H. N. (Horatio Newton) Moore.

The reign of terror historically and biographically treated online

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band was that which assembled at the club of the
Cordehers; among them were the five hundred Mar-
seillais, and the vigor of Danton gave energy to all
their proceedings. Barbaroux, after stationing scouts
at the Assembly and at the Tuilleries, had provided

* Scott.



TIJE REIGN OP TERROR. 129

couriers ready to start for the South. He had also
provided himself with a dose of poison, such was the
uncertainty of success, and awaited at the Cordeliers
the result of the insurrection. It is not known where
Robespierre was this night. All parties hesitated as
on the eve of a great and momentous undertaking,
but Danton, with a daring proportionate to the impor-
tance of the event, ascended the tribune in the club
of the Cordeliers, and raised his stentorian voice. He
enumerated what he called the crimes of the court.
He expatiated on its hate to the constitution, its de-
ceitful language, its hypocritical promises, always
belied by its conduct, and its plots for bringing in
foreigners. " The people," said he, " can now have
recourse but to themselves. The legislators are the
accomplices of the criminals. This very night the
perfidious Louis has chosen to deliver to carnage and
conflagration the capital, which he is prepared to quit
in the moment of its ruin ! You have therefore none
left to save you but yourselves. Lose no time, then,
for the satellites of the palace are ready to sally forth
upon the people and to slaughter them, before they
quit Paris ! Save yourselves, then ! To arms ! to
arms !" The insurgents, and especially the Marseil-
lais, impatiently called for the signal to march.*

Aware of their danger, the court had been for some
days making preparations to resist the threatened at-
tack. Their principal reliance was on the Swiss guard,
whose loyalty, always conspicuous, had been wrought
up to the highest pitch by the misfortunes and liber-
ality of the royal family. The number of these in
attendance was between eight and nine hundred ;
and Mandat, commander of the National Guard, had
marched with his staff to defend the palace, — in the
interior of which were seven or eight hundred royal-
ists, chiefly of noble families, determined to share the
danger of Louis XVI. ; but, without any regular uni-
form, variously armed with pistols, sabres and fire-

* Mignet ; Thiers ; Alison.

12*



130 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

locks. The heavy dragoons, on horseback, with seve-
ral pieces of artillery, were stationed in the gardens
and court. Of this civic force some, and especially
the artillery-men, were as ill-disposed towards the
King as possible ; others were well inclined to him ;
the greater part remained doubtful.

It is now near midnight — the night is beautiful and
calm. In the palace the windows are opened to the
air, for the atmosphere is warm ; the apartments are
all crowded with anxious hearts, hovering around the
royal family, imparting consolation, assuring them
that Mandat was entirely in the royal interests, and
that he had disposed his force to the best advantage
for discouraging the mutinous, and giving confidence
to the well-disposed ; ' that a squadron on the Pont
Neuf, with cannon, would turn back the Marseillais
when they attempted to come across the river; that
another at the Hotel-de-Ville would cut St. Antoine in
two as it issued from the Arcade St. Jean, drive one
half back to the obscure east, drive the other half for-
ward through the wickets of the Louvre ; that mount-
ed squadrons in the Palais Royal, and in the Place
Vendome, would charge at the right moment, sweep
this street, and then sweep that.' But the King seemed
to recover no fortitude from these assurances. " I
have no longer anything to do with earth," he said ;
"I must turn all my thoughts on Heaven."

Midnight — hark ! — a gun. " To arms ! to arms !"
is the cry, which soon spreads far and wide, and the
insurrection is proclaimed. The Marseillais quickly
formed before the door of the Cordeliers, and a nu-
merous concourse, ranged itself by its side. The
tocsin sounded, and the generale beat to arms in all
quarters of Paris. The first step was to seize the
municipality at the Hotel-de-Ville, and a*ppoint a new
magistracy. This was done almost without opposi-
tion, so completely were all the authorities paralyzed
by the impending danger. The dismal sound of the
tocsin now pealed through the air, pervading the
whole extent of the capital. It was wafted from



