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•'literary mud," as we should call it to-day. But, still,
there was system in Marat's "mud throwing." It is true,
he was incorruptible ; that is, he never wrote for money.


but the value of money is relative. Marat liad no use for
money, he seemed to prefer blood. His People's
Friend of December 17, 1790, contains a letter addressed
to him, in which he is informed, that of those he had
denounced, as worthy to die, '^four had just been assas-
sinated.'" We are told by Michelet 'Hhat the Academy
of Sciences disdained, what, in his vanity, Marat called
his discourses, and in turn its members were persecuted
and denounced by his newspaper. Peaceful men such as
La Place, Laland and Monge, true patriots, and men of
high character, were held up to the scorn of the people.
His persistent accusations prepared the scaffold for the
great Lavoisier, a chemist of world-wide renown."

In the midst of his ravings, Marat appears to have had
some lucid intervals; occasionally the Peoples' Friend
contained some sensible suggestions, and it is probably
to these that the great success of his newspaper was
due. He always was found representing the interests
of the masses, and his criticism of unpopular measures
and men, was often just and to the point. He strongly
opposed the new election law, by which the workingmen
were deprived of the elective franchise. "They have
sacrificed their blood in your defense,"^ said he addressing
tho bourgeois side of the assembly, ''and now as a reward
for their devotion, they have not even the consolation of
being considered a part of the State they have aided in
saving. What excuse can you offer, then, to discriminate
against these people? You admit that the poorareas much
citizens as the rich. But you maintain that the poor man
is purchasable. Is this true ? Look at the Monarchies of
the world. Is it not the rich which composes the venal
horde about their courts." In this manner did Marat
endear himself to the jealous, suspicious, hungry people of
Paris. They soon began to consider him their only loyal
and disinterested representative, and his influence in con-


LE DUO DE CHARTRES— Louis Pliilippe.

MARAT. 141

sequence increased from day to day. His repeated appeals
to the Municipality to take some action for the relief of
the destitute, had the desired effect. They requested a
loan from the National Assembly, in order to establish
what were called — most unfortunately — '' Charity Work-
shops/' The sum of fifteen million francs was voted for
this object.

These ''' shops'^ were located in different parts of the
city, that of Mont Martre alone giving occupation to
seventeen thousand men. It was, although well designed,
an unwise measure, as these corralled masses subsequently
furnished revolutionary material for the great uprisings
of the ''Sans culottes," of 1793-93 and 94.

The relief these workshops afforded was necessarily
insufficient; frequent complaints were heard about the
smallness of wages, and of being paid in depreciated
assignats; in the meanwhile, streams of idle men flowed
daily into the city, to claim a share of the scanty work the
government was providing, thus aggravating the evil.



During all this time the court was preparing for civil
war and foreign intervention.

The King, having been urgently pressed by the Assem-
bly for his signature to the decree, requiring the clergy to
take the oath to the constitution, at last reluctantly
signed it. The recalcitrant priests, who still refused to
take the oath, under the pretext that the new constitu-
tion endangered the Catholic religion, now began to use
their influence among their rural parishioners against it.

The intrigues of the clergy were favored by the court,
as this new element of discord could be utilized as the fire-
in-the-rear contingent in case ot foreign invasion. The
self -exiled, under the leadership of Count D'Artois were
assembling at Coblenz, and in constant communication
with European powers.

lu May 1791, assurances had been received from Aus-
tria, that war would be declared against France for the
avowed purpose of re-establishing the old order of things.
In the mean time the agents and secret allies of the emi-
grants at Paris, and in the Assembly, were actively engaged
in furthering these treasonable plans.

The decree, which was to prohibit persons from emigra-
ting without permission, was denounced by the royalists and
finally defeated by Mirabeau, upon this previous pretext,
that it was an infringement of personal liberty. Mirabeau
had been, since Necker's retirement, in September, 1790,
the acknowledged adviser of the court, and it is painful to
relate, that for paltry pecuniary considerations., this great


statesman from this time forth threw his influence, not
for the overthrow, but to the undermining of the edifice
he had taken so active a part in erecting. The new con-
stitution, which was mainly the work of Mirabeau, was at
best but a string of ordinances full of stipulations, which
returned to the King most of the power he had lost by
former enactments.

