"What does my glass of wine matter in this torrent of booze?"
Many, even among the Girondists, use sophistry to color their concessions in their own eyes. Some among these "think that they enjoy some degree of popularity, and fear that this will be compromised. Again, they put forth the pretext of the necessity of maintaining one's influence for important occasions. Occasionally, they affect to say, or say it in good faith, Let them (the extravagant) keep on, they will find each other out and use themselves up."—Frequently, the motives alleged are scandalous or grotesque. According to Barbaroux, immediate execution must be voted, because that is the best way to exculpate the Gironde and shut the mouths of their Jacobin calumniators. According to Berlier, it is essential to vote death for, why vote for exile? Louis XVI. would be torn to pieces before reaching the frontier.—On the eve of the verdict, Vergniaud says to M. de Segur: "I vote Death? It is an insult to suppose me capable of such a disgraceful act!" And, "he sets forth the frightful iniquity of such a course, its uselessness, and even its danger." "I would rather stand alone in my opinion than vote Death!" The next day, having voted Death, he excuses himself by saying "that he did not think he ought to put the life of one man in the scale against the public welfare." Fifteen or twenty deputies, influenced by his example, voted as he did, which was enough to turn the majority. The same weakness is found at other decisive moments. Charged with the denunciation of the conspiracy of the 10th of March, Vergniaud attributes it to the aristocrats, and admits to Louvet that "he did not wish to name the real conspirators for fear of embittering violent men already pushing things to excess." The truth is, the Girondists, as formerly the Constitutionalists, are too civilized for their adversaries, and submit to force for lack of resolution to employ it themselves.
"To put down the faction," says one of them, "can be done only by cutting its throat, which, perhaps, would not be difficult to do. All Paris is as weary as we are of its yoke, and if we had any liking for or knowledge how to deal with insurrections, we could soon throw it off. But how can we make men adopt such necessary atrocious measures when they are criticizing their adversaries for taking these? And yet they would have saved the country." Consequently, incapable of action, able only to talk, reduced to protests, to barring the way to revolutionary decrees, to making appeals to the department against Paris, they stand as an obstacle to all the practical people who are heartily engaged in the brunt of the action.—"There is no doubt that Carnot is as honest as they are, as honest as a fanatic spectator can be." Cambon, undoubtedly with as much integrity as Roland, spoke as loudly up as he against the 2nd of September, the Commune, and anarchy.—But, to Carnot and Cambon, who pass their nights, one in establishing his budgets, and the other in studying his military maps, they require, first of all, a government which will provide them with money and with soldiers, and, therefore, an unscrupulous and unanimous Convention; that is to say, there being no other expedient, a Convention under compulsion, i.e. a Convention purged of troublesome some, dissentient speakers; in other words, the dictatorship of the Parisian proletariat. After the 15th of December, 1792, Cambon completely accepts this, and even erects the dictatorship of the proletariat into an European system. From that time he preaches universal sans-culotterie, a form of government in which the poor will rule and the rich will pay, in short, the restoration of privileges in an inverse sense. The later expression of Sieyes which has already come true: the problem is no longer how to apply the principles of the Revolution, but the salvation of its men. Faced with this more and more distressing imperative, many of undecided deputies go with the tide, letting the Montagnards have their own way and separate themselves from the Girondists.
And, what is graver still, the Girondists, apart from all these defections, are untrue to themselves. Not only are they ignorant of how to draw a line, of how to form themselves into a compact body: not only "is the very idea of a collective proceeding repulsive, each member desiring to keep himself independent. and act as he thinks best," make motions without consulting others, and vote as the occasion calls for against his party, but, through its abstract principle, they are in accord with their adversaries, and, on the fatal declivity whereon their honorable and humane instincts still retain them, this common dogma, like a concealed weight, causes them to sink lower and lower down, even into the bottomless pit, where the State, according to the formula of Jean Jacques, omnipotent, philosophic, anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, despotic, leveling, intolerant, and propagandist, seizes education, levels fortunes, persecutes the Church, oppresses consciences, crushes out the individual, and, by military foice, imposes its structures abroad. Basically, apart from the Jacobin excess of brutality and of precipitation, the Girondists, setting out from the same principles as the Jacobin "Mountain," march forward to the same end along with them. Hence the effect of ideological prejudice on them in weakening their moral attitudes. Secretly, in their hearts, revolutionary desires conspire with those of their enemies, and, on many occasions, make them betray themselves.—Through these devices and multiplied weaknesses, on the one hand, the majority diminishes so as to present but 279 votes against 228. And, on the other hand, through frequent failures, it surrenders to the besiegers one by one every commanding post of the public citadel. Now, at the first attack, nothing remains but to fly, or to beg for mercy.
IV. Jacobin victory over Girondin majority.
Principal decrees of the Girondist majority.—Arms and means of attack surrendered by it to its adversaries.
The Convention had voted, on principle, for the establishment of a military departmental guard, but, owing to the opposition of the Montagnards, it fails to put the principle into operation.—For six months it is protected, and, on the 10th of March, saved, through the spontaneous aid of provincial federates, but, far from organizing these passing auxiliaries into a permanent body of faithful defenders, it allows them to be dispersed or corrupted by Pache and the Jacobins.—It passes decrees frequently for the punishment of the abettors of the September crime, but, on their menacing petition, the trials are indefinitely postponed.—It has summoned to its bar Fournier, Lazowski, Deffieux, and other leaders, who, on the 10th of March, were disposed to throw it out of the windows, but, on making their impudent apology, it sends them away acquitted, free, and ready to begin over again. At the War Department it raises up in turn two cunning Jacobins, Pache and Bouchotte, who are to work against it unceasingly. At the Department of the Interior it allows the fall of its firmest support, Roland, and appoints Garat in his place, an ideologist, whose mind, composed of glittering generalities, with a character made up of contradictory inclinations, fritters itself away in reticences, in falsehoods and in half-way treachery, under the burden of his too onerous duties.—It votes the murder of the King, which places an insurmountable barrier of blood between it and all honest persons.—It plunges the nation into a war in behalf of principles, and excites an European league against France, which league, in transferring the perils arising from the September crime to the frontier, permanently establishes the September regime in the interior.—It forges in advance the vilest instruments of the forthcoming Reign of Terror,
* through the decree which establishes the revolutionary tribune, with Fouquier-Tinville as public prosecutor, and the obligation for each juryman to utter his verdict aloud;
* through the decree condemning every emigre to civil death, and the confiscation of his property "of either sex," even a simple fugitive, even returned within six months;
* through the decree which "outlaws aristocrats and enemies of the Revolution";
* through the decree which, in each commune, establishes a tax on the wealth of the commune in order to adapt the price of bread to wages;
* through the decree which subjects every bag of grain to declaration and to the maximum (price control);
* through the decree which awards six years in irons for any traffic in the currency;
* through the decree which orders a forced loan of a billion, extorted from the rich;
* through the decree which raises in each town a paid army of sans-culottes "to hold aristocrats under their pikes " and at last,
* through the decree which, instituting the Committee of Public Safety, fashions a central motor to set these sharp scythes agoing and mow down fortunes and lives with the utmost rapidity.—
To these engines of general destruction it adds one more, which is special and operates against itself. Not only does it furnish its rivals of the Commune with the millions they need to pay their bands; not only does it advance to the different sections, in the form of a loan, the hundreds of thousands of francs which are needed to satisfy the thirst of their yelpers; but again, at the end of March, just at the moment when it happens to escape the first Jacobin invasion, it provides for the election by each section of a Committee of Supervision, authorized to make domiciliary visits and to disarm the suspected; it allows this committee to make arrests and inflict special taxes; to facilitate its operations it orders a list of the inmates of each house, legibly "stating names, surnames, ages and professions," to be affixed to the entrance, a copy of which must be left with the committee, and which is subject to its control.
To end the matter, it submits itself; and, "regardless of the inviolability of a representative of the French nation," it decides that, in case of political denunciation, its own members may be brought to trial.
V. Jacobin violence against the people.
Committees of Supervision after March 28, 1793.—The regime of August and September, 1792, revived.—Disarmament. —Certificates of civism.—Forced enlistment.—Forced loans. —Use made of the sums raised.—Vain resistance of the population.—Manifestations by young men repressed. —Violence and victory of the Jacobins in the assemblies of the sections.
"I seem to hear you," writes a sarcastic observer, "addressing the (Jacobin) faction in these terms:
'Now, look here, we have the means, but we are not disposed to make use of them against you; it would be unfair to attack you unarmed. Public power emanates from two sources, legal authority and armed force. Now we will at once create committees of supervision, of which you shall appoint the heads, for the reason that, with a whip of this kind, you can lash every honest man in Paris, and thus regulate public opinion. We will do more than this, because our sacrifice is not yet complete; we are disposed to make you a present of our armed force, with authority to disarm anybody that you may suspect. As far as we are concerned, we are ready to surrender even our pocketknives, and remain apart, content with our virtues and talents.—But mind what you are about. Should you be so ungrateful as to attack our sacred persons, we shall find avengers in the departments.'
