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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 3


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And yet what a life had Marie Antoinette been long leading! She was in continual dread of assassination, with her whole family. An attempt had been made to murder her in her bed; she had only time to fly in her night-dress to another room, and her bed was pierced with daggers in the rage of the disappointed assassins. She was constantly hearing, even in the palace, the obscene and menacing language of the sans culottes. Her Life and Adventures, with the most filthy Engravings, were published and spread everywhere. Neither she nor her children could take the air for a moment, for the wretches intruded into the private garden of the Tuileries, and insulted her in the grossest manner. The king ordered the gates to be closed, but the assembly instantly declared that one-half of the garden belonged to the people, and ran a tricolour cord across it, erecting also a board, warning the people not to intrude on the royal half. But though they kept on their own side of the line, they all the more vilely insulted the queen on the other by their cries, and she was compelled to give up the outside of the palace altogether.

Besides these causes, she was oppressed by the impossibility of rousing the king to any decided action. Though she now hoped for the speedy advent of the allies, had it depended on her, the whole family would have long been safely across the frontiers. She said to madame Gampan, " The king is no coward; he has great courage, but it is all of the passive kind, and he is crushed by bashfulness and self-misgiving, which proceed as much from his education sis from his natural character. He fears to take upon himself any command, and, worst of all, he fears addressing a popular body, or any number of men collected together. He was made to live like a child, and always under the eyes of Louis XV., until he was twenty-one years old, and this constraint has been the cause of his timidity and bashfulness. Situated as we are, some well-articulated words addressed to the Parisians, and to such of the national guards as are devoted to him, would centuple the strength and spirit of our party; but he cannot speak them! As to me, I could speak and act, and even get on horseback, if necessary; but if I were to act, it would make bad worse; it would aggravate the cries against the Austrian, against the domination of a woman; and besides, by putting myself forward, I should throw into the shade the king, and make him appear as nothing. A queen who is not a regent must, in these circumstances, remain inactive, and only prepare to die!"

It was, in fact, now fast coming to this conclusion. All the plans and efforts of the constitutionalists were now rendered abortive. La Fayette had fatally committed himself in his vain exertions to rescue the king. He had ordered Luckner to march forward, and be ready to receive him, if he were prevailed on in this last attempt to fly. Luckner was summoned before the assembly, and, old and weak, he there stated everything to the committee of twelve. Guadet had the address to draw from him all La Fayette's plans, and M. De Puzy, accused of being the intermediate agent for their execution, was summoned before the assembly. He there stoutly denied all knowledge of what marshal Luckner had stated, and poor old Luckner, when upbraided by the constitutionalists for his betrayal of their plans, said it was owing to his not understanding French, and to his having only factious persons all about him at the time.

The 9th of August, the day of the discussion of the dethronement, had arrived. The jacobins were prepared with all their arrangements for it. The Marseillais, who were expected to play a terrible part in the seizure of the king, were brought from their barracks, in a distant part of Paris, and quartered in the section of the Cordeliers, near the celebrated club of that name; they were thus close to the intended scene of action. The municipality had distributed cartridges I amongst them and the other conspirators. All was ready for the 10th.

Previous to the great question of the dethronement, that concerning La Fayette was discussed. This took place on the 8th. There was a fierce debate, which ended in his acquittal by four hundred and forty-six votes against two hundred and eighty. The sans culottes, indignant at this decision, assembled in crowds about the door of the assembly, and insulted, and kicked, and struck the members who had voted for the acquittal. All Paris was in a state of fury, declaring that an assembly which could acquit the traitor La Fayette, could no longer be relied on. The next day, the 9th, the great day of the dethronement discussion, there were loud complaints from the members who had been insulted or injured in quitting the assembly the previous evening; but these complaints were only received with derision. M. Beaucaron was stated to have narrowly escaped being hanged, and loud laughter burst from the tribunes. M. De Girardin said he had been struck, and there were tumultuous demands of "Where? where?" "Where?" retorted M. De Girardin; " did you not know that cowards never strike but behind one's back? " The order of the day was then loudly called for, but the assembly decided that M. Rœderer, the procureur-syndic of the commune, should be summoned to the bar, and ordered to take measures for the inviolability of the members of the assembly. A member demanded that Petion, the mayor, should be summoned, and interrogated whether he could answer for the public tranquillity, but Guadet and the Girondists demanded that the king should be summoned and have that question put to him.

