Hilaire Belloc.

Robespierre online

. (page 31 of 32)
Online LibraryHilaire BellocRobespierre → online text (page 31 of 32)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


whose chapel they sat for the remaining three years of their
activity, stood exactly where the covered market called "The
March^ St. Honor6 " stands now. Indeed, that market was
created by the Convention in a decree purposely designed to
obliterate the memory of the famous hall. The entrance to the
club, three arches surmounted by statues of St. Dominic and
St. Catherine of Sienna, was almost yard for yard in that part of
the northern side of the Rue St. Honore where the " Rue du
March6 St. Honor^ " now comes into it. Of the original build-
ings nothing remains.

Duplay's House. — This house stood upon the site of the
modern No. 398 of the Rue St. Honors. It is on the northern
side of that street, about a hundred yards before you get to the
Rue Royale, and just before the opening of the Rue St. Florentin.
The house may be recognised, apart from the number, as that on
either side of whose central doorway stand a jeweller's shop and
a furniture shop. It is the property of M. Vaury, whose bakery
is next door.

There has arisen upon the origin of the present building a
discussion which once possessed a certain interest, but the solu-
tion of which is now so thoroughly arrived at that the quarrel
may be almost neglected. It will suffice for this note if I say
that without doubt not a particle of the original building remains,
but, save that the front upon the street is a good deal deeper than
it was originally, the plan of the house is much what it was in
Robespierre's time.



376 NOTES

This house was, during the Revolution, of comparatively slight
construction; it was only two storeys high in front, and with a depth
of one room. The back, at the end of a courtyard, was also only
two storeys high ; and the back and front were joined precisely as
they are now by a wing on the western side — that is, on the left
side of the courtyard as you come in under the gate ; but there
was no corresponding eastern wing opposite as there is now, there
was only a blank wall. In the years 1811 and 18 16 two succes-
sive reconstructions destroyed all the original walls, and there
were even new foundations laid ; it was determined to make the
house much higher, and the walls of the original two storeys were,
according to the architect's report, not nearly strong enough to
bear the weight. Tliey were pulled down, the present house was
raised to its six storeys, and the eastern wing was added. The
carpenter's shed that stood in the courtyard was at the same time
taken away.

M. Sardou, who possesses a very valuable collection of revolu-
tionary MSS. and documents, was under the impression that the
house we now see is the original building. It is true that the
actual space of Robespierre's room still exists surrounded by four
walls, and that the place where the old window was is occupied by
the present window overlooking the courtyard. It is the middle
window on the left on the first floor ; but the discussion as to
whether the room is still in existence is a matter for metaphy-
sicians rather than historians. When you have taken away the
floor, the ceiling, and the four walls of a room, and in the new
house you reproduce on much the same situation a new set of
walls, floor, and ceiling, have you still got the original room?
The discussion is a trifle scholastic.

The House in the Rue Saintonge. — This house, where Robes-
pierre lived for two years before he became the guest of the
Duplays, stiU exists, and bears the number 64. There is nothing
about it very well worth remarking, and it is impossible to be
quite certain which rooms he occupied.

The Manege, in which most of the time of the Constituent
Assembly was spent, all that of the Legislative Assembly, and
that of the Convention up to May 1793, has been destroyed by
the construction of the Rue de Rivoli and the Rue Castiglione.
Its site would lie mainly in the roadway, but would partly over-



NOTES 377

lap the Bodega at the western corner, and to a mnch greater
extent the row of shops at the eastern corner. There is a certain
irony in the connection of such modern uses — a drinking har
for the foreign rich and a dressmaker for the foreign rich — with
such a past. The principal approach to it was down a narrow
lane called "Passage des Feuillants," which ran more or less in
the centre of what is now the Rue Castiglione.

The Hotel de Ville was, of course, destroyed in the Inter-
nationalist and CoUectivist revolt of 187 1. The great central hall
on the first floor occupies space for space very much the same site
as the hall in which the principal meetings of the Commune were
held, and in which Eobeapierre was arrested and wounded on the
morning of the loth Thermidor. The great square in front of it
(once the Place de Greve, now the Place de I'Hotel de Ville) is
much larger than it was in the time of the Revolution ; it was
then irregular, rather triangular than square in shape, and barely
more than half its present size.

