H. N. (Horatio Newton) Moore.

The reign of terror historically and biographically treated online

. (page 4 of 24)
Online LibraryH. N. (Horatio Newton) MooreThe reign of terror historically and biographically treated → online text (page 4 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


which commerce is sending into his faithful and fam-
ished capital !"

But at this instant it was announced that the King,
attended by his two brothers,! and without escort or
retinue, was coming, of his own accord, to the Assem-
bly. The hall rang with applause. " Wait," Mirabeau
gravely remarked, "till the King has made us ac-
quainted with his good dispositions. Let a sullen
respect be the first welcome paid to the monarch in
this moment of grief The silence of nations is a les-
son for kings." The King was accordingly received
amidst profound silence; but when he declared that
he was one with the nation, and that, relying upon the
affections and fidelity of his subjects, he had ordered

♦ Henri Quatre.

t Count de Provence, (afterwards Louis XVIII.) and the Count
D'Artois, (afterwards Charles X.)

4



36 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

the remova] of the troops from Versailles and Paris —
when he further spoke of the distrust that had been
entertained of him, and avowed that he was willing
entirely to confide in the National Assembly — he was
hailed with rapturous applause ; the deputies rose
spontaneously from their seats, thronged round the
monarch, and escorted him, (' interlacing their arms to
keep off the excessive pressure from him,') back to the
palace. The Q,ueen, surrounded by ladies and gen-
tlemen of the court, stood in a balcony, and contem-
plated from a distance this affecting scene. Her little
boy and girl were at her side, — or, rather, the boy in
her arms, the girl standing by, sportively playing with
her brother's hair. The Queen kissed her children
several times ; and she appeared dehghted by this ex-
pression of love for her husband upon the part of the
Frenchmen who were escorting him. Vivats filled the
air — far and wide the enthusiasm spread, and who
would have said otherwise than that the court and the
people were fully reconciled f For a .moment all
seemed forgotten ; but on the morrow, nay, perhaps
the very same day the court had renewed its pride,
the people their distrust, and hatred renewed its
course.

In Paris, a delirious joy had succeeded the terrors
of the preceding day. The people flocked to see the
Bastille — that so long dreaded den — to which there
was now free access. They visited it with a mingled
feeling of curiosity and terror. They sought for the
instruments of torture, for the deep dungeons. They
went thither more particularly to see an enormous
stone, in the middle of a dark and damp cell, to the
centre of which was fixed a ponderous chain. A com-
plete change in the countenances and the minds of the
populace was now to be seen. The Bastille taken, and
the troops no longer menacing Paris, the consternation
of the two preceding days gave place to a joyful
triumph !*

* Thiers ; Mignet. .



THE REIGN OP TERROR. 37



CHAPTER II.

The King's visit to Paris — La Fayette commander of the National
Guard — M. Bailli, mayor of Paris — M. Necker — Popular excite-
ment — Massacre of Foulon and his son-in-law — Massacres and
Horrors perpetrated in the Provinces — Destruction of Chateaux
and Property — Cruehies practised — Newspapers — Marat — A de-
scription of him — Formation of the Jacobin Club — Its affiliated
Societies — Further Atrocities in the Provinces — Duke of Orleans
— His Wealth — His Vices — Debaucheries — His Manner of gain-
ing Popularity — Mirabeau — His Birth — His Passions and Impetu-
osity — His Expenses — Imprisonment — Intrigues — Description of
his Person — His Talents — He becomes a Leader in the Assembly
— Scorned by the Nobihty — Paris yet agitated — The Palais-Royal
— Barbers, Tailors, Servants — Tumults and Famine — The Popu-
lace suspicious of the Court — Arrival of the Flanders Regiment
at Versailles, and Banquet given to them by the King's Life-
Guards — Splendor — Music — Abundance — Toasts offensive to the
People, and Bacchanalian Orgies — Louis XVI. and Marie An-
toinette present at these orgies — Wild Enthusiasm of the Life-
Guards at the Appearance of the King and Queen — Cockades
distributed — Indignation of the Parisians in consequence of this
Banquet — The Prodigality of it considered an Insult to the Pub-
lic Distress — Rumors of Conspiracy and Counter-Revolution —
The cry of "Bread!" in the streets of Paris - Crowds at the
Bakers' Shops — Insurrection of the 5th of October — The cry of
" To Versailles !" — Commotion — Fish women— Maillard — Im-
mense Concourse — The March to Versailles — La Fayette's Life
threatened — The Mob at Versailles — They attack the Palace —
Pursue the Queen — Massacre of the Life-Guards — Jourdan — La
Fayette— Tumult— The cry of " The King to Paris !"— The Queen
shows herself on the Balcony — Grotesque Procession and Return
of the Mob to Paris, surrounding the Carriages of the Royal
Family, &c.

