H. N. (Horatio Newton) Moore.

The reign of terror historically and biographically treated online

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Caen ; with these she had an interview, and was in-
spired with the greatest indignation against the Jaco-
bin leaders ; and the provinces having at the same
time risen in opposition to them, she conceived that the
death of Marat would insure victory to the moderate
party and put an end to the Reign of Terror. With
this thought she had repaired to Paris.
" Marat at this time was ill, and kept within d«)ors,
spending a considerable part of the day in a bath,
agreeable to medical advice. But nothing could di-
minish his restless activity. While in his bath, he had
pens and paper beside him, writing, constantly engaged
upon his journal, and addressing letters to the Conven-
tion, denouncing aristocrats and anticipating popular
apprehensions. It had been the intention of Charlotte
Corday, to poniard him in his seat upon the benches of
the legislative hall, and surrounded by his party ; this
she could not now do, and was consequently obliged


to seek him at his own home. She made inquiries,
ascertained where his residence was, repaired to the
Palais-Royal-, bought a knife, hired a coach, and drove
to his house. No. 44, in the Rue de I'Ecole de Medecine,
but was not allowed to see him. She returned to her
lodgings, and wrote the following note to him : " Citi-
zen, I have just arrived from Caen; your love of your
country inclines me to suppose you will listen with
pleasure to the secret events of that part of the repub-
lic. I will present myself at your house ; have the
goodness to give orders for my admission, and grant
me a moment's private conversation. I can point out
means by which you may render an important service
to France."

At eight o'clock, on the evening of Saturday, the
13th of July, she again called upon Marat. His house-
keeper, a young woman with whom' he cohabited,
made some difficulties, inasmuch as Marat was then in
his bath. He, hearing the altercation, and aware of
whom it was by Charlotte mentioning her name, and
interested by the note she had written to him, directed
that she should be admitted to his presence. Being left
alone with him, Marat eagerly inquired the names of
the deputies at Caen. She mentioned them, and he,
snatching up a pencil, began to write them down,
adding " Very good ; they shall all go to the guillotine."
— " To the guillotine !" repeated "Charlotte. — ^" Yes,"
replied he, " they shall soon meet with the punishment
they deserve." — " Yours is at hand !" exclaimed she,
snatching the knife from her bosom and plunging it
below his left breast to his heart. "Help!, help, my
dear!" he cried to his housekeeper, who iran at his
call, and found him covered with blood ; at the same
moment a man, who was folding newspapers in
another apartment, rushed also to his assistance.
Charlotte stood calm and serene. The man knocked
her down with a chair ; the housekeeper trampled
upon her. The tumult attracted a crowd, and pre^
sently the whole quarter was in an uproar. Charlotte
rose, and bore with dignity the rage and ill-usage of


those around her. Officers came to secure her ; she
quietly submitted, and was conducted to prison.

On the following Wednesday, she was brought
before the Revolutionary Tribunal. The cutler of the
Palais-Royal was there to testify that he sold her the
sheath-knife ; but Charlotte interrupted these proceed-
ings, saying they were needless, and boldly said, " It
was I who killed Marat!" — "By whose instigation?"
asked Fouquier-Tinville. " By no one's," she replied.
" What tempted you then 3" — " His crimes !" — " What
do you mean by his crimes'?" — " The calamities which
he has occasioned ever since the revolution. I long
ago resolved his death — I was anxious to give peace to
my country." — " And do you think you have killed all
the Marats 1" — " No," she answered sorrowfully-"no !"
She went on to confess everything with unshaken
assurance, and her advocate briefly summed up in
these words : " This composure, this self-denial, sub-
lime in one respect, can only be accounted for by the
most exalted political fanaticism. It is for you to judge
what weight this moral consideration ought to have
in the balance of justice."

