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silence, and the deep grief which was depicted upon her
countenance on her return.

" The King came to her apartment through the private
way on his return; he was pale; his features were much
changed; the Queen uttered an exclamation of surprise at his
appearance. I thought he was ill, but what was my afflic-
tion when I heard the unfortunate Monarch say,as he threw
himself into a chair, and put his handkerchief to his eyes.
* All is lost! Ah! Madame, and you are witness to this
humiliation! What have you come into France to see?'
These words were interrupted by sobs. The Queen threw
herself upon her knees before him, and pressed him to
her breast. I remained with them, not from any blame-
able curiosity, but from stupefaction, which rendered me
incapable of determining what I ought to do. The
Queen said to me: 'Oh, go, go!' with an accent which


expressed^ ' Do not remain to witness the dejection and
despair of your sovereign!' Half an hour after the
Queen sent for me. She desired to see Goguelat, to
announce to him her departure on that very night for
Vienna. The new attacks upon the dignity of the throne,
which had been exhibited during the sitting; the spirit
of an Assembly loorse than the former; the monarch put
upon a level with the president without any deference to
the throne; all this proclaimed too loudl}^, that the sover-
eignty itself was aimed at. The Queen no longer saw any
ground for hope from the interior of the country. (All
efforts at stirring up civil-war having ended in mere spats.)

''The King had written to the Emperor. She told me
she would herself, at midnight, bring to my room the
letter which M. CTOguelat was to bear to her brother, the
Emperor of Austria."

The Queen, however, did not start for Vienna that
night, but went with the King, Princess Elizabeth, the
King's sister, and the two children to the theater, ''where,"
as we are informed by M. de Lamartine, "the hopes to
which the events of the day had given rise — his promises
of the morning — the expression of confidence and affec-
tion on his features, produced on the spectators one of
those impressions when pity vies with respect, and
enthusiasm softens the heart into veneration. The the-
ater rang with applause, mingled with sobs; every eye was
fixed on the royal box, as though mute reparation was
being offered to the King and his family."

Suppose these generous and respectful people had wit-
nessed the scene in the Queen's private apartment only
a few hours before, and had known that the very moment
they were so rapturously applauding the expression of
confidence and affection on the features of the King, a secret
messenger was preparing to leave for Vienna that night
with a letter from the Queen to the Emperor of Austria


informing him tliat, "all was lost;" that he had been
humiliated by an Assembly worse than the precedmg one;
that Ms sovereignty was aimed at; that, unable to see
any more ground for hope from the interior of the conn-
try to restore to him his old kingdom and throne, his
only reliance was now — on what? Foreign intervention!
Streams of French blood; a war of devastation?

We are further informed by Madame Campan that:
*' While couriers were bearing confidential letters from the
King to the princes, his brothers, and foreign sovereigns,
the Assembly (also deluded) invited him to write to the
princes in order to induce them to return to France/''

This letter was written by the King, as was another to
the emigrants generall}^ inviting them all to return.
These demonstrations of solicitude for the country's wel-
fare were mere buncombe, however, and as insincere as all
his former protestations had proven to be. He knew that
the Pilnitz manifesto of September, and the letter from
his brothers at Coblenz, in which these princes protested
against all acts of the National Assembly decreed since
1789, as illegal and void, had stirred up the blood of the
country, and that this question of the return of the emi-
grants would be among the first to be discussed in the
Legislative Assembly. By writing and publishing these
letters, the King hoped to forestall a decree against his
relatives and friends, which he would be compelled to
enforce if passed by the Assembly. The discussion of the
return of the emigrants by the representatives was
among the most noteworthy of the year, both in regard to
its effect upon the future destiny of France, as a European
power, and in bringing to the front the eminent represent-
atives from the Gironde, who received the name Girond-
ists, and were the controlling spirits of the Assembly for
the next two years. Brissot, probably the ablest and most
influential among them, thus eloquently defined their


position: ''If/^ said he^, "^ it be really desired to check
the tide of emigration, we must rigorously punish the
more elevated offenders, who have established in foreign
lands a counter-revolutionary center.

