H. N. (Horatio Newton) Moore.

The reign of terror historically and biographically treated online

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Dusty of face, with frugal refreshment, they plod on-
wards; unweariable, not to be turned aside."* They
marched to the air since so celebrated under the name
of the Marsellais Hymn ; " the sound of which will make
the blood tingle in men's veins, and whole armies and
assemblages will sing it, with eyes weeping and hearts
burning." — " I never," says Madame de la Roche-
jaquelian, " heard any thing more impressive and
terrible than their songs." At Lyons, and at several
other places, on their march, they were so rude in
their conduct, that the inhabitants drove them out of
the towns ; and it is said " these brigands consoled
themselves for the ill-treatment they received in the
towns by pillaging and oppressing the country pea-
sants, and ravishing such defenceless women as fell in
their way." f

* Carlyle. t Playfair.



The third fete of the Foederation, July 14th, 1792. Alarm and agi-
tation. Marat — his views at this crisis. Barbaroux — some ac-
count of him. Robespierre — his retired manner of living — his
vanity — his influence at the Jacobin club. Interview between
him and Marat. Danton — his character, public and private. Ar-
rival of the Marseillais in Paris, and riot between them and a com-
pany of royalists in the Champs-Elysees. Proclamation of the
Duke of Brunswick — general indignation in consequence of it.
Petitions for the dethronement of Louis XVI. Insurrection of the
10th of August. Santerre — Legendre — Robespierre — Danton — the
Marsellais — Mandat — alarm at the Tuilleries — midnight — the
alarm gun — the tocsin — drums beating — artillery rumbling through
the streets — assassination of Mandat — confusion — terror — bell an-
swering bell — all Paris awake and astir — the suburbs in motion —
Santerre — Westermann — the Marseillais — at daybreak the palace
of the Tuilleries is besieged. Louis XVI. — Marie Antoinette —
the royal family seek protection in the Assembly — the palace at-
tacked by the insurgents — the Swiss guards defend it, and disperse
the assailants — the Marseillais renew the attack, fall in great num-
bers, and at length break into the palace, the rabble pouring in
after them — an indiscriminate massacre of the Swiss and the ser-
vants of the palace follows — furniture destroyed and a general
pillage. The Assembly dethrones Louis XVI, — he and his family
confined in the Temple. Robespierre's demand for blood and
vengeance. Advance of the Prussian army — terror of the Parisi-
ans — Danton — the barriers closed, the Reign of Terror proclaimed
— arrests of the aristocrats— massacre of the priests — Billaud-Va-
rennes — the September massacres — the Princess Lamballe — her
head carried on a pike to the windows of the Temple.

The day of the third anniversary of the Foederation, the
14th of July, 1792, arrived. Eighty-three tents, repre-
senting the eighty-three departments of France, had
been put up in the Champs-de-Mars ; beside each of
these tents rose a poplar, from the top of which waved
the tri-colored flag. A large tent was destined for the
Assembly and the King, and another for the adminis-
trative bodies of France. The altar was a truncated
column, placed at the top of the seats which had re-


mained since the first ceremony. On one side was a
monument for those who had died, or who were des-
tined to die, fighting the enemy on the fi'ontiers. On
the other side was an immense tree, called the tree of
feudalism, rising from the centre of a vast pile, and
bearing on its branches blue ribands, crowns, tiaras,
cardinals'-hats, St. Peter's keys, ermine mantles, titles
of nobility, escutcheons, etc., which the King was to
be invited to set fire to. The oath was to be taken at
noon. The King displayed a calm dignity. The
Q,ueen strove to conquer a grief that was but too visi-
ble; "her eyes were swollen with tears," says Ma-
dame de Stael; "and the splendor of her dress, and
dignity of her deportment, formed a striking contrast
with the train that surrounded her." The King's
sister, and his children, were around him. At length
the procession arrived at the Champs-de-Mars, which
until then .had been comparatively empty, but now
the multitude rushed tumultuously into it ; and beneath
the balcony where the King was placed, a confused
mob of women, children, and drunken men, passed,
shouting " Petion forever ! Petion or death !" * and
bearing on their hats the words which they had in
their mouths. Louis XVI. descended from the balcony,
and, amidst a square of troops, moved on with the pro-
cession to the altar of the country. Innumerable
voices reproached him with his perfidious flight to
Varennes. It was with difficulty the soldiers kept back
the intrusion, and they were wholly unable to prevent
the reproaches and maledictions that were uttered
around him. The concourse was so dense that they
could move but slowly. "The figure made by the
King during this pageant formed a striking and melan-
choly parallel with his actual condition in the state.
With hair powdered and dressed, with clothes embroi-
dered in the ancient court fashion, surrounded and
crowded unceremoniously by men of the lowest rank,