Finally, if such a detail can interest the curious, I may remark
that the guillotine of Thermidor stood very near where the Obelisk
is now in the Place de la Concorde, a few yards to the north and
west of it. On the site of the Obelisk was the great statue of
Liberty which David had designed.



NOTE III

EOBESPIEERE'S SUPPOSED ATTEMPT AT SUICIDE

It is not without interest to attempt to determine whether or
no Robespierre attempted suicide on the morning of the loth
Thermidor in the Hotel de Ville. That pistol-shot was, as I have
said in the text, practically the end of his life, for he lay but half
living and bloodless for the remaining hours of the day until his
execution in the evening. It is also of great interest from the
point of view of an analysis of his character. So important has the
question appeared to historians that one may almost know in what
category a writer on the Revolution is to be placed by noting his
treatment of the doubt upon Robespierre's wound.



378 NOTES

M. Aulard has well said that there is no absolute certainty to
be arrived at in the matter, and he himself, by far the greatest
living authority on the Revolution, has refused to decide. Never-
theless when I remember that history, which can always make
sure of moral tendencies, can never be absolutely sure of facts,
and that the evidence it secures is by its nature of a kind that
would not be admitted in a court of law, I think the question
of Robespierre's supposed attempt at suicide can be solved with
at least as much confidence as a dozen cou temporary doubts upon
which it has been agreed to accept a final decision.

I take it that Robespierre did not shoot himself, but that his
wound was inflicted by Merda, shooting, as he says he did, from
the door, and I think the following process of proof lends to that
opinion a weight which no generalities upon Robespierre's char-
acter can possibly outweigh.

Here is a list of the documents which have decided opinion
upon either side.

First and most important the report of the doctors sent by the
Convention to examine the wound when Robespierre lay bleeding
on the table in the Tuileries.

Secondly, the declaration of Dulac which asserts, a year later,
that he saw Robespierre extended by the table before any one
came in, before, that is, the troops of the Convention had thrust
open the door.

Thirdly, Gallois distinctly states that Merda fired at Couthon
and missed him, and that Robespierre had laid by his side before
the irruption of the troops of the Convention, a pistol and its
case brought in from the selection of arms in the adjoining room.
It was with this pistol-case of soft leather, says Gallois, that
Robespierre was wiping his wound during the long hours of his
agony in the Tuileries.

Lastly, there is the declaration of Merda himself, made some
little time afterwards, that he shot at Couthon and missed him,
and that he then shot Robespierre, and with this declaration is a
mass of the most evident nonsense, such as that he leapt at
Robespierre with a great sword, and pointing it at his throat
said, "There is a God."

There are one or two other declarations of less importance,
but I omit them because they are either absolutely irreconcilable
with the facts, or at third hand.



NOTES 379

Now it is evident that our judgment reposes upon two very
different kinds of evidence. First, we have the testimony of men
more or less concerned to obtain favours from the victors or to
defend the memory of the victims, and tending, therefore, to give
a particular version of their own. Secondly, we have a quasi-
scientific document into which there could be no object for
introducing support of one thewy or of the other. It is evident
from the mere aspect of the doctors' report that it was written
hurriedly, and from its terms that it purports to be nothing but
a short, rather conventional and confused statement of the nature
of the wound drawn up in technical language.

It so happens that nearly all the judgments upon that famous
pistol-shot have been based upon the contradictory evidence of the
first category, while the document, which, so far as I can see, is
obviously more reliable, has been more or less neglected.

If one takes the personal evidence offered, one comes to some
such tangle as this : the shot was said to have been fired by a
hearty and irresponsible boy,^ who had the greatest interest in
making up the story. On the other hand, Bourdon, who was there,
backed up his claim to a reward. He also claimed and got back
his pistol from the Hotel de Ville where it had fallen. He was
known to have held a pistol as he entered the door, and he fired
at least at Couthon. He wove into his declaration the wildest
gasconading, and instead of making it on the spot, he waited
until the next day to appeal for a reward. Against this you have
the testimony of a man far more reliable, an employ^ in the Town
Hall, who a year later testifies that he saw Eobespierre lying
upon the floor before this boy and his armed companions entered
the room. It is plain that on evidence like that no one can make
up their mind either way, and the only result of it is that while
the more romantic of historians have inclined to accept Merda's
version, it is the more precise who have defended the theory of
suicide.

