever issued from any body of men since the foundation of the world; a manifesto calling on all the municipalities in the nation to arise, and make a massacre of the whole of the unfortunate wretches confined in the prisons! The men bearing these two names, however, had been no less active in this scene of blood and of gigantic crime. Robespierre had helped to organise it, and silently, with his accustomed cowardice^, stimulated it in secret. Danton, with open ferocity, everywhere hounded on the murderers. The call to spill a fresh ocean of blood throughout the country was eagerly responded to. The prisoners, many of them prisoners of state, amongst whom were De Lessart, the king's late favourite minister, and a number of bishops, priests, and military officers, confined at Orleans, were ordered, during the massacre, to be brought to Paris. They were conducted under a strong body of national guards and federates to Versailles. There, arriving on the 9 th, they were fallen on by a brutal crowd, many of whom had been amongst the most sanguinary of the Paris murderers, and were actually torn or cut to pieces. Out of the whole number, fifty-three, only four or five escaped with their lives. This done, the assassins went to the prison and slaughtered twenty-three more individuals who were confined there. The mayor endeavoured to dissuade the assassins from the perpetration of these crimes, but they cried, " Vive la nation Î " adding, " We must purge the interior before we think of the frontiers! " The Parisian villains then returned in triumph to the capital, and as they marched past Danton's house he came out upon the balcony, and thanked them for the service they had rendered to liberty and the country.

Throughout the country, the rabble rose with eagerness to obey the call of the commune of Paris, and murder not only the prisoners, but all who were opposed to them in opinion - gentlemen, priests, or moderates of all kinds. They did not, in many places, find the municipalities yet so abandoned to all feelings of liberality and humanity as the sanguinary leaders of the capital, and were restrained by the efforts of the national guards; but, in too many places, they were enabled to imitate the diabolical doings of these infamous men. At Meaux, fourteen prisoners, and still more priests of the town and vicinity, were murdered, and their heads paraded on pikes. At Caen, Rouen, Rouanne, and Gisors, the like scenes took place, and, at the latter, the good and humane duke de la Rochefoucauld was cut to pieces before the eyes of his wife and mother. At Rheims, at Lyons, Avignon, and many places of the south, similar butcheries took place. On the whole, there does not appear to have fallen in these September massacres, in town and country, fewer than fifteen thousand people.

Vergniaud and some of the Girondists, when it was over, ventured to express their abhorrence of this monstrous carnage. Madame Roland, who urged her husband to write to the assembly to protest against these massacres, was energetic in her denunciation of them. She declared them abominable crimes, which raised the indignation of all virtuous men; foul dishonours, that such men must raise their voice against, even at the risk of their lives. Yet, how was it that even madame Roland continued to associate with Danton, who was steeped in these abominations, in the foul dishonour of all this innocent blood? Danton continued a colleague in the ministry with Roland, and yet Roland did not resign! The Girondist newspapers and journals made but cautious comments on these horrid deeds, whilst the jacobin ones exulted in them. Prudhomme exulted in them. He declared that the people were " humane, but incapable of weakness. Wherever they smell crime, they throw themselves upon it without regard to the age, or sex, or condition of the criminal; that they had snatched the sword of justice from the hands of the judges, and executed their functions; teaching them no longer to despise the people." He justified all the indecent atrocities perpetrated on the body of the princess Lamballe. Many of the jacobin authorities did worse; they made a profit of these horrors; passports were sold at enormous prices; and Manuel is said to have received for one as much as five thousand pounds of our money.

Surely in no other nation under heaven could such scenes have taken place; yet so blinded were some of our countrymen, that all this did not open their eyes to the true nature of this revolution. It was after these dreadful days that Dr. Priestley became a French citizen, and was elected a member of the convention, which continued to approve of the like demonstrations. Others, however, were perfectly cured of French modes of regeneration. " Oh! " exclaimed Sir Samuel Romilly, " how could we ever be so deceived in the character of the French nation as to think them capable of liberty? - wretches, who, after all their professions and boasts about liberty, and patriotism, and courage, and dying; and after taking oath after oath, at the very moment when their country is invaded, and the enemy is marching through it unresisted, employ whole days in murdering women, and priests, and prisoners? Others who can deliberately load whole wagons-full of victims, and bring them like beasts to be butchered in the metropolis; and then, who are worse even than these, the cold instigators of these murders, who, while blood is streaming round them on every side, permit this carnage to go on, and reason about it, and talk about the example they are setting to the nations! One might as well think of establishing a republic of tigers in some forest of Africa, as of maintaining a free government amongst such monsters."

Yet, after all, Petion, who had winked at all this, and, in his usual way, had stepped aside and let it go on, had the impudence to go to the bar of the assembly, and declare that there was no doubt that all this crime was perpetrated by the paid agents of the enemies of liberty! The effete assembly itself was expiring, and Roland was charged to prepare a part of the palace of the Tuileries for the reception of the convention, which was to meet on the 21st. The nation having driven out the king, and made a wretched captive of him, was about to take possession of his devastated dwelling.

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