THE REIGN OF TERROR. 131

Street to street, from building to building. It called
the deputies, the magistrates, the citizens, to their
posts. At length it reached the palace, proclaiming
that the terrible night was come. To this melancholy-
music the contending parties arranged their forces for
attack or defence. Mandat had but just completed
the disposal of his defensive force, when he received
an order to repair before the municipality. He hesi-
tated ; but those about him, not deeming it right yet
to infringe the law by refusing to appear, exhorted
him to comply. He then decided. He put into the
hands of his son, who was with him at the palace, the
order signed by Petion to repel force by force, and
obeyed the summons of the municipality. On reach-
ing the Hotel-de-Ville, he was surprised to find there
a nevj authority. He was instantly surrounded and
questioned concerning the order which he had issued.
He was then dismissed, and, in dismissing him, the
president made a sign which was equivalent to sen-
tence of death. As he retired he was clutched by the
mob outside and massacred on the steps. The mur-
derers stripped him of his clothes, without finding
about him the order, and his body was thrown into
the river. This sanguinary deed paralyzed all the
means of defence of the palace. The drums continued
to beat, and the storm-bells to peal. It was a night of
alarm, confusion, horror ! The incessant clang of
the tocsin, the rolling of drums, the ratthng of artil-
lery along the streets, the shouts of the insurgents,
and the march of columns, mingled upon the ear!
The Marseillais impatiently awaited at the Pont St.
Michel for the arrival of the faubourgs St. Antoine
and St. Marceau. Santerre had delayed setting his
columns in motion, apparently moved by some doubt
in regard to the success of the insurrection. Wester-
mann kept urging him, but in vain, until he clutched
him by the throat with drawn sabre. The faubourgs
now successively arrived, some by the Rue St. Honore,
others by the Pont Neuf, the Pont Royal, and the
wickets of the Louvre. Their numbers were im-



132 THE REIGN OP TERROR.

mense. But the real strength of the assault was to
lie in the Marseillais who were placed at the head of
the columns of the suburb pikemen, as the edge of an
axe is armed with steel, while the back is of coarse
metal to give weight to the blow. Being formed, they
now marched through the night. — tramp ! tramp ! to-
wards the Tuilleries — the tocsin still sounding — bell
, answering bell from steeple to steeple — clang! clang!
" And at the Hotel-de-Ville, it is Marat himself who is
pulling the rope. Robespierre lies deep, invisible, for
the next forty hours." All Paris — its seven hundred
thousand — is awake and astir. The Assembly has
met, and sits attempting to debate, with perhaps a
disposition to aid the court, but not the power. Pa-
trols of the insurgents fly about the streets, arresting
spies of the court ; in the Champs Elysees, seventeen
persons, with pistols and rapiers, are seized and
carried to the nearest guard-house, from which eleven
of them escape by back passages ; the remaining six
are dragged out by the mob, and in the whirl two
more escape, but four are doomed to death, and are
massacred upon the spot !

Such are the scenes that usher in the dawn of the
10th of August, 1792, at which hour the palace of the
Tuilleries is completely besieged by the assailants, as
those within the palace see through the old doors of
the courts and from the windows. * And while irres-
olution and despondency prevailed at the Tuilleries,
the energy of the insurgents was hourly increasing.
Early in the morning the arsenal was forced, and
arms were distributed to the multitude. The ad-
vanced guard of the faubourgs, composed of the Mar-
seillais, was arranged in battle array, with their cannon
pointed against the palace. Fifteen thousand of the
faubourg St. Antoine, and five thousand of St. Mar-
ceau, were ready to assist them.

The King, after showing himself on the balcony,
went down to review the troops, but he was received

♦ Mignet, Thiers, Alison, Scott, Carlyle, etc.



THE REIGN OP TERROR. 133

coldly by them ; cries of " Vive la Nation ! Down with
the Veto ! Down with the traitor !" rose from the
populace on all sides, and he returned, pale and dis-
pirited to the palace. Though the Swiss were to be
depended upon, it was evident that many battalions of
the National Guard would at the first onset join with
the insurgents. In this crisis, Louis was advised to
throw himself upon the protection of the Assembly ;
and it was represented to him that, unless he did so,
the destruction of the royal family was inevitable.
The Q,ueen vehemently opposed this plan. " I would
rather," said she, •' be nailed to the walls of the
palace than leave it !" It is even asserted that, snatch-
ing a pistol from the belt of one of those around
her, she presented it to the King, exclaiming, " Now
is the time to show yourself!" He remained silent ;
he had the resignation of a martyr, but not the spirit
of a hero. The behaviour of Marie Antoinette, was
magnanimous in the highest degree. Her majestic
air, her Austrian lip, her aquiline nose, gave her an
air of dignity which can only be conceived by those
who beheld her in that trying hour. *