This latter conclusion is, however, rendered untenable, I think,

* I hope this liar and hard fighter was of Gascon blood ; but it is im-
possible to say so definitely, though he was certainly southern. He was
born in 1774, joined the army after Thermidor, was promoted from the
ranks and died from wounds received at the Beresina, 8th September
18 1 2. He was colonel of the ist Chasseurs at the time.



38o NOTES

by the evidence of the doctors' report. We know that Robespierre
had been sitting in a kind of silent despair for some time, with his
left elbow upon the table, his forehead leaning upon his left hand,
the right side of his face towards the great window, and the left
side of it towards the door. Now we find from the doctors'
report, though that report is rather confused (as Dr. E^clus has
well pointed out), that the general direction of the wound was
from the lower part of the left cheek near the nose downwards,
shattering the lower left jaw and passing out apparently at the
back of the neck, for no bullet was found in the wound. There was
no mark of burning or of powder on the skin. The wound was
small and clean, and there is no doubt that the bullet was con-
siderably deflected by the bone. The reader has only to put his
own right hand into the awkward position required to inflict such
a wound upon himself — if indeed it be possible — to appreciate
the extreme improbability of a man's turning a weapon against
himself in such a contorted gesture ; especially if this were done
in a moment of excitement. If the shot was really fired by
Merda, everything is explained. Coming from the whole length
of a very large public ofiice, it was more or less spent, and hence
the deflection at the bone. The wound was small and clean,
which it certainly would not have been coming from a weapon an
inch or two from the face, and finally, that there should be no
mark of burning or powder upon the skin, seems to me con-
clusive.



THB END



INDEX



" A," names of Jacobins under, 194

Abbey of St. Waast, 42-43 ; gives
scholarship to Robespierre, 51 ;
de Rohan abbot of, 112; Robes-
pierre revisits, 156

Academy, of Arras, 56-57 ; Carnot
received in, Due de Guines a
guest of, 65 ; of Metz, Robes-
pierre's prize from, 58 ; of
Amiens, failure of Robespierre to
obtain prize of, 59, 60

Actors, debate on, 99

Aix, Archbishop of, Robespierre
replies to, 79 ; his protest on
Civil Constitution, 115

Allemand, Royal regiment, desert,
185

Alliance, of Austria and Prussia,
168-169

Alsace, claims of feudal lords in,

174
Amar, mentioned, 258, 264

Amaury, Cafe, site of Breton club,

80
Americans, at bar of National

Assembly, 109; resemblance of

Isnard to, 161
Ancien regime, Robespierre typical

of, 13 ; spirit of, 14; contrasts of,

21 ; literary influence in, 56 ;

anti-Catholicism of, 1 1 2-1 1 3
Anglas, Boissy d', see " Boissy "
Antoinette, see "Marie"
Apostacy, of priests, 280-281
"Appeal to Artesian People,"

Robespierre's first pamphlet, 66-

67



Arms, of Robespierre family 41,
and n.

Arras, described, 43-44; academy
of. 56-57 ; College d', 51 ; Robes-
pierre returns to, 53 ; elections
in, 67 ; Robespierre revisits, 156;
anger of, against Roland, 217

"Artesian People," see "Appeal"

Artois, province of, described, 42-
44 ; debate on taxes of, 100, 107

Artois, Comte d', emigrates, 84

Assembly, see " National," " Legis-
lative "

Audebrand, senator, his anecdote
of Mile. Robespierre, 49 n.

August, loth of, attack on palace,
described, 188-192; general ef-
fect of, 193-195, 207 ; effect of,
on Robespierre, 195-197 ; medal
commemorating, 199

Augustine Robespierre, youngest
of family, 49 ; scholarship at
Louis le Grand, 53 ; his death,

363

Aulard, quoted, 80 n., 192 n. ;
criticised, 96 n.

Austria, see " Emperor "

Avignon, massacres at, 154 ; Em-
peror demands restoration of, 174

Azema, deputy for Aude, his de-
scription of loth of August, 190-
192



Baptism, of Robespierre, 46
Barbaroux, attacks Robespierre,
215 ; described, 234 n.