'What good will the departments do you, let loose against each other, after you are out of the way?' (was the imaginary Jacobin reply!)
No summary could be more exact nor any prediction more accurately based. Henceforth, and by virtue of the Convention's own decrees, not only have the Jacobins the whole of the executive power in their hands, as this is found in civilized countries, but likewise the discretionary power of the antique tyrant or modern pasha, that arbitrary, strong arm which, singling out the individual, falls upon him and takes from him his arms, his freedom, and his money. After the 28th of March, we see in Paris a resumption of the system which, instituted by the 10th of August, was completed by the 2nd of September. In the morning, drums beat to arms; at noon, the barriers are shut, the bridges and passages guarded, and sentinels stand on the corners of the streets; no one is allowed "to pass outside the limits of his section," or circulate within them without showing his certificate of civism; houses are invested, numbers of persons are arrested, and, during the succeeding months, this operation is carried on under the sway of the Committee of Supervision. Now, this Committee, in almost all the sections, "is made up of sans-culottes," not fathers of families, men of judgment and experience, people living a long time in the quarter, but "strangers, or young men trying to be something," ambitious underlings, ignorant daredevils, despotic intruders, fierce, touchy and inexperienced inquisitors".
The first thing is the disarmament of the suspected. "It is enough that any citizen shall be denounced, and that the case is made known to the Committee"; or that his certificate of civism is less than one month old, to make a delegate, accompanied by ten armed men, search his house. In the section of the Reunion alone, on the first day, 57 denounced persons are thus disarmed for "acts of incivism or expressions adverse to the Republic," not merely lawyers, notaries, architects, and other prominent men, but petty tradesmen and shop-keepers, hatters, dyers, locksmiths, mechanics, gilders, and bar-keepers. One section; in defiance of the law, adds to these in block the signers of the petition of the eight thousand and that of the twenty thousand. "Through such schemes," says an observer, "all the guns in Paris, numbering more than a hundred thousand, pass into the hands of the faction. None remain for its adversaries, even in the gunshops; for, through an ordinance of the Commune, no one may purchase a gun without a certificate issued by the Committee of Supervision of the section.—On the other hand, owing to the power of granting or refusing certificates of civism, each Committee, on its own authority, interposes barriers as it pleases in all directions, public or private, to every inhabitant within its bounds. It is impossible for any person who has not obtained his certificate to have a passport for traveling, although a tradesman; no public employee, no clerk of the administration, advocate or notary can keep his place without it; no one can go out of Paris or return late at night. If one goes out to take a walk, there is danger of being arrested and brought back between two soldiers to the committee of the section; if one stays at home, it is with the chance of being inspected as a harbourer of priests or nobles. Any Parisian opening his windows in the morning may find his house surrounded by a company of carmagnoles, if he has not the indispensable certificate in his pocket. In the eyes of a Jacobin committee, there is no civism but in Jacobinism, and we can imagine whether this patent would be willingly conferred on opponents, or even on the lukewarm; what examinations they would have to undergo; what questions they would be obliged to answer; how many goings and comings, solicitations, appearances and waitings would be imposed on them; with what persistency it would excite delay, and with what satisfaction it would be refused. Buzot presented himself four times at the Committee of Quatre-Nations to obtain a certificate for his domestic, and failed to get it. There is another still more effective expedient for keeping the ill-disposed in check The committee of each section, aided by a member of the Commune, designates the twelve thousand men drafted for the expedition into La Vendee, and picks them by name, one by one, as it may select them; the effect of this is to purge Paris of twelve thousand anti-Jacobins, and tranquilize the section assemblies, where opposition is often objectionable. To this end the committee selects first, and gives the preference to, the clerks of lawyers and notaries, those of banking-houses, the administration, and of merchants, the unmarried in all offices and counting-rooms, in short, all the Parisian middle class bachelors, of which there are more than twenty-five thousand. The ordinance stipulates that one out of two should be taken, undoubtedly those with the poorest reputation with the Committee, this proceeding will silence the others and prevent them from speaking up in their sections.
While one hand clutches the collar, the other rummages the pocket. The Committee of Supervision of each section, always aided by a member of the Commune, designates all persons in easy circumstances, estimates their incomes as it pleases, or according to common report, and sends them an order to pay a particular sum in proportion to their surplus, and according to a progressive tax. The allowance which is exempt for the head of a family is 1,500 francs per annum, besides 1,000 francs for his wife and 1,000 francs for each child; if the excess is over 15,000 or 20,000 francs, they assess it 5,000 francs; if more than 40,000 or 50,000 francs, they assess it 20,000; in no case may the surplus retained exceed 30,000 francs; all above this amount goes to the State. The first third of this sudden contribution to the public funds is required in forty-eight hours, the second in a fortnight, and the remaining third in a month, under serious penalties. If the tax happens to be exaggerated, if an income is uncertain or imaginary, if receipts are yet to come in, if there is no ready money, if; like Francoeur, the opera manager, a man "has nothing but debts," so much the worse. "In case of refusal," writes the section of Bon-Conseil, "his personal and real property shall be sold by the revolutionary committee, and his person declared suspected."—Even this is simply an installment on account:
"There is no desire on the part of the Committee at the present moment to demand more than a portion of your surplus," that which rest will be taken later. Desfieux, the bankrupt, has already, in the tribune of the Jacobin club, estimated the fortunes of one hundred of the wealthiest notaries and financiers in Paris at 640,000,000 francs; the municipality sent a list of their names to the sections to have it completed; if only one-tenth was taken from them, it would amount to 64,000,000, which "big sponges," thoroughly squeezed, would disgorge a much larger amount.
"The richest of Frenchmen," says Robespierre, "should not have more than 3,000 francs a year."
The contributions of "these gentlemen" suffice to arm the sans-culottes, "remunerate artisans for their attendance in the section meetings, and support laborers without work." Already through the sovereign virtue of summary requisitions, everything is spoil; carriage-horses are seized in their stables, while vehicles belonging to aged ladies, mostly widows, and the last of the berlins and elegant carriages still remaining in Paris, are taken out of the livery-stables.
With such powers used in this way, the section makes the most of the old deep-seated enmity of the poor against the rich; it secures the firm loyalty of the needy and of vagabonds; thanks to the vigorous arms of its active clients, it completely overcomes the feeble, transient, poorly-contrived resistance which the National Convention and the Parisian population still oppose to its rule.
On the 13th of April Marat, accused three months before and daily becoming bolder in his fractiousness, is finally indicted through a decree of the incensed majority; on the 24th he appears before the revolutionary tribunal. But the revolutionary tribunal, like other newly organized institutions, is composed of pure Jacobins, and, moreover, the party has taken its precautions. Marat, for his escort to the court-room has "the municipal commissaries, envoys from the various sections, delegates from all the patriotic clubs"; besides these, "a multitude of good patriots" fill the hall beforehand; "early in the morning the other chambers of the Palais de Justice, the corridors, the courts and adjacent streets" overflow with "sans-culottes ready to avenge any outrage that may be perpetrated on their favorite defender." Naturally, excessively conceited, he speaks not like an accused, but "as an apostle and martyr." He is overwhelmed with applause, unanimously acquitted, crowned with laurel, borne in triumph to the Convention, where he thunders a song of victory, while the Girondist majority is obliged to suffer his presence awaiting to be subjected to their banishments.—Equally as impotent as the moderates of the Legislative Assembly are the moderates in the street who recover themselves only again to be felled to the ground. On the 4th and 5th of May, five or six hundred young fellows, well-dressed and without arms, have assembled in the Champs-Elysees and at the Luxembourg to protest against the ordinance of the Commune, which drafts them for the expedition to La Vendee; they shout, "Vive la Republique! Vive la Loi! Down with anarchists! Send Marat, Danton and Robespierre to the Devil!" Naturally, Santerre's paid guard disperses these young sparks; about a thousand are arrested, and henceforth the rest will be careful not to make any open demonstration on the public thoroughfares.—Again, for lack of something better to do, we see them frequently returning to the section assemblies, especially early in May; they find themselves in a majority, and enter on discussions against Jacobin tyranny; at the Bon-Conseil section, and at those of Marseilles and l'Unite, Lhuillier is hooted at, Marat threatened, and Chaumette denounced.—But these are only flashes in the pan; to be firmly in charge in these permanent assemblies, the moderates, like the sans-culottes, would have to be in constant attendance, and use their fists every night. Unfortunately, the young men of 1793 have not yet arrived at that painful experience, that implacable hate, that athletic ruggedness which is to sustain them in 1795. "After one evening, in which the seats everywhere were broken " on the backs of the contestants, they falter, and never recover themselves, the professional roughs, at the end of a fortnight, being victorious all along the line.—The better to put resistance down, the roughs form a special league amongst themselves, and go around from section to section to give each other help. Under the title of a deputation, under the pretext of preventing disturbance, a troop of sturdy fellows, dispatched by the neighboring section, arrives at the meeting, and suddenly transforms the minority into a majority, or controls the vote by force of clamor. Sometimes, at a late hour, when the hall is nearly empty, they declare themselves a general meeting, and about twenty or thirty will cancel the discussions of the day. At other times, being, through the municipality, in possession of the police, they summon an armed force to their aid, and oblige the refractory to decamp. And, as examples are necessary to secure perfect silence, the fifteen or twenty who have formed themselves into a full meeting, with the five or six who form the Committee of Supervision, issue warrants of arrest against the most prominent of their opponents. The vice-president of the Bon-Conseil section, and the juge-de-paix of the Unite section, learn in prison that it is dangerous to present to the Convention an address against anarchists or sign a debate against Chaumette.—Towards the end of May, in the section assemblies, nobody dares open his mouth against a Jacobin motion; often, even, there are none present but Jacobins; for example, at the Gravilliers, they have driven out all not of their band, and henceforth no "intriguer" is imprudent enough to present himself there.—Having become the sovereign People assembled in Council, with full power to
* put on the index,
* send off to the army, and
* imprison whoever gives them umbrage,
they are able now, with the municipality at their back and as guides, to turn the armament which they have obtained from the Convention against it, attack the Girondists in their last refuge, and possess themselves of the only fort not yet surrendered.