At length Louis XVI. decided to retire to the As-
sembly. He rose up, and addressing himself to those
around him, said, " Gentlemen, nothing remains to be
done here." Accompanied by his wife, his sister, and
his children, he descended the stairs. A detachment
of Swiss and of the National Guard escorted them,
and had the utmost difficulty in getting them into the
Assembly, amid the menaces and execrations of the
multitude. They were interrupted every moment of
their progress by the swaying of the crowd. "Gen-
tlemen," said the King, on entering the Assembly, " I
come to prevent a great crime, and I think that I cannot
be safer than in the midst of you." Verginaud, who
was in the chair, replied that he might rely on the
firmness of the National Assembly ; that its members
had sworn to die in defence of the rights of the people

* Thiers ; Alison ,* Lacretelle, etc



134 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

and of the constituted authorities." Louis seated
himself beside the President, but a member observing
that his presence might affect the freedom of delibera-
tion, he and his family were placed in the box of the
writer appointed to report the proceedings. * It was
in this prison, (the reporter's box,) six feet square and
eight feet high, that the King and his family spent
fourteen hours together in the course of a day that
was burning hot. As the mob kept tumultuously
crowding round the hall, it was found advisable to
destroy an iron railing, which separated this lodge
from the Assembly, that the King might be able to get
into the Assembly in case the box should be attacked.
Four of the ministers and the King himself were
obliged to pull down this railing, without any instru-
ment, and merely by the strength of their hands and
arms. The King then sat down and remained in
his chair, with his hat off, during the debate that
followed, and taking no refreshment for the whole
time but a peach and a glass of water, f Exhausted
by fatigue, the infant dauphin dropped off into a pro-
found sleep in his mother's arms ; the princess royal
and Madame Elizabeth, their eyes streaming tears, sat
on each side of the Queen. |

Meanwhile the new municipality, with Danton di-
recting its movements, had urged the populace on to
the attack upon the Tuilleries. The gendarmerie, sta-
tioned in front of the palace, quitted their post, crying
*' Vive la Nation !" The cannoniers openly joined the
insurgents, and the National-guard was so divided as
to be incapable of action. The Swiss guards alone
remained firm in resolution amid the defection of all
around them. The crowd in the palace was dense,
and on the outside of it gleamed the pikes and guns
of the assailants, who now commenced the attack.
The Swiss fired from the windows, and speedily drove
back the foremost of the invaders; then descending
the staircase, they ranged themselves in battle array,

* Thiere. t Peltier. t Alison; Thiers.



THE REIGN OF TERROR. 135

and by a heavy and sustained fire they completely dis-
persed the insurgents for the time, who fled in confu-
sion as far as the Pont Neuf, and many did not stop
till they reached their homes in the faubourgs.* But
the MarseiUais were ashamed of having given way;
they rallied, and returned to the charge with fury.'
They rushed forward, fell in great numbers, but at
length gained the vestibule of the palace, and made
themselves masters of it. The rabble, with pikes,
poured in after them, and the rest of the scene was
but a general massacre. The unfortunate Swiss, in
vain, begged for quarter, at the same time throwing
down their arms. They were butchered without
mercy.f The gentlemen-ushers of the chambers, the
pages of the back-stairs, the door-keepers, even per-
sons in the lowest and most servile employments,
were all ahke butchered. Streams of blood flowed
everywhere from the roofs to the cellars. It was im-
possible to set foot on a single spot without treading
on a dead body. Stripped, many of them, as soon as
they were murdered, their lifeless bodies presented in
addition to the ghastliness of death, the shocking
spectacle of mutilation of which the mind may con-
ceive, but modesty forbids a description. And among
the perpetrators of these atrocious deeds were found
women ! Bureaus were burst open ; furniture was bro-
ken and thrown out of the windows ; the cellars were
ransacked; and, in short, the whole presented nothing
but scenes of devastation and death, with rapine,
drunkenness and impunity hourly increasing.! Some
of the fugitives, escaping from the palace, were pur-
sued into the garden by the faubourg pikemen, and
there unmercifully put to death under the trees, amid
the fountains, and at the feet of the statues. §

The Assembly had anxiously awaited the issue of
the combat, and at eleven o'clock were heard shouts
of victory a thousand times repeated. The doors
yielded to the pressure of a mob intoxicated with joy

* Alison. t Thiers. J Peltier. $ Alison.