* " His name was inscribed on a thousand banners ; on all sides
the cry was heard " Petion or death !" — Alison.


and in the most wretched garb, he seemed belonging
to a former age, but which in the present had lost its
fashion and value."* After great exertions on the part
of the troops, who had much difficulty in opening a
passage through the crowd, Louis XVI. reached the
altar. " When he mounted the steps of the altar, he
seemed a sacred victim, offering himself as a volun-
tary sacrifice " remarks De Stael. In dread of assas-
sination, he wore, says Madame Campan, a quilted
and ballet proof cuirass under his waistcoat. The
Queen, stationed on the balcony, watched the scene
through a glass. The confusion seemed to increase
about the altar, and the King to descend a step. The
Queen, alarmed for her husband's safety, uttered a
shriek, filling all around her with alarm. The cere-
mony, however, passed off without accident. As soon
as the oath was taken, the crowd hastened to the tree
of feudalism. They were for hurrying the King along
with them, that he might set fire to it ; but he declined,
with the pertinent remark that there was no longer any
such thing as feudalism. Noon had been the hour ap-
pointed, but it was five o'clock before the oath was
taken. Louis, with his family, returned to the Tuille-
ries, glad at having escaped dangers which he con-
ceived to be great, but dejected in heart at those which
he beheld approaching. The tree of feudalism stood
"unburnt till certain patriot deputies, called by the
people, set a torch to it, by way of voluntary after-

The tidings which daily reached the capital from the
frontiers increased the alarm and agitation. All
France was in motion, and men were repairing to
Paris, invited by the Jacobin leaders. They daily ar-
rived, and were composed of the most violent spirits
in the clubs throughout the kingdom. They were
termed foederates, ostensibl)'- coming to Paris to assist
at the Fcederation, but only two thousand were pre-
sent on that day. Those that now came in were al-

* Scott.


lowed thirty sous a day by the Assembly, under the
pretext that their presence was necessary to defend
the capital. They daily attended the sessions of the
Assembly, and soon gave law to that body by their
shouts of disapprobation or applause ; and were ready
for insurrection at the first signal — to which effect
they even made a declaration in an address to the As-
sembly.* The arrival of theMarseillais was anxiously
expected. There were daily agitations in the streets.
The dethronement of Louis XVL, and the establish-
ment of a republic, was the general topic of conversa-
tion. Marat, editor of ' L'Ami du Peuple,' now emerged
from the hiding-places in which he had dwelt, and be-
came an object of popularity in the capital. His influ-
ence had hitherto been principally confined to the su-
burbs. The friends of the court, and the moderate
party, regarded him with horror and contempt ; but
he had learned to despise those who despised him.
Hitherto the law had been continually aimed at him,
but he had escaped by concealing himself in cellars; .
for three years he had lived in this subterraneous exis-
tence, skulking from one place of concealment to ano-
ther.f He contined to diffuse in his journal the doc-
trines with which he was imbued. All polished

* Thiers.

t Marat was bom at Neufchatel in 1744. He studied medicine,
lived in indigence, and was at one time veterinary surgeon to the
Count D'Artois. In 1774 he resided at Edinburgh, where he taught
the French language, and published in English a volume entided the
" Chains of Slavery." He wore, says Madame Roland, boots, but
no stockings, a pair of old leather breeches, a white silk vest, a dirty
shirt, the bosom of which was open and showed his yellow skin.
Long and dirty nails, skinny fingers, and a hideous face, suited ex-
actly his whimsical dress. — " There can be little doubt that Marat
regarded himself as the apostle of liberty, and the more undeniably
wrong he was, the more infallible he thought himself. Others had
more delight in the actual spilling of blood ; no one else had the
same disinterested and dauntless confidence in his theory. He might
be placed at the head of a class that exists at all times, but only
breaks out in times of violence and revolution ; who form crime into
a code, and proclaim conclusions that make the hair of others
stand on end." — HazlitU