The consequences of the 14th of July were immense.
The fall of the Bastille may be said to have shaken
France to its deepest foundations. Rumor flies every-
where, and it is said that by the management of the
Duke of Orleans and Mirabeau, couriers were des-
patched, riding with all speed, towards all parts of
France, with the tidings of what had occurred ; and



38 THE REIGN OF TERROR,

the commotion of Paris was speedily communicated
to the provinces, where the lower classes, in imitation
of those of the capital, organized themselves into mu-
nicipalities for their government, and into national
guards for their defence. In Paris, La Fayette* was
elected commander of the National Guard, and M.
Bailli, mayor of the city.

Louis XVI. set out from Versailles to Paris on the
17th, to make his peace with the capital. He dreaded
it, and Marie Antoinette wished him not to go. " It
was announced in Paris early on Friday morning,
that his majesty would be at the town-house at two
o'clock in the day. On his road he was met by an
armed guard of Paris, who lined the way for eight
miles with a double row of the new-made soldiers,
forming a motley, but to him a horrible spectacle.
The greatest part were armed with pikes, sticks and
swords, and a few with muskets, for there were near
200,000 men, and they had neither uniforms nor leaders.
Some of the revolted soldiers were interspersed in the
ranks." ] M. Bailli presented him with the keys of
Paris, the same that two hundred years previously
were delivered to Henri IV. " He had conquered his
people," said Bailli ; "now the people have re-conquer-
ed their king." Louis descended from his carriage,
and without any apparent distrust of the populace,
entered the Hotel-de-Ville, surrounded by the multi-
tude. From the hands of Bailli he received the tri-
colored cockade ; he sanctioned the new magistracies,
expressed his approbation of the choice of the people
therein, and in consequence was greeted with loud cries
of " Vive le Roi !" Amidst these acclamations he set
out upon his return to Versailles, and when he arrived
at the palace, the Glueen, throwing herself into his

*"A commandant of the militia yet remained to be appointed.
There was in the hall a bust sent by enfranchised America to the
city of Paris ; all eyes were directed towards it. It was the bust of
the Marquis de La Fayette. A general cry proclaimed him com-
mandant." — Thiers.

t Playfair's Hist, of Jacobinism.



THE REIGN OF TERROR. 39

arms, embraced him as though she had expected
never to see him again — such was the terror she
and the court entertained of the Parisian populace !
Indeed, they had constantly imagined, since the 14th,
that an army from the capital would march upon Ver-
sailles; and, in dread of their lives, upon this very
day, the Count D'Artois, the Polignac family, and
others, particularly odious to the citizens of Paris, had
set off in haste, and were the first to quit France.
" The day of the king's entry into Paris," says Ali-
son, *' was the first of the emigration of the noblesse.
The leaders of the royalist party, always the first to
propose violent measures, were at the same time un-
able to support them when fiiriously opposed; they
diminished the sympathy of the world at their fall
from so high a rank, by showing that they were un-
worthy of it."

M. Necker was again called to take charge of affairs.
He returned in triumph. Every where on his route,
he was met with marks of gratitude, and witnessed
the intoxicating joy of the people. * Bailli and La
Fayette, owing to the fermented state of the capital,
had many difficulties to encounter ; they were inde-
fatigably vigilant in their respective duties, the one as
Mayor of Paris, the other as commander of the Na-
tional Guards, but were not always successful in
their endeavours to check the popular fury. Every
moment, the most absurd reports were circulated, and

* " James Necker, an eminent financier and statesman, bom at
Geneva in 1732, and for many years carried on the business of a
banker at Paris. His Essays on the Resources of France, inspired
such an idea of his financial abilities, that, in 1776, he was appointed
director of the treasury, and, shortly after, comptroller-general. In
1788, he advised the convocation of the States-General, but was
abruptly dismissed and ordered to quit the kingdom in July, 1789 ;
yet was almost instantly recalled in consequence of the ferment
which his dismissal excited in the public mind. Necker, however,
soon became as much an object of antipathy to the people as he had
been of their idolatry, and in 1790 he left France forever. He died at
Copet, in Switzerland, in 1804. His daughter was the celebrated
Madame de Stael. — Biographical Dictionary.

