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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 6

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Desèze thus concluded his admirable defence: - " Louis ascended the throne at the age of twenty; and at the age of twenty he gave, upon the throne, an example of morality. He carried to the throne no culpable weakness, no corrupting passion. In that station he was economical, just, and firm, and had proved himself the constant friend of the people. The people wished for the abolition of a disastrous impost which oppressed them - -he abolished it. The people demanded the abolition of servitude - he began by abolishing it himself in his domains. The people solicited reforms in the criminal legislation to alleviate the condition of accused persons - he made those reforms. The people desired that thousands of Frenchmen, whom the rigour of our customs had, till then, deprived of the rights belonging to the citizens, might either acquire or be restored to those rights - he extended the benefits to them by his laws. The people wanted liberty, and he conferred it. He even anticipated their wishes by his sacrifices; and yet it is in the name of this very people that men are now demanding _____. Citizens, I shall not finish - I pause before history. Consider that it will judge your judgment, and that its judgment will be that of ages!"

At the close of this defence, Louis rose and read the following few remarks, which he had prepared: - " My means of defence are now before you. I shall not repeat them. In addressing you - perhaps for the last time - I declare that my conscience reproaches me with nothing, and that my defenders have told you the truth. I was never afraid that my conduct should be publicly examined; but it wounds me to the heart to find, in the act of accusation, the imputation that I caused the blood of the people to be spilt; and, above all, that the calamitous events of the 10th of August are attributed to me.

" I confess that the multiplied proofs which I have given at all times of my love for the people, and the manner in which I have always conducted myself, ought, in my opinion, to demonstrate that I was not afraid to expose myself in order to prevent bloodshed, and ought to clear me for ever from such an imputation."

Being asked by the président, Defermont, whether he had anything more to say in his defence, on his saying that he had not, he was told that he might retire. He was then conducted to an adjoining apartment, where, when alone with his counsel, he embraced Desèze with tears, observing that he was exhausted by fatigue, and apparently dejected by the stern coldness with which his address had been received. Louis showed much sympathy for him, saying, "My poor Desèze!" He then conversed as cheerfully as before, and was conducted back to the Temple, which he reached at five o'clock.

No sooner had the king withdrawn, than Manuel moved that the defence of Louis should be printed, along with the charges against him; that copies should be distributed to the members within twenty-four hours; and that the debate upon it should be adjourned for three days from the time of the distribution. But the jacobins demanded fiercely that they should come to an instant judgment upon the question whether Louis Capet should suffer death or not. Duhem and Bazire declared that all formalities had been gone through; they had heard the charge and the defence; Louis himself said that he had nothing to add in his justification; they ought to vote and decide that very morning. The Girondists sate silent, as though they would allow the jacobins to have all the odium of this impetuous ferocity. At length Lanjuinais - an advocate of civil law, and one of the founders of the Breton society, but who had grown more liberal and merciful during the dreadful scenes that he had witnessed - rushed to the tribune, and alone opposed this inhuman haste. He declared that Morrisson had propounded the truth; that they had no right or power to judge the king. He exclaimed that the day of ferocious men had gone by - an assertion which many an ocean of blood had yet to contradict. He asserted that no tribunal in France had that right, much less the convention, which was composed of a majority of the conspirators of the 10th of August, which made it monstrous that the king should be judged by his accusers - the conquered by the conquerors." At the word conspirators, there arose a terrible clamour, and wild shouts of " Away with him! to the Abbaye with him! " Legendre, the butcher, Billaud-Varennes, and the most brutal of the members, cried, "He is a royalist! He is impeaching the glorious 10th of August! "

