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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 5


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

The ministers and madame de Tourzel, the governess, were allowed to accompany them, and they set out. In the lobby below, some of the officers of the national guard, as well as the courtiers, appeared disposed to prevent them going; but Rœderer told them that the king and his family were going to the assembly, and requested that they would not create any delay. He desired the national guards to form two files, and march on each side of the royal family. This was done, and poor Louis only saying, "Gentlemen, I am going to the assembly," the procession set out. When they reached the outer door Louis paused a moment, and asked Rœderer what was to become of all the courtiers and servants left behind? He never forgot those who were endangered on his account in the moments of greatest personal peril. Rœderer said, that as they were in plain c10thes, they had only to leave their swords and come out; he did not think that then any harm would happen to them. When they issued into the court, Louis remarked, that, after all, there were not so very many people collected; but Rœderer assured him that all the faubourgs were on the point of arming; that there were twelve pieces of cannon on the Place du Carrousel, and there were very few of the guards that could be depended upon. The king moved on again. As they walked through the gardens of the Tuileries there was a great quantity of fallen leaves on the ground, although it was only the 10th of August. Manuel had declared, in one of the newspapers, that the king would only last till the fall of the leaf. Probably, Louis thought of this, for he said, "There is a great fall of leaves; they fall early this year." The little dauphin, unconscious of the prophecy, and of the real catastrophe of their situation, childlike, went on kicking the leaves about.

They now approached the assembly, and Rœderer, recollecting that this body had claimed all the terrace of the Feuillans up to a certain point, halted there, not to infringe its privileges, and sent to announce the Coming of the king. The members of the assembly came out to receive him. Louis said, " I come, gentlemen, to prevent a great crime; and I think that I cannot be safer than in the midst of you." Vergniaud, the president, replied that the assembly eagerly concurred in securing his safety, and offered him and his family an asylum in their bosom. He added that they had sworn to die in defence of the constituted authorities. They proceeded to enter the assembly; but the moment the Swiss and national guards were left behind, the mob crowded around the unfortunate royal family, crying, " Down with them! down with them! " Some of the savages managed to rob the queen of her watch and purse, and one huge, ferocious-looking fellow, an officer of the grenadier guards, brandished a huge sword before the king's face, and declared that the whole of them ought to be butchered. Others cried, " No women! no women! " and added the most obscene language. Roederer addressed the brutal-looking officer with the sword, who suddenly put up ins weapon, seized on the little dauphin in his arms, and then hoisted him upon his Shoulder. The queen gave a shriek of horror, and was near fainting; but the man said, " Don't be afraid, madame, I will not do him the least injury," and lie carried him in this manner safely through the crowd and set him down on the bureau of the assembly. Others, however, continued to cry, "Down with them! they are the cause of all our miseries! they shall not go into the assembly! " One man brandished a pike furiously near the king, but Roederer snatched it away, and the wretch fled. One of the national guards at the door of the assembly, as the king entered, said, " Don't be afraid, sire; we are good people, only we won't be betrayed any longer. Be a good citizen, sire, and drive all the black silk breeches out of the assembly." The king entered; but the crowd pressed around the queen and prevented her following. Roederer called in some grenadiers to make a way for the queen - and this they soon effected. He desired the president of the assembly to place a detachment of the grenadiers of the Filles St. Thomas to guard the doors and keep back the press.

The king seated himself beside the president; but Chabot observed that his presence might check the freedom of debate, and thereupon Louis, his family, and ministers, were cooped up in the lodge of the short-hand writers of the assembly, immediately behind the president. But lest, even there, they might be assailed by some of the mob, the iron railing betwixt the lodge and the assembly was pulled down, and in this operation Louis and his ministers assisted. There the royal family could see without being much seen, at the same time that they could hear every word of the debate. There they were destined to remain in suffocating heat for fifteen hours, and to listen to the most violent debates on the suppression of the monarchy. It is said that even there a workman pushed his way in, and said, "So, you are here, beast of a Veto! There is a purse of gold I found in y our house, yonder. If you had found mine, you would not have been so honest! "

