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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 4


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Meantime, the intestine war betwixt the jacobins and Girondists was growing every day more deadly in Paris. Roland had retired from office; Lebrun, as foreign minister, and Clavière as minister of finance, still remained in office: Such was the miserable remains of the Girondist ministry. Brissot, though not in office, however, had an overwhelming influence with this fragment of an administration. He seemed to monopolise all power and ail business of State. This turned the mortal hate of the jacobins upon him, as it had before rested on Roland. Marat and Robespierre taught the people to believe that it was Brissot and the Girondists who made everything dear. Accordingly, on the 25tli of February, there were riots, and plundering of the shops, and abusing of the shopkeepers. It was said by the not now, that when they had a king, they had their sugar and coffee cheap, as they used to say that it was the king who made these and other things dear. The Girondists declared the jacobins to be at the bottom of these outbreaks; but the jacobins repaid the imputation with interest. Marat protested that the instigators were concealed royalists; but it was replied, that the very morning of the riots, he had advised the people to turn out, and help themselves, and hang a few of the shopkeepers at their own doors. There was a demand by the Girondists that Marat should be tried by the convention for this language; but he justified himself, and declared that those who said the people had not a right to punish monopolisers, ought to be sent to a madhouse.

The strength of the two factions was being continually tested in différent quarters. A new organisation of the committee of surveillance of the convention - which was distinct from the committee of surveillance of the commune - took place, and the jacobins became the majority. Then Condorcet brought in a plan of a new constitution, in which the "Girondists were to take the leading part. This was received with the execrations of the jacobins, which were heaped especially on the names of Condorcet, Petion, and Sièyes. The fall of Dumouriez was another blow for the Gironde. Because Dumouriez had refused to go the length of the Mountain, he was always classed by the jacobins with the Girondists, and they now exclaimed against the treason of that general, and his attempt to bring in the Austrians, in order to damage the Girondists. There was a loud demand that the southern federalists should march directly to the frontier, because that would leave the Girondists exposed in the capital. There was a strong debate on the subject, and it was carried that the federates of Brest and other seaport towns should march to the north, but that the rest of the federates should remain in the capital. Thereupon Danton called for thirty thousand new volunteers from Paris alone, and that commissioners should be dispatched to hasten the calling of fresh levies ail over the country. The black flag was again hoisted at the Hôtel de Ville; the country was declared to be again in danger; the theatres were closed, and the sections assembled in the evening. When it was urged that troops must march to defend the frontiers, it was again replied that the patriots could not march and leave traitors behind to massacre their families. There was a call for another purging, more terrible and extensive than that of September. The Girondists felt themselves in danger, and held a meeting to consider whether they should not take the initiative, call in troops whom they believed true to them, dissolve the convention, and expel the jacobins from their hall; but their courage was never equal to these decisive measures. On the other hand, the jacobins carried a decree for a new extraordinary criminal tribunal, which should pronounce judgment without any appeal against conspirators and counter-revolutionists. They then proceeded, and carried a number of other decrees, ail announcing to the trembling Girondists the rising of the jacobin domination, and its ominous significance for them. One of these imposed a heavy tax on the rich; another sent commissioners into the departments to levy arbitrary compositions from the affluent, to seize their riding and carriage horses at pleasure, and to arrest any suspected or murmuring persons: in short, to exercise the most uncontrolled power. These commissioners acquired the name of "proconsuls," and vied with those of ancient Rome in acts of violence and insolence.

The next day, the 10th of March, there was a furious debate on the constitution of the new tribunal, and it was carried, in the end, that it should be presided over by nine judges, free from ail formalities; that it should be divided into two sections, always permanent; and should have an officer constantly sitting to receive denunciations. The Girondists made strong opposition, and proposed that, as this tribunal was to try persons from ail parts, there should be some of the judges from différent departments. As this did not at ail thwart the views of the jacobins, for their partisans were everywhere, it was carried. That evening there was a great gathering at the hall of the jacobins. The volunteers, to whom a dinner that day was given in the corn-market, came in great numbers, flushed with wine, and flourishing their swords and pistols, declaring themselves the conquerors of the Tuileries of the 10th of August that they must have the revolutionary tribunal at work, and that there must not merely be condemnation, but vengeance and death. The scene was one of the most inconceivable riot and confusion.

