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and overthrow the Jacobins at Paris. The situation
was desperate. France was threatened from all sides,
from Flanders, Germany, Italy, and Spain. La Vendee,
incited by refractory priests, royalists and English,
rose in bloody revolt to resist the conscription.
Toulon was taken by the English, and Lyons was in
open, successful rebellion. The Jacobins were not
frightened. They then organized a strong, central,
executive power in the Committee of Public Safety.
The second Committee of that name was in power
from July 10, 1793, to July 27, 1794. The Jacobin
Club, and its affiliated clubs in the departments,
formed its chief support. It was a strong central
power, ruling by terror. Its agents on mission ruled
with more than proconsular authority in the provinces
and the army. The Convention proclaimed a levy en
masse. The Marseillaise began to be the hymn of
the French conquest. Lyons was taken and sacked,
October 9, 1793. The Austrians were defeated at
Wattignies, October i6th. Wurmser was driven
across the Rhine, and the Spaniards across the Pyr-
enees. The battle of Fleurus, the next June, brought
again the subjugation of Flanders.

In October, 1793, the unfortunate Queen Marie
Antoinette and the leaders of the Gironde mounted
the scaflfold. There could be no resistance to the

28 History of the Christian Church.

Terror. The Terror, true to its name, successful in
driving back invaders and quelling insurrection, now
began to devour its own children. Hebert and his
atheistic companions were guillotined, March 24,
1794; Danton and Camille Desmoulins, April 5, 1794.
The Terror increased in its merciless slaughter. The
average executions were three each week from April
to September, 1793; thirty-two a week from Sep-
tember, 1793, to June, 1794; and one hundred and
ninety-six a week from June to August, 1794;
making a total of nearly 2,700 judicial murders. All
the ages of history and the progress of mankind will
never wash this stain of blood from the French Rev-
olution. This Terror spread to the provinces, and
Nantes and I^yons, like Paris, were defiled with the
blood of the innocent. Robespierre, Couthon, and St.
Just were overthrown in the Convention, July 27th,
and were guillotined, July 28, 1794. In December of
that year the Jacobin Club was closed forever.

The victories of the armies of France continued.
Holland was invaded October 9, 1 794, and during the
next January the whole country and the fleet were in
the hands of the French. The Batavian Republic
was organized, and a treaty of peace between it and
France was signed in March, 1795. The valley of the
Rhine, and afterward the Moselle, were occupied.
Spain and Piedmont were invaded. These conquests
were followed by treaties of peace with Prussia, Spain,
Tuscany, and Hesse-Cassel.

These treaties were a great gain for France, and a
great service was rendered her by the men who over-
threw Robespierre. The party of the Terrorists did
not propose, however, tamely to submit. They rose

The Revolution. 29

in insurrection, April, 1795, and broke into the Con-
vention. Their leaders, the old Terrorists, Billaud-
Varennes, Callot d'Herbois, Barere, and Vadier, were
sent to Guiana without trial. Another like attempt
was made May 20, 1795, led by women called the
Furies of the Guillotine. They were overpowered
and disarmed, and the Jacobin party ceased to exist.
The Convention ended its labors October 25, 1795,
leaving a name at once memorable and infamous. Its
chief work was to create the French Army of the
Revolution. That crushed the insurrection at home,
and carried the standard of France beyond her bor-
ders, annexing Belgium and making Holland a tribu-
taiy Republic. These successes broke up the coali-
tion against France, and gave her again a place in the
comity of nations. A firm hand at the same time was
kept upon the royalists, whose insurrection of October
5, 1795, was summarily suppressed.

The place of the Convention was taken by the
Directory, which governed France from October, 1795,
to November, 1799. The executive con-
sisted of five Directors, one retiring each DjJctory.
year, who could not be re-elected. His suc-
cessor was chosen by the Legislature. The legisla-
tive body consisted of two Chambers, — the Council of
Five Hundred, whose members must be over twenty-
five years of age, and the Council of Ancients, two
hundred and fifty in number, the members of which
must be at least forty years of age. Two-thirds of
the members of each Council must have been members
of the Convention. The terms of one-third of the
members expired yearly, and their successors were
chosen by the electorate. The new Constitution also

30 History of the Christian Church.

provided that the heads of local administration in the
departments, the present prefects and sub-prefects,
instead of being elected as before, should be appointed
by the Central Government at Paris. This change,
which is retained to this day, is the leading principle
of the French administration, and under all changes
of government has preserved its centralized character.
A property qualification was required both of elect-
ors and of the candidates for the office.

The Directory, aided by armies which not only
supported themselves but sent the spoils of conquest
to Paris, succeeded in restoring the finances,
^mrectol!** which were in great disorder through the
fall in value of the assignats. The Di-
rectory also restored internal peace. La Vendee
was completely pacified by July, 1796, and the gov-
ernment abolished the Commune of Paris.