VI. Jacobin tactics.
Jacobin tactics to constrain the Convention.—Petition of April 15 against the Girondins.—Means employed to obtain signatures.—The Convention declares the petition calumnious.—The commission of Twelve and the arrest of Hebert.—Plans for massacres.—Intervention of the Mountain leaders.
To conquer the last bastion of the Girondists all they have to do is simultaneously in all sections to do what they used to do separately in each section: substituting themselves, by fraud and by force, for the Veritable people, they are able to conjure up before the Convention the phantom of popular disapproval.—From the municipality, holding its sessions at the Hotel-de-ville, and from the conventicle established at the Eveche, emissaries are sent forth who present the same formal communication in writing at the same time in every section in Paris. "Here is a petition for signatures."—"Read it."—"But that is unnecessary—it is already adopted by a majority of the sections."—This lie is accepted by some and several sign in good faith without reading it. In others they read it and refuse to sign it; in others, again, it is read and they pass to the order of the day. What happens? The plotters and ringleaders remain behind until all conscientious citizens have withdrawn; then, masters of the debate, they decide that the petition must be signed, and they accordingly affix their signatures. The next day, on the arrival of citizens at the section, the petition is handed to them for their names, and the debate of the previous evening is advanced against them. If they offer any remarks, they are met with these terrifying words:
Sign, or no certificate of civism!
And, as if approving this threat, several of the sections which are mastered by those who draw up the lists of proscriptions, decide that the certificates of civism must be renewed, new ones being refused to those refusing to sign the petition. They do not rest content with these moves; men armed with pikes are posted in the streets to force the signatures of those who pass."—The whole weight of municipal authority has been publicly cast into the scale. "Commissaries of the Commune, accompanied by municipal secretaries, with tables, inkstands, paper and registers, promenade about Paris preceded by drums and a body of militia." From time to time, they make "a solemn halt," and declaim against Brissot, Vergniaud, Guadet, and then "demand and obtain signatures."—Thus extorted and borne to the Convention by the mayor, in the name of the council-general of the Commune and of the thirty-five sections, the imperious petition denounces twenty-two Girondists as traitors, and insolently demands their expulsion.—Another day it is found that a similar summons and similarly presented, in the name of the forty-eight sections, is authorized only by thirteen or fourteen.—Sometimes the political parade is still more incautious. Pretended deputies of the Faubourg St. Antoine appear before the Convention and assert the revolutionary program. "If you do not adopt it," they say, "we will declare ourselves in a state of insurrection; there are 40,000 men at the door." The truth is, "about fifty bandits, scarcely known in the Faubourg," and led by a former upholsterer, now a commissary of police, "have gathered together on their route" all they could find in the workshops "and in the stores," the multitude packed into the Place Vendome not knowing what was demanded in their name.—These dummy tumults are, however, useful; they show the Convention its master, and prepare the way for a more efficient invasion. The day Marat was acquitted, the whole of his sewer, male and female, came along with him; under pretext of parading before the Convention, they invaded the hall, scattered themselves over the benches and steps, and, supported by the galleries, installed anew in the tribune, amidst a tempest of applause and of tumult, the usual promoter of insurrection, pillage and assassination.—And yet, however energetic and however persistent the pressure, the Convention, which has yielded on so many points, will not consent to mutilate itself. It pronounces the petition presented against the Twenty-two calumnious; it institutes a special commission of twelve members to search the papers of the Commune and the sections for legal proofs of the plot openly and steadily maintained by the Jacobins against the national representation; Mayor Pache is summoned to the bar of the house; warrants of arrest are issued against Hebert, Dobsen and Varlet.—Since popular manifestations have not answered the purpose, and the Convention, instead of obeying, is rebellious, nothing is left but to employ force.
"Since the 10th of March," says Vergniaud, in the tribune, "murder is openly and unceasingly fomented against you."—"It is a terrible time," says an observer, "strongly resembling that preceding the 2nd of September."—That same evening, at the Jacobin club, a member proposes to "exterminate the scoundrels before leaving. "I have studied the Convention," he says "it is composed in part of scoundrels who ought to be punished. All the supporters of Dumouriez and the other conspirators should be put out of the way; fire the alarm gun and close the barriers!" The following forenoon, "all the walls in Paris are covered with posters," calling on the Parisians to "hurry up and slit the throats of the statesmen."—" We must do something to put an end to this!" is the slogan of the sans-culottes.—The following week, at the Jacobin club, as elsewhere, "immediate insurrection is the order of the day.... What we formerly called the sacred enthusiasm of freedom and patriotism, is now metamorphosed into the fury of an excited populace, which can no longer be regulated or disciplined except by force. There is not one of these scoundrels who would not accept a counter-revolution, provided they could be allowed to crush and stamp on the most noted conservatives... . The conclusion is that the day, the hour, the minute that the faction believes that it can usefully and without risk bring into play all the brigands in Paris, then the insurrection will undoubtedly take place." Already the plan of the massacre is under consideration by the lowest class of fanatics at the mayoralty, the Eveche, and the Jacobin club.
Some isolated house is to be selected, with a suite of three rooms on the ground floor, and a small court in the rear; the twenty-two Girondists are to be caught in the night and brought to this slaughter-house arranged beforehand; each in turn is to be passed along to the last room, where he is to be killed and his body tumbled into a hole dug in the middle of the court, and then the whole covered over with quick-lime; it will be supposed that they have emigrated, and, to establish the fact, false correspondence will be printed. A member of the Committee on the Municipal Police declares that the plan is feasible:
"We will Septemberize(kill) them—not we ourselves, but men who are ready, and who will be well paid for it."
The Montagnards present Leonard Bourdon and Legendre, make no objection. The latter simply remarks that the Girondists should not be seized in the Convention; outside the Convention "they are scoundrels whose death would save the Republic," and the act is lawful; he would like to see "with them every rascal on the 'black' side perish without interfering."—Several, instead of 22 deputies, demand 30 or 32, and some 300; the suspected of each district may be added, while ten or a dozen proscription lists are already made out. Through a clean sweep, executed the same night, at the same hour, they may be conducted to the Carmelites, near the Luxembourg, and, "if there is not room enough there," to Bicetre; here, "they will disappear from the surface of the globe." Certain leaders desired to entrust the purification of Paris to the sagacity of popular instinct. "In loose and disconnected phrases" they address the people: "Rouse yourselves, and act according to your inclinations, as my indications might only startle those you should strike down and thereby allow them to escape!" Varlet proposes, on the contrary, a plan of public safety, very full and explicit, in fifteen articles:
"Sweep away the deputies of the 'Plain,' and other deputies of the Constituent and Legislative Assemblies, all nobles, priests, pettifoggers, etc.; exterminate the whole of that race, and the Bourbons, too, with entire suppression of the Ministers."
Hebert, for his part, alluding to the Girondists, writes in his gazette that "the last hour of their death is going to strike," and that, "when their foul blood shall have been spilled, aristocratic brawlers will return to their holes, the same as on the 10th of August. "Naturally, the professional slaughterers are notified. A certain Laforet, an old-clothes dealer on the Quai-du-Louvre, who, with his wife, had already distinguished themselves on the 2nd of September, reckons that "there are in Paris 6,000 sans-culottes ready to massacre at the first sign all dangerous deputies, and eight thousand petitioners," undoubtedly those who, in the several sections, signed the addresses to the Convention against the Commune.—Another "Septemberizer," commanding the battalion of the Jardin des Plantes, Henriot, on meeting a gang of men working on the wharves, exclaims in his rough voice:
"Good morning, my good fellows, we shall need you soon, and at better work. You won't have wood to carry in your carts—you'll have to carry dead bodies."
