H. N. (Horatio Newton) Moore.

The reign of terror historically and biographically treated online

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it arrived at the Place Louis XV. Here it was attacked



24 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

by a company of dragoons ; it resisted for some mo-
ments, but was broken; the bearer of one of the busts,
and a soldier of the French Guards, were killed ; the
people were dispersed, a part flying towards the
quays, others faUing back upon the boulevards, others
throwing themselves into the garden of the Tuilleries.
The dragoons, with drawn sabres, pursued into the
garden, and charged upon persons who did not in fact
belong to the crowd, but who were walking peaceably
about. In this charge an old man was killed by a
sabre stroke. The crowd defended themselves with
the garden chairs ; the indignation became general,
and the call to arms resounded through every quarter,
in the Tuilleries, in the Palais-Royal, in the city, and
in the suburbs.

Terror, before unbounded, was now changed into
fury. People ran, shouting " To arms !" and hurried
to the Hotel-de-Ville* to demand weapons. During the
night, the populace forced and burned the barriers,
dispersed the gate-keepers, and afforded free access
by all the avenues to the city. The gun-smiths' shops
were plundered. Tumult was at its height; every
man obeyed the dictates of his passion. Troops of
laborers, employed by the government in the public
works, (the most of them without home or character,)
associated with others who sought in insurrection
only the means of disorder and pillage, and having
burned the barriers, they infested the streets, and
plundered several houses. These were what were
called the brigands.

These events took place on Sunday the 12th of July,
and in the night between Sunday and Monday the

* Hotel-de-Ville, or Town Hall. Previous to the election of the
deputies to the States-General, Paris had been divided into sixty
different portions, called sections \ one church in each section was
employed for the primary assemblies, who choose among themselves
electors, who all assembled to choose the deputies. These sections,
or districts, served as points of reunion to the citizens, and had the
appearance of so many federal states, having the Hotel-de^Ville for
a centre, to which representatives from the different sections were
Bent



THE REIGN OF TERROR. 25

13th. During the morning of Monday, the convent of
the Lazarists, (St. Lazare,) which contained a large
quantity of grain, was forced and plundered ; the es-
pecial object of the mob being to rummage among the
ancient armory that was also stowed away in this
house. The armory was quickly plundered, and the
rabble, wearing helmets and carrying pikes, were pre-
sently seen in all quarters of the city. Before the Ho-
tel-de-Ville the crowd was immense; they sounded the
tocsin of the Hall of the Municipality, and that of all
the churches; drums were beat along the streets to
summon the citizens. They collected in the public
places ; they formed themselves into troops, under the
name of volunteers of the Palais-Royal, volunteers
of the Tuilleries, etc. The enthusiasm inspired by
continually speaking and acting in a common cause,
and sharing a common danger, gave a sort of electric
shock that was communicated from one eye to another
throughout the whole populace ; but whilst the truly
patriotic and virtuous citizen received this unanimity
of movement as an earnest of the assurance he felt in
the ultimate triumph of popular rights, the low and de-
graded part of the population took advantage of it,
and abandoned themselves to vicious and brutal ex-
cesses. But virtuous and vicious, respectable and
canaille, — merchant, banker, shopkeeper, mechanic,
labourer, chiffonier, vagrant, — all assembled, and all
that could get arms armed themselves. One common
sentiment of indignation animated hundreds of thou-
sands, and all were zealously active to secure the city
against the attack that was, with good reason, sup-
posed to be meditated by the troops. The districts
acted in concert ; each of them voted two hundred
men for their defence. They only wanted arms ; they
searched every place where they hoped to find any.
Before the Hotel-de-Ville loud shouts arose from the
throng, and arms were repeatedly demanded of M. de
Flesselles, the provost, who had at first resisted the
demand, but now manifested great zeal, and promised

3



26 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

twelve thousand muskets that very day, and more on
the following days.

