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


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At this crisis, the Girondists, hating and dreading the jacobins, who were every day becoming more formidable, and fearing also the approach of the allies, were disposed to enter into a negotiation with the court for restoration to power. A painter to the king, named Boze, and Thierry, the valet-de-chambre of Louis, were the médiums. Boze desired Guadet, Vergniaud, and Gensonné, the leading Girondists, to State their conditions in writing, that they might be laid before the king. These conditions were: - that the king should insist on the retreat of the foreign armies, dismiss La Fayette, choose a Gironde ministry, issue a law for the constitutional education of the dauphin, and some other minor changes. This would, in fact, have been to put the king into the hands of the Girondists, only the more to incense the jacobins, by far the most powerful party. When these conditions were laid before the king by Thierry, he pushed them away, saying it was not he, but the patriotic party who had provoked the war. There was an end of the Girondist hopes, but not of the jacobin incessant action. Robespierre drew up an address, and had it presented by a deputation of federates, containing his eternal cry for the death of La Fayette, for whose blood he thirsted with an unappeasable thirst. The assembly rejected the proposition; and this was seized on to exasperate the people still more. On Sunday, the 22nd of July, the tocsin was sounded, placards were displayed announcing that the country was in danger. Petion, as mayor, and attended by the whole municipality and by the national guards, went through the city with beat of drum and firing of cannon, bearing a black flag, inscribed – " Citizens! the country is in danger! " The flag, after the procession, was planted before the Hôtel de Ville, and lists were opened for the enrolment of volunteers for the defence of the country; these said volunteers to remain in Paris till the federates arrived in larger numbers. In a word, it was an open declaration of taking entire possession of Paris by the Jacobin mob, and putting down the monarchy. In this moment of effervescence appeared the proclamation of the duke of Brunswick as commander of the allied armies, and in the name of the allied monarchs.

This proclamation arrived in Paris on the 28th of July, though it was dated Coblentz, July 25th. It was far from being of the reasonable nature which the king had recommended, and was calculated to do the most fatal injury to his interests. It stated that: " The emperor and the king of Prussia, having seen the manner in which the authority of the king of France had been overturned by a factious people, how his sacred person and those of his family had been subjected to violence and restraint, in which those who had usurped his government had, besides destroying the internal order and peace of France, invaded the Germanic empire, and seized the possessions of the princes of Alsace and Lorraine, had determined to march to his assistance, and had authorised himself, a member of the Germanic body, to march to the aid of their friend and ally; that he came to restore the king to all his rights, and to put an end to anarchy in France; that he was not about to make war on France, but on its internal enemies, and he called on all the well-disposed to co-operate in this object; that all cities, towns, villages, persons, and property would be respected and protected, provided that they immediately concurred in the restoration of order. He summoned all officers of the army and the State to return to their allegiance; all ministers of departments, districts, and municipalities, were likewise summoned, and were to be held responsible, by their lives and properties, for all outrages and misdemeanours committed before the restoration of order; and all who resisted the royal authority, and fired on the royal troops or the allies, should be instantly punished with all rigour, and their houses demolished or burned. Paris, in case of any injury done to the royal family, was to be delivered up to an exemplary and ever-memorable vengeance; that no laws were to be acknowledged as valid but such as proceeded from the king when in a State of perfect liberty!"

This was an announcement of the utter overthrow of the revolution, and the restoration of the ancient condition of France, with its aristocracy and all its slaves. The sensation which it produced was intense. The king was immediately accused of secretly favouring this language, though it was far from being the case. It was in vain that he disavowed the sentiments of this haughty and impolitic proclamation to the assembly; he was not believed, and the exasperation against him was dreadfully aggravated. On the 30th of July the Marseillais arrived. They were met, at a distance from Paris, by Barbaroux, Santerre, and Merlin, with great tokens of rejoicing, and were conducted into the city and to the Hôtel de Ville, their band playing, and themselves singing a new martial hymn, since become of world-wide fame, as the Marseillais hymn; a strain which never fails to rouse the blood of Frenchmen to the highest pitch of enthusiasm and daring. The origin of this martial song was extraordinary. Lamartine thus relates it in his " History of the Girondists: " – " Rouget de Lisle, born amid the mountains of the Jura, was a young officer at Strasburg. There he used to visit Dietrich, the mayor of Strasburg, and there, with Dietrich, his wife and daughters, indulged his taste for music. He was desired by Dietrich to write a hymn which should breathe all the spirit of the révolution. He wrote down the words and hastened to Dietrich. He found him in his garden digging up winter lettuces. It was so early in the morning, the old patriot's wife and daughters had not yet risen. Dietrich awoke them, and sent for some friends, like himself passionately fond of music, and capable of performing it. Rouget sang, Dietrich's eldest daughter accompanied him. At the first stanza all their countenances grew pale, at the second tears flowed, at the last stanza the wildness of enthusiasm burst forth. Dietrich's wife and daughter, the old man himself, his friends, the young officer, threw themselves weeping into each other's arms. The hymn of the country was found; but, alas! it also was destined to be the hymn of terror. Unfortunately, Dietrich, a few months later, walked to the scaffold to the sound of those very notes which had sprung forth at his hearth, from the heart of his friend, and the voices of his daughters.