Lanjuinais endeavoured to make the word more palatable. He declared that he used it in a favourable sense; that the 10th of August was a glorious day. With much difficulty, Lanjuinais was allowed to go on, and he concluded by saying that he would rather die a thousand deaths than, contrary to all law, condemn the most execrable of tyrants. The tempest of passion continued. Manuel moved an adjournment; Duhem and the jacobins shouted, u None of your adjournments! " Amidst this uproar the Girondists sate silent, not even calling for an adjournment, till Hardy of Rouen, who was rather an opponent of the Mountain than a Girondist, declared that "justice demanded calmness and fair play," and that " it was not fair play for seven hundred and fifty men to run down one man - the king." At this the uproar became worse than ever. The jacobins rushed in a mob to the president's bureau. They surrounded his chair with furious gestures and cries, accusing him of favouring the king, and calling out for some one to tear the bell out of his hand. Still the Girondists sate silent in the most cowardly manner, evidently desirous of the king's speedy condemnation, but that the jacobins should bear the blame of it. They could have asserted their majority and have voted an adjournment at once. The tornado of fury raged on for an hour longer, when a vote was carried declaring that the discussion was opened, and should be continued, to the exclusion of all other business, till sentence was passed. After this, Salles and the ex-mayor Petion attempted to propose some delay, but they were stormed down, Marat crying, " I tell you the debate for to-day is closed," and calling on the Mountain to pull Petion out of the tribune. There were cries of " We will have no more kings! " and waving of hats; and, amongst those thus hailing this sentiment, Philipx Egalité was seen as actively waving his hat as any one. Orleans, in fact, was assisting in the death of his royal relative out of a mean regard for his own safety.

The next morning St. Just ascended the tribune. The appearance of Louis, the day before, at the bar of the house, calm, gentle, and dignified in his humiliation, had touched even the ferocious hearts of many of the members of that infuriate assembly. Even Robespierre confessed that he had not seen Louis there without emotion. The Girondists were many of them deeply moved, but not enough so to instil into them courage and magnanimity. Vergniaud through- out the whole trial was greatly agitated, and the night after Louis's condemnation continued sleepless and in tears. The gloomy and cruel St. Just confessed to a participation in this softened feeling; but he endeavoured to conquer these feelings by calling Louis, in his speech, a modest and supple tyrant, who had oppressed with modesty, who defended himself with modesty, and against whose insinuating mildness it was necessary to steel themselves. Thus, with such men, there are no qualities, no innocence that may not be turned into arguments against the accused; and he demanded death, and nothing less, for the king.

The Girondists now, too cowardly to venture on the responsibility of condemning the king themselves, yet un- willing that he should escape, hit on the scheme of calling on the people in their departmental and municipal assemblies to decide the question. It was a mean and contemptible subterfuge, displaying a total want of greatness in them. We cannot better express their conduct, in thus seeking to throw the blame on the people, and yet, when they failed in this, themselves voting for the death of the king, than in the language of Napoleon, when discussing this matter with Las Casas at St. Helena. "The Girondists," he said, "condemned the king to death, and yet the majority of them had voted for the appeal to the people, which was intended to save him. This forms the inexplicable part of their conduct. Had they wished to preserve his life, they had the power to do so; nothing more would have been necessary than to adjourn the sentence, or condemn him to exile or transportation. But to condemn him to death, and, at the same time, to endeavour to make his fate depend on a popular vote, was the height of imprudence and absurdity. It was, after having destroyed the monarchy, an endeavour to tear France in pieces by a civil war. It was this false combination which ruined them. Vergniaud, their main pillar, was the very mail who proclaimed, as président, the death of Louis; and he did this at the moment when the force of their party was such in the assembly that it required several months' labour, and more than one popular insurrection, to overthrow it. That party might have ruled the convention, have destroyed the Mountain, and have governed France, if they had at once pursued a manly, straightforward conduct." They did not pursue this course, and their cowardly selfishness enabled the Mountain to destroy them.