Louvet lived in the same street, not many doors from the hall of the jacobins. About nine o'clock in the evening, his wife, hearing this fearful hubbub, went to the hall, saw the flourishing arms, and heard the most terrible denunciations of the Girondists. She hurried away, found her husband, and informed him of what she had seen and heard. Louvet hastened off in quest of Petion, whom he found amusing himself with his fiddle. He begged the ex-mayor to accompany him to some secret place of rendezvous, where they and the other Girondists could consult about their safety. Petion opened his window, looked out, said it rained hard, that nothing would be done that night, and again took up his fiddle.

Louvet was more successful in assembling some of the other Girondists at the house of Lebrun. Beurnonville put himself boldly at the head of a body of Brest confederates, and cleared the streets of the rioters. Had the Girondists always shown this courage, they would have long ago crushed the Mountain. The next morning Brissot announced in "Le Patriote Français" that the Mountain had intended, by this émeute of the 10th of March, to seize on the executive power; to make Danton minister of foreign affairs, Dubois- Crancé minister of war, Jean-Bon-St. André minister of marine, Thuriot, or Cambacérès, minister of justice, Fabre D'Eglantine minister of the interior, and Collot D'Herbois of finance. Vergniand and the other Girondists demanded that the rioters and disturbers by profession should be dealt with by the new revolutionary tribunal; but as these were the actual tools of the Mountain, the Paris section, on the very next day, presented a demand to the convention that Vergniaud, Guadet, Gensonné, Brissot, and all the leading Girondists to the number of twenty-two, should be arrested and thus dealt with by themselves. This proposition was again and again brought forward in the clubs and the journals It was now apparent to the Girondists that the Mountain was impatient for their blood. The flight of Dumouriez in April added immense force to the jacobin denunciations. They coupled this with the Gironde system at large - a system of treason towards the republic. Marat and Robespierre became open-mouthed on the subject. They declared that the system of Dumouriez was the system of the Girondists; the system of the Girondists that of La Fayette continued. Robespierre declared that there were no real republicans except the common people - which meant plainly that all others should be exterminated by the new tribunal, This language was but the preface to his practice.

The Girondists replied, retorting these reproaches on the jacobins. Vergniaud declared that he had never had any intimacy with Dumouriez, but that Robespierre - that coward, who, on any occasion of public alarm, concealed himself in a cellar - had crowned Dumouriez with laurels, and embraced him in the jacobin club. He had denounced the Orleans faction, but the jacobins, and not the Girondists, had conspired with that faction, and had been the accomplices of Dumouriez. Marat immediately replied that he had, as all the world knew, pursued Egalité in his writings; and he now, so far from conspiring with the Orleanists, demanded that a price should be put on the head of Egalité junior, and on the head of all the Capets. Let the convention vote for that, and they would soon see who favoured the family and connections of the late king, and who did not. A scene of the most riotous fury ensued, during which there was a cry that there was a sword drawn. The fury increased; and in one of those paroxysms of confusion and madness into which this strange " collective wisdom" of a nation was continually falling, Marat's motion was negatived. He retired saying, " The people will now know who are the accomplices of the Capets."

Similar scenes of furious recrimination were renewed from day to day. On the 15th of April, Pache, now mayor, appeared at the head of a deputation from thirty-six of the sections, demanding the immediate expulsion of twenty-two leading Girondists. This had been done at the suggestion of Robespierre. When the names of the proscribed Girondists were read over, the galleries shouted and stamped. The president, observing that only one of the deputies had signed the memorial, informed them that it could not be received, except with all their signatures. Thereupon they signed, except Pache, who, for some time, declined, but eventually added his name. No sooner was this done than Boyer-Fonfrède, the youngest of the Girondists, rushed forward to add his name to the list of the proscribed twenty-two, calling on all the Girondists to do the same, which they did, saying, " Let them proscribe us all." A few days after, the commune of Paris sent a demand for the expulsion of the twenty-two, declaring the country to be in a state of revolution. This address they printed, and circulated throughout the departments. They formed themselves into a committee of correspondence with all the forty-four thousand municipalities, and, to protect Marat, declared that they should consider themselves all attacked by any attack on any member of their body, or on the president or secretary of any club or section of a club.

