H. N. (Horatio Newton) Moore.

The reign of terror historically and biographically treated online

. (page 23 of 24)
Online LibraryH. N. (Horatio Newton) MooreThe reign of terror historically and biographically treated → online text (page 23 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


through Paris of the arrest of Robespierre and his
accomplices. Henriot immediately mounted his horse,
and with drawn sabre, at the head of his staff, traversed
the streets, exclaiming " To arms to save the country !"
He was intoxicated at the time ; he rocked upon his
horse and flourished his sabre like a maniac. He first
galloped to the fauxbourg St. Antoine, to rouse the
working-people of that quarter ; they scarcely com-

by which the Convention had heretofore been terrified and put to
silence. We have been told that Robespierre's last audible vs^ords,
contending against the exclamations of hundreds and the bell which
the president was incessantly ringing, and uttered in the highest
tones which despair could give to a voice naturally shrill and discor-
dant, dwelt long on the memory, and haunted the dreams, of many
who heard him."— Scott. " Dispirited by so many repulses, Robes-
pierre returned to his seat, and sunk back, exhausted with passion
and fatigue- His mouth foamed ; his voice grew thick. He was ar-
rested amidst shouts of joy, and, as he went out, said, in the hollow
accents of despair, ' The republic is lost, the brigrands triumph!"*
Mignet.
* Theirs; Mignet; Lacretelle.



THE REIGN OF TERROR. . 259

prehended what he meant, and had besides begun to
pity the victims whom they daily saw passing to the
scaffold. Too much blood had sickened their hearts,
and they had also awoke to the conviction that their
domestic condition was none the better from the spil-
ling of it. On his course through the fauxbourg, he met
the carts with their daily victims. The arrest of
Robespierre being known, these carts were sur-
rounded, and an effort was made to turn them back.
Henriot interposed, and by his brute power caused
this last batch of unfortunates to be guillotined. There
were eighty of them. He then returned, still at full
gallop, and at the Luxembourg ordered the gend-
armerie to assemble. Taking with him a detachment
of these, he dashed along the quays, intending to
proceed to the Place du Carrousel, and to deliver
his arrested friends, who were before the Committee
of Public Safety. As he galloped along the quays, he
threw down several persons. A man, who had his
wife on his arm, called out to the gendarmes, "Ar-
rest that ruffian ; he is no longer your general !" An
aide-de-camp replied by a cut with his sword. Hen-
riot proceeded, dashing through the Rue St. Honore,
and, on reaching the Palais-Royal, perceiving Merlin
of Thionville (one of the deputies,) he made up to
him, shouting "Arrest that scoundrel! he is one of
those who persecute the faithful representatives."
Merlin was seized, maltreated, and taken to the
nearest guard-house. Henriot, brandishing his sabre,
swaying upon his horse, and calling upon the people
to rise in arms, continued his rapid course, and arri-
ving at the courts of the National Palace, (the Tuil-
leries) made his companions alight, and endeav^oured
to penetrate into the building. The grenadiers refused
him admittance, and crossed their bayonets. At this
moment a messenger advanced and said, "Gend-
armes, arrest that rebel ; a decree of the Convention
orders you to do so." Henriot was immediately sur-
rounded and disarmed, together with several of his
aides-de-camp ; they were pinioned and conducted to




(260)



THE REIGN OF TERKOR. 261

the hall of the Committee, and placed beside the Robes-
pierres, Couthon, St. Just, and Lebas.*

But the insurgents regained their advantage between
six and seven o'clock, in consequence of the dispersion
of the Assembly and the energetic measures of the
municipality. Robespierre and his accomplices had
been carried off to different prisons, while Henriot
was detained before the Committee. The municipahty
despatched orders to the different jailers not to detain
Robespierre and his arrested friends, at the same time
sending detachments to rescue them. Cofinhal, with
two hundred cannoniers, hastened to the hall of the
Committee, and rescued Henriot, who hurried to the
National Palace, where he found his horses still wait-
ing ; he leaped upon one of them, and, with great
presence of mind, told the companies of the sections
and the artillery men about him that the Committee
had just declared him innocent and reinstated him in
his command. The men rallied around him, and, fol-
lowed by a considerable force, he began to give orders
against the Convention, and to prepare for besieging
the hall, in which the members had now tumultuously
reassembled.