For some time Mirabeau's health had been failing, his
constitution having been undermined by early indiscre-
tions and dissipation. He could not stand the mental
strain to which he had been subjected during the two
years of his Representative life. Unwilling to absent him-
self from the sessions of the Assembly, of which he was at
this time the presiding officer, his personal friend Dumont
saw him in February, 1791, "sitting in the evening, ban-
daged, and vainly trying to staunch the blood trickling
from wounds made in the morning by leeches."

Mirabeau himself was aware that the shadow of death
had enveloped him. On the 1st of April, at eight in the
evening, he breathed his last. His parting words to
Damont were: "Ah! my friend, we were right when we
wished at the beginning to prevent the Commons from
declaring themselves the National Assembly; this is the
origin of all our trouble. Since they have obtained the
victory they have not ceased to show themselves unworthy
of it. They have sought to govern the King instead oj
being governed hy Idm."

These words contain a world of information as to Mir-
abeau's real principles. He.was a born noble, and was not
even a constitutional monarchist, as some of his biogra-
phers have claimed. His ideal government appears to have
been a sovereign king, with the three inactive estates, and
himself, or one of his disciples, as prime minister.

In extenuation of his defects an English writer says:
"His errors were not the result of his own vicious propen-


sities, but of a constitutional fire-boldness and headlong
stormfulness, traceable in all his ancestors."

He was buried with great pomp in the Pantheon, but
upon the discovery, through royal documents, that the
King had paid his debts to the amount of eighty thousand
francs, and other stipulated sums per month, his remains
were ordered to be removed from their distinguished rest-
ing place.

His death was an irreparable loss to the court. Left
without an able representative in the Assembly, the imme-
diate flight of the King and Queen to the army of Bouille
was resolved u|)on. The first attempt was made eighteen
days after their friend's death under the pretext of a
visit to St. Cloud to take part in the Easter festivities.
Information having reached the municipality that flight
was the real purpose, this plan was frustrated. The King
now resolved to escape under the cover of night; orders
were dispatched to Bouille to prepare for an escort.
Troops were posted along the Belgian frontier. In the
meantime, in order to disarm suspicion, the court was to
express reconciliation with the results of the Revolution;
consequently, all persons distasteful to the people were
discharged from service at the Tuileries, and only such of
the clergy as had taken the oath to support the Constitu-
tion were received at court. The liight of royal hypocrisy
was reached, however, when the following circular,
addressed to foreign embassadors, was sent through the
King's minister, Montmorin, and purposely published in
the daily press: ''All the changes, called 'The Revolu-
tion/ are nothing more than the removal of a series of
abuses, which, owing to the ignorance of the people and
the power assumed by the ministers, had been accruing for
centuries. The most dangerous enemies at home are
those who mistrust the intentions of the King.

They persist in asserting that the King is unhappy and


dissatisfied; as if there could be any other happiness for
him than the happiness of his people !

'^ They say his authority is being lowered ! As if author-
ity resting upon force were more worthy of respect than
authority resting upon law ! They maintain that the
King is not free ! 'Tis an infamous calumny ! An illogi-
cal calumny; since all are aware that his Majesty volunta-
rily acquiesced in the request of the people to come and
live in their midst. Let it be made known^ therefore, that
the conception which the King himself has of the spirit of
the Constitution is as above stated; and let no doubt
remain in the mind of any as to his Majesty^s intention of
maintaining this constitution with all the power at his

About the same time a letter of the King's, sent to his
cousin, the Prince of Oonde, was published, in which the
august emigre is told to " Come back to your native land
to enjoy all the pleasure and happiness which it offers to
you. Return, and instead of enemies, my cousin, you will
find brothers. I beseech you by the ties of blood; I com-
mand you in the name of France and my own! Obey or
fear the dire consequence, etc." To these acts of duplicity
the King added that of perfidy.

