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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 16


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Vadier, however, though nominally brought to the bar and condemned, had managed to secrete himself. There was another determined attempt to rescue the prisoners as they quitted Paris, but Pichegru was at hand with his troops, and dispersed the mob. For some reason, Barrère was left behind at Oleron, when Billaud-Varennes and Collot d'Herbois were shipped off. Billaud managed to escape from Cayenne, and, after many wanderings and adventures, died at Philadelphia in 1819. Collot d'Herbois died a miserable death in Cayenne, being left on the road by a party of negroes, in the hot sun, in a raging fever. He expired vomiting froth and blood, and calling upon that God whom he had so often renounced. Barrère, who, before the revolution, had been the wealthy marquis de Veusac, lived to be employed by Napoleon in obscure situations; and at Brussels, where he was living in great poverty in 1831, it was his favourite maxim, that no human being, under any circumstances, had the right to take the life of another. He had learned a great lesson, since he used to say that liberty could not flourish till watered by the blood of a king, and since he so amply supplied the guillotine with the heads of his fellow-citizens.

The Thermidorians, once in power, showed a pre-eminent love of money and the good things of office. They became openly reactionary, surrounded themselves strongly with troops, and declared the constitution of '93 a thing dictated by terror and unfit for France. They ridiculed the famous declaration of the Rights of Man. The faubourgs again flew to arms, and, shouting " Bread and the Constitution! " they burst into the convention on the 20th of May. There was a terrible scene; the gendarmes, called in, fired on the mob in the galleries; but the mob returned the salute, and drove out the Thermidorians. They seized deputy Feraud, and, sticking his head on a pole, held it up before Boissy d'Anglas, the président, who had not been able to escape. The mountain then took possession of the house, passed decrees appointing a new government, and recalling the members of their faction who had been sent to Ham. One fellow continued shouting, " I demand the arrest of all the rogues and cowards! " The Thermidorians, however, soon came back upon them with a strong force, and expelled them; but the next day the jacobins and the faubourgs reappeared, and resumed the contest, bringing up cannon to storm the Tuileries, but they were repelled by the artillery of the guards and driven back. Then those who had been the ringleaders in the insurrection endeavoured to escape the guillotine by killing themselves. Ruhl blew out his brains; Romme, the mathematician, Goujon, Duquesnay, and others, were tried and condemned. On hearing the sentence, Goujon drew out a knife, and, stabbing himself, handed it to Romme, who did the same, and handed it on to Duquesnay. These three fell dead; but the other prisoners did not strike hard enough, and were dragged bleeding to the guillotine. These were Bourbotte, Duroi, and Soubrany. The Thermidorians and Girondists then uniting, formed a military and sanguinary despotism, and sate, surrounded by troops, at the same time taking a severe vengeance on the fallen jacobins, executing some, banishing and imprisoning others. A Thermidorian reign of terror was, in fact, erected.

On the 10th of June died the unhappy dauphin, in the twelfth year of his age. His was a happy escape from the most frightful childhood that had ever fallen to any poor lad, much less one born in the lap of luxury, and with the prospect of succeeding to the throne of a great empire. all his family but his sister - those, at least, that had shared his captivity - -had died a bloody death. Since his tormentors had compelled him to utter charges against his mother, which he did not understand, but which he perceived were meant to injure her, he had scarcely spoken again. When he was seized by fever in February, and three deputies from the committee of public safety were sent to him, they spoke kindly to him. but could obtain no answer. His infernal keeper, Simon, had fallen by the guillotine, but not until he had destroyed the dauphin's health and intellect. It was reported that he died of a tumour on the knee; by others, he was said to have been poisoned: he was, in simple truth, killed by a long course of the most heartless barbarity ever practised on a tender child. Surgeons were sent to make post-mortem examination, who left his mangled remains naked on the table in his prison-room, when they were thrown into a wooden shell by those sent to bury him, who performed their office in the dark in the cemetery of St. Margaret, in the faubourg St. Antoine, with the same indifference with which they would have buried a dog, and no more ceremony or fare- well prayer. This, it should be remembered, was not done by the bloody jacobins, but by the soi-disant mild Thermidorians and philosophical man-perfecting Girondists. The poor boy's uncle, Monsieur, now took the title of Louis XVIII.