136 THE REIGN OP TERROR.

and fury. Vergniaud had for a moment quitted the
chair, for the purpose of drawing up the decree of de-
thronement. He returned, and the Assembly, in the
presence of the King, passed the decree that " Louis
XVI, is, for the time being, suspended from royalty —
A plan of education is directed for the prince-royal — A
national convention is convoked."

At the palace the massacre and devastation con-
tinued. The rabble penetrated into the private apart-
ments of the Glueen and indulged in the most obscene
mirth. They pried into the most secret recesses, ran-
sacked every depository of papers, broke open every
lock, and enjoyed the twofold gratification of curiosity
and destruction. To the horrors of murder and pil-
lage were added those of conflagration. The flames,
having already consumed the sheds contiguous to the
outer-courts, began to spread to the edifice, but were
soon extinguished. The streets were strewed with
wrecks of furniture and dead bodies. Every one who
fled, or was supposed to be fleeing, was treated as an
enemy, pursued, and fired at. An almost incessant
report of musketry succeeded that of the cannon, and
was every moment the signal of fresh murders.* " I
ran from place to place," says Clery, the King's valet,
"and finding the apartments and staircases already
strewed with dead bodies, I took the resolution of leap-
ing from one of the windows down upon the terrace.
I continued my road till I came to the dauphin's garden
gate, where some Marseillais who had just butchered
several of the Swiss were stripping them. At four
o'clock in the afl;ernoon the slaughter was still going
on ; the women, lost to all sense of shame, committing
the most indecent mutilations on the bodies, from
which they tore pieces of flesh, and carried them off"
in triumph. Toward evening, I took the road to Ver-
sailles, and crossed the Pont Louis Seize which was
covered with the naked carcases of men already in a
state of putrefaction from the great heat of the wea-
ther.

♦ Thiera



THE REIGN OF TERROR. 137

While these terrible scenes were going forward, the
Assembly was in the most violent agitation. The tu-
mult around the hall continued to rage with extreme
violence, and, in the opinion of the people, it was not
sufficient to have suspended royalty — it ought at once
to be abolished. Petitions on this subject poured in,
and the multitude, in an uproar without, twice or
thrice so nearly bursted in the doors as to excite ap-
prehensions for the unfortunate family of which the
Assembly had taken charge. Vergniaud replied to the
petitions. " The Assembly," said he, " has decreed the
suspension of the executive power, and appointed a
convention which is to decide irrevocably the great
question of the dethronement. It has thus satisfied all
wants, and at the same time kept within the limits of
its prerogatives." These words produced a favorable
impression, the petitioners were satisfied, and ex-
plained the nature of the case to the people without.
At three o'clock on the morning of the 11th, the As-
sembly closed its sitting, the royal family having been
removed two hours previously to ' three little rooms
on the upper floor ' of the building in which the As-
sembly met, there to be guarded until the palace of
the Luxembourg should be prepared for their recep-
tion. Here they remained three days, and on the 13th,
the Assembly, at the command of the municipality, di-
rected that they should be removed to the Temple, in-
asmuch as the Luxembourg could not be got ready.
Thither they proceeded in the carriage of Petion, with
a prodigious press of people staring at them, shouting
♦' Vive la Nation." The carriage was stopped on the
Place Vendome, in order that the royal captives might
see the fragments of the statue of Louis XIV, which
had shared the fate of all such monuments of royalty
since the 10th.*

Robespierre now showed himself, and pretended to

* " Louis XVI, to whom the Assembly had at first assigned the
Luxembourg as a residence, was transferred to the Temple as a
prisoner, under the pretext, that it was impossible, without such a
6tep, to be secure of his person." — Mignet.
13



138 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

have been active in bringing about the 10th of August.
Marat changed the title of his paper fi-om ' L'Ami du
Peuple' to tliatof The Journal deRepublique.' Danton
was all-powerful. The cry of the mob was for ven-
geance on the aristocrats, and petitions poured into the
Assembly, generally presented at the bar by Robes-
pierre. " Blood," he exclaimed, " has not yet flowed ;
the people remain without vengeance. No sacrifice
has yet been made to the manes of those who died on
the 10th of August. And what have been the results
of that immortal day 1 A tyrant has been suspended ;
why is he not dethroned and punished 1"