Lafayette, in his capacity of Ceneral-in-chief of the
military forces of Paris, was held responsible for the safe
keeping of the King's person, both by "the people and the
Assembly. It is altogether probable, that had the King
been successful in his attempt to escape, the General would
have been accused of collusion and his head taken to adorn
a pike.

The preparations for the flight of the royal family had
been too extensive to remain a dead secret. Rumors to
this effect having reached Lafayette, he paid the King a
visit, the very evening of the intended flight, and obtained
from his Majesty's own lips an emphatic denial of any


intention to leave the country^ "^and" says the General,
'^in such a good natured way, that I left him fully satis-
fied I had been the victim of an empty rumor/' In the
face of the King's recent protestations of attachment to his
people^ his loyalty to the new Constitution, and his assur-
ances to General Lafayette, who had befriended and pro-
tected him in many ways — and especially on the attack
made upon the family at Versailles, the Queen assuring the
General he had saved their lives — in the face of all these
facts the King breaks his royal word, and at midnight, on
the 20th of June, 1791, escapes with his family in disguise
from an unguarded side-door. Separating they meet at
the Place du Carrousel, where carriages are waiting to take
them out of the city. A coach having been built for this
very purpose, which they were to find just beyond the bar-
riers. The coachman lost his way, and an hour was thus
wasted at the outset, an hour beyond all value to the
King. The immense coach besides containing the King,
Queen, their son, and daughter, and the Princess Eliza-
beth, the King's sister, was compelled to halt once more,
for the Governess, who, by law or custom, could not be
separated from the royal Princesses. A passport had been
obtained for the Governess, Madam de Lourzel, under the
fictitious name Baroness de Korff — a Eussian Princess.
The. King was to personate her body-servant, the Queen
and Princess Elizalfeth, her ladies in waiting. Upon the
front were seated three of the King's body-guard, dis-
guised as domestics. The Queen's ladies in waiting
followed in another coach.

The arrangement agreed upon between General Bou-
ille and the Court, through some misunderstanding, was
not carried out. The General expected the family to
arrive two days before, and for his escort a detachment of
cavalry had been advanced upon the road to near Chalons-
sur-Marne. Supposing some unforeseen event had detained



the King, and fearing the longer stay of his troops in the
neighborhood might arouse suspicion, they were recalled.
All went as well as could be expected, however, until the
following afternoon. When the coach arrived at Sainte-
Menehould, Goguelat, the Queen^s Secretary, and young
Choiseul, who had undertaken the execution of the pro-
ject, were nowhere to be seen; nor were the troops there to
escort the King. His Majesty, in a great state of uneasi-
ness, looked out of the coach window to see what was the
matter. He was recognized, and an officer of dragoons,
who had not mounted his men as ordered, came forward
to excuse himself. The municipal officers of the village
being made aware of the King's presence, hardly knew
what course to pursue. In this emergency, a young man
formerly in the King's Guard, Drouet by name, volun-
teered to follow the coach, and taking a by-road through
the woods, he reached Clermont, where he learned the
carriages had left an hour before. Putting spurs to his
horse, he reached Varennes a little before the arrival of
the King. A misunderstanding concerning the position of
the relays, had caused another momentous delay. It was
eleven o'clock, and the night was pitch dark. The crazy
Guards ran about in search of the relays, which instead
of being as agreed upon, at the entrance, were waiting at
the other end of the town. Suddenly Drouet galloped to
the front of the King's carriage, and startled its inmates
by calling out : '^In the name of the Nation, stop, postil-
lion ! You are driving the King,''' after which he passed
on into the town, rousing the people, who were soon run-
ning about with lanterns, some with arms, and all in a
great state of excitement. Drums were beaten, and the
National Guard called to arms. The postillions were
forced on in the hope of being able to cross a bridge
which divided the town. Drouet, and a comrade who had
joined him, hurried to the bridge and barricaded it with


an overturned cart. Before reaching the bottom of the
hill, an officer of the town demanded the passports.