She was condemned to the penalty of death. Her
beautiful face betrayed no depression at this sentence,
but radiant smiles played upon her countenance. She
handed Fouquier-Tinville a letter for her father, in
which she said, " Pardon me, my dear father, for hav-
ing disposed of my life without your permission. I
have avenged many victims, prevented others. The
people will one day acknowledge the service I have
rendered my country. Farewell, my beloved father ;
forget me, or rather rejoice at my fate ; it has sprung
from a noble cause. Embrace my sister for me, whom
I love with all my heart, as well as all my relations.
Never forget the words of Corneille, ' The crime
makes the shame, and not the scaifold.' "

That same evening she was put on the cart, and led
out to execution. Seated in the tumbril, dressed in
the red smock of a murderess, she gazed with serenity
upon the . crowd that lined the streets through which


the cart slowly rumbled along, smiling at the abuse
and execration of the many voices that assailed her.
All, however, did not abuse her ; many deplored a
victim, so young, so beautiful, so disinterested in her
deed, and accompanied her to the scaffold with looks
of pity and admiration. Her appearance was that of
a lovely female, bearing with meekness and inward
satisfaction a triumphal fete of which she was the
object. At the scaffold, her face wore the same still
smile. The executioners proceeded to bind her feet ;
she resisted, thinking it meant as an insult ; but, on a
word of explanation, submitted with a cheerful
apology. The handkerchief, that covered her bosom,
being removed, a blush of maidenly shame suffused
her cheeks ; with which glow her cheeks were still
tinged when the axe had fallen, and the executioner
held up the head to the gaze of the crowd. She
perished at the age of twenty-five.*

After Marat's death, honors, almost divine, were de-
creed to him. Triumphal arches and mausoleums
were erected to him ; in the Place du Carrousel a sort
of pyramid was raised in celebration of him, within
which were placed his bust, his bathing tub, his writing
desk, and his lamp. The honors of the Pantheon were
decreed him, and poets celebrated him on the stage
and in their works. In the Convention, Robespierre
pronounced an eloquent eulogium on his virtues. " If
I speak to-day," said he, " it is because I am bound to
do so. Poniards await the patriots — they await me,
and it is but the effect of chance that Marat has been
struck before me," he exclaimed in the course of his
eulogium. He opposed, however, the extraordinary
pomp that was got up upon the occasion. " The best
way of avenging Marat," said he, " is to prosecute his
enemies without mercy. The vengeance which seeks
to satisfy itself by empty pomp is soon appeased, and
forgets to employ itself in a more real and more useful

DuBroca; Lacretelle; Mignet ; Thiers ; Carlyle.


manner. Avenge, then, Marat in a manner more
worthy of him !"

The' body of Marat was exhibited in pubhc for
several days. It was micovered, and the wound which
he had received was exposed to view. The Jacobins,
the CordeUers, all the popular societies, and the differ-
ent sections of the city, came in procession, and
strewed flowers upon his coffin. Young girls, with
flowers, constantly surrounded his corpse. The pre-
sident of each society, and of each section, spoke over
the corpse. " He is dead !" exclaimed one of the pre-
sidents—" the Friend of the People is dead ! He died
by the hand of the assassin ! Let us not pronounce^
his panegyric over his inanimate remains ! His eulogy
is his conduct, his writings, his ghastly wound, his
death ! Fair citoyennes, strew flowers on the pale
corpse of Marat ! Marat was our friend, the friend oft
the people ; for the people he lived, for the people he
has died !" At these words, young females walked
round the coffin, throwing flowers upon the body.
" But enough of lamentation," resumed the speaker.
" Listen, to the great soul of Marat, which awakes
and says to you, ' Republicans, put an end to your
tears ; Republicans should shed but one tear, and then
devote themselves to their country; it was not me
whom they wished to assassinate, but the republic ; it
is not me whom you must avenge — it is the republic,
the people, yourselves !" The body, attended by a
vast concourse, was conveyed to the garden of the
Cordeliers' Club, where it was to be buried under the
very trees, at the foot of which he was accustomed in
the evening to read his paper to the people. The pro-
cession lasted from six in the evening till midnight ; it
had nothing in it but what was simple and patriotic,
and the quiet grief with which the whole mass moved
was at once impressive and sublime. At the garden
of the Cordeliers, the coffin was sat down under the
trees, and the people surrounded it in silence. Several
brief orations were delivered over the body, which
was then deposited in the grave.


The heart of Marat, for which several societies con-
tended to have possession of, was left with the Corde-
liers. His bust circulated everywhere, and figured in
all the assemblies, and public places. The seals put
upon his effects were removed. Nothing was found
in his possession but a five-franc assignat, and his
poverty afforded a fresh theme for admiration. His
housekeeper was called his widow, and maintained at
the expense of the state.



