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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 9

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After mass he arose with new vigour, and awaited calmly the moment of going to the scaffold. He then took farewell of the faithful Clery. He took both the poor fellow's hands into his own, and, in a tone of deep tenderness, thanked him for all his services. Clery was completely overcome; he threw himself at the king's feet, and exclaimed, "Oh, my master! Oh, my king! give me your blessing! Bless the last Frenchman remaining with you! " Louis raised him, pressed him to his bosom, blessed him, and bade him to give his blessing to all who had been in his service. He then bade him retire, to avoid suspicions that might be dangerous to him. Clery was withdrawing, but Louis called him back, and gave him a letter which he had received from Petion on first Coming to the Temple, and which he thought might be of service to him. After being some time closeted with M. Edgeworth, Louis called Clery, and, taking him into the recess of a window, gave him a little seal from his watch-chain for the dauphin, and his wedding-ring for the queen. "Tell the queen," lie said, " how much it costs me to part with that ring. Give her this packet; it contains the hair of all my family. Tell the queen, my dear children, and my dear sister, that, though I promised to see them this morning, I have resolved to spare them that pang; yet tell them how much it costs me to go hence without receiving their embraces once more." He wiped away some tears, and added, in a sad and solemn tone, " I charge you to bear to them my last farewell."

He then returned to the abbé Edgeworth, and the municipals, who had been watching the whole scene, went up to Clery, and demanded of him to give up the articles intrusted to him by the king. But Clery refused; and it was at length agreed that he should keep them till the council decided what should be done with them. Louis had before this given the three thousand livres in gold due to M. de Malesherbes to a municipal officer for that gentleman. The council of the commune seized them.

The king then asked for a pair of scissors, that Clery might cut off his long hair, and save him the annoyance of the executioner doing it. There was a great debate amongst the officials whether this should be allowed. It was refused, though Louis said Clery might cut off his hair before them all. Clery was barbarously told that the common executioner was good enough for the job.

"All the troops," says Clery, "in Paris had been under arms from five o'clock in the morning. The beat of drums, the sound of trumpets, the clash of arms, the trampling of horses, the removal of cannon, which were incessantly carried from one place to another - all resounded in the tower. At half-past eight o'clock the noise increased; the doors were thrown open with great clatter; and Santerre, accompanied by seven or eight municipal officers, entered, at the head of the soldiers, and drew them up in two lines. At this movement the king came out of his doset, and said to Santerre, 'You are come for me?' 'Yes,' was the answer. 'Wait a moment,' said his majesty, and ' went into his closet, whence he instantly returned, followed by his confessor. I was standing behind the king, near the fire-place; he turned round to me, and I offered him his great coat. 'I shall not want it,' he said; 'give me only my hat.' I presented it to him, and his hand met mine, which he pressed for the last time. His majesty then looked at Santerre, and said, 'Lead on!' These were the last words which he spoke in his apartment."

"On quitting the tower," says the abbé Edgeworth, " the king crossed the first court, formerly the garden, on foot. He turned back once or twice towards the tower, as if to bid adieu to all most dear to him on earth; and, by his gestures, it was plain that he was trying to collect all his strength and firmness. At the entrance of the second court a carriage waited; two gensd'armes held the door; at the king's approach, one of these men entered first, and placed himself in front; his majesty followed, and placed me by his side at the back of the carriage; the other gend'arme jumped in last, and shut the door. The procession lasted almost two hours; the streets were lined with Citizens, all armed; and the carriage was surrounded by a body of troops, formed of the most desperate men of Paris. As soon as the king perceived that the carriage stopped, he turned and whispered to me, 'We are arrived, if I mistake not.' My silence assured him that we had. On quitting the vehicle, these guards surrounded his majesty, and would have taken off his clothes, but he repulsed them with haughtiness; he undressed himself, untied his neckcloth, opened his shirt, and arranged it himself. The path leading to the scaffold was exceedingly rough, and difficult to pass; the king was obliged to lean on my arm, and, from the slow- ness with which he proceeded, I feared, for a moment, that his courage might fail. But what was my astonishment when, arrived at the last step, I felt that he suddenly let go my arm, and I saw him cross with a firm foot the breadth of the whole scaffold, silence, by his look alone, fifteen or twenty drummers that were placed opposite to him, and in a loud voice heard him pronounce distinctly these memorable words: - 'I die innocent of all the crimes laid to my charge; I pardon those who occasioned my death; and I pray God that the blood you are now going to shed may never be visited on France.' He was proceeding, when a man on horseback (this was Santerre), in the national uniform, waved his sword, and ordered the drums to beat. Many voices were heard at the same time encouraging the executioner, who immediately seized the king with violence, and dragged him under the axe of the guillotine, which, with one stroke, severed his head from his body."

