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The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 8


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" Yes," said the queen; " I have told the truth, and I persist in that." "How is it," demanded the président, " that you, who promised to bring up your children in the principles of the révolution, have continued to teach them erroneous, royalistic principles, and to treat your son as if he were yet one day to succeed to the throne of the ci-devant king, his father? " " My son," replied Marie Antoinette, impressively, "was too young to be talked to about such things. I merely placed him at the end of the table, at dinner, that I might help him to the food he wanted." When asked if she had anything more to say, she added, " Yester- day I did not so much as know the names of the witnesses who were to be brought against me. I was quite as ignorant of the charges it was intended to make; yet there has not been alleged against me so much as, one positive fact. I finish by observing, that I was never a queen regnant; that I was never anything but the wife of your late king; and that, as the wife, I was bound to conform to the will, the interests, and the wishes of my husband."

In any other place and country, that must have been a triumphant defence; but Fouquier-Tinville declared that there were the most ample causes for her condemnation. In reply, Chauveau - who had been counsel for Charlotte Corday - and Tronçon-Ducoudray, who had been named by the tribunal as her advocates, made bold and earned speeches in her behalf. But all these statements, speeches, and defences were perfectly useless: that tribunal sate only to condemn; and, accordingly, Marie Antoinette was declared guilty of conspiring against the republic, and of endeavouring to involve the country in civil war, and was condemned to die; and the président, Herman, was so elated by the event, that he declared that they were setting a grand example to the nations of the universe by thus crushing this helpless and long-hated woman, whose only offence was that she had married the king of that heaven-abandoned country. She left the court without saying a word, without any apparent emotion, or casting a single look at the judges, the jury, or the crowd.

It was already four o'clock of the morning of Wednesday, the 16th of August, the trial having lasted two days and a night, when she again reached her cell in the Conciergerie. Knowing that much time would not be allowed her, she prepared herself for the last solemn act of her life; cut off her own hair, threw off her mourning dress, and put on one of white muslin. This done, amid the thunder of drums already calling together the sections in arms for the execution, she threw herself on the bed, and slept so soundly, that the officers Coming to attend her to the scaffold had to awake her. It was about eleven o'clock. She was conveyed in a cart, with her hands bound behind her, like the commonest criminal; she was led through the crowds, ail shouting - " Down with tyranny! Long live the republic! " Through the whole she passed observant and calm, with only one tremor of emotion when she caught sight of the Tuileries. Recovering herself, however, she advanced with a firm and dignified step to the scaffold, and, after a few words with her confessor, who attend ed her, but not in the unpopular clerical costume, she placed herself under the axe, and was beheaded in an instant. As in the case of her husband, her head was held up to the expectant people, and then her remains were hurried away to the grave, which was filled in with quicklime. The jacobins were exultant, as though they had accomplished a noble instead of a contemptible action. " Let the news fly," they said, " to Austria. The Romans sold the ground occupied by Hannibal; we strike off the heads dearest to the sovereigns who have invaded our territory!"

The stream of blood now flowed in full freedom. No sooner had the convention dispatched the queen, than they proceeded to the trial of the Girondists. Twenty-two of the leading persons of this party, who were in custody, were put upon their trial on the 24th of October, except Gorsas, who, having escaped, and been retaken, was guillotined on the previous 9th of the month. Amongst the twenty-one remaining were Vergniaud, the great orator of the party, Gensonné, Brissot, Cora, Duperret, to whom Charlotte Corday had brought the fatal letter of introduction, Valazé, Sillery, the husband of madame Genlis, the abbé Fauchet, Boyer-Fonfréde, Lehardy, &c. Chauveau, who had de- fended Charlotte Corday and the queen, was also the advocate for the Girondists. They were accused of being sworn enemies of liberty; some of them were accused of being in league with Pitt; of being concerned with Charlotte Corday in the murder of Marat and some asserted that they had in- tended to murder Marat at the artists' festival, where Dumouriez treated the friend of the people with so much con- tempt. The Girondists defended themselves chiefly by retorting the accusations on the jacobins. Vigée, Gardien, and Boileau, who had been on the committee of twelve, displayed a contemptible selfishness, by condemning their own actions, and throwing the blame on the party at large. On the contrary, Lehardy, Duchâtel, and Vergniaud spoke in the most honourable terms of their colleagues; and Vergniaud several times used such a stirring eloquence as greatly alarmed the jacobins. Danton and Robespierre did not appear at the trial against their old opponents; but they closely watched the proceedings, and when the trial had lasted three days Robespierre hurried to the convention, and proposed a decree, that when any trial had lasted three days the court might declare itself satisfied, and send the prisoners to execution. This atrocious decree was instantly passed, and sent down to the revolutionary tribunal. The prisoners, as they proceeded to the court the next morning, were closely searched for any sharp instrument about them. This satisfied them that they were about to be hurried to the guillotine. Valazé pulled out a pair of scissors, and, handing them to Riouffe, a political prisoner, but not one of the condemned, said, " Keep them, my friend; we must not think of suicide." This was a ruse to deceive the searchers, and it succeeded: they did not examine him. When they were placed at the bar, Fouquier-Tinville demanded that the new law should be put in execution against them. Upon this, Herman, the président, demanded of the jury, which, by the way, was a standing jury, composing a permanent part of the tribunal, whether their consciences were satisfied as to the guilt of the prisoners. This facile jury declared that their consciences were satisfied, and thereupon Herman pronounced the prisoners ail condemned to death!