Flight of Dumouriez — escape of the Girondins — revolt in the pro-
vinces — terrible slaughter of the Vendeans — Carrier at Nantes^
his barbarous executions — great numbers in the prisons — the Re-
pubUcan baptisms, the RepubUcan marriages — drowning in boats —
the river clogged up with dead bodies — massacre of children —
Madame de Bonchamps. — Madame de Jourdain, and her daugh-
ters. — Mademoiselle Cuissan. — Madame de la Roche St. Andre. —
Agatha Larochejaquelain — her remarkable danger and escape.
Executions and horrors at Lyons — CoUot d'Herbois and Couthon
— destruction of property — houses razed to the ground — Death pro-
claimed an eternal sleep — impious procession, and burning of the
Bible, the Cross, and the communion vases.— Great numbers shot
at Lyons — the fusillades — extermination of aristocrats. Fouche
and the Jacobins at dinner. Bodies floating down the Rhone —
thirty-one thousand persons perish. Atrocities at Bordeaux, Mar-
seilles, and Toulon. — Freron — Executions at Arras and towns in
the north of France — Joseph Lebon — his cruelty — his orgies — his
travelling tribunal and guillotine — his hatred of the aristocrats —
his sanguinary oppression, etc. Robespierre — Danton. The pri-
sons of Paris become filled with rank and beauty — description of
how the prisoners passed their time — Fouquier-Tinville — daily exe-
cutions. The gardens of the Luxembourg — wives of the prisoners.
The Conceirgerie — the wife of a prisoner dashes out her brains.
The theatres, and places of amusement. Papers and pamphlets
published against the aristocrats. The Convention — the clubs.
Violent outcry of the Jacobins against Marie Antoinette — against
the Girondins — against the Duke of Orleans. — J. R. Hebert— his
abuse of Marie Antoinette — she is separated from her son, and re-
moved from the Temple to the Conciergerie. Simon, a shoemaker,
placed over the dauphin — his inhuman treatment of the boy, etc.
Marie Antoinette brought to trial — the accusation against her by
Fouquier-Tinville and by Hebert — her replies — the witnesses —
clamours of the Jacobins — her condemnation — great concourse
to witness her execution — she is placed on the tumbril, with her
arms tied behind her — arrives at the Place de la Revolution —
her death, etc.

In the meantime Dumouriez, disgusted with the san-
guinary government of the Jacobins, had entered into
negotiations with Holland and Great Britain, for the
purpose of restoring the constitutional throne, but


was unsuccessful, and he himself, with a few followers,
escaped from the army of France to the Austrians.
The failure of this conspiracy added strength to the
ruling party in Paris, which now, in the name of the
safety of the people, prepared to take the most despe-
rate measures.

A few of the proscribed Girondists had remained
prisoners in their own houses, but the most of them
had escaped from Paris to the provinces, where they
established newspapers in opposition to the sway of
Robespierre, Danton, and the ruling' faction, and lent
all their energies to increase the revolt which was now
going on in La Vendee, Lyons, Bordeaux, Marseilles,
and other places.*

The Convention took early and vigorous measures
to crush the revolt in the province of La Vendee. An
army was sent thither with orders to exterminate the
enemies of the republic, and commissioners despatched
thither to try suspected persons by the Revolutionary
Tribunal. All the nobility in La Vendee were up in
arms, exasperated by the execution of Louis XVI.,
and the peasants almost universally arranged them-
selves under their command. Their success was for
several months uninterrupted, but they were finally
defeated with great slaughter, and their chiefs brought
to the guillotine, whilst the armies of the republic tra-
versed the country, destroying grain and cattle, and
their path might be traced by the conflagration of vil-
lages, their footsteps known by the corpses of the in-
habitants. Male inhabitants disappeared entirely from