There are several circumstances attending this memorable event which deserve notice. There were none of the predicted attempts to rescue the royal victim. Peltier says that, "when they were conveying the king from the Temple to the place of execution, the train was followed by two men in arms, who went into all the coffee-houses and public places, and asked, with loud cries, if there were no loyal subjects left, who were ready to die for their king. But such was the universal terror, that nobody joined them. It is also & fact, that some tiinid people, well affected to the king, had formed an association of eighteen hundred persons, who were to cry out ' Pardon! ' before the execution; but of those eighteen hundred only one man had the courage to do his duty, and he, it is said, was instantly torn to pieces by the populace."

When the king was being led to the guillotine, the abbé Edgeworth said, " Son of St. Louis, ascend to heaven! " As soon as the blood flowed, and whilst Samson, the executioner, was exhibiting the severed head to the populace, those who could get near the scaffold dipped handkerchiefs in the king's blood, and one wretch even tasted of it, and, with an oath, declared it " shockingly bitter." Others put their caps on pikes and poles, and waved them, shouting, " Vive la République!" "Vive la Nation!" The fatal axe fell at twenty-five minutes past ten o'clock of the morning of the 21st of January, 1793. Louis was in the thirty-ninth year of his age, and had reigned eighteen years and eight months, within a few days.

Ail this morning his unhappy family had been expecting another and last interview; but the noise and bustle, and armed multitudes in the streets, must have convinced them that the king was led away without this last farewell; and the sound of cannon announced too plainly to them that the awful event had transpired. Soon after, the frantic and unfeeling mob assembled under the queen's window, dancing like maniacs, and shouting, and singing, and dancing the hideous Carmagnole.

The body of Louis was put into a large wicker basket, and conveyed to the ancient cemetery of the Madeleine, where it was thrown, without coffin or grave-cloth, into a deep grave, which was partly filled up with quicklime, which so rapidly decomposed it, that, when the remains were sought for in 1815, very little of them could be found. Over the spot where he was interred, Napoleon commenced building the splendid Temple of Glory, after the battle of Jena; but it was left to the Bourbons to finish it, who converted it into the present beautiful church of the Madeleine. On the spot where Louis was executed, previously called the Place de Louis Quinze, then the Place de la Revolution, and since the Place de la Concorde, afterwards fell the heads of the queen, the princess Elizabeth, and numbers of other victims of the révolution; among them those of the sanguinary demagogues, Danton and Robespierre.

Samson, the executioner, was said to have made a good deal of money by selling the king's hair, and shreds of his clothes; but this he denied in a public letter, and took the opportunity to express his amazement at the king's courageous behaviour on the scaffold, which he attributed to his deep religious principles. Benoît Leduc, a tailor, had the humanity to petition the convention to allow him, at his own expense, to bury the king's body by the side of his father, the dauphin; but this was refused.

The jacobins raised jubilant pœans of exultation over the death of Louis. They declared that they had destroyed the sixty-sixth of their kings, and the greatest villain of them ail - which, if true, must prove that France had been singularly fortunate in its monarchs; for Louis, though a weak, was, in truth, a good and benevolent man, and one who, in any other country except France, would have lived respected and beloved. They declared that they had expiated in his blood thirteen hundred years of slavery. They boasted that the 21st of January had made them a model for ail other nations. They bade all monarchs of the earth to look well to their thrones, for they had reduced them to dust. Robespierre announced to his constituents that they had extirpated the superstition of royalty, had Struck aristocracy with consternation, and could now defy England, with her Pitt and her guineas. Yet a secret terror of the prophetic words of Louis on the scaffold hung about them. They called upon one another to prove that there was not more truth in his allusion to the Coming calamities of France than there was in his assertion of his innocence. Two days after his death, the convention issued an address to the people of France, congratulating them on this event, which, they said, cemented the fabric of the republic, and set at naught the menaces of foreign powers, particularly of England and Spain.