The unfortunate men made a clamorous protest against this summary proceeding, contrary to ail principles of just law; but it was useless. They were removed to the Conciergerie till morning, for it was now late, and Brissot and some others retired, appearing already half dead with terror. They passed the night, however, in singing patriotic songs, and conversing on the destinies of men. One of them, Valazé, did not wait for the guillotine; he had secreted a dagger when he gave up his scissors, and, in returning to the prison, he stabbed himself. The tribunal ordered that his body should be carried to the scaffold, when the other condemned men went there. Some of the others, in returning to prison, had thrown assignats to the people, and had called on them to help them, as they were innocent. No one stirred; so the next morning, as they went to the guillotine, they made no appeals to the spectators, but sang the Marseillais hymn. They were conveyed in open carts, with their hands tied behind them like felons - such was the manner in which the French treated their chief parliament men and reformers - and they were beheaded before the Salle de Manège, the old place of the assembly, where they had made so many speeches in favour of the révolution. In five and thirty minutes the whole of them were dispatched!

This, however, was but a beginning, although it was one which indicated what copious torrents of gore would mark the era of the Robespierrean ascendancy. There was already another batch of seventy-three more ready, and they were only reprieved for a short time, not to startle the people with too wholesale a butchery of their senators and leaders. But every day some celebrity of the Girondist party was brought up to the political shambles called a tribunal. On the last day of October perished these twenty leading Girondists; on the 2nd of November, two others, Olympe de Gouges and Adam Luxe, deputy of Mayence. On the 6th came the turn of the duke of Orleans, Philippe Egalité. His fate was richly deserved, for his baseness and selfishness. He appears to have set out as a revolutionist, in the hope of superseding his cousin Louis XVI. on the throne. Disappointed in that expectation, and led on by his fears and his licentious passions, he went deeper and deeper into the abominations of the revolution. He voted- for the death of his royal relative, and descended to the participation of all the crimes and murders of the jacobins. But his motives were too transparent: he acquired the confidence of no party, but the execrations of ail. The vices of his private life were only exceeded by his public infamy. When his sons entered into the conspiracy of Dumouriez, he was arrested and sent to the prison of Marseilles. He was soon brought back, and placed at the bar. He was accused of being concerned in the conspiracy with his sons; of having intrigued with the Girondists; of having spent vast sums of money to corrupt the people, and serve his own ends; of having permitted himself, in opposition to the decrees of the assembly, to be called prince. It was useless to answer: he was condemned. It is said, by some authorities, that he requested a reprieve of twenty-four hours, which was refused him. By others, that he refused this reprieve, though it was offered to him. In returning, however, to his prison, he ordered a rich supper to be prepared, and sate down to it with ail the appetite of a man who loved the table, and considered this the last enjoyment of it. He appeared to have arrived at the most perfect disbelief of ail future existence, and at the most complete disgust with this. As he was led to the place of execution, the procession stopped in front of his own palace, the Palais Royal, for a whole quarter of an hour. This delay was by order of Robespierre, who had in vain demanded the hand of Egalité's daughter; and he had promised him that, if he would relent, a force should interpose and carry him off. But, base as the man was, he would not thus sacrifice his child to this monster; and the cart moved on. He is said, during this trying pause, to have surveyed the palace steadily, but without a visible emotion. The mob shouted at his appearance on the scaffold, and at the usual exhibition of his head by Samson, the executioner. He was only forty-five at his death.

