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yelled the Mountain. " A gathering takes place/' con-
tinues Lanjuinais; *^it appoints a committee to foment
a revolt; a commandant is placed at the head of the
insurrectionists; all this is permitted, and — "

The cries "of ^''Down! Down!'' from the Mountain,
added to the continuous and violent threats from the gal-
leries, at this point drowned the voice of the speaker, but
the defender of his party remained at his post. During
the confusion, the younger Robespierre, accompanied by
others, attempted to drag Lonjuinais from the platform.
They did not succeed, however, and when order was
restored he closed his speech with the demand that the
insurrectionary committee be dissolved. No attention
was paid to his motion.

The Convention appeared to be completely overcome
by the vociferating mob. As the speaker was descending
the platform Billaud-Varennes and Tallien asked that
the Paris petitioners be allowed to state their demands.
The Convention, recovering in a measure from its fright,
paid no attention to this request, and '^ passed to the order
of the day." This was a slight not to be borne. Pande-
monium, with its whole council-chamber of evil spirits,
could not have produced a more tumultuous scene. The
galleries and aisles of the hall were packed with men and
women from the lowest walks of life.

Streaming out of the hall they rent the air with the
cry, '^ To arms! to arms!'' This was more than the weak
nerves of the bourgeois members of the center could with-
stand, and the motion was made to concede the demands
of the petitioners, by decreeing the temporary arrest of
the twenty-two Deputies proscripted by the Commune.
"No! no!" was the loud jirotest from the Eight; "we
must all share the fate of our colleagues." At this junc-
ture Barrere appeared upon the platform, and, in the
name of the Committee of Public Safety, j)resented its
report in reference to the accused Deputies.


''The Committee," he said, ''had not deemed it nec-
essary to adopt the measure of arrest ; they had preferred
to address themselves to the patriotism, the generosity
and love of country of the accused members, and to ask
them to temporarily suspend their powers." In conclu-
sion he recommended the adoption of a decree to this
effect. The Deputies, Isnard, Lanjuinais, Fauchet, and
Dussault, at once tendered their resignations. But Lan-
juinais arose, and, with dignity, exclaimed : "Expect of
me neither a suspension nor the resignation of my pow-
ers. The sacrificer of old, when his victim was dragged
to the altar, covered it with flowers and chaplets, and
without insult. The sacrifice of our powers is required ;
but the sacrifice ought to be voluntary. It can not be vol-
untary. We can not leave this place, either by the door
or the windows ; the cannons are aimed in our faces : we
dare not express our sentiments !"

Barbaroux followed, and, with equal courage, refused
to resign. "If,^' said he, "the Convention formally
demands my resignation, I shall comply. But how can I
resign my powers when hundreds are writing to me from
the different Departments of France, assuring me that I
have performed the duties entrusted to me faithfully, and
exhorting me to still continue in the same course. I have
sworn to die at my post, and I shall keep my oath ! " Sev-
eral resignations now followed, Vv^hen the j)roceedings of
the Convention were interrupted by a Vigorous complaint
from Eepresentative Dussaulx, stating that he and others
had been thrust back by the sentries in attempting to
leave the hall. La Croix, of the Mountain, even, appeared
upon the platform with his shirt torn to tatters, and pro-
tested against this attempt to terrorize the Representa-

The Sergeant-at-Arms being called before the House,
declared that the men he had placed at the doors had


been removed and others substituted; that lie and liis sub-
alterns had been prohibited from leaving the hall "by
strangers with mustaches (a fashion for wearing the beard
not usual at that time).

Barrere informed the Convention that at that very
moment money was being distributed among the mob
carousing outside. The members, becoming thoroughly
aroused to the danger threatening their very existence,,
adopted the advice of Barrere, to place themselves under,
the protection of the ISTational Guard. The President left
his chair and, followed by two- thirds of the members, pro-
ceeded to the door. The Mountain, almost wholly cog-
nizant of the conspiracy, remained in their seats, but,
uj)on consultation, concluded to follow their colleagues
to save appearances. The members, not less than 700,
met no obstruction until General Henriot and his staff
barred the way, whereupon the President of the Conven-
tion ordered him and his armed force to retire. But the
" General " replied with emphasis: ''Until the twenty-two
Deputies are surrendered, no one shall leave this hall.^^
The President then called upon the soldiers before him
'Ho arrest this rebel. ^^ Henriot, drawing his sabre, in a
flash turned to his troops and called out :

" Aux Amies ! Canonniers a vos pieces ! ! "

The cannoneers seized their burning fuses and the
cavalry drew their sabers.