This assurance appeased for a time the people, and
the committee (sitting at the Hotel-de-Vilie) proceeded
with a little more calmness to the organization of the
city militia. In less than four hours the plan was di-
gested, discussed, adopted, printed, and posted up. It
was decided that there should be a Parisian guard of
48,000 men. All the citizens were invited to inscribe their
names and become a part of it. The distinctive sign
was to be the Parisian cockade, red and blue, instead
of the green that had been adopted by the throng in
the Palais-Royal the day before. But the people were
waiting impatiently for the result of the promises of
M. de Flesselles. The muskets had not arrived ; night
was approaching ; they dreaded an attack from the
troops which surrounded the city ; and they believed
they were betrayed, when they learned that five thou-
sand pounds of powder had been secretly removed
from Paris, and that the people at the barriers had
seized it. By-and-by, chests arrived inscribed " artil-
lery ;" this calmed the tumult, and the crowd escorted
the chests to the Hotel-de-Ville, believing them to con-
tain the expected muskets; they opened them and
found them filled with old linen and bits of wood. At
this sight they were fired with indignation against the
provost, who declared he had been deceived. To ap-
pease them, and in order to gain time, he sent them to
the Carthusians' monastery, with the assurance that
arms would be found there. The astonished Carthu-
sians admitted the furious mob, conducted them into
their retreat, and finally convinced them that they pos-
sessed nothing of the kind mentioned by the provost.
More exasperated than ever, the rabble now returned
with shouts of " treachery ;" and the committee saw
that they had no other resources for arming Paris and
divesting the mob of its suspicions, than by having
pikes forged ; they ordered the immediate manufacture
of fifty thousand. Vessels with gunpowder were de-
scending the Seine, on their way to Versailles ; these



THE REIGN OF TERROR. 27

were stopped, and the powder distributed amidst the
most imminent danger.

A tremendous confusion now prevailed at the Hotel-
de-Ville, the seat of the authorities, the head quarters
of the militia, and the centre of all operations. It was
necessary to provide at once for the safety of the city,
which was threatened by the court, and its internal
safety endangered by the brigands. To prevent the
excesses of the preceding night, the city was illumi-
hated, and patrols scoured it in every direction. About
the Hotel-de-Ville were to be seen carriages stopped,
wagons intercepted, travellers awaiting permission to
proceed on their journey. During the night, the Hotel
was menaced by the brigands, but St. Merj'-, to whose
care it had been committed, caused barrels of powder
to be brought, and threatened to blow it up. At this
sight the brigands retired. Meanwhile, the citizens,
who had retired to their homes, held themselves in
readiness for every kind of attack ; they had un paved
the streets, opened the trenches, and taken all possible
measures for resisting a siege.

Next day, those who had not been able to obtain
arms, came to demand them from the committee very
early in the morning, reproaching it with its refusals
and evasions on the preceding evening. The commit-
tee had in vain sought for arms, and they so expressed
themselves to the citizens, wiio were unanimous in
their devotion to the Assembly, and were in constant
fear of an attack upon that body at Versailles, and
upon the capital. All classes of the citizens had em-
braced the patriotic side of affairs ; the capitalists, from
motives of interest, and in the fear of bankruptcy ; men
of intelligence, and the whole of the middle classes,
from patriotism ; the people, pressed by want, and as-
cribing its sufferings to the privileged orders and the
court; — all had embraced with enthusiasm the cause
of the Revolution. Failing in obtaining arms from the
Hotel-de-Ville, they now moved in a body to the Hotel-
des-Invalides, where there was a depot of arms, and
by no means an inconsiderable one. Thronging



28 THE REIGN OP TERROR.

around the Hotel, they called upon the governor for
arms — some loudly demanded entrance, and M. de
Sombreuil, the governor, refused either to hand out
the arms and grant admission to the mob ; he stated
that he must send to Versailles first for orders. A deaf
ear was turned by the populace to his expostulations,
and they forced themselves into the place, where they
found twenty-eight thousand muskets concealed in
the cellars ; these, with a great number of sabres and
spears, they seized upon, and, dragging the cannons
along, they marched off in triumph with the whole.
The cannon they placed so as to defend the city from
the expected attack from the troops; and it was al-
ready current that the regiments posted at St. Denis
were on their march towards the capital. To the ex-
citement arising from this report, an alarm was also
given that the guns of the Bastille were pointed at the city,
ranging upon the Rue St. Antoine. " To the Bastille I
to the Bastille !" was now shouted on every side, with
furious and frantic gestures. From nine in the morn-
ing until two in the afternoon the cry of " to the Bas-
tille !" resounded through Paris, and the citizens, from
every quarter, thronged in that direction, armed with
muskets, pikes and sabres. The sentinels of the for-
tress were posted, the bridges raised, and every thing
disposed by M. de Launay, the governor, as in a period
of war.*

Groups of armed citizens continued to arrive upon the
spot ; all were excited ; some spoke of the danger they
had to apprehend from the fortress ; others rehearsed
the long tale of abuses which it protected; whilst
others again represented the necessity of occupying a
point so important, and of no longer leaving it to their
enemies in a moment of insurrection. Mob after mob
continued to arrive. " Let us storm the Bastille !" was
exclaimed ; the cry was reiterated from man to man,
throughout the immense multitude. The garrison
summoned the assailants to retire, but they persisted.