Having successfully resisted the so-called patriots of the faubourgs, the convention determined to proceed to the abolition of the constitution of '93, and to the establishment of one more accordant with their own tendencies. In 1793 the revolutionists were as violent against aristocracy as against monarchy, and had allowed only one legislative body. The precipitate acts of the last three years had now persuaded them that at least a second, if not an aristocratic, Chamber might be useful, as a balance against legislation under violent impulses. They proposed, then, to have two Chambers - one called the Council of Five Hundred, com- posed of that number of members, of at least thirty years of age, having exclusively the right of proposing laws, of whom one-third should be renewed every year; the second, called the Council of the Ancients, to consist of two hundred and fifty members, of at least forty years of age, all either widowers or married, having the sanctioning of the law, and also to be annually renewed by one-third.

These bodies were to be elected as follows: - In May, all Citizens, of twenty-one years of age, met in primary assemblies, and nominated electoral assemblies. These electoral " assemblies met in June, who nominated the two councils, and the councils then nominated the executive body, which was to consist of five directors, who were to possess merely the promulgation and execution of the laws, not the voting of war, but its management; the negotiation, but not the ratification of peace. The persons of the directors, like those of the deputies, were to be inviolable. Abbé Sièyes proposed a constitution of his own, but this was adopted.' It was received with enthusiasm by a large class, the youth especially of the citizen class, or bourgeoisie - young tradesmen, young lawyers and journalists, poor but aspiring men, who longed to distinguish themselves, and had hitherto recoiled from the dangers of prominence too proximate to the guillotine. But the Convention, when determining its political death, remembered too well the fully of the constituent assembly which gave birth to it. It therefore passed two supplementary decrees - one, that two-thirds of its members should remain as such, and thus only one-third have to be elected. The second decree provided, that in case the electoral assemblies did not choose this one-third within a certain time, the remaining two-thirds should elect them themselves.

No sooner were these decrees passed, than there was a violent outburst of discontent. All the young aspirants were in a vehement ferment at the doors of the council being; thus nearly closed against them; the ultra-jacobins, the class of Romme, Ruhl, and Bourbotte, were equally indignant, and numbers of aristocrats and royalists, who had nothing in common with either party, appeared in the back- ground, urging them on, in the same resentment of exclusion, and in the hope of some y et greater advance towards a government more reactionary. The sections were all in commotion; and the section Lepelletier, under the influence of Richter-Serizy, La Harpe, Lacratelle, jun., Vaublanc, Fievée, general Miranda, and others, excited the other sections, and became the centre of the movement. All the sections of Paris, except the Quinze-Vingts, accepted the Constitution but rejected the decrees, maintaining two- thirds of the members of the convention in the council of five hundred. Not so the provinces; they adopted the decrees as well as the constitution. The army accepted it on the scene of its victories by the Rhine. The convention then ordered the elections to be completed, in Paris, on the 21st of October, and that the new legislative body should meet on the 6th of November. Riots had takes place, in various towns of the departments, in opposition to the decrees, but had been put down, notwithstanding the sections resolved to resist them in Paris. A meeting took place in the Odéon theatre, on the 3rd of October, under protection of some battalions of national guards. The duke of Nivernois presided. The committees of public safety and welfare gave the alarm to the convention, and the convention sent a force to disperse the meeting, but it had already dissolved itself. The sections had committed the mistake of refusing to allow the ultra-jacobins to vote, and the convention now embodied and armed one thousand eight hundred of these, ready, in their indignation, to do any- thing. On the 4th, the section Lepelletier beat to arms, and the committee held its meeting in the convent of Filles St. Thomas, in the Rue Vivienne. General Menou was summoned from the camp at Sablons, and ordered to disperse the meeting. He proceeded to the convent, found the committee of the section armed, and, instead of dispersing them, agreed to retire on a promise that they would with- draw of themselves. The convention immediately arrested Menou as a traitor, and deprived him of his command. They forthwith appointed Barras general of the interior in place of Menou, and ordered him to clear the streets, and place troops in a position to insure the safety of the convention. Barras was a general of brigade, and had taken the command of the troops on the night when Robespierre and his associates had been seized in the Hôtel de Ville, out he was not too fond of exposing himself, and, fortunately for him and for another, he had his eye on one who would execute the orders of the convention without shrinking. This was Napoleon Buonaparte.