" Representatives ! the moment is come for dying at
our post," said CoUot-d'Herbois, taking his seat in the
chair, which, from the arrangements of the hall, must
have received the first balls. Henriot was still issuing
orders outside. " Outlaw him ! outlaw the ruffian !"
cried several of the deputies, which was instantly
decreed, and some of the deputies went out and pro-
claimed it to the gunners.

" Fire !" exclaimed Henriot.

" Gunners, will you disgrace yourselves," cried the
deputies—" that ruffian is outlawed !"

The deputies prevailed, and Henriot's command was
disobeyed. His men abandoned him, and he had but
barely time to turn his horse's head and seek refuge at
the Hotel-de-Ville.

* Thiers.



262 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

The Convention next outlawed the deputies who
had withdrawn themselves from its decrees, and all
the members of the municipality who were engaged in
the insurrection. They next appointed Barras, (one of
their members,) commandant of the armed force, and
*sent certain members of their own body throughout
the sections to rouse the people in defence of the Con-
vention. Barras ordered the generale to be beat, and
formed his battalions together. Whilst this was doing,
the tocsin was sounding at the Hotel-de-Ville. It sum-
moned the citizens thither, whilst the generale called
them to the Convention, and Paris was soon in the
most violent state of agitation.*

In the interim, Robespierre, and the other arrested
deputies, had been rescued from prison, and had
arrived at the Hotel-de-Ville. When he appeared, his
faithful Jacobins embraced him, loaded him with de-
monstrations of attachment, and swore to die in his
defence. Messengers from both parties arrived at the
different sections, calling upon the National Guard,
which got under arms, but, distracted and uncertain,
hesitated to obey the summons of the municipality, in
consequence of the report of Robespierre's arrest.
Meanwhile the news of this arrest shot a ray of hope
through the minds of numerous proscribed individuals,
who were in concealment in the city. With trembling
steps they issued from their hiding-places, and, ap-
proaching the columns of their fellow-citizens, be-
sought them, with tears and pathetic language, to
assist in dethroning the tyrant. The minds of many
were already won by the persuasion of the deputies
to the side of the Convention, those of all Were in a
state of uncertainty, when, at ten o'clock, the feeling
was such, the battalions marched towards the Conven-
tion, and defiled through the hall in the midst of en-
thusiastic applause. At midnight above three thousand
men had arrived. " The moments are precious," said
Freron ; " the time for action has come ; let us in-

* Thiers ; Lacretelle ; Alison.



THE REIGN OP TERROR. 263

stantly march against the rebels; we will summon
them, in the name of the Convention, to deliver up the
traitors, and, if they refuse, we will lay the Hotel-de-
Ville in ashes." — " Depart," said Tallien, " and let not
the rising sun shine on one of the conspirators in
life."

The order was promptly obeyed; a few battalions
and pieces of artillery were left to guard the Conven-
tion, and the remainder of the forces, under command
of Barras, marched at midnight against the insur-
gents, who, at the Hotel-de-Ville, were anxiously
awaiting expected reinforcements of the national
guard. The night was dark ; a feeble moonlight only
shone through the gloom ; but the forced illumination
of the houses supplied a vivid hght, which shone on
the troops, who, in profound silence and in serried
masses, marched from the Tuilleries along the quays
of the river towards the head-quarters of Robespierre
and his supporters.

The adherents of Robespierre consisted of the can-
noniers and armed force commanded by Hen^iot,
composed of Jacobins and the very lowest of the
canaille. The Place-de-Greve, in front of the Hotel-
de-Ville, was filled with them, and bristled with bayo-
nets and pikes. But their courage was much shaken
by the non-appearance of any support from the
national guard ; the working men of St. Antoine and
St. Marceau had not come; and when the light of
torches discovered the national uniform appearing in
opposition at all the avenues leading to the square,
and ten pieces of artillery pointed against them, the
cannoniers no longer felt the disposition to support
Robespierre and the municipality, whilst the Jacobin
rabble deserted to their homes and obscurity. Henriot,
Robespierre, Couthon, St. Just, Lebas, and the con-
spirators were inside the Hotel, sitting in council, filled
with not a little dismay. Henriot, hearing the shout
that was raised when the cannoniers wheeled into the
ranks of the Convention, descended the stair of the
Hotel to harangue the gunners, but, finding the square



264 THE REIGN OP TERROR.

deserted, he vented execrations, and stumbled back
with this intelligence to the council.