Two days afterwards, a very différent victim appeared on the scaffold - madame Roland. When her husband fled from Paris, it would have been easy for her to have escaped too, but she disdained to fly, was arrested, and conducted to the Abbaye. On the 27th of June she was released, but had scarcely reached her own house, when she was arrested on a fresh charge, and conducted to Sainte Pelagie - a very wretched prison. After the execution of the Girondists, she was transferred to the Conciergerie - the certain prelude to death. Knowing that her time would be short, she earnestly prayed that she might be permitted to see her only child - her daughter; but the jacobins were not accustomed to such courtesies; it was refused. On the 8th of November she was brought before the tribunal. She was in her forty- ninth year; tall, of a beautiful figure, and with a countenance, if not beautiful from contour, more than beautiful from expression. She was charged with being not only an accomplice of the Girondists, but a leader and originator of their plots. She was treated with rudeness which would have cast the deepest infamy on any other men; but her judges were beyond all common infamy. Her honour was attacked as well as her principles. She defended herself with a dignity and eloquence which, if they did not move that depraved tribunal, have excited the admiration of ail who have read her speech, composed by her the night before her trial. With the faults of a Frenchwoman, madame Roland had the genuine love of freedom which the study of the ancients had inspired, and, could she have infused into her party the boldness of those ancients, she would have saved, probably, both them and the republic.

As she was conducted to the place of execution, she appeared neatly arrayed in white muslin, and with her black hair flowing in waves to her waist. In the same cart with her was another Girondist, Lamarche, who had been the director of the printing of the assignats. He was terribly dejected, and madame Roland exerted herself to inspire him with firmness, and that with so much simplicity and effect as frequently to bring a faint smile to the face of the wretched man. On arriving at the scaffold, she begged that Lamarche might be permitted to die first, that he might be spared the sight of her blood; but it was refused. The scaffold was still clotted with the gore of the man y Girondists who had so recently been executed. On looking around on this Aceldama, she exclaimed, " Oh, Liberty! what crimes are they committing in thy name! " She died with the utmost courage.

M. Roland, the late minister, the husband of madame Roland, on hearing of her death, determined not to survive her. He had fled to Rouen, and was living in concealment at the house of a friend. He immediately quitted the house, and set out on the Paris road, as if with the intention of giving himself up, but he sate down at the road-side, above five leagues from that city, and ran himself through with his cane-sword. In his pocket was found a paper, drawn up by him, vindicating his conduct as revolutionist and as minister. The commissioners, who were sent by the convention to identify the body, buried him by the road-side, where they found him.

On the same day as madame Roland, died also Bailly, the astronomer, and so long the mayor of Paris. From the moment that he and La Fayette had fired on the jacobins in the Champ de Mars, and dispersed the sans culottes, he might have considered himself a doomed man. This was now brought against him as his blackest crime; but the bold manner in which he refused to criminate the queen, on her trial, hastened his doom. He was condemned to be executed in the Champ de Mars, where he had unfurled the red flag against the ultras; and he was led forth, on the 11th of November, to walk all the way from the Conciergerie to that place, amid the intense cold, and the shouting and hooting rabble. He demeaned himself with meekness and patience, which his enemies endeavoured to disturb by fluttering the red flag in his face. On arriving at the Champ de Mars, a fellow exclaimed that the sacred field of federation ought not to be polluted by his blood. The mob, therefore, rushed to the guillotine, tore it down, and conveyed it to the banks of the Seine, opposite to the quarter of Chaillot, where Bailly had passed his life and composed his works. Ail this occupied several hours, during which time the gendarmes marched Bailly bare-headed round and round the Champ de Mars, with his hands pinioned behind him. The rain and cold benumbed him till he shivered. "Thou tremblest?" said a soldier. " My friend," replied the unfortunate man, " it is from cold." The people crowded on him, kicked and cuffed him, till he fell exhausted. At length, the guillotine was ready; he was dragged thither, the red flag was burned before his face, and the axe terminated his sufferings. A late historian lias heaped unmerited calumny on Bailly. True, he was an advocate of the révolution, but he restrained its licence as long as he could, and he afterwards retired from its crimes with abhorrence, Like many others, he did not foresee to what diabolical excesses it would proceed - when he saw these, he execrated them. The révolution had not a victim whose death stamped it with more infamy.

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Pictures for The Reign of George III. - (Continued.) page 8

Sir Sidney Smith
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Nice
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Siege of Toulon
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Marie Antoinette
Marie Antoinette >>>>
Charlotte Corday
Charlotte Corday >>>>
Burial of Marat
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Feast of Nature
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M. David.
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Marie Antoinette going to execution
Marie Antoinette going to execution >>>>
Marie Antoinette summoned to execution
Marie Antoinette summoned to execution >>>>

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