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his writings that admixture of force with tenderness, of
authority with reason, and that charm of sentiment which
appertains, perhaps, only to a woman of sense and sensi-


biiifcy. While my husband was in the Ministry I made it
a law never to make nor receive visits, and never to
invite women to dinner. I had no great sacrifices to make
in this respect; not having resided in Paris for some years,
my social circle was not extensive; moreover, I had not
taken part in grand society because I loved my studies as
much as I detested the other, and I was annoyed in com-
pany of sots. Accustomed to pass my days within my
house, I participated in the labors of Eoland, and culti-
vated my particular tastes. I never had a society circle,
properly speaking. I received at dinner, twice a week, the
Ministers, the Deputies, those whom my husband found it
necessary to entertain, or with whom he wished to pre-
serve more intimate relations. These discussed public
affairs in my presence, because I did not have the mania of
meddling in them. Of all the parts of my vast apartment
I reserved for my daily life the smallest salon, turning it
into a study, furnished only with my books and a desk.
It often happened that friends or colleagues, desiring to see
the Minister upon confidential matters, instead of going
to his bureau, with its public surroundings, came to me and
requested me to call him. I thus found myself cm fait
with current affairs without intrigue or vain curiosity.
Sometimes it also happened that his friends who had
brought news, or wished a word to say to Eoland, charged
me with its transmittal at my first opportunity. ■''
In regard to her mode of living Mme. Eoland says:
*' Taste and simplicity distinguished my table ; orna-
mented luxuries never appeared ; one was at ease without
devoting too much time to ceremony — there being but
one service. Fifteen covers was the ordinary number of
guests ; seldom eighteen, and only once twenty. Such
were the repasts traduced at the tribunes of the
Jacobins, as sumptuous feasts, where ' a modern Circe
compromised all those who had the misfortune to partake/

135^-^ ^ ^=Gf ^^^^i



We sat down at five ; at nine none remained at my lionse.
This was the court of which I have been made the Queen ;
this hearth of conspiracies with an open door ! The other
days I was entirely alone with my husband, my little girl
taking her meals with the governess. Those who have
seen me in these days, sometime hereafter, when the voice of
truth can again be heard, will bear witness to my words."

This candid and touching I'ecital carries with it its own

The Girondist Ministry went earnestly to work to pre-
pare France for the impending crisis. War was imminent.
Should it be an offensive or defensive war ? This was the
question which the Assembly was to decide.

Brissot, the leader of the Girondists, was for an im-
mediate declaration of war and an aggressive policy.
Robespierre representing the Jacobins, distrusted the Gen-
eral-iri-Command, and believing that France was not pre-
pared for an offensive campaign, favored the policy " of
armed observation." However, matters on the frontier
became daily more complicated. On the 7th of February
a treaty was signed at Berlin between the Emperor of
Austria and the King of Prussia for the avowed purpose
of suppressing the troubles in France and Poland ; and on
the 17th an additional agreement was signed at Vienna,
by which the Emperor engaged to furnish 180,000 effective
troops and the King of Prussia 60,000, in order to carry
the treaty of the 7th into effect.

Early in March, General Dumouriez demanded from
the Emperor an explicit and categoric declaration, v/hich
demand was replied to as follows : " Austria favors
peace, provided the French monarchy be based upon the
royal declaration of June 23, 1789, reestablishing the three
orders; that the ecclesiastical domains be restituted, and
Alsatia be returned to the German princes with all their
rights of sovereignty and feudality confirmed,"


The reading of tliis impudent message to the Assembly
created intense feeling. Expressions of indignation and
resentment and the demand for an immediate declaration
of war were heard on all sides.

On the 30th of April General Dumouriez appeared in
the Assembly with a declaration of war against Austria,
approved by the King. The King himself addressing the
Assembly then said:

"Having exhausted all means for the maintainance of
peace, I come, by the terms of the Constitution, to formally
propose to you war against the King of Hungary and
Bohemia." (Francis II. not having yet been elected
Emperor of Austria and Germany.)

War had previously been resolved upon by the Assembly,
and would have been declared without the King's sanction,
if necessary. Being aware of this, he now concluded to
take a step in advance of the Assembly.