manners were, according to his notions, but vices
hostile to republican equality, and, in his ardent hatred
for the obstacles, he saw but one means of safety —
extermination. He proposed a dictator, not for the
purpose of conferring on him the despotism of one^
but of imposing on him the terrible task of purifying
society. This dictator was to have a cannon-ball at-
tached to his leg, that he might always be in the
power of the people. He was to have but one faculty
left him, that of pointing out victims and ordering
death as their only chastisement. Marat knew no
other penalty, because he was not for punishing, but
for suppressing the obstacle. It was necessary, he as-
serted, to strike off several hundred thousand heads,
and to destroy all the aristocrats, who rendered liberty
impossible. " The French are but paltry revolution-
tionists," he said to Barbaroux. " Give me two hund-
red Neapolitans, armed with daggers, and on the left
arm a muff for a buckler ; with these I will traverse
France, and complete the revolution." He also made
an exact calculation, showing in what manner 260,000
men might be put to death in one day. In this inter-
view with Barbaroux, he further proposed, that, in
order to mark the aristocrats, the Assembly should
order them to wear a white riband, and that it should
be lawful to kill them when three were found together.
Under the name of aristocrats, he included the royal-
ists and the Girondins; and the difficulty of distin-
guishing and recognizing them being suggested by
Barbaroux, he declared that it was impossible to mis-
take, that it was only necessary to fall upon those who
had carriages, servants, silk-clothes, and who were
coming out of the theatres. " All such," said he, " are
assuredly aristocrats." Barbaroux left him, horror-

* Charles Barbaroux, bom at Marseilles. He embraced the cause
of the revolution with uncommon ardour, and repaired to Paris in
1792. He was called Antinous on account of his extraordinary
beauty. Marseilles, an opulent city, with a population both numer-
ous and democratic, had sent him aa a deputy to the Assembly. It


Robespierre, at this period, divided his time between
the sittings of the Jacobin Club and a studious retire-
ment. In an elegant cabinet, in the house of the
cabinet-maker, where his image was repeated in all
possible ways, in painting, in engraving, and in sculp-
ture, he devoted himself to assiduous study, and was
continually reading Rousseau, in order to glean ideas
for his speeches.* His perseverance was indefatigable.
He seems to have formed for himself a system out of
the boldest and wildest visions of Rousseau, domestic,
social, and political. Not like many of the demagogues
of the day, he never adopted the external habits of a
sans-culotte, but appeared among his fellow Jacobins
with hair nicely arranged and powdered; and the
neatness of his dress was carefully attended to, so as
to counterbalance, if possible, the vulgarity of his
person.f His features were mean, his complexion
pale, his veins of a greenish hue. His vanity was of
the coldest and most selfish character, being such as
considers neglect as insult, and receives homage
merely as a tribute ; so that, while praise is received
without gratitude, it is withheld at the risk of mortal
hate. Self-love of this dangerous character is closely
allied with envy, and Robespierre was one of the most
envious and vindictive men that ever lived.J Mira-
beau, whom he courted at the outset of the revolution,
despised him ; and full of the ambition of being a

has been said that he came to Paris in company with the notorious
Marseillais ; but it is not the fact ; he was in Paris before the 20th
of June. He did, as we shall see, go from Paris to meet that band
at Charenton, as they approached the capital.

* " His apartments, though small, were elegant, and vanity had
filled them with representations of the occupant. His picture at
length hung in one place, his miniature in another, his bust occupied
a niche, and on the table were exposed a few medallions exhibiting
his head in profile." — Memoirs of Barbaroux.

t " While the other leaders of the populace affected a squalid
dress and dirty linen, he alone appeared in elegant attire." — Alison.
" I had twice occasion to converse with Robespierre. He had a
sinister expression of countenance, never looked you in the face,
and had a continual and unpleasant winking of the eye." — Dumont.