The Prussian army was advancing; Lojjgioi had
already capitulated, and Verdun was now bombarded.
These tidings filled the populace of Paris with the
greatest terror; they expected the army of the enemy
would soon be under the walls of their city. The
blame was all attached to the loyahsts; Marat called
for extermination of the aristocrats, and a Revolu-
tionary Tribunal was created that should have the
power of pronoimcing, without appeal, the extreme
punishment of the law. " My advice is," said Danton,
"that, to disconcert their measures and arrest the
enemy, we strike terror into the loyalists." And on
the 29th of xA.ugust the barriers were closed, remain-
ing shut for forty-eight hours, so as to render all es-
cape impossible; domiciliary visits were made, by order
of the municipality, with a vast and appalling force :
" Let the reader fancy to himself," says an eye-wit-
ness, " a vast metropolis, the streets of which were
before alive with the concourse of carriages, and with
citizens constantly passing and repassing — let him
fancy to himself, I say, streets so populous and so ani-
mated, suddenly struck with the dead silence of the
grave, before sunset, on a fine summer evening. All
the shops are shut ; every one retires into the interior
of his house, trembling for life and property. Every-
where persons and property are put into concealment.
Every one supposes himself to be informed against.
Everywhere are heard the interrupted sounds of the



THE REIGN OF TERROR. 139

muffled hammer, with cautions knock completing the
hiding-place. Roofs, garrets, sinks, chimneys — all are
just the same to fear, incapable of calculating any risk.
One man, squeezed up behind the wainscot which has
been nailed back on him, seems to form part of the
wall; another is suffocated with fear and heat be-
tween two mattrasses; a third, rolled up in a cask,
loses all sense of existence by the tension of his sin-
ews. Apprehension is stronger than pain. Patroles,
consisting of sixty pikemen, were in every street.
The nocturnal tumult of so many armed men ; the in-
cessant knocks to make people open their doors ; the
crash of those that were burst off their hinges ; and
the continued uproar and revelling which took place
throughout the night in all the public-houses, formed
a picture which will never be effaced from my me-
mory." *

Marat, perceiving aristocrats on all sides conspi-
ring against liberty, collected here and there all the
facts that gratified his passion, and denounced with
fury, all the names mentioned to him. Great numbers
of all ranks, suspected of being adverse to the new
order of things, were imprisoned; but the victims
were chiefly selected from the nobility and the clergy.
The utmost terror was excited by these preparations.
An uncertain feeling of horror prevailed. Popular tu-
mult was kept up. " Death to the aristocrats !" was
the cry, and on the 2nd of September, (it was Sun-
day,) the direful tragedy commenced. At two o'clock,
the generale began to beat, the tocsin rang, and the
alarm-gun thundered. There were at the Hotel-de-
Ville twenty-four priests, who had been apprehended
on account of their refusal to take the oath to the con-
stitution, and were now to be removed to the prisons
of the Abbaye. - They were placed in six hackney
coaches, and conveyed, at a slow pace, along the
quays, over the Pont Neuf, surrounded by a clamo-
rous crowd, loading them with abuse. At length they
reached the court of the Abbaye, where a multitude

* Peltier.



140 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

was collected. A furious rabble surrounded the first
coach that drove up. The first of the prisoners stepped
forward to alight, but was immediately pierced by a
thousand weapons. The second threw himself back
into the carriage, but was dragged forth and slaugh-
tered hke the other ; and as the other coaches drove
up, the priests were all dragged forth, and despatched
amidst the howls of their murderers.*

At this moment Billaud-Varennes arrived ; he was a
member of the council of the municipahty, and the
only one of the organizers of these massacres who
dared openly to encounter the sight of them, and
openly to defend them. He came, wearing his scarf
Walking in blood, and over the dead bodies of the
priests, he addressed the crowd of murderers, and
complimented them upon doing their duty. Maillard,
(formerly so conspicuous in the attack upon Ver-
sailles,) was the leader of the assassins, and now
called upon them to follow him to the Church of the
Carmelites, in which two hundred priests were con-
fined. They broke into the church, and furiously fell
upon the unfortunate priests, who prayed to Heaven
and embraced each other, as the strokes of the mur-
derers put them to death. f The assassins called with
loud shouts for the Archbishop of Aries. "I am he,"
said the venerable prelate, stepping forward. "Ah,
wretch !" exclaimed one, " it is you who caused the
blood of the patriots of Aries to be spilled 1" — aiming a


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Online LibraryH. N. (Horatio Newton) MooreThe reign of terror historically and biographically treated → online text (page 12 of 24)