The Queen replied, '"^ Gentlemen, we are in a hurry/'

*^But who are you ?" insisted the officer.
'' The Baroness de KorfE," said the Governess.
While carrying on this parley the officer turned his lan-
tern to the window of the carriage, when the King was

The passports were now given up and examined by the
officer. Being signed by the King he thought the docu-
ments all right. But the municipality not seeing the sig-
nature of the President of the National Assembly, pro-
nounced them fictitious. This caused renewed excitement,
and it was thought prudent by the friends of the King
for the royal family to alight, whereupon they were con-
ducted to the house of a grocer.

At 2 o'clock, the King's place of refuge having been
discovered, a mob of citizens and peasants, armed with
guns, forks, picks and scythes surrounded the shop. The
King was now informed by the Mumci]3ality of Varennes
that until orders were received from the National Assembly
he must proceed no farther. His protests and the supplica-
tions of the Qaeen could not move them.

The arrival at 7 o'clock in the morning of M. de
Eomeuf, Adjutant of General Lafayette from Paris, with
an order for the King's arrest, put an end to the painful
suspense of all concerned.

Escorted by an army of National Guards the royal
coach and other carriages were turned toward the capital.

Eepresentatives Petion and Barnave, two of the three
Commissioners delegated by the Assembly to escort the
King to Paris, had met him half way and taken seats in
the royal .coach. An over-loyal royalist, having approached
their Majesties to express his sympathies for their misfor-
tunes, was set upon by the infuriated mob and was about


to be torn to pieces, when Deputy Barnave energetically
interfered. This generous, and, under the circumstances,
heroic action moved the tender heart of the Queen toward
the young revolutionist; a friendly conversation ensued,
and, before Paris was reached, Barnave was overwhelmed
by the beautiful and spiritual Austrian. The menacing
Goliath the Assembly imagined they had sent forth to ter-
rify the royal fugitives, came back a submissive, sympa-
thetic captive. A Republican of yesterday, he assentingly
replied to the King's remark, ^Trance can not be a
Eepublic." '''No, it is not ripe yet." Barnave must
also have made a very favorable impression upon the Queen,
for a few days afterward, in speaking of him to Mme.
Campan, she said: "It we get the power into our own
hands again, Barnave's pardon is written before hand in
our hearts."

The expected entrance of the procession into Paris
produced great excitement among all classes. The Assem-
bly, however, before the arrival of the cavalcade, fearing
demonstrations of a humiliating character to the royal
family, had posted all over the city thousands of hand-
bills, warning '^Whoever applauds the King shall be
whipped; whoever insults him shall be hanged ! I"

Accordingly, the immense multitude thronging the
sidewalks, perched in the branches of trees and upon the
roofs of houses, received their runaway King with inau-
spicious reserve.

To many it seemed but the funeral cortege of royalty.

Drouet became the hero of the hour. A vote of thanks,
and a reward of thirty thousand francs was voted him by
the Assembly, on which occasion the applause of the galler-
ies became deafening.

In addition to the betrayal of Lafayette and the Assem-
bly, the King had insulted the Nation by leaving at the
Tuileries a manifesto, addressed to his people, in which


he declared "\\\^ opposition to the changes brought about
by the revolutionists of May, 1789," thus denying every
word of his famous circular sent to the foreign embassa-
dors. '"^ He accused the Assembly of having annihilated
his prerogatives, of having robbed him of his estates, and
compelled him to sanction decrees which were distasteful
to him. The people of Paris, he declared, held him as a
prisoner, and had been disrespectful to him. The five
million dollars allowed him per year for his civil list, was
not enough to defray his expenses, and, therefore, in order
that he might enjoy his liberty, which he could not find in
Paris, he had left to look for it elsewhere.'''