Rœderer soon reappeared, and made such a statement as left little hope of any order or tranquillity. He said, one section had determined to ring the tocsin, and march both on the assembly and the Tuileries, if the dethronement were not pronounced. Next presented himself Petion, and confirmed this representation. He assured the assembly that all possible precautions were taken by the commune, but that he could not answer for their success. He would, however, consult that department, and adopt its plans, if they appeared more efficacious than those of the municiality. In fact, Petion, as well as his friends, the Girondists, though they had done all in their power to urge on this crisis, now appeared to shrink at the moment of action, and would, no doubt, prefer an act of deposition by the assembly, which might be carried out without much violence, to the risk of a battle betwixt the people and the Swiss and other guards who might be disposed to defend the palace. The one mode was certain; the other was, at least, uncertain, and was sure to be attended with much confusion and bloodshed. He hastened to the committee of insurrection at the jacobins', and begged Chabot to suspend the émeute till after the vote of the assembly. But Chabot replied that no dependence was to be placed on an assembly which could acquit the scoundrel La Fayette; that Petion allowed himself to be deceived by the Girondists; that the people were resolved to settle the matter themselves; that the tocsin would, that very evening, be rung in the faubourg, and the insurrection completed. Petion declared that he would resist such a proceeding; and Chabot retorted that, in that case, he should be arrested and rendered incapable of obstruction.

Already, indeed, all Paris was astir. The drums were beating in all quarters; the national guards were assembling at their different posts; the insurrectional committee had divided itself into three sections. One took its station in the Faubourg St. Marceau, with Fournier at its head; another in the Faubourg St. Antoine, headed by Westerinann and Santerre; whilst Danton, Camille Desmoulins, and Carra, were at the Cordeliers with the battalion of Marseilles. Barbaroux also came there after posting spies at the assembly and the Tuileries, and had couriers in readiness to start for the south the moment that the armed attempt should succeed; but, in case of defeat, he had provided himself with a bottle of poison, to prevent his falling under the guillotine. As for Robespierre and Marat, they were, as on all such occasions of personal danger, nowhere to be seen. Ready to shed any amount of the blood of their neighbours, they were always especially careful of their own. No one knew of Robespierre's retreat; Marat was skulking in a cellar, which Danton had conducted him to. As for Danton himself, he was never more in his element than when in danger. He harangued the people and the jacobinised guards in his thundering tones. He detailed the crimes of that court, whose money he had been receiving for years, and up to this very moment. He expatiated on its hypocrisy, and its hatred of the constitution, and declared that the people had only themselves to depend upon. The assembly, he said, had absolved La Fayette: there was no time to be lost. That very night the royal family was about to make a dash from the palace, and escape to Coblentz. Their assassins would cut their way through the people, and trample upon them in their blood! " To arms! to arms! " then he cried, " save yourselves! "

At this moment a musket was fired in the Cour de Commerce, and the cry " To arms! " became general. It was already eleven o'clock at night. The crowds poured wildly into the streets; the Marseillais formed in front of the Cordeliers, and had already made themselves masters of several pieces of cannon. Desmoulins and others ran and ordered the tocsin to sound. The sections assembled at the Hôtel de Ville, securing the municipal officers, and assuming themselves the authority. The tocsin began to sound from the top of the hôtel, and soon those dismal bells were ringing out from every church tower in Paris. It was not long in reaching the palace, announcing that the terrible night had arrived which was to determine the fate of the monarchy.