"All right," replies one of the hands, half tipsy, "we'll do it as we did the 2nd of September. We'll turn a penny by it."—
Cheynard, a locksmith and machinist at the mint, is manufacturing daggers, and the women of the tribunes are already supplied with two hundred of them."—
Finally, on the 29th of May, Hebert proposes, in the Jacobin club, "to pounce down on the Commission of Twelve," and another Jacobin declares that "those who have usurped dictatorial power," meaning by that the Girondists, "are outlawed."
All this is extreme, clumsily done, useless and dangerous, or, at least, premature, and the chiefs of the "Mountain," Danton, Robespierre, and Marat himself; better informed and less shortsighted, are well aware that brutal murder would be revolting to the already half-aroused departments. The legislative machinery is not to be shattered, but made use of; it must be employed against itself to effect the required injury; in this way the operation at a distance will appear legal, and, garnished with the usual high-flown speeches, impose on the provincial mind. From the 3rd of April, Robespierre, in the Jacobin club, always circumspect and considerate, had limited and defined in advance the coming insurrection. "Let all good citizens," he says, "meet in their sections, and come and force us to place the disloyal deputies under arrest." Nothing can be more moderate, and, if they refer to principles, nothing can be more correct. The people always reserves the right to cooperate with its mandatories, which right it practices daily in the galleries. Through extreme precaution, which well describes the man, Robespierre refuses to go any further in his interference. "I am incapable of advising the people what steps to take for its salvation. That is not given to one man alone. I, who am exhausted by four years of revolution, and by the heart-rending spectacle of the triumph of tyranny, am not thus favored.... I, who am wasted by a slow fever, and, above all by the fever of patriotism. As I have said, there remains for me no other duty to fulfill at the present moment." What's more, he enjoins the municipality "to unite with the people, and form a close alliance with it."—In other words, the blow must be struck by the Commune, the "Mountain" must appear to have nothing to do with it. But, "it is privy to the secret"; its chiefs pull the wires which set the brutal dancing-jacks in motion on the public trestles of the Hotel-de-ville. Danton and Lacroix wrote in the bureau of the Committee of "Public Safety," the insolent summons which the procureur of the Commune is to read to the Convention on the 31st of May, and, during seven days of crisis, Danton, Robespierre and Marat are the counselors, directors and moderators of all proceedings, and lead, push on or restrain their stooges of the insurrection within the limits of this program.
VII. The central Jacobin committee in power.
The 27th day of May.—The central revolutionary committee. —The municipal body displaced and then restored.—Henriot, commanding general.
It is a tragicomic drama in three acts, each winding up with a coup de theatre, always the same and always foreseen. Legendre, one of the principal stage hands, has taken care to announce beforehand that,
"If this lasts any longer," said he, at the Cordeliers club, "if the 'Mountain' remains quiet any longer, I shall call in the people, and tell the galleries to come down and take part with us in the deliberations."
At first, on the 27th of May, in relation to the arrest of Hebert and his companions, the "Mountain," supported by the galleries, becomes furious. In vain does the majority again and again demonstrate its numerical superiority. "We shall resist," says Danton, "so long as there are a hundred true citizens to help us."—"President," exclaims Marat to Isnard, you are a tyrant! a despicable tyrant!"—"I demand," says Couthon, "that the President be impeached!"—"Off with the President to the Abbaye!"—The "Mountain" has decided that he shall not preside; it springs from the benches and rushes at him, shouts "death to him," becomes hoarse with its vociferations, and compels him to leave the chair through weariness and exhaustion. It drives out his successor, Fonfrede, in the same manner, and ends by putting Herault-Sechelles, one of its own accomplices, in the chair.—Meanwhile, at the entrance of the Convention, "the regulations have been violated"; a crowd of armed men "have spread through the passages and obstructed the approaches"; the deputies, Meillan, Chiappe and Lydon, on attempting to leave, are arrested, Lydon being stopped "by the point of a saber at his breast," while the leaders on the inside encourage, protect and justify their trusty aids outdoors.—Marat, with his usual audacity, on learning that Raffet, the commandant, was clearing the passages, comes to him "with a pistol in his hand and puts him under arrest," on the ground that the people and its sacred rights of petition and the petitioners must be respected. There are "five or six hundred, almost all of them armed," stationed for three hours at the doors of the hall; at the last moment, two other troops, dispatched by the Gravilliers and Croix-Rouge sections, arrive and bring them their final afflux. Thus strengthened, they spring over the benches assigned to them, spread through the hall, and mingle with the deputies who still remain in their seats. It is after midnight; many of the representatives, worn out with fatigue and disgust, have left; Petion, Lasource, and a few others, who wish to get in, "cannot penetrate the threatening crowd." To compensate themselves, and in the places of the absent, the petitioners, constituting themselves representatives of France, vote with the "Mountain," while the Jacobin president, far from turning them out, himself invites them "to set aside all obstacles prejudicial to the welfare of the people.." In this gesticulating crowd, in the half-light of smoky lamps, amidst the uproar of the galleries, it is difficult to hear well what motion is put to vote; it is not easy to see who rises or sits down, and two decrees pass, or seem to pass, one releasing Hebert and his accomplices, and the other revoking the commission of the Twelve. Forthwith the messengers who await the issue run out and carry the good news to the Hotel-de-ville, the Commune celebrating its triumph with an explosion of applause.
The next morning, however, notwithstanding the terrors of a call of the House and the fury of the "Mountain," the majority, as a defensive stroke, revokes the decree by which it is disarmed, while a new decree maintains the commission of the Twelve; the operation, accordingly, is to be done over again, but not the whole of it; for Hebert and the others imprisoned remain at liberty, while the majority, which, through a sense of propriety or the instinct of self-preservation, had again placed its sentinels on the outposts, consents, either through weakness or hopes of conciliation, to let the prisoners remain free. The result is they have had the worst of the fight. Their adversaries, accordingly, are encouraged, and at once renew the attack, their tactics, very simple, being those which have already proved so successful on the 10th of August.
The matter now in hand is to invoke against the derived and provisional rights of the government, the superior and inalienable right of the people; also, to substitute for legal authority, which, in its nature, is limited, revolutionary power, which, in its essence, is absolute. To this end the section of the City, under the vice-presidency of Maillard, the "Septemberizer," invites the other forty-seven sections each to elect two commissaries, with "unlimited powers." In thirty-three sections, purged, terrified, or deserted, the Jacobins, alone, or almost alone, elect the most determined of their band, particularly strangers and rascals, in all sixty-six commissaries, who, on the evening of the 29th, meet at the Eveche, and select nine from their midst to form, under the presidency of Dobsen, a central and revolutionary executive committee. These nine persons are entirely unknown; all are obscure subordinates, mere puppets and manikins; eight days later, on finishing their performance, when they are no longer needed, they will be withdrawn behind the scenes. In the mean time they pass for the mandatories of the popular sovereign, with full power in all directions, because he has delegated his omnipotence to them, and the sole power, because their investiture is the most recent; under this sanction, they stalk around somewhat like supernumeraries at the Opera, dressed in purple and gold, representing a conclave of cardinals or the Diet of the Holy Empire. Never has the political drama degenerated into such an impudent farce!—On the 31st, at half-past six in the morning, Dobsen and his bullies present themselves at the council-general of the Commune, tender their credentials, and make known to it its deposition. The Council, with edifying complacency, accepts the fiat and leaves the department. With no less grateful readiness Dobsen summons it back, and reinstates it in all its functions, in the name of the people, and declares that it merits the esteem of the country. At the same time another demagogue, Varlet, performs the same ceremony with the Council of the department, and both bodies, consecrated by a new baptism, join the sixty-six commissaries to share the dictatorship.—What could be more legitimate? The Convention would err in making any opposition:
"It was elected merely to condemn the tyrant and to frame a constitution; the sovereign people has invested it with no other power; accordingly, the other acts, its warrants of arrest, are simply usurpations and despotism. Paris, moreover, represents France better than it does, for Paris is "the extract of all the departments, the mirror of opinion," the advance-guard of patriotism. "Remember the 10th of August; previous to that time, the opinions in the Republic were divided; but, scarcely had you struck the decisive blow when all subsided into silence. Have no fear of the departments; with a little terror and a few instructions, we shall turn all minds in our favor." Grumblers persist in demanding the convocation of primary assemblies. "Was not the 10th of August necessary? Did not the departments then endorse what Paris did? They will do so this time. It is Paris which saved them."