2 B



382



INDEX



Barnave, draws np letter for

Emperor, 169, and n.
Barr^re, his early notes on Robes-
pierre, 75 ; attitude on 9th Ther-
midor, 326 ; speeches on loth
Thermidor, 342, 343
Bastille, fall of, 83 ; Robespierre's

comment on, 85
Beaumetz, Robespierre's quarrel

with, 107, and n.
Besenval, case of, 90
Bercheny, the colours at, 185
Bethune, Robespierre visits, 157
Beurnonville, Minister of War, 235
Billaud-Varennes, Robespierre op-
poses, 245 ; threatens Danton,
286 ; attitude on 9th Thermidor
327-328 ; his speech on loth
Thermidor, 338-342
Biron, defeat of, 185
Birth, of Robespierre, 39
Bishop, see under separate dioceses

and names
Bishops, their protest against Civil

Constitution, 122-124
Boissy d'Anglas, 323
Bonaparte, see " Napoleon "
"Bourdon," of Notre Dame, 338
Bourdon, Leonard, occupies Hotel
de Ville on loth Thermidor,
362
Boyhood, of Robespierre, 50-53
Breton club, 80, 81 ; origin of

Jacobins, 97
Br^ze, de, Mirabeau's reply to, 82
Briez, 264

Brissot, at Desmoulins' wedding,
124; his power in 1792, 115;
person described, 166 ; quarrel
with Robespierre, 168 ; forces
war, 169; formation of Girondin
ministry, 174-175, 181-183; prin-
cipal debate against Robespierre,
213-214
Brittanique, Hotel, Rolands at, 212
Brittany, in the Revolution, 80



Buissart, Robespierre's letters to

76 n., 82-84 "•
Buonarotti, 303



Cabaeeus, Theresa, Robespierre's
warrant of arrest of, 59, 310

Caen, Bishop of, see "Fauchet"

Cahiers, abstract quality of edu-
cated, 55

Camille des Moulins, see "Des-
moulins "

Carnot, family of, 46-47 ; received
in Academy of Arras, 57; briefs
Robespierre, 63

Carrault, Robespierre's mother, 45

Carvin, settlement of Robespierre's
family at, 40 ; they leave it for
Arras, 42

Catholicism, Robespierre's attitude
towards, no ; and history of
France, 1 1 i-i 12 ; and the schism,

153-155

Cavaignac, family of, 47

Character of Robespierre, 12-18,
27-38

Charlotte Robespierre, 48, and n. ;
49, and n.

Chaumette, at King's trial, 221-222

Church, Cambon proposed to dis-
establish, 224

Civil Constitution of clergy, 113-
119; signed by King, 122

Clergy, see "Civil." Marriage of,
Robespierre's attitude to, 117

College, of Arras, 51 ; of Louis le
Grand, 51 ; Robespierre's life at,
52 ; King visits, 53

Committee of Public Safety, formed,
243-244 ; Robespierre enters,
256-257 ; requires continuation
of Terror and drags in Robes-
pierre, 293; Thermidor, 325-

327
Commons, election of, at Arras, 67 ;
their oath in the tennis court, 81 ;



INDEX



383



entry of, into Revolution, 106;
and Mirabeau, 129

Commune, of loth of August, 197-
199 ; Robespierre identified with,
208 ; of '94, no longer Parisian,
319, 324 ; insurrection of, 355 et
seq,

Conde, question of, 119

Condorcet, his view of Robespierre,
219

Conspiracy, the, against Robes-
pierre, 323

Constitution of 1791 ; its break-
down, 146

Contract, see " Social Contract "

Convention, first meeting of, 209

Conzie, de, bishop of Arras ; his
patronage of Robespierre, 50-5 1 ;
gives Robespierre a magistracy

Cordeliers, club of, 289-290 ; Vieux,
see " Vieux Cordelier"

Oourrier de Paris, 219

Court party, their attempt at re-
action in October 1789, 91

Cromwell, Lafayette compared to,
182

Crown, intrigues with the enemy,
149, 169 ; a power of, in early
part of war, 178



Danton, family of, 46 ; his flight
to England, 144, and n. ; his re-
port from Belgium, 237 ; peril of
in Dumouriez' treason, 242-243 ;
returns to stop the Terror, 277-
278 ; last interview with Robes-
pierre, 292 ; death of, 296

Dauphin, Robespierre's supposed
allusion to, 108, and n.