* " Bordeaux, Marseilles, Toulon, and Lyons, had declared them-
selves against the Jacobin supremacy. Rich from commerce and
their maratime situation, and, in the case of Lyons, from their com-
mand of internal navigation, the wealthy merchants and manufac-
turers of those cities foresaw the total insecurity of property, and, in
consequence, their own ruin, in the system of arbitary spoliation and
murder upon which the government of the Jacobins was founded." —
Scott. " These cities were warmly attached to freedom, but it was
that regulated freedom which provides for the protection of all, not
that which subjects the better classes to the despotism of the lower."
— Alison,



the towns, either slain, or fled into the forests, where
they were hunted by the soldiers. A few v^omen only
remained to be seen. Country-seats, cottages, habita-
tions of whichever kind, were nearly all burned to the
ground. The herds and flocks were wandering in
terror around their usual places of shelter, now smok-
ing in ruins. At night, the wavering and dismal blaze
of conflagration afforded light over the country. Tq
the bleating of disturbed flocks, and bellowing of the
terrified cattle, were joined the deep hoarse notes of,
carrion crows, and the yells of wild animals com,ing
from the recesses of the woods to prey on the carcasesi
of the slain.* " It seemed as if the Vendeans were no
longer regarded as men ; the pregnant woman the
child in the cradle, even the beasts of the field, ap-
peared to the Republicans worthy of extermination,"
says a contemporary writer.f

While these were devastating the country, scaffolds
were erected in the towns. At Nantes, a revolutionary
tribunal was formed, under the direction of Jean Bap-
tiste Carrier, who had been sent from Paris with a
commission to suppress the civil war by severity,
which he exercised in the most atrocious manner.|
He declared immediately aft;er his arrival at Nantes,
that, notwithstanding the promise of pardon made to
those of the Vendeans who should lay down their
arms, no quarter ought to be given them, but they
should all be^put to death ; and he began by causing
the wretched creatures who surrendered to be mowed
down by musketry and grape-shot, in parties of one
and two hundred. And, in fact, this frantic wretch
imagined that he had no other mission than to slaugh-
ter.§ Unfortunate people were daily arriving in
crowds, driven by the armies which pressed them

* Memoirs of a Republican Officer. t Toulangeon.

t " Carrier, still a young man, was one of those inferior and vie? ^
lent spirits, who, in the excitement of civil wars, become monsters
of cruelty and extravagance." — Thiers.

§ " This Carrier might have summoned hell to match his cruelty,
without a demon venturing to answer his challenge." — Scott.


closely on all sides. Carrier ordered them to be con-
fined in the prisons, and soon collected ten thousand
of them. ^The prisons could no longer contain them,
as fresh victims were daily arriving, and the process
of the Revolutionary Tribunal was too slow to dis-
pose of them ; besides, it was troublesome to bury the
bodies. Shooting them by the hundreds, and behead-
ing them by the axe of the guillotine, was even too
expeditious for burial, and the bodies were left lying
upon the scene of carnage, which infected the air to
such a degree as to produce an epidemic disease in the

The river Loire, which runs through Nantes, sug-
gested a horrible idea to Carrier, namely, to rid him-
self of the prisoners by drowning them. He made a
first trial, loaded a barge with ninety "fanatical
priests," as they were termed, and under pretext of
transporting them to some other place, ordered it to
be sunk when at some distance from the city. Hav-
ing devised this expedient, he resolved to employ it on
a larger scale. He no longer employed the mock for-
mality of a trial ; but ordered the prisoners to be taken
in the night, in parties of one and two hundred, and
put into the boats. By these boats they were carried
to small vessels prepared for his horrible purpose.
The prisoners were thrown into the hold ; the hatches
were nailed down; the avenues to the deck were
closed with planks; the executioners then got into
boats along side, and carpenters cut holes in the sides
of the vessels, and sunk them.*

For months was this system of extermination car-
ried on ; and the horror expressed by many of the
citizens for the mode of execution formed the ground
for fresh arrests and increasing murders. Women big
with child ; children, eight, nine and ten years of age,
were thrown together "into the stream, on the banks
of which, men, armed with sabres, were placed to cut
off their heads if the waves should throw them un-
drowned on the shore.

* Thiers.


On one occasion, by order of Carrier, twenty-three
royalist families were guillotined in one day without
trial, men, women and children. The executioner
died two or three days after, with horror at what he
himself had done. On another occasion, five hundred
children of both sexes, the eldest of whom was not
fourteen years old, were led out to be shot. The little-
ness of their stature caused most of the bullets at the
first discharge to fly over their heads; they broke
their bonds, rushed into the ranks of the executioners,
clung round their knees, and sought for mercy. But
nothing could soften the assassins. They put them to
death even when lying at their feet. At another time,
one hundred and forty women, incarcerated upon sus-
picion, were drowned together. This was what Car- ,
rier termed republican baptism. A still greater refine-
ment of cruelty, he called republican marriages. T wo
persons of different sexes, generally an old man and
an old woman, or a young man and a young woman,
stripped entirely naked, were bound together with
cords, and, after being left in torture in that situation
half an hour, thrown into the river.* The Loire was
covered with dead bodies. Ships, in weighing anchor,
firequently raised boats filled with drowned persons.
Birds of prey flocked to the banks of the river, and
gorged themselves with human flesh. The fish, feast-
ing upon a food which rendered them unwholesome,
were forbidden by the municipality to be caught. To
these horrors were added that of the disease which
had broken out, and of dearth.