I Scott.


leader, he felt rebuked and humiliated in consequence
of the neglect he experienced, outshone as he was by
the brilliant orators of the first Assembly. His voice
was feeble, his delivery unskilful, his eloquence me-
diocre ; " and being unable to render himself remark-
able in any other^^way," says Mignet, " than by the
singularity of his opinions, he figured as a violent
reformer. His ardent self-love kept him constantly
aiming at the first rank in the revolution, and led him
to work wonders to obtain it, and to venture every-
thing to maintain himself in it. He had all the qualities
of a tyrant; a mind which was without grandeur, but
which, nevertheless, was not vulgar ; the advantage
of having but a single ruling idea, a reputation for
being above corruption, an austere life, and no aver-
sion to the shedding of blood. He was a living proof,
that amidst civil troubles, it is not by means of talent,
but conduct, that political successes are gained ; and
that obstinate mediocrity is more powerful than irre-
gular abihty." In the lower sphere in which he moved,
says Thiers, he excited enthusiasm by his dogmatism
and by his reputation for incorruptibility. He thus
founded his popularity upon blind passions and mode-
rate understandings. Austerity and cold dogmatism
captivate ardent characters, nay, often superior minds.
There were actually men who were disposed to dis-
cover in Robespierre real energy, and talents superior
to those which he possessed. Others, without talents,
but subdued by his pedantry, went about repeating
that he was the man who ought to be put at the head
of the Revolution, and that without such a dictator it
could not go on. For his part, winking at all these
assertions of his partisans, he never attended any of
the secret meetings of the conspirators ; but kept him-
self in the back-ground, leaving the business of acting
to his panegyrists.*

Marat, who was looking for a dictator, wished to
ascertain if Robespierre w^as fit for the office. An

* Shoberl's translation of Thiers.


interview took place, but the former found in the latter
none of that sanguinary audacity which he himself
derived from his monstrous convictions — in short, no
genius. He departed, filled with contempt for this
little man, declared him incapable of serving the state,
and became more firmly persuaded than ever that he
himself alone possessed the grand social system.

Danton was more capable than any other of being
the leader whom all ardent imaginations desired, for
the purpose of giving unity to the revolutionary move-
ments. Unsuccessful at the bar, poor, and consumed
by passions, he had rushed into the political commo-
tions of the times with ardor ; his audacity was extra-
ordinary, and he was capable of executing all that the
atrocious mind of Marat was capable of conceiving.
His giant figure, his great strength of voice, his
eccentric but towering oratory, captivated the mob
and the clubs ; and he was therefore the most formid-
able leader of those bands which were one and all
guided by public declamation.* His features were
flat and somewhat African ; his face expressed by
turns the brutal passions, jollity, and even good nature.
He was the slave of his passions and greedy of plea-
sure. Audacious and fond of hurrying forward to the
decisive moment, he was incapable of that assiduous
toil which the thirst of rule requires ; and, though he
possessed great influence over the conspirators, yet
he did not govern them. He was merely capable,
when they hesitated, of rousing their courage and pro-
pelling them to a goal by a decisive plan of operation.f

* " A starving advocate in 1789, he rose in audacity and eminence
with the public disturbances ; prodigal in expense, and drowned in
debt, he had no chance, at any period, even of personal freedom, but
in constantly advancing with the fortunes of the Revolution. Like
Mirabeau, he was the slave of sensual passions ; like him, he was
the terrific leader, during his ascendancy, of the ruling class ; but he
shared the character, not of the patricians who commenced the
Revolution, but of the plebeians who consummated its wickedness.
Bold, unprincipled, and daring, he held that the end in every case
justified the means ; that nothing was impossible to those who had
the courage to attempt it."— AZison.

t Thiers.


He was a revolutionist of the most violent class, says
Mignet, and no means appeared to him wrong, pro-
vided they were useful. He has been styled the Mira-
beau of the populace, and bore some resemblance to
that tribune of the higher orders ; their vices were the
same; and what was bold in the conceptions of Mira-
beau might be traced in Danton, but bearing a differ-
ent character, as belonging to a different class and
period of the revolution. This powerful demagogue
presented a mixture of discordant vices and qualities.
Like Mirabeau, he tampered with the court, and
received large sums from it. Whilst he was making
incendiary motions in the Jacobin meetings, he was a
spy for the court, to which he regularly reported what-
ever occurred.* Reproached with not fulfilling his
bargain, his excuse was that in order to retain the
means of serving the court, he was necessitated in
appearance to treat it as an enemy.f