When the news of the flight of the King, his arrest and
farewell manifesto reached the ears of the people, a
tremendous feeling of indignation was manifested through-
out France. The French were yet struggling with the
idea that the King was their protector and savior. How
could he desert his people who required his assistance now
more than ever ? Neither was there an excuse for his
abandonment of his country, and the act created univer-
sal contempt among those yet professing loyalty to his
person.. The demand for his immediate deposition by the
National Assembly was nearly unanimous throughout the
Departments. Unfortunately for France, and we may
say for the rest of Europe, this Assembly, as constituted,
did not represent the sentiments of the country at this
time. It had been elected under different circumstances,
had served its purpose, and should have gone out of exist-
ence the day after the confederation. Other times had
arisen and a different class of men were coming to the
front, able and willing to grapple with the situation.

An Assembly elected a week or two after the festival
of confederation, when the heart of the Nation was filled
with the most patriotic, generous and noble sentiments,
would have met the crisis in a statesman-like manner.
The King had broken the solemn compact svforn to
between himself and the people of France. Their repre-
sentatives were now free to take such action as, in their
judgment, would best serve the interests of the country.
An Assembly elected at this time must have construed tlie



King's flight as an act of voluntary abdication, and a for-
feiture of all those rights and privileges secured under the
covenant mutually entered into; that is to say, the case
Avould have been treated in the same equitable way as an
impartial court of justice treats a breach of contract
between one man and another.

Such an Assembly must have declared simply, that,
**the King, having forfeited his rights, is hereby deposed
and the Kepublic is established."

The remark of M. Barnave to the King, '^ that France
was not ripe for a Republic,"' by some may have beeen con-
sidered as having some weight; but it is an acknowledged
fact that when an intelligent people are left free to act
upon their own impulses, uninfluenced by the allurements
of wealth and power, they invariably select their best men
to represent them. The real obstacle to the establishment
and maintenance of republican institutions is not the lack
of maturity on the part of the common people, but the
immoderate ambition and greed of the more prosperous
classes ; passions which the stringent regulations of a
monarchy are probably better able to keep in check.

It is useless, however, to speculate upon what a newly
elected Assembly might have done in dealing with this
exigency; the fact remains, that the life of the first
National Assembly was prolonged beyond its legal term,
through the powerful influence of Mirabeau, and now
proved a great stumbling block to the peaceful, natural,
reconstruction of the government.

Instead of decreeing that royalty in France had died by
its own hand, the Assembly acknowledged its existence by
temporarily suspending the functions of the King, and to
complete this act of stultification, issued a proclamation in-
forming the people, ^'that the King had been carried off by
enemies to the public welfare." In this effort to save the
monarchy the Assembly started it on its speedy road to ruin.



On the 16th of July, the committee charged with in-
vestigating the King's flight presented its report: " In
the journey to Varennes/^ they said, ''there was nothing
culpable and, even if there were, the King was invio-

Kobespierre, in attacking the report of the committee
holding the inviolability of the King as a bar to his pros-
ecution, said : " The adoption of this report can only
dishonor you ] if adopted, I shall declare myself the ad-
vocate of all the accused, even General Bouille. By the
report of your committee, no crime has been committed.
If no crime has been committed, there can be no accom-

Barnave, however, now fully committed to the inter-
ests of the court, supported the report in one of his most
brilliant oratorical efforts, and it was adopted. The recre-
ant Deputy did not then suppose that two years later this
speech would rise to condemn him, and finally bring him
to the scaffold.

The action of the Assembly in thus declaring royalty
infallible, only widened the breach which his flight had
created between the people and the King. The press
championed its particular views with vehemence, keeping
the inhabitants of the faubourgs in a constant state" of

The Revolutions de Paris, by Laustalot; the Revolution
clc France, by Camille Desmoulins; La Chronique do
Paris ; Le Patriot FrauQais, by Brissot; the Orateur du
People, by Feron; La Bouclie de Fer, by Eauchet, hereto-
fore friendly to the constitutional compact between the
King and the people, now denounced the Assembly's

The circulation of Marat's UAmi dti Peuple almost
doubled within a week. In the Jacobin Club Eobespierro
?.nd Danton were the favored orators, and their violent


assaults upon the Assembly, the majority of which they
now denounced as a band of traitors, found a ready

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Online LibraryHermann LiebThe foes of the French revolution → online text (page 11 of 25)