In this disastrous situation, Carrier, still boiling with
rage, forbade the slightest emotion of pity ; he seized
by the collar, and threatened with his sword, those
who came to remonstrate, and caused bills to be
posted, stating that whoever presumed to solicit on
behalf of any person in confinement should be thrown
into prison himself t Many women died of terror the
moment a man entered their cells, conceiving that they

* Alison. t Thiers.


were about to be led out to baptism or marriage ; the
floors were covered with the bodies of their infants,
numbers of whom were yet quivering in the agonies
of death. On one occasion, the inspector entered the
prison to seek for a child, where, the evening before,
he had left above three hundred infants ; they were all
gone in the morning, having been drowned the pre-
ceding night. In fact, several hundred persons were
thrown every night into the river, and their shrieks, as
they were led forth from prison to the boats, wakened
the inhabitants of the town, freezing every heart with
horror. Carrier was often called upon to spare the
children, but in vain. " They are all vipers ; let them
be stifled," was his reply.*

Innumerable instances of heroism occurred, espe-
cially among the female sufferers. Madame de Bon-
champs, (wife of a Vendean officer,) was pursued by
the soldiers of the republicans, and lived in hiding-
places, concealed at times in the dwellings of the
peasants, at other times in the woods. For several
days, when the pursuit was hottest, she was concealed
with her two children, in the branches and leaves of
an oak tree, at the foot of which the soldiers were fre-
quently passing. In this forlorn situation the small-pox
atacked her and her children, and her son died. At
night, when the soldiers slept, provisions were brought
to her by the peasants. At length she was discovered,
conveyed to Nantes, and con'demned to death. She
had resigned herself to her fate, when she read on a
slip of paper, handed to her through the grate of her
dungeon, these words: — "Say you are with child."
She did so, and her execution was suspended. Her
husband having been dead a long time, she was
obliged to declare that she was enciente by a republi-
can soldier. She remained shut up, and every day
saw unfortunate women taken out to execution. At
the end of three months, it being evident she was not
pregnant, she was ordered for execution, but obtained

* Alison

- 17*


again two months and a half respite, when the death
of Robespierre saved her.*

Madame de Jourdain was led out to be drowned
with her three daughters. A soldier wished to save
the youngest, who was very beautiful. But she, deter-
mined to' share the fate of her mother, threw herself
into the water. The unfortunate girl, falling on a heap
of dead bodies, did not sink. " Oh, push me in ; the
water is not deep enough," she exclaimed, and sunk
beneath the soldier's thrust.

Mademoiselle Cuissan, aged sixteen, of still greater
beauty, excited the most vehement admiration in a
young officer of hussars, who entreated her to allow
him to save her ; but as he could not undertake to
free an aged parent, the partner of her captivity, she
refused life, and threw herself into the Loire along
with her mother.f

A horrible death was that of Madame de la Roche
St. Andre. As she was with child, they spared her
till she gave birth to her infant, and then permitted her
to nurse it ; but it died, and the next day she was

Agatha Larochejaquelain escaped in the most extra-
ordinary manner. She had left an asylum in a cot-
tage of Brittany, in consequence of one of the
deceitful amnesties which Carrier published to lure his
victims from their places of concealment, and was
seized and brought before Lamberti, a ferocious revo-
lutionist. Her beauty excited his lust. He promised
to save her, and took her out of prison one night into
a little boat on the Loire. This boat had a concealed
trap, and Carrier had given it to Lamberti for private
murders. Lamberti rowed her out into the stream,
and there wished to sacrifice her chastity to his brutal
desires; she resisted, he struggled wifh her, forced
her down into the bottom of the boat, and in the

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Online LibraryH. N. (Horatio Newton) MooreThe reign of terror historically and biographically treated → online text (page 16 of 24)