Roederer recounted to the assembly what had happened at the palace; and the assembly appointed a deputation to proceed thither, and order its protection. These gentlemen had scarcely quitted the place, when a discharge of cannon was heard. The assembly was horror-Struck; and the king exclaimed, " I assure you I have forbidden the Swiss to fire! " But he was interrupted by fresh reports of cannon, showing that a fierce conflict was taking place at the Tuileries. News soon came that the deputation was dispersed; and this was followed by tremendous blows on the door. There was a cry - " We are stormed! " The president put on his hat; and there was a rush of members to keep out the assailants. Order was restored, and the members shouted - " The nation! liberty and equality for ever! "

A terrible fight was going on at the palace. No sooner was the royal family gone than the gensdarmes and the national guards fraternised with the people, and, breaking open the chief gate with hatchets, rushed into the court. They then formed in column, and, turning the guns which had been left in the court on the palace, they callcd out to the Swiss within to give up the place to them, and they would be friends. The Swiss, to show their amicable disposition, threw cartridges out of the windows, but remained firm to their duty. In order to intimidate them, the mob paraded before the windows the bleeding heads of the four men who had been murdered in the Place Vendôme under the command of Theroigne, the courtezan. The Swiss remained unmoved. Westermann, the Alsacien, imagining that the Swiss did not understand what had been said to them, spoke to them in German; it had no effect. Some of the mob, with long poles and hooks at the end, then dragged some of the Swiss out of the vestibule, and murdered them. They next fired three of the cannon right into the palace, and the Swiss thereupon returned a smart fire of musketry. Those of the servants and courtiers that still remained in the palace now made haste to escape, if possible. Cléry, one of the king's valets-de-chambre, who has left a vivid narrative of these events, escaped by drop* ping from a window upon the terrace. At the same moment, the mob was bursting in at the grand entrance. They found a stout piece of timber placed as a barrier across the great staircase, and the Swiss and some national guards intrenched behind it: then commenced a fierce struggle; the barrier was forced, and the throng pushed back the Swiss up the staircase. These now fired a sharp volley, and the crowd fled, crying that they were betrayed. They were Struck by another volley in their retreat, and the Swis3 then descended into the court, made themselves masters of the cannon, and, firing, killed a great number of the Marseillais. The firing continued, and the savage Marseillais fled, and after them the sans-culotte crowd. There was a panic spreading all over Paris into the faubourgs, and here was another of those almost countless evidences? of the ease with which a little firm and well-directed resistance would have quelled this revolution. Had the Swiss followed their advantage, and scoured the streets of the city, they would have completely trodden out this insurrection, released the royal family, and, had there been any one in command capable of it, he would have ended the révolution as promptly as Buonaparte did afterwards. Buonaparte, then a poor lieutenant of artillery, was himself a spectator of the scene; and it was his opinion that the Swiss only wanted an adequate commander to crush the whole rebellion.

But, by that fatality which attended all Louis XVI.'s affairs, at this moment arrived M. d'Hervilly from the assembly with the king's order not to fire on the people, but to follow d'Hervilly to the assembly. This was, in fact, to leave the palace at the mercy of the mob. Such as were in the court did follow d'Hervilly to the assembly, where he promised them their lives and security under the protection of that body. At this sight, the populace and the Marseillais recovered their courage. The leaders again called on the dispersed masses to rally. Mdlle. Theroigne rushed about the streets, crying, "Vengeance! vengeance! Victory or death!" The Marseillais and Breton federates, led on by Westermann, reappeared, and were followed by thousands of national guardsmen and armed Citizens. The palace was attacked on both sides; the crowds every moment became greater, and the Swiss poured successive volleys upon them from the windows. Numbers fell dead before they forced an entrance; but this once effected, the crowd not only rushed in a dense mass up the great staircase, but dragged up cannon by main force to blow open the interior doors.