* Thiers; Mignet.



THE REIGN OF TERROR. 29

" We want the Bastille ; we will have the Bastille !"
were the words that from time to time arose from the
multitude, and, with these and similar exclamations,
they continued to demand the surrender of the for-
tress. Two men,* with great rapidity, suddenly sprang
from the crowd, mounted the roof of the guard house,
and broke with axes the chains of the drawbridge,
which slammed down with a thundering force. The
crowd rushed upon it, and at this moment a dis-
charge of musketry from the garrison arrested the
progress of the throng ere it reached the second bridge,
its object being to batter that down also. But the
attack was renewed, and during several hours vigo-
rous efforts were directed against the second bridge,
the approach to which was now defended by a con-
stant fire from the soldiers defending the fortress.
These were thirty-two Swiss and eighty-two inva-
lides.f Many of the assailants were killed and wound-
ed ; this only infuriated them the more.

In the meantime, the committee sitting at the Hotel-
de-Ville was in great anxiety. The siege of the Bas-
tille appeared to it a rash enterprise. It received from
time to time the tidings of disasters which were hap-
pening at the foot of the fortress. It was placed be-
tween the danger from the troops if the garrison
proved victorious, and that of the incensed populace,
which was imperiously demanding from it ammuni-
tion to carry on the siege. As they could not give
what they possessed not, they were accused of treach-
ery; they had sent two deputations, to procure the
suspension of hostilities, and invite De Launay to con-
fide the keeping of the place to the citizens ; but in
the midst of the continued shout of the swaying multi-
tude, discharge of musketry, and unceasing tumult,
they were unable to make themselves heard. Wilder

* Louis Tournay and Aubin Bonnemere, two old soldiers. Some
say that they were mounted, not on the guard house, but " on bayo-
nets stuck into joints of the wall."

t Invalides are old soldiers, supported by an institution that owes
its foundation to Louis XIV.

3*



30 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

and wilder swelled the tide of human beings, and more
and more deafening the uproar. Those that took
the lead, raged up and down amidst the excited thou-
sands ! The wounded were carried into the houses
of the Rue Cerisaie ; and the dying exhorted the
living not to yield until the accursed stronghold was
taken ! The firemen, with their fire-pumps, came
upon the ground, and endeavoured to throw water
upon the cannon of the garrison, to wet the touch-
holes ; but they were unable to project a stream so
high, and produced only clouds of spray. A third de-
putation fi-om the Hotel-de-Ville arrived, with a flag
of truce and the beating of drums; the flag and drums
to distinguish their body from the dense throng of the
populace. The firing was for a time suspended. The
deputation advanced ; the garrison awaited them, but
such was the clamor, they were unable to make them-
selves understood to each other. * Musket shots were
fired from some unknown quarter, and the mob, per-
suaded that it was betrayed, rushed forward to fire
the building. Grape shot were fired into it from the
garrison, and the dead and wounded dropped amid
the enraged mass. Now all was exasperation, and
the French guards who had espoused the popular
cause, came up with cannon. The confidence of
these soldiers had been gained by the citizens, who
had previously mingled among them, invited them to
eat and drink, and told them that " they also were
citizens before they were soldiers." The soldier found
these arguments convincing, and the regiment of
French guards, consisting of about 3000, upon which
the court had placed great dependence, joined the
people.

" How the great Bastille clock ticks (inaudible) in
its inner court there, at its ease, hour after hour ; as

* " Deputations, three in number, arrive from the Hotel-de-Ville.
These wave their Town flag in the arched gateway ; and stand, roll-
ing their drum, but to no purpose. In such a Crack of Doom, De Lau-
nay cannot hear them, dare not believe them : they return, with jus-
tilied rage, the whew of lead still singing in their ears." — CarlyU.