There are numerous authentic documents, easy of access
to day, which would leave not a particle of doubt in the
mind of the reader that Louis XVI. at that time was
secretly conspiring with the enemies of France for the
overthrow of the Constitution. It is proven by the ''Mem-
oirs Secrets" of the King's confidant, Bertrand de Molle-
ville, Minister at the time, that almost the very day the
King proposed to the Assembly his declaration of war he
had approved sending the secret agent of the court, Mallet
du Pan, to the King of Prussia. This man received
detailed instructions partly written by the King's own
hand before leaving for the enemy's camp. There he pre-
sented himself to the Duke of Brunswick, General-in-
Chief of the combined armies. Mallet du Pan finding
some of these dignitaries somewhat reserved, produced
a letter, written by the King, himself, in the following

" The person which will present to you this paper knows


my intentions^, and you may have confidence in what he
will say to you, in my name.''

ISTo hesitancy to communicate with the secret agent of
Louis XVI. was thereafter entertained by either the Duke of
Brunswick or the foreign ministers.

Mallet du Pan, who was entrusted by the King Avith
the duties of a secret plenipotentiary, was publisher until
April, 1792, of the royalistic JlfercMre cZe drawee. In his last
number he reviewed the situation in France, which review
made ifc necessary for his safety to leave the country.

" Of all forms of government, ^^ he said, " democracy,
to a debased nation, is that which most certainly general-
izes the passions by fomenting them. It fascinates the
vanity, and exalts the ambition of the most vulgar minds
— opens a thousand doors to cupidity in the desire to par-
ticipate in power. Until our time, republican dissensions
having been almost exclusively confined to the proprietors,
the circle of popular ambition did not reach the lower
classes, who, by their pursuits, their poverty and their
ignorance, are naturally ^hut out from the administration;
but now it is upon this very class that has devolved the
formation, the empire, the government of the new poli-
tical system. From the chateau of Versailles, and the
ante-chamber of the courtiers, the supreme authority has
passed, without any counter-balancing power, into the
hands of the proletaires."

With, these words. Mallet du Pan took leave of his
readers to devote himself to the King^s service in foreign
lands, where he would not be subjected to the danger of
being called to account for his treasonable utterances. He
was just the man the King required in this emergency.
An absolutist from conviction, his heart full of hatred for
the leaders in power, he was, of all the King's adherents,
the best equipped to represent His Majesty's secret designs


His orders were, ^"^to proceed to Berlin, Vienna, and,
lastly, to Coblenz, to represent to the King of Prussia, the
Emperor of Austria, and the princes (his brothers), the
situation of the kingdom, as well as the intentions of the
King with respect to the war," etc, etc.

It must be borne in mind that this secret agent was
spirited out of France in the month of May, after war had
been declared, and at a time when a powerful army of
more than two hundred thousand men stood ready to
march across the frontier to attack her. In order to
remove from the mind of the reader the least doubt
concerning Mallet du Pan's authority, we quote from the
account of his transactions, related by himself :

" Credentials were indispensable to me ; the more so, as
Germany had been inundated with secret agents, or
pretended emissaries, professing to represent the will
of the King, the Queen, and the French princes in turn.
This multitude of emissaries, their indiscretion and jeal-
ous opposition to each other, had justly served to make
such advances discredited. But I could not, without the
most glaring imprudence, carry with me a written author-
ity from His Majesty through the hundred leagues of
country to be traversed before leaving France. The mail
was no longer safe ; transmission by hand would have
rendered communications of its contents indispensable,
which it was important to avoid. M. de Montmorin
thought of making the authority of his Majesty come
from the Count de Marcy d'Argenteau (former Austrian
Minister at the French court), from whom I should receive
it at Brussels ; but correspondence with that ambassador
having become precarious since the commencement of
hostilities, it was decided by the confidential adviser of
the King (Marie Antoinette), that M. le Chevalier Ber-
trant, brother of the Minister, should join me at Cologne,
on his way to England ; that he should bring me there


ulterior instructions, and the credentials, which would
insure my recognition by the two sovereigns at Frankfort,
their ministers and the princes — brothers of Louis XVI.