"The new song, performed several days afterwards at Strasburg, flew from town to town, to all the popular orchestras. Marseilles adopted it, to be sung at the commencement and close of the sittings of its clubs. The Marseillais spread it through France by singing it on their way to Paris. From this came the name of Marseillais.

"The old mother of De Lisle, a royalist, terrified at this echo of her son's voice, wrote to him: 'What is this revolutionary hymn which is sung by a horde of brigands traversing France, and with which thy name is associated? ' De Lisle himself, proscribed as a royalist, shuddered as he heard it resound in his ears like a menace of death when Aying along the pathway of the high Alps. ' What do they call this hymn? ' demanded he of his guide. ' The Marseillaise,' replied the peasant. It was thus that he learned the name of his own work. He was pursued by the enthusiasm which he had sown behind him. He escaped death with difficulty; the weapon turns against the hand which has forged it; the révolution, in its madness, no longer recognised its own voice."

As the Marseillais were conducted through Paris to the Champs Elysées, where a banquet had been prepared for them, they went singing this wild, new air to the astonish- ment of the crowd. These daring Marseillais stopped every one whom they met wearing a silk tricolour and tore it from their hats, for it was now the fashion to wear worsted cockades, and to regard silk ones as a mark of aristocracy. Thiers says this occurred after the event we are now to relate. Not far from the spot where the Marseillais dined happened to be dining, at a restaurateur's, a party of the national guards of the Filles St. Thomas, and other royalists. These, who had met without any thought of the Marseillais, were drinking, singing royalist songs, amid such toasts as "Vive le Roi!" and "Vive la Reine!" This gave offence to the populace, who cried, " Help, Marseillais! " These men, the most audacious characters of the south, who had frequented the port of Marseilles, rushed out of their tavern, and fell upon the royalists sword in hand, killed one, wounded many more, and put them to flight. Many of them, bleeding, rushed to the Tuileries, where they excited a great alarm. The assaulted grenadiers of St. Thomas sent a deputation to the assembly to complain of the outrage. They declared that, being only forty in number, they were attacked by five hundred and sixteen Marseillais; but they were not suffered to say more, for the Marseillais, with whom the galleries were crammed, commenced hooting and insulting them. In the midst of the confusion a number of jacobinised national guards appeared at the bar, declaring the grenadiers the offenders; that the court had certainly set them on, and that the ladies of the court were then dressing their wounds and wiping away the blood with their pocket-handkerchiefs. Some one called out, " Ha! they are certainly knights of the poniard! " This was wildly applauded by the galleries. The assembly declared that it would deliberate on the question; but the next day fresh deputations appeared from both parties: the Marseillais protesting there was some horrible plot in operation at the Tuileries, and the grenadiers demanding the removal of these ferocious desperadoes from Paris, where it was impossible for the public tranquillity to be maintained in their presence. The demand was drowned in the clamours of the insolent Marseillais, and the assembly decreed that the discussion of the dispute must be left to the ordinary courts of law.

But it was evident that a crisis was at hand. The jacobins had grown sufficiently daring for the execution of their last outrage on the monarchy by the arrival of the federates. More of these were pouring in every day, and offices of insurrection were opened in various inns and wine- shops in the faubourgs. On the 2nd of August Guadet moved in the assembly and carried a decree, that every deserter from the Austrian and Prussian armies should enjoy a pension of a hundred livres per annum, and ail the rights of French citizenship, including that of serving in the army, if he pleased; when the Marseillais again appeared, and demanded formally the dethronement of Louis XVI., who, they declared, had again been butchering the people, and would never cease to do so, so long as he was permitted to remain. Presently, in rushed a mob of men and women, crying, " Vengeance! they are poisoning the patriots! they are poisoning our brothers! " It was declared that bread had been given to the federates marching to Paris at Soissons, mixed with glass, and that a hundred and sixty were already dead, and eight hundred dying in the hospitals!