>..-/•'



THE REIGN OP TERROR. 31

if nothing special, for it or the world, were passing !
It tolled one when the firing began ; and now it is point-
ing towards five, and still the firing slakes not."*
The arrival of the French guards, the captain of which
exclaimed, " We are come to join you," changed the
face of the combat. The cannon were instantly
brought to bear upon the garrison, and the soldiers in
the Bastille at once urged upon De Launay the neces-
sity of surrendering. He, in the desperation of the
moment, seized a lighted match, and approached the
powder magazine. He would have blown up the for-
tress, and buried himself beneath its ruins ; but the
soldiers seized him, prevented him. They hung out a
white flag upon the platform, reversed their muskets,
and lowered their cannon, in token of peace. But the
besiegers, fighting and advancing on, continued ex-
claiming, " Let down the bridges !" The garrison de-
manded leave to capitulate, and march out with the
honors of war. " No ! No !" was the cry from many
voices, prompted by blood-thirsty feelings of ven-
geance. Finally, the garrison proposed to lay down
their arms, if the besiegers would promise to spare
their lives. " Let down the bridge ; no harm shall be-
fall you," was the reply, and, on this assurance, the
Bastille gate was opened, and the second bridge let
down. " Victory ! the Bastille is taken !" is the shout-
exclamation that fills the air, as the living deluge pour
over the bridge and into the Bastille. Those at the
head of the multitude, who had promised safety to the
garrison, wished to save the Governor, the Swiss and
the Invalides. " Give them up to us ! Give them up
to us ! They have fired on their fellow-citizens, and
they deserve to be hanged !" was the cry of the fiend-
ish portion of the mass, as it plunged through court
and corridor. The French guards undertook to pro-
tect De Launay and his garrison ; but the mad mob
tore several from their protection ; one Swiss received
a death-thrust ; one Invalide had his hand slashed off
him, and he was then dragged to the Place de Greve,

* Carlyle.



32 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

and there hanged. " Let all the prisoners be marched
to the Hotel-de-Ville, to be judged there !" was the de-
mand of the mob. De Launay was for killing himself
with the sword of his cane, but was prevented. " To
the Hotel-de-Ville with him!" was the cry; and, through
roarings and cursings, an attempt was made to escort
him ; but the escort was hustled aside, and with im-
placable ferocity the mob surrounded the unfortunate
De Launay.*

The committee was still sitting at the Hotel-de-Ville,
and in the most painful anxiety. The hall of its sit-
tings was choked up by a furious multitude, uttering
threats against the provost, M. de Flesselles. It was
now half past five o'clock. The attention of the mul-
titude was arrested by cries from the Place de Greve
of " Victory ! Victory !" An immense throng ap-
proached ; they poured into the hall ; one of the French
guards, covered with wounds and crowned with lau-
rels, was borne in triumph ; others, who had particu-
larly distinguished themselves, were similarly honored.
The regulations and the keys of the Bastille were sus-
pended from the bayonet at the end of a musket. A
bloody hand raised above the mob exhibited a bunch
of hair; it was the queue of De Launay,f whose head
had just been stricken off. T wo of the French guards
had defended him to the last extremity. Thus trophied
came the conquerors of the Bastille to the Hotel-de-
Ville ; their eyes gleaming, their hair in disorder,
bearing all kinds of arms, crowding one upon another,
and making the boards resound with the stamping of
their feet. They came to announce their triumph to
the committee, and demand a decision upon the fate

* " One other officer is massacred ; one other Invalide is hanged
on the lamp-iron ; with difficulty, with generous perseverance, ^he
Gardes Frangaise will save the rest." — Carlyle.

t " Miserable De Launay ! He shall never enter the Hotel-de-
Ville : only his ' bloody hair-queue, held up in a bloody hand ;' that
shall enter for a sign. The bleeding trunk lies on the steps there ;
the head is off through the streets, ghastly, aloft on a pike." —
Carlyle.