'' I was ordered to keep my mission an inviolable secret ;
not to disclose it to any person, unless necessity demanded,
except to the two monarchs, the princes — His Majesty's
brothers, the Marshal de Castries, and M. de Bouille. I
was, morever, directed to consult M. de Castries, already
informed of the intentions of His Majesty. In honoring
me with his own confidence. His Majesty condescended to
declare to me that he expected from my zeal success, of
which he fully appreciated the importance ; that I seemed
to him more capable than anyone else of fulfilling that
hope, and that he considered me especially qualified to
demonstrate the necessity and wisdom of his plans, as
well as the character of the conjunctions which called for
their execution.

"It was in fact a very delicate negotiation, to present

such important interests in their true light, and to advo-
cate a system of combined direction between the King
and the tivo lelligerent powers — a system upon which
depended the fate of their Majesties of France, and even
of Europe itself.

"In a conversation of several hours had with M. de
Montmorin at his house, and in the presence of M.
Malouet, I begged that minister to communicate to me
what he knew of the disposition of the allied powers. He
answered my question with candor and precision; he
showed me dispatches and official reports which justified
his opinions ; he did not conceal from me any of the
embarrassments which I should have to encounter, etc.

"The fundamental object to wliich we directed our
attention, and which was that of the private words
and instructions of His Majesty, was the especial impor-
tance of making the war retain the character of a foreign


ivar of one power against another, in order to dispel any
idea of collusion between the King and the two Courts ;
to bring the termination of the affair to the form of an
arbitration betv/een His Majesty and the foreign powers,
on the one side, and, on the other, between His Majesty
and the Nation,"

Sometime before Mallet du Pan was taken into the
confidence of the court, the Queen, who was fully a^vare
of the plansof Dumouriez, wrote a letter to her Austrian
confidant, Marcy^ then at Brussels, in which she informed
him that Demouriez, being convinced an agreement had
been concluded between the powers concerning the march
of the troops, had now the intention of beginning the war
by an attack on Savoy and another on the country sur-
rounding Liege. *'It is the army of Lafayette," said the
Queen, 'Svhich is to make the latter attack, so the ministers
resolved yesterday, and it is tuell to hnow their plans, in
order to put oneself on guard, and to be able to take all nec-
essary measures. According to all appearances, this will be
done quickly." It is true, the details of these conspiracies
were not known by the people; rumors, however, of
intrigues and of treasonable consultations of secret emis-
saries, etc., were continually afloat, arousing their dis-
trust. Finally this suspicion reached conviction, and
caused the gamins in the streets, at the sight of a minister's
carriage, to exclaim, "Here goes one of the Austrian
committee of the Tuilleries." France was thus placed face
to face with the alternative, either to tamely submit, bend
the knee to foreign despots and their allies — the King, the
princes and emigres at Coblenz — or resist to the death!

The Assembly chose the latter without a moment's hes-
itation. To offer to their enemies effective resistance, their
object must be to paralyze the efforts of the traitors at home, '
and, under the inspiration of patriotism, to try and organize
the fighting force of the country into battalions.




To add to the anxiety of the situation, a ministerial
crisis threatened the country. The King claimed to have
been insulted by M. de Roland and the two other Girond-
ists of the Cabinet, and ordered Greneral Dumouriez to
furnish him with three names to supplant those three
objectionable ministers. Dumouriez brought the list to
the King, at the same .time tendering his resignation as
Minister of War, which being accepted, on the 17th of
June he left Paris for active duty in the field. Thus was
severed the last tie of confidence binding the Assembly to
the Crown.