Consequently, the new government places Henriot, a reliable man, and one of the September slaughterers, in full command of the armed force; then, through a violation by law declared as a capital offense, it orders the alarm gun to be fired; then, on the other hand, it beats a general call to arms, sounds the tocsin and closes the barriers; the post office managers are put in arrest, and letters are intercepted and opened; the order is given to disarm the suspected and hand their arms over to patriots; "forty sous a day are allowed to citizens with small means while under arms." Notice is given without fail the preceding evening to the trusty men of the quarter; accordingly, early in the morning, the Committee of Supervision has already selected from the Jacobin sections "the most needy companies in order to arm those the most worthy of combating for liberty," while all its guns are distributed "to the good republican workmen." —From hour to hour as the day advances, we see in the refractory sections all authority passing over to the side of force; at the Finistere, Butte-des-Moulins, Lombards, Fraternite, and Marais sections, the encouraged sans-culottes obtain the ascendancy, nullify the deliberations of the moderates, and, in the afternoon, their delegates go and take the oath at the Hotel-de-ville.
Meanwhile the Commune, dragging behind it the semblance of popular unanimity, besieges the Convention with multiplied and threatening petitions. As on the 27th of May, the petitioners invade the hall, and "mix in fraternally with the members of the 'Left."' Forthwith, on the motion of Levasseur, the "Mountain," "confident of its place being well guarded," leaves it and passes over to the "Right." Invaded in its turn, the "Right" refuses to join in the deliberations; Vergniaud demands that "the Assembly join the armed force on the square, and put itself under its protection"; he and his friends leave the hall, and the decapitated majority falls back upon its usual hesitating course. All is hubbub and uproar around it. In the hall the clamors of the "Mountain," the petitioners, and the galleries, seem like the constant roar of a tempest. Outside, twenty or thirty thousand men will probably clash in the streets; the battalion of Butte-des-Moulins, with detachments sent by neighboring sections, is entrenched in the Palais-Royal, and Henriot, spreading the report that the rich sections of the center have displayed the white cockade, send against it the sans-culottes of the faubourgs Saint-Antoine and Saint-Marceau; cannon are pointed on both sides.—These loaded cannon must not be discharged; the signal of civil war must not be given; it is simply necessary "to forestall the consequences of a movement which could be only disastrous to liberty," and it is important to ensure public order. The majority, accordingly, think that it is acting courageously in refusing to the Commune the arrest of the Twenty-two, and of the Ministers, Lebrun and Claviere; in exchange for this it consents to suppress its commission of Twelve; it confirms the act of the Commune which allows forty sous a day to the workmen under arms; it declares freedom of entry into its tribunes, and, thanking all the sections, those who defended as well as those who attacked it, it maintains the National Guard on permanent call, announces a general federation for the 10th of August following, and goes off to fraternize with the battalions in the PalaisRoyal, in battle array against each other through the calumnies of the Commune, and which, set right at the last moment, now embrace instead of cutting each other's throats.
This time, again, the advantage is on the side of the Commune. Not only have many of its requirements been converted into decrees, but again, its revolutionary baptism remains in full force; its executive committee is tacitly recognized, the new government performs its functions, its usurpations are endorsed, its general, Henriot, keeps command of the entire armed force, and all its dictatorial measures are carried out without let or hindrance.—There is another reason why they should be maintained and aggravated. "Your victory is only half-won," writes Hebert in his Pere Duchesne, "all those bastards of intriguers still live!"—On the evening of the 31st of May the Commune issues warrants of arrest against the ministers Claviere and Lebrun, and against Roland and his wife. That same evening and throughout the following day and night, and again the day after, the Committees of Supervision of the forty-eight sections, according to instructions from the Hotel-de-ville study the lists of their quarters, add new names to these, and send commissaries to disarm and arrest the suspected. Whoever has spoken against revolutionary committees, or disapproved of the assaults of the 31st of May, or not openly shown himself on the 10th of August, or voted on the wrong side in the old Legislative Assembly, might be arrested. It is a general, simultaneous raid; in all the streets we see nothing but people seized and under escort sent to prison, or put before the section committee. "Anti-patriotic" journalists are arrested first of all, the entire impression of their journals being additionally confiscated, and the journal suppressed; the printing-rooms of Gorsas are sacked, seals placed on his presses, and Prudhomme himself is locked up. All resistance is overcome in the Contrat-Social, Fraternity, Marais and Marseilles sections, leaving the Commune free, as far as the street is concerned, to recommence its attack on the Convention. "Lists of sans-culottes workmen" have been drawn up in each section, and six francs a head is allowed them, payable by the Convention, as indemnity for their temporary suspension from work; this is a premium offered to voters, and as nothing is more potent than cash in hand, Pache provides the funds by diverting 150,000 francs intended for the colonists in San Domingo; the whole day on the 2nd of June, trusted men go about among the ranks distributing five-franc assignats. Vehicles loaded with supplies accompany each battalion, the better to keep the men under arms; the stomach needs filling up, and a pint of wine is excellent for strengthening patriotic sentiment. Henriot has ordered back from Courbevoie the battalions of volunteers which a few days before had been enlisted for La Vendee, crooked adventurers and looters, later known as "the heroes of the 500 francs." Besides these he has under his thumb Rosenthal's hussars, a body of German veterans who do not understand French, and will remain deaf to any legal summons. Finally, he surrounds the Convention with a circle of picked sans-culottes, especially the artillerists, the best of Jacobins, who drag along with them the most formidable park of artillery, 163 cannons, with grates and charcoal to heat the balls. The Tuileries is thus encircled by bands of roughs and fanatics; the National Guard, five or six times as many, brought out "to give an appearance of a popular movement to the proceedings of five or six thousand bandits," cannot come to the aid of the Convention, it being stationed out of reach, beyond the Pont Tournant, which is raised, and behind the wooden fence separating the Carrousel from the palace. Kept in its position by its orders, merely serving as a stationary piece of scenery, employed against itself unbeknown to itself, it can do no more than let the factionists act who serve as its advanced guard.—Early in the morning the vestibules, stairs and passages in the hall of the convention have been invaded by the frequenters of the galleries and the women under pay. The commandant of the post, with his officers, have been confined by "men with moustaches," armed with sabers and pistols; the legal guard has been replaced with an extraordinary guard, and the deputies are prisoners. If one of them is obliged to go out for a moment, it is under the supervision of four fusiliers, "who conduct him, wait for him, and bring him back." Others, in trying to look out the windows, are aimed at; the venerable Dussaulx is struck, and Boissy d'Anglas, seized by the throat, returns with his cravat and shirt all in shreds. For six hours by the clock the Convention is under arrest, and when the decree is passed, ordering the removal of the armed force bearing upon it, Henriot replies to the officer who notifies him of it: "Tell your damned president that he and his Assembly may go to hell. If he don't surrender the Twenty-two in an hour, I'll send him there!"
In the hall the majority, abandoned by its recognized guides and its favorite spokesmen, grows more and more feeble from hour to hour. Brissot, Petion, Guadet, Gensonne, Buzot, Salle, Grangeneuve, and others, two-thirds of the Twenty-two, kept away by their friends, remain at home. Vergniaud, who had come, remains silent, and then leaves; the "Mountain," probably, gaining by his absence, allows him to pass out. Four other Girondists who remain in the Assembly to the end, Isnard, Dussaulx, Lauthenas, and Fauchet, consent to resign; when the generals give up their swords, the soldiers soon lay down their arms. Lanjuinais, alone, who is not a Girondist, but a Catholic and Breton, speaks like a man against this outrageous attack on the nation's representatives They rush at him and assail him in the tribune; the butcher, Legendre, simulating "the cleaver's blow," cries out to him, "Come down or I'll knock you down! A group of Montagnards spring forward to help Legendre, and one of them claps a pistol to his throat; he clings fast to the tribune and strives in vain, for his party around him are losing courage.—At this moment Barrere, remarkable for expedients, proposes to the Convention to adjourn, and hold the session "amidst the armed force that will afford it protection." All other things failing, the majority avails itself of this last straw. It rises in a body, in spite of the vociferations in the galleries, descends the great staircase, and proceeds to the entrance of the Carrousel. There the Montagnard president, Herault-Sechelles, reads the decree of Henriot, which enjoins him to withdraw, and he officially and correctly summons him in the usual way. But a large number of the Montagnards have followed the majority, and are there to encourage the insurrection; Danton takes Henriot's hand and tells him, in a low voice, "Go ahead, don't be afraid; we want to show that the Assembly is free, be firm." At this the tall bedizened gawky recovers his assurance, and in his husky voice, he addresses the president: "Herault, the people have not come here to listen to big words. You are a good patriot... Do you promise on your head that the Twenty-two shall be given up in twenty-four hours?"—"No."—"Then, in that case, I am not responsible. To arms, cannoneers, make your guns ready!" The cannoneers take their lighted matches, "the cavalry draw their sabers, and the infantry aim at the deputies." Forced back on this side, the unhappy Convention turns to the left, passes through the archway, follows the broad avenue through the garden, and advances to the Pont-Tournant to find an outlet. There is no outlet; the bridge is raised, and everywhere the barrier of pikes and bayonets remains impenetrable; shouts of "Vive la Montagne! vive Marat! To the guillotine with Brissot, Vergniaud, Guadet and Gensonne! Away with bad blood!" greet the deputies on all sides, and the Convention, similar to a flock of sheep, in vain turns round and round in its pen. At this moment, to get them back into the fold, Marat, like a barking dog, runs up as fast as his short legs will allow, followed by his troop of tatterdemalions, and exclaims: "Let all loyal deputies return to their posts!" With bowed heads, they mechanically return to the hall; it is immediately closed, and they are once more in confinement. To assist them in their deliberations a crowd of the well-disposed entered pell-mell along with them. To watch them and hurry on the matter, the sans-culottes, with fixed bayonets, gesticulate and threaten them from the galleries. Outside and inside, necessity, with its iron hand, has seized them and holds them fast. There is a dead silence. Couthon, a paralytic, tries to stand up; his friends carry him in their arms to the tribune; an intimate friend of Robespierre's, he is a grave and important personage; he sits down, and in his mild tone of voice, he speaks: "Citizens, all members of the Convention must now be satisfied of their freedom.... You are now aware that there is no restraint on your deliberations."