THE REIGN OF TERROR. 33

of the prisoners taken in the Bastille. " No quarter !"
cried some — " no quarter to men who have fired on
their fellow citizens !" But others were more merciful ;
influential men among them succeeded in appeasing
the wrath of the multitude, and in obtaining an am-
nesty for the Swiss and Invalides. But so strong was
the current of animosity against M. de Flesselles, that
the committee, who strove to justify him to the mob,
found themselves unable to stem it. It was alleged
that he had deceived the people by repeated promises
of arms that he never intended to supply. In proof
of which, it is said, a letter had been found upon the
person of De Launay — from M. de Flesselles to De
Launay — " I amuse the Parisians with cockades and
promises ; hold out until to-night, and you shall have
relief" Flesselles began to be uneasy in his situation,
exposed to reproaches and most furious menaces. He
was pale, anxious. " Since I am suspected," said he,
" I will retire." Several voices called out, " Come to
the Palais-Royal to be tried." And from every part of
the crowd, " To the Palais-Royal ! to the Palais-
Royal !" was echoed and re-echoed. " Ah, well ! be it
so, gentlemen," answered Flesselles, with an air of
assumed tranquillity ; at the same moment he sprang
from the raised part of the hall into the midst of the
mob, which opened as he marched forward, and which
followed without doing him any violence, though it
densely thronged around him as he proceeded. But,
at the corner of the Q,uai Pelletier, an unknown per-
son advanced towards him and laid him dead with a
pistol-shot.*

Such were the events of July 14th, 1789. After these
scenes of arming, tumult, battle and vengeance, the
Parisians prepared themselves for the attack which
they that night expected from the troops that sur-
rounded the city. They formed barricades, and threw
up entrenchments; they broke up the pavements,
forged pikes, cast bullets ; the women carried stones
to the tops of the houses to be in readiness to hurl

♦ Mignet ; Thiers.



34 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

them down upon the troops ; the national guard dis-
tributed themselves at different posts ; and Paris re-
sembled an immense workshop and a vast camp. " At
the Bastille, they have broken open the dungeons, and
now along the streets are borne the rescued captives
— heads on pikes — the keys of the Bastille, and much
else. Likewise ashlar stones of the Bastille continue
thundering through the dusk ; its paper archives shall
fly white. Old secrets come to view ; and long-buried
despair finds voice." * The people of Paris, equally
occupied to give orders and execute them, had deter-
mined on the destruction of the Bastille they had
taken. An immense crowd mounted upon its parapet,
and by mere human force began to throw down the
large stones of which it was built. It was considered,
from its peculiar feudal appearance and public situa-
tion, as a sort of despotism personified ; and there
were few, if any, who did not feel a pleasure in seeing
it fall. All that night was passed by the population
of Paris under arms, and in momentary expectation
of battle. But the attack upon the city was not made ;
Besenval, commander of the troops, withdrew during
the night, marching down the left bank of the Seine,
and leaving Paris to the conduct of its citizens.

In the attack on the Bastille, the Parisians showed
themselves resolute and unyielding, as well as prompt
and headlong. The garrison of this too famous castle
was indeed very weak, but its deep moats, and insur-
mountable bulwarks, presented the most imposing
show of resistance ; and the triumph which the popu-
lar cause obtained in an exploit seemingly so despe-
rate, infused a general consternation in the King and
royahsts.f Louis XVI. had retired to bed, when the
news of the insurrection of Paris reached Versailles.
« What, rebellion V he exclaimed, when the tidings
were communicated to him. " Sire, rather say revo-
lution," was the reply.

The capture of the Bastille, the death of De Launay,
and that of Flesselles, was known to the National

• Carlyle. t Scott's Napoleon.



THE REIGN OF TERROR. 35

Assembly about midnight. Several deputations had
already been sent by the Assembly to the King,
with a request that he would withdraw the obnoxious
troops ; and in the morning a new deputation was
nominated to convince the monarch of the calamities
which would ensue from a longer refusal. As it was
starting, " Tell the King," exclaimed Mirabeau, " that
the hordes of foreigners by which we are surrounded,
received yesterday the visits of princes, princesses, of
favorites, of court ladies, and their caresses, their ex-
hortations, their presents. Tell him, that all last night
these foreign satellites, gorged with money and wine,
have, in their impious revels, been predicting the sub-
jugation of France, and that their brutal wishes in-
voked the destruction of the National Assembly. Tell
him, that in his very palace the courtiers mingled with
their dances the sound of that barbarous music, and
that such orgies were the prelude to the massacre of
St. Barthelemy ! Tell him that that Henri,* whose
memory the whole world blesses — he of his ancestors
whom he should take for a model — tell him that he,
when besieging Paris in person, permitted provisions
to be conveyed into rebellious Paris ; whereas, his
ferocious councillors are now turning back the flour



Online LibraryH. N. (Horatio Newton) MooreThe reign of terror historically and biographically treated → online text (page 3 of 24)