" The emigrants must be divided into three classes: the
brothers of the King — unworthy of belonging to him; the
public functionaries — deserting their posts, and delud-
ing honest citizens; and, finally, the simple citizens, who
follow their example from weakness or fear. You owe
hatred and banishment to the first, pity and indulgence to
the others. How can the citizens fear us, when impu-
nity toward their chiefs insures their own? What can the
emigrants think when they see a prince, after having
squandred 40,000,000 francs in ten years, still receive
from the National Assembly more millions, in order to
provide for further extravagance and to pay his debts.

Divide your interest, now centered upon the rebellious,
by alarming the prime criminals, whose hearts have been
corrupted from the cradle. Would you check this revolt?
Then strike a blow on the other side of the Ehine; it is
not in France it should be struck. It is to foreign powers
especially that you ought to address your demands and
throw your menaces. It is time to show Europe who you
are, and to demand of her an account for the outrages you
have received from her. I say it is necessary to compel
these powers to do one of two things: either they must
recognize our Constitution, or they must declare against it.
In the first place, yon have not to balance yourselves ; it
is necessary for you to assault the powers that dare to
threaten you. Have no fears — the image of liberty, like
the head of Medusa, will affright the armies of all
Europe ; they fear to be abandoned by their soldiers, and
that is why they prefer the line of expectation and an
armed mediation. An English constitution and an aris-
tocrat's liberty will be the basis of the reforms they will


propose to you ; but you will be unworthy of all liberty
if yon accept yours at the hands of its enemies/^

This audacious address was followed by similar argu-
ments by Condorcet^ Vergniaud, and Isnard — the latter
closing his fiery appeal thus: ''Cowards, we lose the
public confidence ; by firmness our enemies would be dis-
concerted; our enemies will swear with one hand while
they are sharpening their swords with the other."

The decree was adopted. Its main features were :
" That the French assembled on the other side of the
frontiers should be from that moment declared actual
conspirators, if they did not return before the 1st of Jan-
uary, 1792, and, as such, if captured after this date, be
punished with death. ^' This decree was promptly vetoed
by the King, which, it was claimed, clearly showed his
connection with the conspirators.

Upon this veto, editor Desmoulins said: ''Continue
faithful, friends, and if they (the royalists) obstinately
persist in not permitting you to save the nation, we will
save it ourselves, for the power of the royal veto must
have its limit; the taking of the Bastile could not have
been prevented by a veto.''^

In November, 1791, the term for which Mayor Bailly
was elected expired, and Lafayette, who had recently
resigned his position of Commander-in-Chief of the Na-
tional Guards, entered the field as candidate for the
Mayoralty. He was opposed by Petion, a violent Eepub-
lican. It was said the Queen disliked Lafayette, and,
indirectly joining hands with the Jacobins, had him
defeated — the only man who might have saved the
monarchy, if the monarchy then could have been saved.

The election of Petion as Mayor and defeat of Lafayette
was of two-fold effect. It took all power from the bourgeoise
and placed it with the patriotic clubs; it made the new
political faction, the Girondists, masters of the situation.


About this time the Legislative Assembly were engaged
with the troubles growing out of the refusal of some of
the priests in the country to subscribe to the oath sup-
porting the Constitution. The Assembly had sent a
deputation to investigate the condition of affairs in
the Vendee. The report read before the Assembly said :
" The most odious inventions are being circulated among
the inhabitants against the constitutional priests. They
are told that those married by such clergymen are not
married, and their children will be illegitimate." It was
learned that these priests could officiate at burials only at
the risk of their lives.; the people were warned to have no
communications with them, and such municijoal officers
as had installed them were declared apostates, the same as
the constitutional priests, etc., etc.