Despair overwhelmed the conspirators. They found
themselves abandoned by their troops and surrounded
on all sides by those of the Convention. Cofinhal, an
energetic man, who had been ill-seconded, enraged
against Henriot, said to him, " It is thy cowardice,
villain, that has undone us." He then rushed upon
him, seized him by the waist, and threw him out of a
window. The drunken Henriot fell upon a heap of
filth, which prevented his fall from being mortal ; he
contrived to crawl, bruised and mutilated, into the
entrance of a sewer, from whence he was dragged out
by the troops of the Convention. Cofinhal, and the
younger Robespierre, leaped from a window into the
court-yard, but survived their fall, and were secured
on the spot. Lebas blew his brains out with a pistol.
Couthon attempted to put an end to his existence by
stabbing himself, but failed, and crept under a table,
from which he was dragged out by the national
guards, who had now rushed up the stairs and broken
into the room. St. Just continued calm and immova-
ble, holding a pistol in his hand, but without using it.
Robespierre had attempted to blow out his brains, but
bungled in his suicidal attempt, and only broke his jaw.
He was found upon the floor, at the foot of the table
under which Couthon was lying. He and Couthon
being supposed to be dead, were dragged down stairs
by the heels and across the Place-de-Greve to the
Quai Pellitier, where it was proposed to throw them
into the river; but it being discovered, by the light of
daybreak, that they still breathed, they were stretched
on planks and carried to the Convention, around
which cries of " The Constitution forever ! Down with
the tyrants!" now shook the air. The Convention
refused that they should be brought in, and they were
then conveyed to the hall of the Committee, where the
rest of the conspirators had already been secured.
Robespierre was laid upon a table, (the same upon
which he had signed the death-warrant of so many



THE REIGN OF TERROR. 265

citizens,) with his jaw broken and bleeding. Some
pieces of pasteboard were placed under his head. He
had on a blue coat, the same that he wore at the festi-
val of the Supreme Being, nankeen breeches, and
white stockings; amidst the tumult, the latter had
dropped down about his heels. The blood oozed from
his wound, and he was staunching it with the sheath
of a pistol. Sorrle persons around him handed to him
from time to time bits of paper to wipe his face. In
this state he remained several hours exposed to the
curiosity and the abuse of a crowd of people.* When
the surgeon came to dress his wound, he raised him-
self up, got down from the table, and seated himself
in an arm-chair. Without a murmur, he underwent a
painful dressing. With the sulleness of humbled pride,
he made no reply to any observation.! After his
wound was dressed, he was conveyed, with the others,
to the Conciergerie, where he was confined in the
same cell which had been occupied by Danton, Hebert,
and the different rivals that he had successively sent
to the guillotine.

The decree of outlawry rendered a trial superfluous ;
It was sufficient to prove the identity. This was
done, and at four o'clock, in the afternoon of the 28th
of July, Fouquier Tinville sent them, to the number
of twenty-one, to execution. An immense crowd
filled the streets. Robespierre was placed on a cart
between Henriot and Couthon, whose remains were
as mutilated as his own. The blood from his jaw

* " There stretched upon a table, with a bloody and disfigured
countenance, subjected to the view, to the invectives, and curses of
the spectators, he beheld the different parties rejoicing over his fall,
and upbraiding him with all the crimes he had committed. He dis-
played great insensibility to the excessive pain which he expe-
rienced." — Mignet.

t " It did not escape the minute observers of this scene, that he
still held in his hand the bag which had contained the pistol, and
which was inscribed with the words Axi Grand Monarque, alluding
to the sign, doubtless, of the gunsmith who sold the weapon, but sin-
gularly applicable to the high pretensions of the purchaser." —
Montgaillard.

24



266 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

burst through the bandage and overflowed his dress ;
his face was ghastly pale. He kept his eyes closed,
but could not shut his ears against the imprecations
of the multitude. A woman, breaking from the
crowd, sprung on the tumbril, clutching the side of it
with one hand, and exclaiming, " The death of thee,
Robespierre, gladdens my very heart! Sceleret, go
down to Hell, covered with the curses of every wife
and mother in France !" The horsemen, who escort-
ed the carts, pointed to Robespierre with their swords,
in order to designate him to the people who crowded
the windows and house-tops to get a sight of the man
whose name was associated with so much that was
terrible.

At the foot of the scaffold, they stretched him on the
ground till his turn came. Of the twenty-one exe-
cuted, he was the last. St. Just died with the courage
which he had always exhibited. Couthon was de-
jected. Henriot and the younger Robespierre were
nearly dead from the effects of their wounds. Ap-
plause accompanied every descent of the fatal blade.
Among the twenty-one was Simon, the shoemaker,
sans-culottic tutor of the Dauphin. Robespierre being
lifted upon the scaffold, the executioner tore off his
coat and the bandage from his jaw ; the jaw fell upon
his breast, and he uttered a yell which froze every
heart with momentary horror. Clank fell the blade
of the guillotine, and a loud and continued shout filled
the air, as it was announced that the tyrant was no
more.