The Cabinet was now made up of obscure men with
royalistic predilections, and the first official act was the
transmission of tv/o of the King's vetoes to the Assembly;
the one against the decree in reference to the seditious
priests, the other against the formation of a camp of sev-
enty thousand patriotic soldiers, which troops the Assem-
bly had deemed necessary for the protection of the capital
against foreign invasion, and for its own safety against a
possible coup de main on the part of the court. The
veto of these measures aroused the ire of the clubs, and of
the people of the faubourgs, and it was decided to make
preparations for an immense demonstration in favor of
the decrees. On the 20th of June, 1792, the third anni-
versary of taking the oath at the Tenis Court, a deputa-



tion was sent to the Council General of the Municipality
of Paris for the proper authorization. This being refused,
Santerre, the mover of the demonstration, and his friends
determined, nevertheless, to carry out their plan. On the
day appointed an armed mob of ten thousand men pre-
sented themselves before the Assembly with a letter from
Santerre, asking that their petition be received. The
deputation being admitted, its spokesman warned the
Assembly, ''that time for dissimulation had passed; that
the King was not in accord with the people's representa-
tives, and that the liberty and security of the French
Nation should not depend upon the caprice of a single
individual.''' After a quieting reply from the President,
the Assembly gave its consent for the petitioners to march
in a body through the hall. A disgraceful scene now fol-
lowed : Santerre, at the head of the vulgar, ferocious rabble,
armed v/ith pikes, sabers, knives and sticks, entered the
Assembly Chamber. One of these savages carried a calf's
heart upon a pike, with the inscription: ''Aristocrat's
heart;" another flourished in the form of a banner, a pair
of old tattered breeches, surmounted with the inscription,
" Vive Us sans-culoftesf " This representative emblem
was presented by Santerre to the President of the Assem-
bly, as a token of friendship from the citizens of the Fau-
bourg Saint Antoine, and was humbly accepted. From
the Assembly this noisy mob, which had now increased to
thirty thousand, proceeded to the Tuileries, where the
King was subjected to many indignities. Notwithstand-
ing their menaces and violent denunciations, they were
unable to extort from the King the withdrawal of his
vetoes and the sanction of the decrees. " This is neither
the time nor the place," calmly replied the King. Mayor
Petion finally succeeded in restoring order. Lamartine, in
his history of the Girondists, as well as other writers, charge
the Mayor with the responsibility of this demonstration.


The most distinguished among the Grirondists^ Verg-
niaud, Guadet^ Isnard, Brissot, Condorcet and Roland,
were ahnost strangers in Paris, and had no connection
and consequently no influence with, the rabble of
the faubourgs. ''That day,^' says M. Thiers, in his
" History qf the Revolution," "was the work of no one
in particular; it was the work of all. The conflict
between the King and the people had become perma-
nent since the former's flight to Varennes. The short
period of the Girondist Cabinet intervened as a sort of
armistice, and its sudden dismissal was a firebrand thrown
into inflammable material; the Council General hoped to
suppress the flame, but it was only repressed to take fire
in the Assembly arid Tuileries.'^

General Lafayette now appeared on the scene in the
amusing role of arbiter between the King and the people,
and censor of the National Assembly. Leaving his
troops facing the Austrian army on the frontier, he arrived
in Paris on the 28th of June, and presented himself at the
bar of the Assembly. lie informed the country's law-mak-
ers " that the indignities committed on the 20th, at the
Tuileries, had determined him to come to Paris to pre-
serve the libei"ty of the Assembly and of the King, and
to request, in the name of the army and of all honest peo-
ple, that the perpetrators and instigators of the outrages
of that day be brought to justice."

In language of the keenest sarcasm, M. Guadet replied,
expressing the sentiment of the astonished Assembly.
" As soon as I heard of M. Lafayette's presence in Paris,"
said he, ''I was seized v/ith the consoling thought that
our foreign enemies had been vanquished — the Austrians
defeated! This illusion, alas! was of short duration.
Oar condition on the frontier is not altered, and yet Lafay-
ette is in Paris! What jaowerful motive brings him here?
Our interior troubles? He is apprehensive, perhaps, that


the Assembly is not strong enough to suppress them. He
constitutes himself the mouthpiece of his army and of the
honest people! Who are these? How can the army delib-
erate;, and who are the honest people for whom the Gen-
eral pretends to speak?"