^'This crusade against the priests who had taken the
oath to the Constitution," the report continued, ''has
established a serious division among the peofde of the
jjarishes, families even becoming divided. Every day
witnesses the separation of the wife from her husband,
and children abandoning their father. The municipalities
are disorganized, and a great number of citizens have
withdrawn from the National Guards. The destitute
receive no assistance, and the tradesman no work unless
he pledges himself not to participate in the masses said by
constitutional priests.''^ On the 21st this question was
made the order of the day, when most of the orators
insisted upon rigorous measures. On the 3d of Novem-
ber, Gensonne, in an eloquent appeal to the Assembly,
claimed that the disaffection in the interior v/as to be
attributed solely to the religious quarrels existing there,
a state of affairs which could be quickest remedied by
directing the parishioners to select their own priests
from among those who had taken the oath to the Consti-


On the 29th of November the Assembly adopted, sub-
stantially, the following decree:

"Within eight days from the publication of the present
decree, all ecclesiastics, having failed to take the pre-
scribed civil oath, shall present themselves before the
municipality of their domicile and be sworn, No ecclesi-
astic shall hereafter obtain any pay or emolument from the
public treasury unless provided with the proof that he has
subscribed to the oath.

"In addition to the loss of salary, the ecclesiastics
who have refused to take the oath shall be considered
suspected of evil intentions against the country, and
shall be placed under the special surveillance of the con-
stituted authorities.

'' Should any trouble result in any parish from the
teachings of such recalcitrant priest, he may, by order of
the Department authorities, be transferred beyond its
limits." The King vetoed this decree also.

It has been shown that during October and November,
1791, while the debates on the clerical decree were in prog-
ress, the court was still carrying on a treasonable corre-
spondence with foreign powers, and the emigrants. These
secret intrigues could not entirely escape the notice of the
Assembly, and on the 14th of January, 1792, Gensonne,
in the name of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, read a
report setting forth the grievances of France against the
Emperor of Austria. Among these complaints were:
''The open support accorded to the emigrants; favoring
the cockade of the counter-revolutionists, while the
national colors were proscribed; treaties entered into with
other powers against the Legislative Assembly, under the
pretext of defending the dignity of the King of France,
and the maintenance of his crown."

In support of this report, Gensonne said: "It is time
for the French Nation to vindicate its independence, which




I— I






is being assailed, and, especiall}^ to forestall the Congress of
powers, which has for its object the modification of the
French Constitution. What is this conspiracy formed
against the country? and how long shall we suffer its
plotters to harass us with their maneuvers? If it is true
that these intrigues have been conducted by men who
expect to use it as a means to raise themselves from the
political grave in which they have recently been buried,
can the l^ational Assembly close its eyes to this threaten-
ing danger? Let us teach all potentates on this continent
that tlie French Nation is resolved to maintain its Consti-
tution in its entirety or perish entirely ivith it.

■ The tremendous applause which greeted this inspiring
outburst having subsided, G-ensonne proposed it be at once~
decreed: '"That the French Nation consider any agent of
tlie. Executive power, or any Frenchman who takes part,
directly or indirectly, in a Congress, the object of which
is to be the modification of the Constitution, as an infam-
ous traitor, and guilty of high treason."

This allusion to the King had its effect; members
jumped to their feet and cheered. When order was
restored, Gensonne continued:

*■'' I insist that the King be at once informed of this
declaration, and with the command that he bring it to the
knowledge of the princes now on the frontier; also, that
he give notice, that we shall consider any prince who mani-
fests an intention to attack the Constitution 'as an enemy
to France."

The decree was unanimously voted, amidst storms of
applause, and the cry, " Yes ! Yes ! The Constitution or

From the standpoint of the cold reasoner these out-
bursts of fervent enthusiasm may appear somewhat strange
and dramatic ; but it must be remembered that the
Revolution was assailed by an intriguing court and a sedi-


tious clergy from within, and threatened by a powerful com-
bination of foreign monarchs and treasonable emigrants
from without. The Executive and Ministry were hostile
to the Assembly, and dishonored their own responsible
positions by plotting with the enemies of the country. The
arch-traitors of this body, Delessert, Minister of Foreign
Affairs, and Bertrand de Molleville, having both been
denounced by the Assembly as unworthy of confidence,
were nevertheless retained by the King. Accordingly, on
the 16th of March, 1792, Brissot offered the motion, '''to
impeach Delessert for malfeasance in office and treason-
able practices against his country." The decree was
passed, whereupon the terror-stricken Ministry, with the
exception of Degrave, resigned. •