General rejoicings now reigned throughout Paris.
The prisons rang with songs ; people embraced one
another in a species of intoxication, and paid as much
as thirty francs for the newspapers containing an
account of the events which had just happened; and
though the Convention had not declared the system
of terror abolished, it was considered as finished with
Robespierre, to such a degree had he assumed to him-
self all its horrors. *

• Thiers; Mignet,etc



THE REIGN OP TERROR. 267

Thus terminated the Reign of Terror — a period
fraught with greater political instruction than any of
equal duration which has existed since the beginning
of the world. In no former period had the efforts of
the people so completely triumphed, or the higher
orders been so thoroughly crushed by the lower.
The Revolution was good in its beginning, but the
conduct of it fell into bad hands ; into the hands of
men, who, consulting private ambition, instead of pub-
lic welfare, laboured for their individual aggrandize-
ment, overthrew each other, and, in their feuds, de-
luged the country with blood. The good and the
virtuous citizens of France, desirous of a Republic,
beheld the spectacle of anarchy. Each successive con-
vulsion had darkened the political atmosphere ; an-
guish and suffering incessantly increased ; virtue and
religion seemed banished from the earth ; relentless
cruelty reigned triumphant. The bright dawn of the
morning, to which so many millions of Frenchman
had turned in thankfulness, was soon overcast, and
darkness, deeper than midnight, overspread the coun-
try. "But there is a point of depression in human
affairs," says Hume, " from which the change is neces-
sarily for the better." Whenever the tendency of
institutions is erroneous, an under current begins to
flow, destined to correct their imperfections; when
they become destructive, it overwhelms them. The
result of the conspiracy of Robespierre and the muni-
cipality, proved that this point had been reached in the
Reign of Terror. *

It may be asked what would have happened had
Robespierre been victorious. He must either have
yielded to the general sentiment that demanded an
end to the terror system, or have soon met the fate
we have seen befall him. j " If he aimed at supreme
power," says Mignet, " after having obtained it, modera-
tion would have been necessary, and the system of terror,
which ceased by his fall, would also have ceased with
his triumph. In my opinion his destruction was in-

* Alison. t Thiers.



268



THE REIGN OP TERROR.



evitable;, he had no organized party; his friends,
although numerous, were not enrolled in a body
which could always act in concert ; he possessed only
the great power derived from the principle of terror ;
so that not being able to surprise his opponents by
violence, like Cromwell, he endeavoured to overawe
them. Fear not succeeding, he tried insurrection.
But as the support of the Committees gave courage to
the Convention, so the sections, relying for support on
the strength of the Convention, naturally declared
themselves against the insurgents." At the point at
which Robespierre had arrived, a man wishes to be
alone — hence he separated from the committee — he
wished to reign by himself He was devoured by his
passions, deceived by his hopes and by his fortune,
which until then had been propitious; he declared
hostility against his colleagues, and fell by the very
means which had served to raise him. *

Of the Terror of his Reign we may form a concep-
tion, from the following extract from the lists of the
numbers condemned by the Revolutionary Tribunal
of Paris.



1793. April

" May

" June

« July



9 victims.

9

14 «
13 «



[Robespierre elected into the Committee of Public
Safety.]



((

n

((

1794.
((



August

September

October

November

December

January

February

March



5

16

60 including Brissot, etc.
53
73
83
75
123 including Hebert, etc.



* Mignet.



THE REIGN OP TERROR.



269



1794. April
May
" June
July



263 including Danton, etc.
324
. 672

835 exclusive of Rob. and
his accomplices.

Of the number of persons who suffered throughout
France during the Reign of Terror, we have the fol-
iowmg account by Prudhomme.



Nobles

Noble women

Wives of mechanics

Religieuses

Priests

Persons, not noble



1,278

750
1,467

350

1,135

13,623

18,603 Guillotined by sentence of
Revolutionary Tribunal.



Women died of premature childbirth
In childbirth from grief
Women killed in La Vendee
Children " «

Men " «

Victims at Lyons
Victims at Nantes, under Carrier
Of the latter were children shot — 500^
drowned— 1,500
women shot — 260
drowned — 504
priests shot— 300
priests drowned — 460
nobles « 1,400

mechanics " 5,300.