The comedy is at an end. Even in Moliere there is none like it. The sentimental cripple in the tribune winds up by demanding that the Twenty-two, the Twelve, and the Ministers, Claviere and Lebrun be placed in arrest. Nobody opposes the motion, "because physical necessities begin to be felt, and an impression of terror pervades the Assembly." Several say to themselves, "Well, after all, those who are proscribed will be as well off at home, where they will be safe.... It is better to put up with a lesser evil than encounter a greater one." Another exclaims: "It is better not to vote than to betray one's trust." The salvo being found, all consciences are easy. Two-thirds of the Assembly declare that they will no longer take part in the discussions, hold aloof; and remain in their seats at each calling of the vote. With the exception of about fifty members of the "Right," who rise on the side of the Girondists, the "Mountain," whose forces are increased by the insurgents and amateurs sitting fraternally in its midst, alone votes for, and finally passes the decree.—Now that the Convention has mutilated itself; it is check-mated, and is about to become a governing machine in the service of a clique; the Jacobin conquest is completed, and in the hands of the victors, the grand operations of the guillotine are going to commence.
VIII. Right or Wrong, my Country.
Character of the new governors.—Why France accepted them.
Let us observe them at this decisive moment. I doubt if any such contrast ever presented itself in any country or in any age.—Through a series of purifications in an inverse sense, the faction has become reduced to its dregs; nothing remains of the vast surging wave of 1789 but its froth and its slime; the rest has been cast off or has withdrawn to one side; at first the highest class, the clergy, the nobles, and the parliamentarians; next the middle class of traders, manufacturers, and the bourgeois; and finally the best of the inferior class, small proprietors, farmers, and master-workmen—in short, the prominent in every pursuit, profession, state, or occupation, whoever possesses capital, a revenue, an establishment, respectability, public esteem, education and mental and moral culture. The party in June, 1793, is composed of little more than unreliable workmen, town and country vagabonds, the habitues of hospices, sluts of the gutter, degraded and dangerous persons, the declasse, the corrupt, the perverted, the maniacs of all sorts. In Paris, from which they command the rest of France, their troop, an insignificant minority, is recruited from that refuse of humanity infesting all capitals, amongst the epileptic and scrofulous rabble which, heirs of vitiated blood and, further degrading this by its misconduct, introduces into civilization the degeneracy, imbecility, and infatuations of shattered temperaments, retrograde instincts, and deformed brains. What it did with the powers of the State is narrated by three or four contemporary witnesses; we see it face to face, in itself, and in its chiefs, we contemplate the true nature of the men of action and of enterprise who have led the last attack and who represent it the best.
Since the 2nd of June "nearly one-half of the deputies in the Convention refrain from taking any part in its deliberations; more than one hundred and fifty have even fled or disappeared"; the silent, the fugitives, the incarcerated, and the convicted, all this has been accomplished by the party. On the evening of June 2nd its bosom friend, its conscience, the filthy monstrosity, charlatan, monomaniac and murderer, who regularly every morning, effuses his political poison into its bosom, Marat, has at last obtained the discretionary powers craved by him for the last four years, that of Marius and Sylla, that of Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus; the power of adding or removing names from lists of proscription:
"while the reading was going on he indicated cancellations or additions, the secretary effacing or adding names as he suggested them, without any consultation whatever with the Assembly."
At the Hotel-de-ville on the 3rd of June, in the Salle de la Reine, Petion and Guadet, under arrest, see with their own eyes this Central Committee which has just started the insurrection, and which through its singular delegation sits enthroned over all other established authorities.
"They were snoring, some stretched out on the benches and others leaning on the tables with their elbows, some were barefoot others were wearing their shoes slipshod like slippers; almost all were dirty and poorly clad; their clothes were unbuttoned, their hair uncombed, and their faces frightful; they wore pistols in their belts, and sabers, with scarves turned into shoulder-straps. Bottles, bits of bread, fragments of meat and bones lay strewn around on the floor, and smell was rotten."
It looks like a tapestry of a middle age battle field. The chief of the band here is not Chaumette, who has legal qualms, nor Pache, who cunningly tacks under his mask of Swiss phlegm, but Hebert, another Marat, yet more brutal and depraved, and who profits by the opportunity to "put more coal into the furnace of his Pere Duchesne," striking off 600,000 copies of it, pocketing 135,000 francs for the numbers sent to the armies, and gaining seventy-five per cent on the contract.—In the street the active body of supporters consists of two bands, one military and other civil, the former composed of roughs who are soon to furnish the revolutionary army. "This army, considered to be a recent institution, has actually existed since 1789. The agents of the Duke of Orleans formed its first nucleus. It grew, became organized, had officers appointed to it, mustering points, orders of the day, and a peculiar slang.... All the revolutions were carried out by its aid; it gave impetus to popular violence wherever it did not appear en masse. On the 12th of July, 1789, it had Necker's bust carried in public and the theaters closed; on the 5th of October it started the populace off to Versailles; on the 20th of April, 1791, it caused the king's arrest in the court of the Tuileries... Led by Westermann and Fournier, it formed the central battalion in the attack of August 10, 1792; it carried out the September massacres; it protected the Maratists on the 31st of May, 1793,... its composition is in keeping with its exploits and its functions. It contains the most determined scoundrels, the brigands of Avignon, the scum of Marseilles, Brabant, Liege, Switzerland and the shores of Genoa." Through a careful sifting, it is to be inspected, strengthened, aggravated, and converted into a legal body of Janissaries on triple pay; once "enlarged with idle hairdressers, unemployed lackeys, designers of mad schemes, and other scoundrels unable to earn their keep in an honest manner," it will supply the detachments needed for garrison at Bordeaux, Lyons, Dijon and Nantes, still leaving "ten thousand of these Mamelukes to keep down the capital."
The civilian body of supporters comprises, first, those who haunt the sections, and are about to receive 40 sous for attending each meeting; next; the troop of figure-heads who, in other public places, are to represent the people, about 1,000 bawlers and claqueurs, "two-thirds of which are women." "While I was free," says Beaulieu, "I closely observed their movements. It was a magic-lantern constantly in operation. They traveled to and from the Convention to the Revolutionary Tribunal, and from this to the Jacobin Club, or to the Commune, which held its meetings in the evening.... They scarcely took time for their natural requirements; they were often seen dining and supping at their posts when some action or an important murder was in the offing. Henriot, the commander-in-chief of both hordes, was at one time a swindler, then a police-informer, then imprisoned at Bicetre for robbery, and then one of the September murderers. His military bearing and popularity are due to parading the streets in the uniform of a general, and appearing in humbug performances; he is the type of a swaggerer, always drunk or soaked with brandy. A blockhead, with a beery voice, blinking eyes, and a face distorted by nervous twitching, he possesses all the external characteristics of his employment. In talking, he vociferates like men with the scurvy; his voice is sepulchral, and when he stops talking his features come to rest only after repeated agitations; he blinks three times, after which his face recovers its equilibrium."
Marat, Hebert, and Henriot, the maniac, the thief and the brute. Were it not for the dagger of Charlotte Corday, it is probable that this trio, master of the press and of the armed force, aided by Jacques Roux, Leclerc, Vincent, Ronsin, and other madmen of the slums, would have put aside Danton, suppressed Robespierre, and governed France. Such are the counselors, the favorites, and the leaders of the ruling revolutionary class; did one not know what was to occur during the next fourteen months, one might form an idea of its government from the quality of these men.