4*



40 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

credited by the unthinking. "National vengeance"
and "national justice" were words constantly upon
the lips of the populace ; words used by the ignorant
upon all occasions, with about as much comprehen-
sion of their meaning, as the parrot in his cage has
of what he repeats. For example, M. Foulon, for-
merly an intendant, (or tax-collector,) who was very
rich, but by no means popular, had accepted, when
Necker was dismissed, a place in the new ministerial
arrangements ; he was also father-in-law to M. Berthier
de Sauvigny, the present intendant ; he was a harsh
and rapacious man, and was obnoxious to many in
consequence of the extortions he had committed when
in power. His enemies had spread a report that he
had been heard to say the people ought to be made eat
grass. He and his son-in-law fled jfrom Paris, and,
fierce indeed was popular indignation against them.
Foulon, aware that his life was sought, and knowing
that no means would be left untried to capture him,
felt himself insecure in his hiding-place at Vitry, and
circulated a report that he was dead; the which he
was enabled to do, inasmuch as one of his domestics
died at this time, and he took the opportunity of having
a funeral as sumptuous as would have taken place in
case of his own demise. But all did not avail ; he
was betrayed ; caught upon his own estate ; and, in
retort for his wish that the people should be made to
eat grass, his mouth was filled with it, a collar of net-
tles was put round his neck, and a bunch of hay upon
his back. In this state, the old man (he was seventy-
four) was forced to walk twenty miles through the
heat and dust of a day in July, led with ropes, goaded
on with curses and menaces, the pitiablest, most un-
pitied of all old men — and brought to the Hotel-de-
Ville to be tried. La Fayette exerted himself to save
the life of the old man, and several times addressed
the mob with success. But a person stepped forward,
exclaiming, " Friends, why should we judge this man 1
Has he not been judged these thirty years 1" With
wild yells, the crowd then rushed upon Foulon, clutch-



THE REIGN OP TERROR. 41

ed him with its hundred hands, and whirled him
across the Place de Greve, in spite of his cries and ap-
peals to be spared, to the lanterne (lamp-iron) at the
corner of the Rue de la Vannerie.* Twice the rope
broke with him, but the third effort left him dangling,
with the tuft of grass in his mouth, and the boisterous
crowd exulting around him. This done, they severed
the head from the body, and with it sticking on a pike,
(the mouth stiil stuffed with grass) paraded it in tri-
umph. The body, naked, was dragged through the
streets, with a number of furies, in the form of women,
dancing round it as it went along, and with words
and gestures, which do not admit of a repetition, en-
deavouring to degrade a lifeless corpse, f

Berthier de Sauvigny, it was now known, had been
arrested and was on his road to Paris. The excite-
ment increased. At night-fall, Berthier arrived in a
cabriolet, under a guard of five hundred horsemen
with drawn sabres. The crowd thronged around
him, brandishing placards before his eyes, with sen-
tences, in huge letters, such as " He robbed the King
and France," "He devoured the substance of the
People," " He was the slave of the rich and the
tyrant of the poor," " He drank the blood of the widow
and orphan," "He betrayed his country," etc. All
Paris issues forth to meet him, with dances, windows
flung up, triumph-songs, and as he arrives at the
Hotel-de-Ville, his gaze is met by the bleeding head of
his father-in-law on a pike. He was conducted to the
Hotel-de-Viile, where he would answer nothing, utter-
ing merely a few words of courage and indignation.
The mob clamored for his blood, and, in spite of the

* In the beginning of the Revolution, when the mob executed
their pleasure on the individuals against whom their suspicions were
directed, the lamp-irons served for gibbets, and the ropes by which
the lamps or lanterns were suspended across the street, were ready
halters. Hence the cry of " Les Aristocrates a la lanterne." The
answer of the Abbe Maury is well known. " Eh ! mes amies, et
quand vous m'auriez mis a la lanterne, est ce que vous verriez plus
cl^ix V'—Boiog. Univ.

t Thiers.