The King was now placed between the alternatives of a
violent outbreak or choosing a council of advisors in har-
mony with the majority of the Legislative Assembly. He
chose the latter ; and some days after. General Dumouriez
was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Jean Francis Dumouriez was born in Cambria, Janu-
ary 25, 1739. He distinguished himself during the Seven
Years' War against Frederick the Great, in which he was
repeatedly wounded. He was actively engaged in the
annexation scheme of Corsica to France. He also took
j)art in the revolutionary movement in Poland. Returning
to France at the elevation of Louis XVI., he was placed in
command of Cherbourg, which was strongly fortified under
his supervision. In 1787 he was appointed a Brigadier-
General. At the outbreak of the Eevolution, he suc-
ceeded in gaining popularity with the leaders of the move-
ment, but still maintained friendly relations with the court.
Having joined the Jacobin Club, hS became acquainted
with the leaders of the Girondists, who were captivated by
his apparent loyalty to their cause.

Dumouriez, seeing in the impending war with the
powers great opportunities for the gratification of his
vaulting ambition, ^'^ trimmed his sails to catch the breeze."
At fifty-six he was one of those young old men who, com-
bining the fire of youth with all the deliberation of age,
became an admired figure in the whirl of events. His
desire for fame now increased in proportion to the years
he had lost in fruitless efforts,



Lamartine describes him, ''Asa man of that middle
stature of the French soldier who wears his uniform grace-
fully, his haversack lightly, and his musket and saber as if
he did not feel their weight. Equally agile and compact,
his body had the cast of those statues of warriors who
repose on their expanded muscles, and yet seem ready to
advance. His attitude was confident and proud; all his
motions were as rapid as his mind. His head, rather
thrown backward, rose well from his shoulders, and turned
on his neck with ease and grace — as with all elegant men.
His brow was lofty, well turned, and well displayed. The
salient and well defined angles of his face announced
sensibility of mind added to delicacy of understanding.
His eyes were black, large and full of fire; his nose and
the oval of his countenance were of the aquiline type,
which reveals a race ennobled by war and empire; his
mouth, flexible and handsome, was almost always smiling;
no tension of his lips betrayed the efforts of his plastic
mind — a master mind that played with difficulties and
overcame obstacles. Devoted to the fair sex and easily
enamored, his experience with women had imbued him
with one of their highest qualities — pity. He could
not resist tears, and those of the Queen would have
made him a Cid of the throne. He had no political
principles; the Revolution was to him nothing more than
a fine drama, which was to furnish a grand scene for his
abilities and a part for his genius. A great man for the
service of events; if the Revolution had not beheld him as
its general and preserver, he would equally have been the
general and preserver of the coalition. Dumouriez was
not the hero of a principle, but of the occasion. Meeting
the great leaders of the Gironde at Mme. Roland's, he
affected full compliance with the will and interests of their
party. This man was to be for three short months the
last support of the French throne. He used his best


efforts to reconcile tlie King and tlie Queen with the exist-
ing state of things, or as established by the Constitntion."

In order to constitute harmonious action between the
members of the Cabinet, Lacoste, a friend of Dumouriez,
received the portfolio of the ISTavy; Duranton, that of
Justice; Claviere, a colleague of Brissot, and strongly
indorsed by him, was given the Treasury; and Roland, the
husband of Mme. Roland, was charged with the portfolio
of the Interior.

This Cabinet, representing the views and tendencies of
the majority in the Assembly, was not the free choice of
the King, consequently, never received his good opinion
or enjoyed his confidence. *• It was detested by the Queen,
and as they passed through the anti-chambers were sneered
at by her insolent courtiers.