And yet, such as this government is, France accepts or submits to it. In fact, Lyons, Marseilles, Toulon, Nimes, Bordeaux, Caen, and other cities, feeling the knife at their throats, turn aside the stroke with a movement of horror. They rise against their local Jacobins; but it is nothing more than an instinctive movement. They do not think of forming States within the State, as the "Mountain" pretends that they do, nor of usurping the central authority, as the "Mountain" actually does. Lyons cries, "Long live the Republic, one and indivisible," receives with honor the commissioners of the Convention, permits convoys of arms and horses destined for the army of the Alps to pass. To excite a revolt there, requires the insane demands of Parisian despotism just as it requires the brutal persistence of religious persecution to render the province of la Vendee insurgent. Without the prolonged oppression that weighs down consciences, and the danger to life always imminent, no city or province would have attempted secession. Even under this government of inquisitors and butchers no community, save those of Lyons and La Vendee, makes any sustained effort to break up the State, withdraw from it and live by itself. The national sheaf has been too strongly bound together by secular centralization. One's country exists; and when that country is in danger, when the armed stranger attacks the frontier, one follows the flag-bearer, whoever he may be, whether usurper, adventurer, blackguard, or cut-throat, provided only that he marches in the van and holds the banner with a firm hand. To tear that flag from him, to contest his pretended right, to expel him and replace him by another, would be a complete destruction of the common weal. Brave men sacrifice their own repugnance for the sake of the common good; in order to serve France, they serve her unworthy government. In the committee of war, the engineering and staff officers who give their days to the study of military maps, think of nothing else than of knowing it thoroughly; one of them, d'Arcon, "managed the raising of the siege of Dunkirk, and of the blockade of Maubeuge; nobody excels him in penetration, in practical knowledge, in quick perception and in imagination; it is a spirit of flame, a brain compact of resources. I speak of him, says Mallet du Pan, "from an intimate acquaintance of ten years. He is no more a revolutionnaire than I am." Carnot does even more than this: he gives up his honor when, with his colleagues on the Committee of Public Safety, Billaud-Varennes, Couthon, Saint-Just, Robespierre, he puts his name to decrees which are assassinations. A similar devotion brings recruits into the armies by hundreds of thousands, bourgeois and peasants, from the volunteers of 1791 to the levies of 1793; and the latter class fight not only for France, but also, and more than all, for the Revolution. For, now that the sword is drawn, the mutual and growing exasperation leaves only the extreme parties in the field. Since the 10th of August, and more especially since the 21st of January, it has no longer been a question how to deal with the ancient regime, of cutting away its dead portions or its troublesome thorns, of accommodating it to modern requirements, of establishing civil equality, a limited monarchy, a parliamentary government. The question is how to escape conquest by armed force to avert the military executions of Brunswick, the vengeance of the proscribed emigres, the restoration and the aggravation of the old feudal and fiscal order of things. Both through their traditions and their experience, the mass of the country people hate this ancient order, and with all the accumulated hatred which an unceasing and secular spoliation has caused. Irrespective of costs, the rural masses will never again suffer the tax-collector among them, nor the excise man in the cellar, nor the fiscal agent on the frontier. For them the ancient regime is nothing more than these things; and, in fact, they have paid no taxes, or scarcely any, since the beginning of the Revolution. On this matter the people's idea is fixed, positive, unalterable; and as soon as they perceive in the distant future the possible re-establishment of the taille, the tithe, and the seignorial rights, they choose their side; they will fight to the death.—As to the artisans and lesser bourgeois, their spur is the magnificent prospect of careers, to which the doors are thrown open, of unbounded advancement, of promotion offered to merit; more than all, their illusions are still intact.
Camped out there, facing the enemy, those noble ideals, which in the hands of the Parisian demagogues had turned into sanguinary harlots, remain pure and virginal in the minds of the soldiers and their officers. Liberty, equality, the rights of man, the reign of reason—all these vague and sublime images moved before their eyes when they climbed the escarpment of Jemmapes under a storm of grapeshot, or when they wintered, with naked feet, among the snows of the Vosges. These ideas, in descending from heaven to earth, were not dishonored and distorted under their feet, they did not see them transformed in their hands to frightful caricatures. These men are not pillars of clubs, nor brawlers in the sections, nor the inquisitors of a committee, nor hired informers, nor providers for the scaffold. Apart from the sabbath revolutionaire, brought back to earth by their danger, and having understood the inequality of talents and the need for discipline, they do the work of men; they suffer, they fast, they face bullets, they are conscious of their generosity and their sacrifices; they are heroes, and they look upon themselves as liberators. They are proud of this. According to an astute observer who knew their survivors,
"many of them believed that the French alone were reasonable beings. .. In our eyes the people in the rest of Europe, who were fighting to keep their chains, were only pitiable imbeciles or knaves sold to the despots who were attacking us. Pitt and Cobourg seemed to us the chiefs of these knaves and the personification of all the treachery and stupidity in the world... In 1794 our inmost, serious sentiment was wholly contained in this idea: to be useful to our country; all other things, our clothes, our food, advancement, were poor ephemeral details. As society did not exist, there was no such thing for us as social success, that leading element in the character of our nation. Our only gatherings were national festivals, moving ceremonies which nourished in us the love of our country. In the streets our eyes filled with tears when we saw an inscription in honor of the young drummer, Barra... This sentiment was the only religion we had."
But it was a religion. When the heart of a nation is so high it will deliver itself, in spite of its rulers, whatever their excesses may be, whatever their crimes; for the nation atones for their follies by its courage; it hides their crimes beneath its great achievements.
[Footnote 3401: "Archives Nationales," AF II, 45, May 6, 1793 (in English).]
[Footnote 3402: Moore, II. 185 (October 20). "It is evident that all the departments of France are in theory allowed to have an equal share in the government; yet in fact the single department of Paris has the whole power of the government." Through the pressure of the mob Paris makes the law for the Convention and for all France.—Ibid., II. 534 (during the king's trial). "All the departments of France, including that of Paris, are in reality often obliged to submit to the clamorous tyranny of a set of hired ruffians in the tribunes who usurp the name and functions of the sovereign people, and, secretly direct by a few demagogues, govern this unhappy nation." Cf. Ibid., II. (Nov. 13).]
[Footnote 3403: Schmidt, I. 96. Letter of Lauchou to the president of the Convention, Oct. 11, 1792: "The section of 1792 on its own authority decreed on the 5th of this month that all persons in a menial service could be allowed to vote in our primary assemblies... It would be well for the National Convention to convince the inhabitants of Paris that they alone do not constitute the entire republic. However absurd this idea may be, it is gaining ground every day."—Ibid., Letter of Damour, vice-president of the Pantheon section, Oct. 29: "The citizen Paris... has said that when the law is in conflict with general opinion no attention must be paid to it... These disturbers of the public peace who desire to monopolize all places, either in the municipality or elsewhere, are themselves the cause of the greatest tumult."]
[Footnote 3404: Schmidt, I. 223 (report by Dutard, May 14).]
[Footnote 3405: Mortimer-Ternaux, VI. 117; VII. 59 (balloting of Dec. 2 and 4). In most of these and the following elections the number of voters is but one-twentieth of those registered. Chaumette is elected in his section by 53 votes; Hebert by 56; Gency, a master-cooper, by 34; Lechenard, a tailor, by 39; Douce, a building-hand, by 24.—Pache is elected mayor Feb. 15, 1793, by 11,881 votes, out of 160,000 registered.]
[Footnote 3406: Buchez et Roux, XVII. 101. (Decree of Aug. 19, 1792).—Mortimer-Ternaux, IV. 223.—Beaulieu, "Essais," III. 454. "The National Guard ceased to exist after the 10th of August."—Buzot, 454.—Schmidt, I. 533 (Dutard, May 29). "It is certain that the armed forces of Paris is nonexistent."]
[Footnote 3407: Beaulieu, Ibid., IV. 6.—"Archives Nationales," F7, 3249 (Oise).—Letters of the Oise administrators, Aug. 24, Sept. 12 and 20, 1792. Letters of the administrators of the district of Clermont, Sept. 14, etc.]
[Footnote 3408: Cf. above, ch. IX.-"Archives Nationales," F7, 3249. Letter of the administrators of the district of Senlis, Oct. 31, 1792. Two of the administrators of the Senlis hospital were arrested by Paris commissaries and conducted "before the pretended Committee of Public Safety in Paris, with all that they possessed in money, jewels, and assignats." The same commissaries carry off two of the hospital sisters of charity, with all the silver plate in the establishment; the sisters are released, but the plate is not returned.—Buchez et Roux, XXVI. 209 (Patriote Francais). Session of April 30, 1793, the final report of the commission appointed to examine the accounts of the old Committee of Supervision: "Panis and Sergent are convicted of breaking seals."... "67,580 francs found in Septenil's domicile have disappeared, as well as many articles of value."]
[Footnote 3409: Schmidt, I, 270.]
[Footnote 3410: Mortimer-Ternaux, IV. 221 to 229, 242 to 260; VI. 43 to 52.]