Notwithstanding, the Girondists carried a decree for the accusation of Marat; and, as usual, that hectoring demagogue immediately concealed himself. But, tired of inaction, and confident of acquittal through the prevalence of his party, on the 24th of April he surrendered himself, and was placed at the bar of the revolutionary tribunal. It could not be for a moment doubtful what would be the result of his appearance before a tribunal framed out of members of his own party, and after his own heart. He was instantly acquitted, and carried back, on the shoulders of the people, in triumph to the convention, crowned with a garland of oak-leaves. On the filthy wretch being set down in the midst of the convention, a pioneer with his apron on, and brandishing his axe, said, " Citizen president, we bring you back the excellent Marat, the friend of the people. If the head of Marat must fall, the head of the pioneer shall fall first! " The sans culottes, men, women, and children, then filed tumultuously through the hall, and then, snatching up Marat, carried him to the jacobin club, where the dirty fellow was embraced, hugged, kissed, and crowned with garlands! But, tearing away the garlands, he cried out, that they must not amuse themselves with ceremonies - they must exterminate their enemies.

Another violent and disorderly struggle then ensued at the convention for the formation of a committee of twelve, by the Girondists, to watch over the designs of the commune, and to arrest such persons as they deemed dangerous to the public peace. This was adopting the machinery of the jacobins. It was carried, and the committee then arrested Varlet, who called himself the apostle of liberty, Hébert, commonly called Père Duchesne, from his obscene novel of that name. This raised the fury of the jacobins; they demanded the annulling of the decree against the commune, and the release of Varlet and Hébert. This also was carried, and again, in the next sitting, repealed: such was the vibration of the factions, in a state of the most insane fury against each other, that their conduct rather resembled the maniacal outbursts of Bedlamites than anything else on earth. Certainly, no such scenes ever took place in any other representative assembly of a nation. The committee of twelve, to quell the jacobins, dispatched a messenger to Raffet, a sworn enemy of the Mountain, to bring in a body of national guards from the sections more disposed to the Girondists. He soon appeared at the door, to the consternation of the jacobins in the convention. Marat rushed out, pistol in hand, shrieking that the Girondists were going to murder all the real patriots. Whilst Raffet showed his orders to come to the protection of the convention, the mayor, Pache, and Garat, minister of the interior, were announced, who protested that there was no disturbance - no danger to any one. This was applauded immensely by the jacobins, and Raffet retired. As soon as he was gone, the jacobins demanded the release of Hébert and Varlet, and the dissolution of the committee of twelve again; and again these proposals were passed into decrees.

The next day, the 28th of May, the same scenes were renewed. The Girondists declared that the decrees of the night before had not been duly passed; that the whole had been a confusion, a conspiracy - a chaos. Robespierre cried out that the conspiracy was on the part of the Girondists; that all but fools must Bee that they were seeking the destruction of the jacobins. Again the liberation of Hébert and Varlet was put to the vote, carried, and these worthies were taken from the Abbaye on the shoulders of the people; half smothered in kisses and oak-leaf garlands; borne to the Hôtel de Ville, where they were rapturously received, and again caressed by the municipals and the citizenesses, and they thereupon demanded vengeance on the committee of twelve who had arrested them.

That vengeance was rapidly ripening; the jacobins had, by this time, nearly reached the ascendant; they had brought the people to the degree of bloodthirsty madness which would send them, at their bidding, headlong on the Girondists, and on all whom the jacobin chiefs doomed to slaughter. The Gironde was evidently worsted in the fight of faction, and reduced to a flock of trembling, conscious victims. The reign of terror was about to assume its full dimensions of horror and extermination. Robespierre, Marat, Danton, Chaumette, mayor Pache, and their congeners, had organised a plan of proscription which should make a clean sweep of all their opponents. The sections had been summoned to send deputies to an assembly meeting in the electoral club of the Evêché. Thirty-six of the sections instantly complied, and the other twelve were peremptorily summoned to do the same. This assembly constituted itself a republican union, and declared Paris in a state of insurrection. The electoral and representative rights of women were proclaimed, and a hundred patronesses represented their sex in the union. At this moment, news of the almost universal defeat of the armies, and of the victorious attitude of the Vendéans, raised the terror and the resentment of the jacobins and their mob of worshippers to the most rabid height. Numbers of deputations appeared at the convention, with black flags bearing ominous mottoes, and they demanded an explanation of what Isnard, the Girondist, had said a few days before - that if another of the insurrections, so frequent of late, took place, Paris would be annihilated. They demanded that all the deputies who had endeavoured to arm the departments I against Paris, meaning all the Girondists who relied on certain departmental federates for protection, should be expelled the convention, and the committee of twelve be abolished.

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