Before entering the narration of events as they trans-
pired under the Girondist Cabinet, it is necessary to bring
before the reader the antecedent history of the beautiful
and accomplished woman referred to above, Mme.
Roland, who, it was claimed, was largely iastrumental in
the formation of this Ministerial Council. Mme. Manon
Jeanne de Roland was the gifted wife of Roland de la Pla-
ti^re, now Minister of the Interior. She was as remark-
able for her talents as for her virtues.

She possessed the ability to appropriate to herself the
spirit of knowledge and its masculine elements without
losing the grace and softness of her sex. A Parisian by
birth, her father a bailiff, from her infancy she had
enjoyed and imbibed the vivacious spirit of the merry
capital. A great reader, her father had placed in her
hands such books as strengthen the mind. At the age of
eleven she was sent to a convent, where she formed the
friendship of Sophie Canet, with whom for eight years she
carried on an interesting correspondence. These letters
were published in 1841.


In 1780 she was married to M. de Koland, more than
twenty years her senior. In 1784 they visited England
and together studied tlie workings of her constitutional
monarchy. Eeturning to France, and taking up their
residence at Lyons, they began the publication of a work
entitled: ' '^ A Dictionary of Manufactures and Art. ^^ At the
outbreak of the Eevolution, which they hailed with equal
enthusiasm, Roland became a municipal officer of Lyons,
while Mme. Roland contributed to a new democratic
journal. In 1791 they removed to Paris, Roland having
been chosen representative to the National Assembly by
the workiugmen of Lyons. Her home in Paris soon
became the rendezvous of the most prominent members,
both of the Girondist and the Jacobin party — Robespierre
being one of her daily visitors. Her over-zealous admirers
saw in her the head which directed the husband as well
as the Assembly, or as one of them has said, " Mme. Roland
is the man of the Girondist party. ^' On the other hand,
calumniators have endeavored to throw suspicion, not only
upon her motives, but upon her private character; impar-
tial history, however, has vindicated both. '•' Madame de
Roland," says M. Guadet, '' with charming simplicity,
relates herself what she thought, what she felt, what she
said, and what she did; if you desire animated scenes,
poetic pictures, sentiment, warmth, intellectuality, dra-
matic tableaux, take it; the few lines she will furnish you
have more value and express more than all you will ever
be able to invent concerning her." Mme. Roland having
written her memoirs during her imprisonment, and with
the imminence of the scaffold before her eyes, they bear
the imprint of an ante-mortem statement. They must,
therefore, be considered the most trustworthy testimony.
In speaking of her husband. Minister Roland, she says:
'' A trusty, honest man; well informed, industrious, and
severe as Cato; Just as opinionated in his ideas and as


brusque in his repartees, but, perhaps, not as exact in
discussion/" Of herself she says: "^I have, perhaps, as
much firmness as my husband, but more flexibility; my
energ-y has milder forms, but they rest upon the same
principles; I shock less, but penetrate better/^ In speak-
ing of her participation in her husband's labors, and her
relations with the public men of the times, she says:

''The habit and the taste of a studious life made me take
part in the labors of my husband, while he was a simple cit-
izen; I wrote as I did eat, with him, because the one was as
natural to me as the other, and existing only for his hap-
piness, I devoted myself to what gave him the most pleas-
ure. He wrote of the arts; I endeavored to do the same,
although it annoyed me; he loved erudition; we made
common researches; he prepared some literary composi-
tion for an academy; we worked together, or separ-
ately, subsequently to compare, and either to prefer the
best or remodel both into one. He became Minister.
I never meddled with the administration; but when
a circular or an important public document was to be
prepared, we corrected, as we had been accustomed to
do, and I, imbued with his ideas, and impelled by my
own, took the pen, which I was more at leisure to use
than he. Both having the same principles and the same
spirit, we succeeded in agreeing upon methods, and my
husband's work lost nothing in going through my .hands.
I could express nothing in regard to reason and justice
which he was not capable of realizing and sustaining with
his character and his conduct. Without me Eoland would
not have been less a good administrator; his activity and
his ability were all his own, as much as his probity. Joined
with me he created more sensation, because I infused into

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Online LibraryHermann LiebThe foes of the French revolution → online text (page 13 of 25)