This address was signed by Vergniaud, who happened to be président that day, and by five other Girondists, who were secretaries of the assembly. But the Girondist party at large was far from being satisfied with the result. They had obtained their desire - a republic - but they saw that they had been drawn, through their timidity, to share in the full odium of acquiring it through blood, that would bring upon them the execration of ail Europe. They saw, too, that their mortal enemies, the jacobins, had gained a great triumph over them, for, whilst they had induced them to share the crime of the death of Louis, lest they should be held up as enemies of the people, they still did point them out as enemies of the people, because they condemned the excesses of the people. The jacobins were advocates of terror and atrocity; the Girondists were content to have achieved the republic, and were now for moderate counsels. They had voted for the punishment of the Septembrists, and the jacobins had conceded it, because it made them condemn the people, and thus appear faint republicans, and, as the jacobins said, almost royalists. In a word, the removal of the monarch had only given the jacobins a fresh confidence in their strength, and added a new impetus to their threat of vengeance on their opponents, the Girondists. The dissatisfaction expressed by the federates during the trial of the king, the outcry at one time for the expulsion of Marat and Robespierre from the mother society and the convention, had greatly alarmed the jacobin chiefs. They were in fear of some résistance to the execution of the monarch; but the ease with which the tragedy of the 21st of January had been accomplished had given them unbounded confidence, and the Girondists saw too clearly that, so far from the king's death bringing them any advantage, it would only involve France in a long series of the most sanguinary wars, at the same time that it would let loose the fury of the inexorable jacobins against themselves External and internal feuds were before them, and their domestic enemies were innately more reckless and deadly than their foreign ones. Roland resigned his post as minister of the interior in despair, and Pache that of war. Beurnonville, a friend of Dumouriez, was placed in the war department; but this mended matters but little, for the jacobins insisted on the removal of Brissot and the whole of the Girondists. The Girondists and the Plain called incessantly for the completion of the constitution - as if it could give peace to France and security to them: it could do neither. They were soon made aware, in the words of Thiers, " that fate had called them, not to constitute, but to fight; that their terrible mission was to defend the revolution against Europe and La Vendée; that very soon they were to change from a deliberative body - which they were - to a sanguinary dictatorship, which should, at one and the same time, proscribe internal enemies, battle with Europe and the revolted provinces, and defend itself on all sides by violence."

For a short time quiet prevailed, as if the nation, and Europe, too, were stunned by the news of the execution of the king. Spite of the loud jubilees of the jacobins and sans culottes, throughout France there was a startled sense of terror - a foreboding of calamity. In La Vendée there was intense horror and indignation. Abroad, every monarchy seemed thrown into a new attitude by the death of Louis. Spain and England, which had maintained a careful neutrality, assumed a threatening aspect. Germany, which had not yet federally allied itself with the movements of Austria and Prussia, became agitated with resentment; and Holland, by the fear of suffering the fate of Belgium. The axe which severed the head of Louis from his body seemed to sever every international sympathy with France.

In England, the sensation on the news of the execution was profound. People in general had not believed that the French would proceed to such an extremity with a monarch of so inoffensive a character. The crime seemed to verify all the predictions and all the denunciations of Burke. There was, except amongst a certain class of almost fanatic republicans, an universal feeling of abhorrence and execration. There was a gloomy sense of approaching war; a gloomy sense, as if the catastrophe was a national rather than a foreign one. Pitt had hitherto maintained a position of neutrality. He had contrived to avoid giving any support to the royal family of France, which must have produced immediate hostile consequences, but he had not failed, from time to time, to point out, in strong language, in parliament, the atrocious and anarchical conduct of the French revolutionists, which justified all the prognostics of Burke, and threw shame on the bright hopes and laudatory language of Fox.

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