42 THE REIGxH OF TERROR.

efforts of the guards to save him, he was seized. He
snatched a weapon from one of the throng, and des-
perately defended himself Overpowered by num-
bers, he was beaten down and trampled ; then dragged
to the same lamp-iron from which Foulon had been
hanged a few hours previously. The rope broke, and
he fell to the ground ahve. A sabre was thrust into
his bowels, his body was cut open, his entrails dragged
out, and his heart and head carried each on a pike
throughout the streets.*

La Fayette strove to prevent this sanguinary deed,
as well as to quiet the disturbances of the populace,
but, notwithstanding his indefatigable vigilance, he
was unsuccessful in many instances ; for, let a force
be ever so active, it cannot show itself every where
against a multitude that is every where in agitation. It
was upon this occasion the mob discovered, that
as the National guards were, in cases of insurrection,
to be their antagonists, the best way would be to
make the women go foremost. This they long prac-
tised, and generally with perfect success ; for besides
that, the market-women and fish-women of Paris
were mostly full as stout as the men, they were
bolder, more daring, and more cruel.

The peasantry of many of the provinces imitated, in
the meantime, the lower orders of Paris, in a crusade
against gentility; castles were burned, their lords
hunted forth, the possessors of property menaced and
proscribed. On the banks of the Soane, where the
country is in general fertile, a country attorney forged
an order from the King to destroy gentlemen's chat-
eaux. He assembled a mob of 5000, and in the course
of six or seven days, above seventy mansions were
burnt down, and the churches and small towns were
plundered. This armed banditti was at last attacked
and defeated, by a sort of army raised by the gentle-
men of the country, with considerable slaughter. Some
of the ringleaders were legally tried and punished.

* Thiers ; Mignet ; Carlyle ; etc.



THE REIGN OP TERROR. 43

The mischiefs in other parts did not stop. The
Chevalier d'Ambli was taken from his house, dragged
naked through a village, and had his hair and eye-
brows burnt off; he was thrown upon a dunghill
whilst his tormenters, like Indian savages, were danc-
ing around. In Languedoc, M. de Barras was cut to
pieces in the presence of his wife who was far ad-
vanced in pregnancy, and died with the fright. At
Mans, M. de Montesson was shot, after witnessing the
murder of his father-in-law. The title-deeds of a
gentleman were demanded of his steward, who, refu-
sing to give them up, was carried to a fire, and his
feet were burnt off.

In this state of public affairs, a number of small daily
newspapers appeared, some of them giving only the
debates of the Assembly, and a little news; others
giving news, reasonings of their own, and embracing
whatever a newspaper may be supposed to contain.
The most conspicuous among these was entitled — " The
Friend of the People," edited by the notorious Jean
Paul Marat,* whose writings were of the most revolu-
tionary and destructive nature. "Marat's political
exhortations began and ended like the howl of a blood-
hound for murder. If a wolf could have written a
journal, the gaunt and famished wretch could not
have ravened more eagerly for slaughter. It was blood
which was Marat's constant demand ; not in drops
from the breast of an individual, not in puny streams
from the slaughter of families; but blood in the profu-
sion of an ocean. We are inclined to believe that
there was a touch of insanity in his unnatural ferocity ;
and the wild and squalid features of the wretch
appear to have intimated a degree of alienation of
mind."t His face was hideous, and his head mon-
strous for his size. From nature he derived a daring

* "An atrocious journal," says M. Thiers, " in which he openly
advocated murder, and heaped the most audacious insults on the
royal family, and on all who were the objects of suspicion to his
frenzied imagination."

t Sir Walter Scott



44 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

mind, an ungovernable imagination, a vindictive tem-
per, and a ferocious heart. His natural enthusiasm
rose to delirium, and he preached up revolt, murder
and pillage. He wrote and spoke with facility, in a
diffuse, incoherent, but bold and impassioned man-
ner ; and was one of the most prominent orators of the
Jacobin Club, a society established in Paris, and com-
posed of the ultra-revolutionists, both in and out of
the Assembly. This club in Paris corresponded
directly with upwards of eleven hundred similar
societies formed throughout the kingdom ; these eleven
hundred had each its circle of clubs in the inferior
towns and villages, and in this way the total number
amounted to about fifteen thousand. An active and
vigorous correspondence was continually carried on,
and as they consisted of members actuated with one
spirit, there was no difficulty of regulating almost all
public affairs ; and when they could not regulate, they
could counteract any measure, and when they could
not counteract they could denounce. The Jacobin
club in Paris could write directly to the eleven hund-
red, through which, whatever movement was con-
templated in the capital, would be immediately com-
municated to the remotest provinces, and the popular
voice made ready to support any and every measure.
Such then was the organization of the Jacobin club,
which took its origin from Mirabeau, and its name
from the convent of Jacobin monks, where the meet-
ings were held. These meetings were almost perpet-
ual. Under the cover of giving advice or opinion, or
of consulting with each other , they examined every
question debated in the Assembly at Versailles ; and,
whenever it suited their purpose, their opinions were
printed and placarded. With this continued excitement
of debating, writing, publishing, and putting in force
the new ideas of legislation, the minds of all the people
were extremely heated, and the consequence was, that
plots of every kind were imagined, and there was no
rest by night or day. Novelty, which has a great
influence with the Parisian, and hope, which luckily