These monstrous lies and exaggerations were every-day practices with the jacobins when they wished to hound on the rabble to some desperate deed. A commission was immediately dispatched to Soissons, who the next day reported that there had been no poisoning or intended mischief whatever; that simply some flour had been stored in the church of St. Jean, and the windows having been broken by the sans culottes, as those of most churches were, some bits of the glass had fallen into the flour, and been kneaded with the bread. There had been no death whatever. Scarcely was this letter received by the assembly, when another mob of sans culottes rushed in, demanding vengeance for the numbers poisoned. Vergniaud assured them that there had been no such poisoning, and ordered the letter to be read. Deprived of this false grievance, the mendacious sans culottes instantly improvised another. " Well," said they, " if they have not poisoned the patriots at Soissons, they are doing worse here in Paris; they are going to assassinate the whole people! " Any body but the national assembly would have received this announcement with laughter; but Vergniaud gravely replied that the assembly would protect the people, and the sans culottes again denounced the king, the court, the ministers, and the executive.

In the midst of this scene, Petion entered the assembly at the head of a deputation from the commune of Paris, and demanded the dethronement of the king. He went through the whole history of Louis, and represented him as one of the worst of princes, as from his youth one of the vilest and most bloody of tyrants; that he had always shown a rooted aversion to ail men except priests and aristocrats - a base calumny, for, long before his elevation to the throne, men of the tiers-état had been amongst his most familiar companions. But, in fact, the whole harangue of the sleek Petion was one tissue of falsehoods. He was not contented with representing the king as secretly averse to the revolution - which was true enough - but he charged him with systematically returning ingratitude for kindness; and he concluded by exclaiming, " Let every one of us, before we yield our last sigh, illustrate his memory by killing a slave and a tyrant."

He then dwelt on the dangers that surrounded them - the approach of vast armies, the total inadequacy of the means of defence, the terrible threats of Brunswick, and the danger of a treacherous court in their midst in secret alliance with the invaders. The assembly was taken by surprise. This was the first time that this momentous proposition had come formally from the municipality of Paris. In the morning session, the balance of opinion was against it; but, in the evening, it ran the other way. However, it was decreed to adjourn the question till the 9th of August, but the assembly went on receiving petitions of the same tone and tenor. Al the sections of Paris were for the dethronement except the Filles St. Thomas and the Petits Pères. That of Mauconseil did not wait for the decree of the assembly; it pronounced the dethronement of the king on its own authority. It called ail the sections of the " empire " - -for it would not use the word " kingdom – to follow its example, and to demand plainly of the assembly whether it meant to save the nation. The assembly annulled the decree of the section Mauconseil, and Vergniaud and Cambon denounced their proceeding as a usurpation of the sovereignty of the people; but it seemed to be, not the principle which they condemned, but the irregularity of its enunciation, and the indecorous language applied to the assembly.

The crisis was now at hand. The efforts of the jacobins had now culminated with the great blow which should crush this ancient monarchy to the earth. The federates called a meeting of the committee of insurrection to arrange the final plans. The insurrection itself was resolved by it to take place immediately on the discussion of the dethronement by the assembly - that is, on the 9th or 10th of August. On the other hand, a meeting of the king's friends was held in the garden of M. de Montmorin, minister of foreign affairs. At that meeting each reported what he had discovered. Lally-Tollendal stated that he had received an anonymous letter, in which the writer informed him of a conversation at Santerre's, announcing the plan of marching to the Tuileries, killing the king in the fray, and, seizing the prince regent, to do what seemed best with him; or, if the king should not be killed, to make all the royal family prisoners. It was resolved that the king should leave Paris, at whatever risk, escorted by the Swiss and a troop of his friends, who were numerous, and prepared to die in his defence, if necessary. The duke de Liancourt renewed his offers, and those of La Fayette were relied on. Money was raised, and, after a deliberation of three hours, Montmorin communicated the result to the king, who assented to the plan, and ordered them to arrange with Messieurs Monteuil and Sainte-Croix. The courtiers were delighted; they believed that now, at length, they saw the deliverance of the monarch; and, could they have put Louis into a carriage and driven off with him at once, this might have been done, but to allow him an interval to deliberate in was certainly to insure his relapse. The next morning all was over; Louis declared he would not leave Paris, as it would begin a civil war. All were thunderstruck. Bertrand de Molleville urged Louis to fly without a moment's delay - to-morrow, even, might be too late; but the poor infatuated king replied, that he was assured, from good authority, that the insurrection was not so near as they imagined; that it might be retarded, if not prevented; and that he was adopting measures for that purpose. On hearing this fatal language, Montmorin said to Molleville, "The king is lost, and so are we all. You laughed at me six months ago, when I told you it would come to a republic; now, you see! " Montmorin assured Molleville that this time the queen was more to blame than the king; she did not like to trust to the constitutionalists and La Fayette. She was confident of the speedy arrival of the allies to their rescue.

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