It was reported there that the president of the Cordeliers club had said that this was not to be a mere repetition of the 20th of June; it was to be a decisive stroke. On hearing this, the queen, madame Elizabeth, and the royal children, hastened to the council Chamber, where, late as it was, the king, the ministers, and chief officers, were deliberating in consternation on the possibility of saving the royal family. It was now too late. Not only had Louis declined all the offered means to escape when opportunity still existed, but he had neglected all other means of strengthening his defences. He had been urgently counselled to reconstruct the constitutional guard, which had been dissolved by a decree of the national assembly, though he had continued their pay, but he had refused. One battalion of the Swiss guards had been sent into Normandy, when it was deter- mined to flee thither. They had gone on pretence of guarding some supplies of com, and had not been recalled, Some other Swiss, in barracks at Courbevoie, had been authorised by Petion to come to Paris, but the whole of that body at the Tuileries did not amount to more than eight or nine hundred men, and from these their artillery had been taken away.

The gendarmerie, lately constructed, consisted of the old French guards, so notoriously jacobinised; and, to complete the defenceless state of the palace, all the regiments favourable to the king had, by successive decrees of the assembly, been removed to a distance from the capital. Still worse, the national guards had been newly organised and newly officered, all with a jacobinical tendency, and numbers of well-disposed Citizens had withdrawn in disgust. The guns were in the hands of blacksmiths and locksrniths, chiefly of the most sans-culotte tone; and of all the national guards, the battalion of the Filles St. Thomas, and part of that of the Petits Pères, were alone faithful. Such was the defensive power - some nine hundred Swiss, and little more than a battalion of national guards, against the great majority of the national guards, the Marseillais and other federates, and the whole armed mob of Paris.

Mandat, the commandant of the national guards about the palace, a captain of the ex-gardes Françaises, but possessing the confidence of the court from his firmness and attachment to his duties, had made all the arrangements for defence that his force admitted of. He had had the floor of the great galleries leading from the Tuileries to the Louvre taken away for a certain space, to cut off the passage of assailants from that quarter; he had placed one piece of cannon in the court of the Swiss, three in the central court, and three in that of the gardens. These guns were consigned to gunners of the national guard, so that, in reality, they were in the hands of the enemy; but the Swiss kept a sharp eye upon them, ready, at the first hostile movement, to seize the guns, and drive the traitors from the precincts of the palace; Mandat also posted bodies of gensdarmes at the colonnade of the Louvre and at the Hôtel de Ville, but these gensdarmes, as we know, consisted of old French guards, and therefore sure to go with the people.

Besides these defenders, some real, some nominal, numbers of the friends of the court had hastened thither, and armed themselves in any manner they could. Some had swords and pistols fastened to their waists by pocket-hand- kerchiefs; some had taken tongs and pokers as weapons, and a page and a king's equerry had even divided a pair of tongs between them, and carried each a half. These were defences ridiculous enough, and excited abundant jokes amongst the soldiers, and even among the courtiers. It was manifest that this miscellaneous throng could be of no use, f but must be greatly in the way of any effective résistance.

The members of the department directory hastened to the palace. The duke de la Rochefoucauld was there, Rœderer, the procureur syndic, was also there, and Petion, the mayor, was sent for. Petion was quietly waiting, at the Hôtel de Ville, the attack of the mob on the palace, and showed no disposition to move, but a number of the members of the municipal council, who were not aware of the game Petion was playing, insisted on his going, and, forming themselves into a body, called on him to lead the way. The mayor, on his arrival, was ushered into the council-chamber, where he said he found, not only the queen and children with madame Elizabeth, but a great number of women of the court, as well as armed courtiers. The king was very angry, and only observed to Petion, that he understood there was a great agitation in the city, to which Petion replied that there was. The courtiers cast severe looks on the mayor, and Mandat charged him with having, a few days before, delivered five thousand ball cartridges to the Marseillais, and with having, at the same time, refused to furnish either ball or gunpowder for the defence of the palace. Petion gave a miserable excuse that Mandat's order had not been made in due form. Mandat was indignant at this shuffling answer, and Petion asking Mandat whether, then, he had not sufficient ammunition left from the last delivery, thus learned, to his satisfaction, that he had only three rounds of cartridges. On this Petion complained of the heat of the room, and descended to the garden, where the municipal officers were waiting. But Petion was not allowed to return, for it was considered a good guarantee of safety to have his person there.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 3

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