Buonaparte and his brothers, Joseph and Lucien, had been ultra-jacobins, and supporters of Robespierre. After his success at Toulon, his brothers had both been put into comfortable offices in the commissariat department. Lucien had been prominent at St. Maximin, near Marseilles, in the severities towards the moderates. But on the fall of Robespierre, Buonaparte, notwithstanding his distinguished part in the Italian campaign, had been dismissed, with other jacobins, by general Aubry. He had returned to Paris, and was living there in great poverty and dejection. His mother, and the younger branches of the family, Louis, Jerome, and the daughters, Elise, Pauline, and Caroline, had fled from Corsica on the transfer of it to England, and they were living in great difficulty.

The duke of Abrantes gives the following curious picture of his life and appearance at this time: - " On Buonaparte's return to Paris he was in very destitute circumstances. From time to time he received remittances, I suspect, from his brother Joseph; but, with all his economy, these supplies were insufficient. He was, therefore, in absolute distress. Junot often used to speak of six months they thus passed together in Paris. When they took an evening stroll on the boulevard, which used to be the resort of young men, mounted on fine horses, and displaying all the luxuries which they were permitted to show at that time, Buonaparte would declaim against fate, and express his contempt of the dandies who, as they rode past, would eulogise in ecstacy the singing of madame Scio. ' And is it on such beings as these,' he would say, ' that Fortune confers her favours? Heavens! how contemptible is human nature! ' His friend Junot used sometimes to resort to the gaming-table; he was often successful, and, on these occasions, he and Buonaparte used to make money, and pay off their most pressing debts. Buonaparte was at that time attired in the costume that he almost always wore afterwards. He had on a grey great- coat, very plainly made, buttoned up to his chin; a round hat, which was either drawn over his forehead, so as almost to conceal his eyes, or stuck upon the back of his head, so that it appeared in danger of falling off; and a black cravat, very clumsily tied."

He had made the acquaintance of madame Tallien; he attended her saloons, and, though his figure was slender, and below the ordinary height, his cheeks hollow and livid, yet his fine features, his fixed and piercing eyes, and his firm and original language, drew attention. Tallien is supposed to have pointed him out to Barras. He was engaged to write dispatches connected with the direction of military operations. He was always, at this period, studying maps, and talking of the wonders to be done for the republic by the conquest of Italy. He was sitting in a box at the theatre Feydeau, when some of his friends came to tell him of the arrest of Menou, and he hastened to the gallery of the convention to see what was doing. Barras cast his eyes upon him, and, on being appointed to the command of the troops, said, " I have the very man we want for this business; it is that little Corsican officer, who will not stand upon ceremony." He insisted that he should be made second in command. He was immediately called, and the appointment granted. " When he appeared before the committee, he displayed," says Mignet, " none of those astonishing qualities which distinguished him afterwards." Little of a party man, and summoned, for the first time, on this great scene, his countenance wore an expression of timidity and bashfulness, which, however, disappeared in the bustle of preparation and the ardour of battle. Probably the fact of his being called on to put down the people, with whom he had professed to act and think, might add to his embarrassment, but that soon passed. He conceived his plan of action with lightning rapidity, and hastened away to put it in operation.

It was too late to march on the section of Lepelletier; the whole bourgeoisie of Paris was in arms. The convention had about five thousand troops; the sections about forty thousand; but the decision of the conflict must depend on the cannon. These had all been given up by the sections, and were in the camp at Sablons. Buonaparte instantly dispatched a young officer of his acquaintance to secure them. This was the turning point of the fortunes of Murat as of Napoleon. Murat was the son of an insignificant country innkeeper, who had been steward to the family of Talleyrand. His character, as drawn by Napoleon himself, is described in a few words. He was a dashing military dandy. " A good soldier," said Napoleon; " one of the most brilliant men I ever saw on the field of battle. Of no superior talents, without much moral courage, timid even in forming his plan of operations; but the moment he saw the enemy all that vanished - his eye was the most sure and the most rapid, his courage truly chivalrous. Moreover, he is a fine man, tall, and well dressed, though, at times, rather fantastically - in short, a magnificent lazzaroni. It was really a splendid sight to see him in battle, heading the cavalry."

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Pictures for Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 16

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