The royalist Terror of the summer of 1795 in the
south of France, which in pillage and murder equaled
the worst deeds of the Terror in Paris, was again
feared. English agents, aided by General Pichegru,
sought to foment an insurrection in favor of the mon-
archy. These schemes were frustrated by the Direct-
ory, September 4, 1797, when Pichegru and fifty-five
Deputies were arrested and sent to Guiana.

The Directory left an evil name for venality and
corruption. In neither character nor conduct did it
command the respect of France. Its chief function
seemed to have been to prepare the way for Napoleon
Bonaparte. As its general he fought the marvelous
campaign of 1796. Two years later he embarked for
his campaign in Egypt and Syria. Having failed
there in his main purpose, he returned to France in

The Revolution, 31

October, 1799. The restoration he planned he suc-
cessfully carried out, November 8, 1799.

This brought the Consulate into being. It endured
five years, until replaced by the Empire. These years
were the most fruitful of Napoleon's life in
service rendered France. The Code Na- Consulate,
poleon, of which he was not the author but '799-'8o4.
the patron, will perpetuate his name longer than his
victories. In the course of his conquests the political
and social ideals of the Revolution came to prevail in
Western Europe, in Italy, and even in Spain. The after
conquests of Napoleon ministered mostly to the power
and the vanity of the conqueror; they nevertheless
broke the power of feudalism and privilege, abolished
serfdom, and made possible the economic and political
regeneration of the peoples of Europe. Napoleon was
the incarnation of the Revolution, even under the
Empire. He made its ideals prevail. It would be
difiicult to see how a united Italy or Germany could
come into life without the destruction of abuses, and
the inspiration of freedom and equality which followed
the armies of Napoleon.

In a review of the Revolutionary period we see
only small men in the midst of great events. The
Girondists were rhetoricians : Robespierre ^.

^ The Men of

was a sentimentalist; and Danton, the theRevoiu-
ablest of the men of the Terror, scarcely an ^'°"'
able man of the second class. Compared with the men
of the Puritan and American Revolution they seem
small indeed. We see but four men of distinction
among them all, though for his patriotism and pure life
Lafayette will always be remembered.

Gabriel Riquetti, Count de Mirabeau (1749-1791),

32 History of the Christian Church.

was the one man in France who, through ability,

study, reflection, knowledge of foreign countries and

of his time, and noble traits, might have

riirabeau. _ . • , , , -r^ , . -r^ i i

safely guided the Revolution. He had
been, however, so unrestrained and immoral in his
conduct that when the time of trial came he had no
character which could command the confidence of the
different parties, or be a firm basis for his career as a
statesman. Worn out with toils and excesses, he died
an early death, April 2, 1791. His loss was an irre-
trievable one for France.

Lazare Nicholas Marguerite Carnot (i 753-1 823)
was a man of incorruptible integrity, of true patriot-
ism, and whose attachment to Republican
institutions withstood alike the blandish-
ments of office and the pains of exile. He was a mem-
ber of the Committee of Public Safety during the
reign of Terror, and led the charge in person at the
battle of Wattignies. His great gifts as an adminis-
trator were shown in the organization and care of those
armies whose victories saved from destruction Revo-
lutionary France. His grandson, Sadi Carnot, Presi-
dent of the French Republic, 1 887-1 894, served the
present Republic at a critical time, and, dying by the
hand of an assassin, sustained well the Republican
traditions of his family.

Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord (1754-
1838), Bishop of Autun, afterwards Grand Chamber-
lain, Vice-Grand Elector and Prince of Ben-

Talleyrand. , , ^ . , , .

ventum under the Empire, was the ablest
Frenchman of that generation. He served all the
governments of France from 1789 to 1834, and knew
when to leave them. In knowledge of men, of crises

The Revolution.


in opinion and of the State, he had no superior
among the diplomatists of the nineteenth century.
Though a man utterly without scruple, venal and cor-
rupt in his personal morals, he saved France after the
overthrow ot Napoleon. It is doubtful if any other
Frenchman in an hour of peril and defeat ever
rendered a greater service to his country.

Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French and
King of Italy (1769-1821), was by blood and birth
and the main traits of his character an
Italian. By the conquest of Corsica, and ^^l^^^^
by training in a French military school, he
was a Frenchman. Napoleon Bonaparte was the most
consummate military genius of European history.
Great were his gifts also in administration and govern-
ment. In character he was utterly unscrupulous and
selfish to the core. Death at St. Helena seems a hght
punishment for a man whose career had orphaned

For these men there was no religious basis for
either life or conduct. A consideration of the atti-
tude of the Revolution towards religion is funda-
mental to an understanding of its significance and
its relation to modern life.

The Christian Rei

Online LibraryGeorge Herbert DryerHistory of the Christian church (Volume 5) → online text (page 3 of 50)