Salles succeeded St. Just, and proposed that the matter submitted to the primary assemblies should not be to judge the king, but merely to decide on the judgment of the convention, and that the only question proposed for them to answer should be - " Shall Louis be confined, or put to death?" He himself leaned to the confinement, observing that to put Louis to death was only to bequeath his pretensions to his brothers, who were more daring and able than himself, and to enlist all the sympathies of Europe in their behalf. Rabaut St. Etienne, a native of Nismes, a descendant of the persecuted Camissards, warned the convention against proceeding to the death of the king, by the re-action which took place in England after the execution of Charles I. The people of London, he said, who had been the loudest in demanding Charles's death, were the first to demand retaliation on his judges, and to fall prostrate at the feet of Charles's son and successor. He concluded by exclaiming - " People of Paris, people of France, have you heard me? "

The jacobins were in too excited a temper to listen to anything but the demand for instant condemnation. Lequinis declared that the Girondists only proposed the appeal to the people in order to excite civil war, and to bring the southern federates on the Mountain, and exterminate their. The galleries responded with loud shouts and clappings to these sentiments, in which the Mountain joined, and the Girondists, in fury, rushed across the house, and shook their fists in the face of the frantic jacobins. In this whirl of disorder the sitting came to an end.

The next day, the 28th, the Girondist minister, Lebrun, read a letter from the court of Madrid, offering to remain neuter, and to use its influence with other countries to do the same, on condition of the life of Louis being spared; but the only notice taken of it was to refer the note to the foreign minister, and to order the recall of the French minister from Spain, unless that country forthwith acknowledged the republic. Thuriot demanded that no letters should be received from foreign powers about the king's trial during its progress. When this business was dismissed, Lequinis again warned the convention against referring the decision on the king to the nation at large; but Robespierre rose, and went straight to the mark desired by the jacobins. He did not pause to bandy words about mercy, or where the responsibility should rest: he called for an instant judgment of death on Louis, and declared the proposal of the Girondists to refer the question to forty-four thousand separate tribunals, as only surpassed in its folly by the cowardice and shuffling that prompted it. The next day, the 29th, being spent in the same formal and inconclusive debate, deputations appeared at the bar, charging the convention with useless delay. Eighteen sections sent deputations to demand, on behalf of the widows and children of those who fell on the 10th of August, blood for blood. Then came rumours of the closing of the barriers, and the approach of another massacre. The 30th and 3Ist were spent in the same manner. Marat, the perpetual alarmist, asserted that the Girondists were hatching plots for the destruction of their opponents, and had sent for Dumouriez to come and drench Paris in the blood of its people. At length rose Vergniaud, the chief orator of the Girondists, and made a long and sentimental speech, the only object of which, however, was to enforce the appeal to the people in the primary assemblies. He retorted on the jacobins their accusations, and declared that they only desired to destroy Louis in order to proceed to worse horrors; that they would steep Paris in blood, and strew its streets with the carcases of its inhabitants. He was answered by Moreau and Dubois-Crancé, the latter of whom said that the people, in their forty thousand assemblies, could decide upon nothing, and he called on the convention to proceed at once to the decapitation of Louis, and then let the people take off their heads, if they pleased. With this emphatic proposal concluded the sitting, and with it the eventful year of 1792.

The new year opened with a continuance of the same violent debates from day to day in the convention, and with cries of distress in the city from the dearness of bread. The people went about with huge placards, on which were written, "Give us bread, or kill us! There has not been blood enough. The cause of ail our troubles is in the Temple, and in part of the convention. Strike the traitor, and give us bread and equality." They surrounded the convention with these cries. On the 14th of January the members met, amid a huge mob surrounding the house, and demanding, " Death to the tyrant! Death to him or to us! " Other crowds crammed the galleries. The debate was re- newed, and the same. furious menaces and recriminations betwixt the Girondists and the Mountain were repeated. At length the convention reduced ail the questions to these three: - 1st. Is Louis Capet guilty of conspiring against the liberty of the nation and the safety of the State? 2nd. Shall the judgment, whatever it be, be referred to the sanction of the people? 3rd. What punishment shall be inflicted on him?

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