" De," see under separate names

Debates, on Civil Constitution, 114-
119; on the war, 161-164; on
Robespierre's ascendancy, 212-
217 ; of 9th Thermidor, 332-349

Deity, Feast of, 309-310



Desmoulins, Camille, at College
with Robespierre, 52 ; rouses
Paris in July 1789, 83; mar-
riage of, 123-124 ; attack on
Brissot, 158 ; Vieux Cordelier,
278-286

Dillon, General, his defeat and
death, 184-185

Dominicans, offer their convent to
Radical club, 97

Dubois-Cranc^, at siege of Lyons,
267 ; abandons Robespierre in
Thermidor, 347

Dumouriez, described, 170-171 ;
forces war, 1 74 ; first successes of,
212 ; his defeat at Neerwinden,
241 ; and treason, 242

Duplay, described, 143 ; Robes-
pierre enters house of, 143-145 ;
elected to his section, 202; Robes-
pierre in house of, in '94, 300-
304 ; his farewell to Robespierre,

330
Duplay, Eleanor, see "Eleanor"
Duplay, Nicholas, 320-321, and n.



Edict, against refractory priests,
186

Education, of Robespierre, 50-54

Egalite, execution of, 261 ; patron
of Brissot, 166

Eleanor Duplay, betrothed to Robes-
pierre, 303 ; last walk with, 320

Elections, of Arras, 67 ; of Robes-
pierre to Paris, 203-205

Elector, of Treves, 169

Emperor, supposed letter of, 169 ;
war declared against, 174

English lady, addressed by Robes-
pierre, 60

Ercherolles, Mile, d', 267



Family, of Robespierre, 40-48 ;
probably Irish, 46



384



INDEX



Families, of the Bevolution, 46-47

Fanatics, nature of, 29-31

Father of Eobespierre, see "Maxi-
milian-Bartholomew "

Fauchet, Bishop, 157

Forn^ Bishop, 157

Fouch^, recalled from Lyons, 311 ;
conspires, 316, 319

Fox, inn of, 70



" Gallican Chukch " in possession
of orders, 124

Girondins, first appearance, 156-
157 ; Eobespierre's antagonism
to, 167; attack Robespierre, 181,
211, 217, &c. ; main quarrel of,
with Mountain, 204-207 ; their
position in March 1 793, 236-238 ;
their fall, 250 ; saved by Robes-
pierre, 265 ; their end, 268

Gorsas, 218

Guadet, 172, 182



HAMEL, preface, xiii ; quoted, 60
n., 121 n., 202 n., 219 n.

Handwriting, of Robespierre, 59,
and n.

Hanriot, in 2nd of June, 249; in
Thermidor, 337-341

Hapsburgs, 168

Helvetius, his bust broken, 226

Herbert, power of, 262 ; his anti-
Christian movement, 279 ; his
fall, 290

Hoche, 304-305, and n.

" Mors la lot I " 359-360

Hotel de Ville, in Thermidor, 350-

363

House, of Duplay, see " Duplay " ;
of Robespierres, at Arras, 44



ISKABD, 159-161



Jacobins, origin of, 82, 96-98;
Mirabeau's last speech, 125-127 ;
scene at, on 17th of July 1791,
141 ; they applaud war, 161 ;
great debate on war, 164-165 ;
debate of Brissot and Robespierre
in, 181-183 ; last speech of
Robespierre at, and scene of 8th
Thermidor, 321-322 ; closed by
Legendre, 359

Jews, Robespierre defends, 99



Kbealio, Mademoiselle de, 57, also
"Madame Robert," 143 n.



Lafayette, attack on, in Jacobins,
132 ; and Champ de Mars, 140-
141 ; attempts to save crown,
179 ; compared to Cromwell,
182 ; exile and end of, 188

Lally, Tollendal, and his son, 72,
and n.