Lafayette, however, was not to be disconcerted. He
had come to conquer the Santerre of the Revolution in
the name of the King — with the Assembly, if possible;
without it, if necessary. Had he not been the organizer and
adored commander of the bourgeois militia, and would
these valiant guards not follow his word of command ?
He did not seem to remember that his opponent, Petion,
was now Mayor of Paris, and, more, the Queen still his
relentless enemy. Thus it happened that his orders for a
revievv'' of the National Guard on the following day were
countermanded by Petion, and M. Lafayette, who had
marched up the hill on the 28th, marched down again on
the 30th, returning to his army not a wiser, perhaps, but a
very disappointed man.

'^He was astonished," says Guadet, ''that the popular
flood, which he had helped to raise, had passed beyond the
limit he and his bourgeois friends had traced in the sand.
They told the people, ' you are sovereign ! ' and now they
were astonished that the people believed it. They
answered, 'we have only followed your advice. You have
arrested the King and his family; you have suspended him
from his functions; you have delivered him over to us,
bound hand and foot, and now, when we propose to prevent
him from sundering his fetters with the means we are accus-
tomed to use, you would treat us as enemies of the

The fact that General Lafayette was permitted to
resume the command of his army, without even the
attempt being made to punish him for his impertinence,
speaks well for the patience of the Assembly. The posi-


tion he occupied, as commanding officer in the field, was
one of his own selection. Wai" had been declared, and the
Austrian army was camped within two days^ march from
•his own forces. To leave his post of duty under such cir-
cumstances, upon any pretext whatsoever, was to tarnish
the brilliant military reputation, to say the least, he had
gained in the American War for Independence.

Tha greatest danger menacing France at this time
was not in Paris, but on the frontier, toward which the
Duke of Brunswick was advancing with an army of
120,000 men — 80,000 Prussians under his immediate
command, from the north, 20,000 Hessians, as many
"loyalists" under Hohenlohe at his left flank, and the
Austrian army approaching along the upper Ehine. This
threatened invasion naturally increased the popular
excitment from day to day, and the sentiment of hostility
against the conspirators at the court arising, the situa-
tion seemed fraught with danger. The National Assem-
bly in this portentous hour decreed that, when the peril
of France should become extreme, it would formulate the
danger in this simple sentence : " La patrie est en
danger I" In view of this dreaded emergency, Vergniaud,
the great orator of the Girondists, ascended the steps of
the Tribune, and delivered one of those stirring appeals
to his countrymen, similar to that of Patrick Henry in
the early days of the American Eevolution. He began
with a statement of the situation of France ; recalled
the decrees of the Assembly which had been vetoed
by the King ; exonerated him, but accused his Cabinet
of plotting treason. Step by step he unfolded the
conspiracy carried on in the name of the King.

" The French princes," said he, ''have endeavored to
arouse all the courts of Europe against the French Nation.
Is it to vindicate the dignity of the King that the treaty j
of Pilnitz was formed, and the monstrous alliance of the


courts of Vienna and Berlin concluded ? Is it to defend
the King that we have seen the ancient companies of the
Eoyal Guards mustered under the standard of rebellion ?
Is it to come to the assistance of the King that the emigres
solicit and obtain positions in the Austrian army ? Is it
to join these valiant cavaliers of royalty that other valiants,
full of honor and delicacy, abandon their posts in the face
of the enemy, violate their oaths, steal the army chests,
endeavor to corrupt the soldiers of the rank and file, and
thus find their glory in cowardice, perjury, desertion,
theft and assassination ? Is it only against the National
Assembly, and to maintain the splendor of the throne,
that the King of Hungary and Bohemia levies war against
us, and the King of Prussia is marching against our fron-
tiers ? In short, all the calamities which we are destined
to suffer are threatened in the name of the King. Now,
I read in the Constitution, ^ If the King places himself at
the head of an army and directs its forces against the
Nation, or fails to formally oppose such an enterprise,
executed in his name, he will be considered as having
abdicated the throne.'' I ask you, now, what is to be
understood by a formal opposition ? My judgment tells
me that it is an act of resistance proportioned to the dan-
ger to be overcome. For instance, if, during the impend-

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Online LibraryHermann LiebThe foes of the French revolution → online text (page 14 of 25)