THE REIGN OP TERROR. 45

comes to alleviate the pains of men on most occasions,
rendered the citizen content ; but, above all, his self-
love was gratified by thinking himself free. Thus it
is, that what is difficult and dangerous becomes often
more sufferable than it would otherwise be, and at last
the necessity of continuing, added to the habit of
enduring, supports us for a long series of years
under circumstances which would, without these alle-
viations, have become intolerable.* Not that we mean
to confound republicanism and Jacobinism, but that
the French confounded them; not that liberty and
anarchy can be mixed together, for where the one is,
the other certainly will never be found, but that the
majority of the nation mistook the one for the other,
and were thereby led into those violent extremes
which characterized this epoch of their history.

The atrocities of the capita] continued to be imitated
throughout the province. The regiments of the line
everywhere declared for the popular side, the whole
population possessed themselves with arms, and no
power remained to resist the insurrections of the
lower orders. At Caen, and several other towns, the
massacres of the metropolis were too faithfully imita-
ted. M. de Belzunce, who endeavoured to restrain
the excesses of his regiment, was put to death with the
most aggravated circumstances of cruelty ; his re-
mains were Mterally devoured by his murderers, f
Everywhere the peasants rose in arms, attacked and
burned the chateaux of the landlords, and massacred
or expelled the possessors. In their blind fury, they
did not even spare those seigneurs who were known
to be inclined to the popular side, or had done the
most to mitigate their sufferings or support their
rights. Not unfrequently the most cruel tortures were
inflicted ; many had the soles of their feet roasted over
a slow fire before being put to death ; others had their
hair and eyebrows burned off, while their dwellings
were being destroyed, after which they were drowned
in the nearest fish-pond. The roads were covered

* Playfair's Hist, of Jacobinism. t Lacretelle.

5



46 THE REIGN OF TERROR.

with young women of rank and beauty flying from
death, and leading their aged parents by the hand.

Of the ambitious and designing men who were in-
clined to mislead the people, and who had the means
of doing it, the Duke of Orleans must be considered as
the chief. Possessed of revenues equal to royal, he
was distinguished for most of those low vices (carried
to a great excess,) which are in general only to be
found in the lower class of vagabonds. Every rank
in society has the vices natural to itself, but this man,
as if to show mankind what an assemblage of wicked-
ness might be produced in the same person, had the
vices of all different ranks of society. " Make the
water muddy," said he, " and I will fish in it." He
trusted to his money, his intrigues, his agents, and his
new-fangled popularity, for profiting of whatever
chances a state of political disorder might throw in
his way. A method which he successfully put in prac-
tice to obtain the favor of the people, was to buy up
corn, and then relieve those who were languishing
under the artificial scarcity. In 1788-9, public tables
were spread and fires lighted, by his orders, for the
paupers of the metropolis, and sums of money were
also distributed among them. " The newspapers of
the day employed his name in the hints which they
daily set forth, that France should follow the example
of England. The Duke of Orleans was fixed upon,
because, in the English revolution, the direct hne of
the royal family had been expelled in favor of the
Prince of Orange. The thing was so often repeated,
that the Duke began at last to believe he might place
himself at the head of a party, and become the leader
of a faction." * He, and the numbers of heartlessly
ambitious men like him, who emerged into notoriety
during the crisis of the times, frustrated the progress,
and stained with blood, the career of hberty gloriously
commenced. And, however pardonable we may con-
sider the first excesses of the nation, since they re-

* Mem, Duchess D'Abrantes.



THE REIGN OP TERROR. 47

suited from the obstinacy of the abuses it was neces-
sary to destroy, we cannot withhold our condemnation
from the spirit, that did not, or would not discriminate
between the patriotism and ambition of its leaders, and



Online LibraryH. N. (Horatio Newton) MooreThe reign of terror historically and biographically treated → online text (page 4 of 24)