The court, viewing the many movements in agita-
tion against it, took some measures to screen itself
from a sudden attack. It had formed a club, called
the French Club, which met near the palace, and was
composed of artisans and soldiers of the national
guard. They had arms concealed in the building in
which they assembled, and, in case of emergency,
could hasten to the aid of the royal family. It also
kept a band in pay, which alternately occupied the
galleries in the Assembly, coffee-houses, and public
places, for the purpose of speaking in favor of the
King, and opposing the continual tumults of the

At length, on the 30th of July, the Marseillais
arrived. Their ranks comprised all the most fiery
spirits of the South, and all the most turbulent char-
acters that commerce brought to the port of Marseilles.
Barbaroux went to Charenton to meet them. They
entered Paris at the Barriere du Trone, and traversed
the city till they came to the Assembly ; in their pro-

* Memoirs of La Fayette. t Thiers.


gress obliging all persons they met in the streets to
change their cockades made of silk for others of
worsted ; overturning, too, as they marched along, all
the stalls where silk cockades were sold. Crowds of
the lower orders thronged along with them, with
shouts of rude welcome, and the whole scene was
that of turbulence and drunkenness. After having
paid their homage to the Assembly, where they were
received with applause, they repaired to the Champs-
Elysees, to be entertained, by Santerre and his fau-
bourg followers, with a dinner. On the same day,
and at the same hour, a party devoted to the court
were also dining there. A quarrel was stirred up, and
a furious riot ensued. The fiery Marseillais put the
royahsts to flight, killing one and wounding many.
Some of the fugitives arrived, covered with blood, at
the Tuilleries. Attentions, perfectly natural, were paid
to them, since they were regarded as friends who had
suflTered for their attachment. This occasioned fresh
reports, and fresh animosity, against the royal family
and the ladies of the court, who, it was said, wiped
oflf the perspiration and blood of the wounded.

Insubordination now became general, and the exas-
peration of the multitude was fired by a proclamation
issued by the Duke of Brunswick, commanding the
allied armies, and now marching to the rescue of
Louis XVI. The proclamation was couched in lan-
guage intolerable even to the feelings of such French-
men as still might retain towards their King some sen-
timents of loyalty. All the towns or villages which
should offer the slightest resistance to the allies, were,
in this ill-timed manifesto, menaced with fire and
sword. Paris was declared responsible for the safety
of Louis, and the most violent threats of the total sub-
version of that great metropolis were denounced as
the penalty. This acted upon the other motives for
insurrection, as a high pressure upon a steam-engine,
producing explosion. The cause of the King was by
this manifesto identified with the invaders beyond a
doubt in the minds of the French, and it became every


hour more evident that the capital was speedily to be
the scene of some dreadful event.*

On the morning of the 3d of August, Petion, mayor
of Paris, appeared before the Assembly, presenting a
petition, in the name of the forty-eight sections of
Paris, proposing the dethronement of the King, and
praying the Assembly to insert that important question
in the order of the day. The question was adjourned
until Thursday the 9th of August. In the meantime,
day after day, petitions to the same effect, poured into
the Assembly. The King's friends, seeing the crisis,
were preparing for his flight; ready themselves to
accompany the royal carriage, and, if it were neces-
sary, to perish by its side. Louis at first assented, but
afterwards, inspirited by the tidings of Brunswick's
approach, changed his mind. The day fixed for the
dethronement was near. The plan of the insurrection
was settled and known. The Marseillais, whose bar-
racks were at the farthest extremitv of Paris, had
repaired to the section of the Cordeliers, where the
club of that name was held, and were now posted in
the heart of the capital. The 10th of August was the
day fixed for the insurrection and attack on the Tuil-
leries. The chief place of assembling was to be in the
faubourg St. Antoine. On the evening of the 9th
instant, the Jacobins, after a stormy debate in their
meeting, proceeded thither in a body, where the
inhabitants of that faubourg, under the command of
Santerre, were assembling, armed with pikes, swords,
scythes and bludgeons. On the other side of the river,
the sans-culottes were likewise collecting together in
the faubourg St. Marceau, with Lengendre, Fourier,
and others, fbr their leaders. But the most formidable

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Online LibraryH. N. (Horatio Newton) MooreThe reign of terror historically and biographically treated → online text (page 11 of 24)