Lebas, attempts to save Robes-
pierre, 340; sacrifices himself,
349 ; death, 360

Lebas, ^Zs, 349

Lecointre, a fool, 328

Legendre, Danton's friend, shuts
the Jacobins, 359

Legislative Assembly, character of,

147-153

Lepelletier de St. Fargeau, 89 j
his death, 328

Letters, of Robespierre, to Buissart,
77-79. 84 ; to Duplay, 156-157,
" to my constituents "

Lightning-rod, case of the, 64

Louchet, decides moment of Robes-
pierre's fall, 349

Louis XVI., visits Robespierre's
college, 53 ; and Mirabeau, 127-
130 ; flight of, 136-137 ; intrigues
for foreign aid, 164 ; reads de-
claration of war, 174 ; a prisoner,



INDEX



385



192 ; his trial and death, 220-
232
Louis 1« Grand, College of, 51,

Loustalot, his absurdity, 117



MACHBCOtTL, origin of Vendean
War, 240

Maillard, his appearance at Ver-
sailles, 91-93

Mairie, Robespierre handed to
guard of, 356

Malesherbes, 231, and n,

Marat, author of the Massacres of
September, 202 ; trial of, 247 ;
death of, 260

Marie Antoinette, name of Robes-
pierre's godmother, 46 n.

Marie Antoinette, Queen, writes,
with BarnaTe, letter provoking
war, 169 ; death of, 261

Marly, forest of, 14

Marriage, of Robespierre's parents,
date of, 39 ; of Robespierre pro-
posed, 65 ; again proposed with
Mile. Duplay, 303

Marseillaise, origin of, 177

Martin Robespierre, see "Robes-
pierre "

Mass of Holy Ghost, opens Parlia-
ment, 74

Massacres, of September, 202-204 5
of Champs de Mars, 143-145

Maximilian, see " Robespierre "

Maximilian - Bartholomew, tee
" Robespierre "

Maury, Abbe, 112-1x3, and ».

Medal, tee "August"

Merda, shoots Robespierre, 363

Mirabeau, voice of, 10; and de
Bt6z4i, 82 ; Robespierre opposes,
120-121 ; last struggle and death
of, 124-128 ; bust of, broken, 226

Miranda, 240-241, and n.

Monasticism, 113, and n.



Monsieur, his reply to decree
against emigrants, 159, and n.

"Mouchoir du Pr^dicateur," verse
of Robespierre, 61

Mounier, on origin of Jacobins, 97,
and n.

Mountain, quarrel of, with Gironde,
195 ; character of this quarrel,
205-209 ; approached by con-
spirators in Thermidor, 323 ;
abandons Robespierre, 347

Mountjoie, on origin of Jacobins, 97,
and n.

Napoleon, 284, 291

Narbonne, 165, 170

National Assembly, its general

character, 69, &c. ; origin of the

term, 75, and n.
Neerwinden, defeat of Dumonriez

at, 240

OCTOBEB, march on Versailles, 91-

93
" Ophelia," Robespierre's verses to

(probably English), 60
Orleans, see "Egalit^"



Palace, of Versailles, attack on,
tee " October" ; of Tuilleries, at-
tack on, see "August loth"

Paris, elections of, to Convention,
203-204 ; attitude of, during
Thermidor, 350, 353, &c.

Potion, 134, 137, 160, 258

Prairial, law of, 310

Priests, edict against refractory,
186

Protestants, Robespierre defends,
99; see also "Jews"



Refobmebs, general character of,

4-5



386



INDEX



R^nauld, C^cile, 307-308

Revolution, generation of, 14-21 ;
character of youth in, 37 ; nature
of, 103-107

Eobespierre, Robert de, 41 ; Yves
de, 41 ; Martin de, 42 ; Maxi-
milian (the elder), 42 ; Maxi-
milian-Bartholomew, father of
Robespierre, 45 ; his death, 49

Robespierre, person of, 6-1 1 ; char-
acter of, 13-18, 27-38 ; birth and
descent of, 39-46 ; collateral
descendants of, 48, and n. ; at
college, 51-52 ; practises at bar,
62-67 ; entry into States-General,
69-75 ; ^ii* fi'^st speech, 76-77 ;
joins the Breton Club, 80-81 ;
first acquaintance with power in



Online LibraryHilaire BellocRobespierre → online text (page 31 of 32)