For some time the Swiss made a stout stand against this furious mob; but, being few against tens of thousands, and having exhausted their cartridges, they grounded their arms and called for quarter. They called in vain: the blood- thirsty sans culottes commenced a relentless massacre of them; women and children, armed with knives, assisted in their murder. The unhappy men, fixing their bayonets, drove the furious mass before them, resolving to cut their way through the Champs Elysées to Courbevoie, where was another detachment of their countrymen in barracks; but no sooner were they outside than they were surrounded, and shot and eut down without merely. Vainly did they cry for quarter; none was given. They then broke, and fled in small parties, one of them seeking to gain the assembly for protection; but they were butchered, nearly to a man, their heads stuck on pikes, and paraded through the city.

M. Cléry, who had jumped out of the window, found himself in the utmost peril. He was stopped by the Marseillais, who had just dispatched the Swiss, and one of them exclaimed, "How, citizen, without arms! take this sword and help us to kill! " Another Marseillais, however, snatched the sword, and Cléry, being in a plain frock dress, made his escape. He concealed himself in a stable; some of the Swiss rushed in after him, and were butchered close beside him. The master of the house, hearing their cries, ran out to see what was doing, and Cléry seized the opportunity to escape into the house. The master, M. le Dreux, and his wife, invited Cléry to stay dinner, and till the danger was over. "Presently," he says, "a body of men came in, hunting after the Swiss. They found none; but, with their swords dripping with blood, they stopped and related coolly the murders of which they had been guilty. I remained in this asylum from ten in the morning until four in the afternoon, having before my view all the horrors that were perpetrated in the Place de Louis Quinze. Of the men, some were still continuing the slaughter - others, cutting off the heads of those who were slain; while the women, lost to all sense of shame, were committing the most indecent mutilations on the dead bodies, from which they tore pieces of flesh and carried them off in triumph."

Madame Campan, one of the best describers of these last days of the monarchy, and one of the most faithful and amiable of women, was, with a number of other ladies of the palace, in the midst of these horrible scenes, expecting nothing but dishonour and death. They saw murder and destruction of all kinds all around them, when a man with a long white beard rushed into the queen's drawing-room, where she, the princess de Tarente, and a number of other ladies, were in momentary expectation of massacre, and cried, "In the name of Petion, mercy for the women! don't dishonour the nation! " Madame Campan missed her sister, and rap up-stairs to find her, when she discovered two femmes-de-chambre and a tall Hungarian, one of the queen's chasseurs. The man was sitting on a bed paralysed with terror. Madame Campan bade him fly for his life. He replied that he could not; that he was motionless with horror. The next moment in rushed the raging republicans and murdered him; and when about to dispatch madame Campan and the two femmes-de-chambre, a voice again cried, " What are you doing up there? The women are not to be killed! " On this a terrible-looking Marseillais, before whom madame Campan was on her knees praying for mercy, said, " Get up, she-rogue; the nation pardons you! " She and the two femmes-de-chambre were then carried to a window, placed on a large table, and bade to shout, "Vive la nation!" which having done in all the vigour of terror, they were allowed to depart.

But it was only to traverse the space betwixt the palace and her own house amidst the wildest scenes of murder, and of bullets flying in all directions. They were guarded by a number of armed men, or they would have been inevitably torn to pieces. The patriot women followed them hooting, declaring they were Austrians, and ought to be killed. The men attending them made them go under a gateway, and tear off the skirts of their white gowns, which were draggled in blood in sweeping over the floors of the Tuileries; but this only increased their danger, for the rest of their dress being short, made the populace take them for young Swiss in disguise. They met a crowd carrying the head of poor Mandat on a pike, and they only reached madame Campan's house to see it in flames. They went on to her sister's, where they found all her family assembled in safety. Before going away, one of the men said to her privately, that he was not one of the insurgents, but a person who had been compelled to join them; that he had killed nobody, "but," said he, "I have saved you." He added that the women had, the night before, sworn, on the Place de la Bastille, to kill the queen and all her women with their own hands.

There were a few others who, like this man, endeavoured to save the Swiss, and other victims of popular fury, from death; but their efforts were, for the most part, unavailing; some of the Swiss were murdered in the very midst of a body of the national guards, to whom they had surrendered; and such was the indiscriminate fury of the people, that they murdered a number of door-porters, merely because they had acquired in France the name of Swiss, as church beadles are still called Suisses.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 5

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

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