Total,



-18,603

3,400

348

15,000

22,000

900,000

31,000

32,000



>



1.022.351



In this enumeration are not comprehended the massa-
24*



270 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

ere at Versailles, at the Abbaye, the Carmelites, or other
prisons, in September 1792, the victims at Avignon,
those shot at Toulon and Marseilles, or the persons
slain in the little town of Bedoin, the whole population
of which perished.

No words can convey an idea of the impression
which the overthrow of Robespierre produced in Eu-
rope. The ardent and enthusiastic in every country
had hailed the beginning of the French Revolution as
the dawn of a brighter day in the political world, and
in proportion to the warmth of their hopes had been
the bitterness of their disappointment at the terrible
shade by which it was so early darkened. The fall of
the tyrant revived these hopes ; the moral laws of
nature were felt to be still in operation ; the tyranny
had only existed till it had purged the world of a
guilty race, and then it was itself destroyed. The
thoughtful admired the wisdom of Providence which
had made the wickedness of men the instrument of
their own destruction , the pious beheld in their fall an
immediate manifestation of the Divine justice.*

On the 30th of July, it was proposed in the Conven-
tion, by Freron, " that we at length purge the earth of
that monster, Fouquier-Tinville ; that he be sent to lick
up in hell the blood which he has shed." The proposal
was carried by acclamation, and the trial of Fouquier
took place with extraordinary formality, and in the
most public manner before the Revolutionary Tribunal.
It developed all the injustice and oppression of that
iniquitous court; the trial of sixty or eighty prisoners
in one sitting of three or four hours; the inhuman
stopping of any defence, and the atrocious celerity of
the condemnation. He was condemned and fourteen
of his jurymen along with him. When they were led
out to execution, great was the indignation of the
populace against them.

Carrier, who, at Nantes, had been as terrible as Fou-
quier at Paris, was also tried, condemned and exe-

* Alison.



THE REIGN OF TERROR. 271

cuted. Billaud-Varennes and Collot d'Herbois were
banished from the Republic.

The citizens of Paris, released from the terror which
had hung over them, launched themselves into plea-
sure, and the winter of 1794 was a season most bril-
liant and gay in the saloons of fashion. The theatres
became quite the rage. All the passages in plays that
could be applied to the Reign of T^error were ap-
plauded ; the air of the Reveil du Peuple was sung,
the Marseillais Hymn proscribed. In the boxes ap-
peared the belles and beauties of the time ; in the pit,
the Gilded Youth or Jeunesse Doree, as they were
termed, seemed to spite by their pleasures, dress and
tastes, those coarse, sanguinary Terrorists who it was
said wanted to stifle all civilization.

"They have come out, the Gilt Youths, in a kind of
resuscitated state; they wear crape round the left arm.
They have suffered much ; their friends guillotined ;
their pleasures, frolics, superfine collars, ruthlessly re-
pressed. More, they carry clubs loaded with lead ; in
an angry manner ; any remnants of Jacobinism they
fall in with shall fare the worse. Down with Jacobin-
ism ! No Jacobin hymn or demonstration ! We beat
down Jacobinism with clubs loaded with lead." *

The balls were attended with the same eagerness.
There was one kind, says Thiers, at which no person
was present who had not lost relatives during the
Reign of Terror ; it was called the Ball of the
Victims.f

It had been the object of the Jacobins to establish
their principles all through the world, and Citizen
Genet was sent from France to the United States upon
an errand to this effect in that country. The Mother
Club was established at Philadelphia on the 3d of July,

* Carlyle.

t "Among the innumerable kind of balls, let the hasty reader
mark only this single one, the kind they call Bals a Victime. The
dancers in choice costume, have all crape around the left arm ; to be
admitted it needs that you have lost a relative under the Terror.
Peace to the Dead ; let us dance to their memory !" — Carlyle.



272 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

1793. The officers were David Riitenhouse, president ;
William Coates, Charles Biddle* vice-presidents ;
James Hutchinson, Alexander J. Dallas, f Michael
Lieb, Jonathan Sergeant, David Jackson, committee
of correspondence ; Israel Israel, treasurer ; and J.
Porter, P. S. Duponceau, secretaries.

The following account of Genet's arrival at Phila-
delphia, and the cool reception he met from General


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 23

Online LibraryH. N. (Horatio Newton) MooreThe reign of terror historically and biographically treated → online text (page 23 of 24)