[Footnote 3411: De Sybel, "Histoire de l'Europe pendant la Revolution Francaise," II 76.—Madame Roland, II.152. "It was not only impossible to make out the accounts, but to imagine where 130,000,000 had gone... The day he was dismissed he made sixty appointments,... from his son-in-law, who, a vicar, was made a director at 19,000 francs salary, to his hair-dresser, a young scapegrace of nineteen, whom he makes a commissary of war".. "It was proved that he paid in full regiments that were actually reduced to a few men.—Meillan, 20. "The faction became the master of Paris through hired brigands, aided by the millions placed at its disposition by the municipality, under the pretext of ensuring supplies."]
[Footnote 3412: See in the "Memoirs of Mme. Elliot," the particulars of this vote.—Beaulieu, I.445. "I saw a placard signed by Marat posted on the corners of the streets, stating that he had demanded 15,000 francs of the Duke of Orleans as compensation for what he had done for him. Gouverneur Morris, I. 260 (Letter of Dec. 21, 1792). The galleries force the Convention to revoke its decree against the expulsion of the Bourbons.—On the 22nd of December the sections present a petition in the same sense, while there is a sort of riot in the suburbs in favor of Philippe-Egalite.]
[Footnote 3413: Schmidt, I. 246 (Dutard, May 13). "The Convention cannot count in all Paris thirty persons ready to side with them.]
[Footnote 3414: Buchez et Roux, XXV. 463. On the call of the houses, April 13, 1793, ninety-two deputies vote for Marat.]
[Footnote 3415: Prudhomme, "Crimes de la Revolution," V. 133. Conversation with Danton, December, 1792.—De Barante, III.123. The same conversation, probably after another verbal tradition.—I am obliged to substitute less coarse terms for those of the quotation.]
[Footnote 3416: He is the first speaker on the part of the "Mountain" in the king's trial, and at once becomes president of the Jacobin Club. His speech against Louis XVI. is significant. "Louis is another Catiline." He should be executed, first as traitor taken in the act, and next as king; that is to say, as a natural enemy and wild beast taken in a net.]
[Footnote 3417: Vatel, "Charlotte Corday and the Girondists," I. preface, CXLI. (with all the documents, the letters of Madame de Saint-Just, the examination on the 6th of October, 1786, etc.) The articles stolen consisted of six pieces of plate, a fine ring, gold-mounted pistols, packets of silver lace, etc.—The youth declares that he is "about to enter the Comte d'Artois' regiment of guards until he is old enough to enter the king's guards." He also had an idea of entering the Oratoire.]
[Footnote 3418: Cf. his speech against the king, his report on Danton, on the Girondists, etc. If the reader would comprehend Saint-Just's character he has only to read his letter to d'Aubigny, July 20, 1792: "Since I came here I am consumed with a republican fury, which is wasting me away... It is unfortunate that I cannot remain in Paris. I feel something within me which tells me that I shall float on the waves of this century... You dastards, you have not appreciated me! My renown will yet blaze forth and cast yours in the shade. Wretches that you are, you call me a thief, a villain, because I can give you no money. Tear my heart out of my body and eat it, and you will become what you are not now—great!"]
[Footnote 3419: Buchez et Roux, XXIV. 296, 363; XXV. 323; XXVII. 144, 145.—Moniteur, XIV 80 (terms employed by Danton, David, Legendre, and Marat).]
[Footnote 3420: Moniteur, XV. 74.—Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 254, 257, sessions of Jan. 6 and May 27.]
[Footnote 3421: Moniteur, XIV. 851. (Session of Dec.26, 1792. Speech by Julien.)]
[Footnote 3422: Moniteur, XIV. 768 (session of Dec. 16). The president says: "I have called Calon to order three times, and three times has he resisted. "—Vergnieud declares that "The majority of the Assembly is under the yoke of a seditious minority."—Ibid, XIV. 851, 853, 865 (session of Dec. 26 and 27).—Buchez et Roux, XXV. 396 (session of April 11.)]
[Footnote 3423: Louvet, 72]
[Footnote 3424: Meillan, 24: "We were for some time all armed with sabres, pistols, and blunderbusses."—Moore, II. 235 (October, 1792). A number of deputies already at this date carried sword canes and pocket-pistols.]
[Footnote 3425: Dauban, "La Demagogie en 1793," p.101. Description of the hall by Prudhomme, with illustrations.—Ibid., 199. Letter of Brissot to his constituents: "The brigands and the bacchantes have found their way into the new hall.—According to Prudhomme the galleries hold 1,400 persons in all, and according to Dulaure, 20,000 or 3,000.]
[Footnote 3426: Moore, I.44 (Oct. 10), and II. 534.]
[Footnote 3427: Moniteur. XIV. 795. Speech by Lanjuinais, Dec. 19, 1792.]
[Footnote 3428: Buchez et Roux, XX. 5, 396. Speech by Duperret, session of April 11, 1793.]
[Footnote 3429: Dauban, 143. Letter of Valaze, April 14.—Cf. Moniteur, XIV. 746, session of Dec. 14.—Ibid., 800, session of Dec. 20.—Ibid., 853, session of Dec. 26.]
[Footnote 3430: Speech by Salles.—Lanjuinais also says: "One seems to deliberate here in a free Convention; but it is only under the dagger and cannon of the factions."—Moniteur. XV. 180, session of Jan. 16. Speech by N—, deputy, its delivery insisted on by Charles Vilette.]
[Footnote 3431: Meillan, 24-32 "Archives Nationales," AF, II.45. Police reports, May 16, 18, 19. "There is fear of a bloody scene the first day."—Buchez et Roux, XXVII. 125. Report of Gamon inspector of the Convention hall.]
[Footnote 3433: Moniteur, XIV. 362 (Nov. 1, 1792).—Ibid., 387, session of Nov. 4. Speech by Royer and Gorsas.-Ibid., 382. Letter by Roland, Nov. 5.]
[Footnote 3434: Moniteur, XIV. 699. Letter of Roland, Nov. 28.]
[Footnote 3435: Moniteur, XIV. 697, number for Dec. 11.]
[Footnote 3436: Moniteur, XV. 180, session of Jan. 16. Speech by Lehardy, Hugues, and Thibaut.—Meillan, 14: "A line of separation between the two sides of the Assembly was then traced. Several deputies which the faction wished to put out of the way had voted for death (of the king). Almost all of these were down on the list of those in favor of the appeal to the people, which was the basis preferred. We were then known as appellants."]
[Footnote 3437: Moniteur, XV. 8. Speech by Rabaut-Saint-Etienne.—Buchez et Roux, XXIII 24. Mortimer-Ternaux, V. 418.—Moniteur, XV.180, session of Jan. 16.—Buchez et Roux, XXIV. 292.—Moniteur, XV. 182. Letter of the mayor of Paris, Jan. 16.—Ibid., 179. Letter of Roland, Jan. 16.—Buchez et Roux, XXIV. 448. Report by Santerre.]
[Footnote 3438: Buchez et Roux, XXV. 23 to 26.—Mortimer-Ternaux, VI. 184 (Manifesto of the central committee, March 9, 2 o'clock in the morning).-Ibid. 193. Narrative of Fournier at the bar of the Convention, March 12.—Report of the mayor of Paris, March 10.—Report of the Minister of Justice, March 13.—Meillan, 24.—Louvet, 72, 74.]
[Footnote 3439: Petion, "Memoires," 106 (Ed. Dauban): "How many times I heard, 'You rascal, we'll have your head!' And I have no doubt that they often planned my assassination."]
[Footnote 3440: Taillandier, "Documents biographiques," on Daunou (Narrative by Daunou), p. 38.—Doulcet de Pontecoulant, "Memoires," I. 139: "It was then that the 'Mountain' used all the means of intimidation it knew so well how to bring into play, filling the galleries with its satellites, who shouted out to each other the name of each deputy as he stepped up to the president's table to give his vote, and yelling savagely at every one who did not vote for immediate and unconditional death.—Carnot, "Memoires," I.293. Carnot voted for the death of the king; yet afterward he avowed that "Louis XVI. would have been saved, if the Convention had not held its deliberations under the dagger."]
[Footnote 3441: Durand-Maillane, 35, 38, 57.]
[Footnote 3442: An expression by Dussaulx, in his "Fragments pour servir a l'histoire de la Convention."]
[Footnote 3443: Madame Roland, "Memoires," ed. Barriere et Berville, II. 52.—(Note by Roland.)]
[Footnote 3444: Moniteur, XV, 187. Cambaceres votes: "Louis has incurred the penalties established in the penal code against conspirators... The execution to be postponed until hostilities cease. In case of invasion of the French territory by the enemies of the republic, the decree to be enforced."—On Barrere, see Macaulay's crushing article in "Biographical Essays."]
[Footnote 3445: Sainte-Beuve, "Causeries du Lundi," V. 209. ("Sieyes," according to his unpublished manuscripts.)]