Thus threatened, the procession filed to the right, along
the line of troops, who were continually yelling in their
ears, " Vive la Repuilique ! Vive la Montague ! A has le
cote Droit! A la Guillotine les Girondists ! Reaching the
gate of the Place du Carousel, the outlet to the street,
their passage was stopped. Turning and passing through
the Tuilleries into the garden, there they were met with
similar cries. Just bej'ond, upon reaching the old bridge
Tournant, an armed mob was encountered, howling,




'^ Vive Marat!" Upon closer examination, this arch trai-
tor was seen at its head gesticulating in his wonted man-
ner. Approaching the members with inconceivable audac-
ity, he called out:

'' In the name of the people, / summon you to return
to the posts you have thus cowardly adandoned ! " Strange
as it may now seem, the Convention obeyed him and re-
entered the hall. Thus did unbridled anarchy triumph
over law, order, and the real patriots of France, on the 2d
of June, 1793. Upon reassembling, Couthon, of the
Mountain, in the face of what had taken place, arose and
said: ^'Citizens, all the members must now feel sure of their
liberty. You have marched out against the wishes of the
people and have found them patient, generous and inca-
pable of harming their representatives; but they are
embittered against the few who would enslave them.
Since you are now at liberty to continue your delibera-
tions, I demand, for the present, not a decree of accusa-
tion against the twenty-two members accused, but a decree
prescribing domiciliary arrests, including the Committee
of Twelve." This list was now examined by Marat, who,
in defiance of the Convention, substituted and added
such names as suited his pleasure.

The list being thus completed, the Eight demanded
the vote on this question be taken by calling the roll,
hoping that the more timid, in being compelled to vote
publicly, rather than dishonor themselves by countenanc-
ing such revolting injustice would defeat it. Two or three
protested "that, being threatened by cannon and bayonets
they would not vote.'" Whereupon two-thirds of the Con-
vention arose and declared themselves not willing to vote
under the circumstances. Accordingly, only about forty
members, of the Eight, cast their votes against the decree.
''This decree, therefore,'" says Meillans, ''was adopted
by the Mountain, assisted by a suflScient number of


strangers, who had taken the vacant seals- of members
and whose functions they had usurped." There was,
however, this proviso to the decree, namely, that the
persons designated be placed under arrest, to remain in
their respective domicils with a municipal guard stationed
at the door.

Thus, standing upon the ramparts of rational liberty,
defending inch by inch the rights of their constituents,
the purity of representative government, and the fair
reputation of the Eepublic, the official life of this heroic
band of French patriots, known as the members of the
Gironde, was with systematic brutality crushed out.

A descendant of one of these heroes, M. Gaudet,
justly says: *'They marched against the excesses of anar-
chy with the same ardor as against monarchy and the
foreign foe. They triumphed over the latter enemies of
their countrymen, but their Titan-like efforts could not
prevail against organized anarchy." Says Thiers, at the
close of his narrative of the terrible scenes of the 2d of
June: " Now, all legality having been overcome, all
remonstrances stifled with the suspension of the Girond-
ists^ and the danger becoming more alarming, that terrible
dictatorship, composed of the Eevolutionary Tribunal
and the Committee of Public Safety, was completed.
Henceforth scenes are enacted a hundred times more
horrible than those which aroused the indignation of the
Girondists." As for them, their political history is fin-
ished. All that remains to be added is the account of
their heroic death.



^ The sentiments of the Girondists during this ordeal are
pathetically expressed in a letter written to his constitu-
ents by Gonsonne.

"1, Armand Gensonne, RejDresentative of the French
people^ convinced that I am nearing the time when
I shall fall a victim to the conspiracies of a faction against
liberty and the Eepublic^, a faction whose guilty efforts I have
not ceased to oppose, and in view of the fact that at this very
moment, while I am hastily tracing these lines, I have
reason to believe the National Convention will be forced
to order my arrest, or to permit it, and that I may expect
at any moment to fall at the demand of a popular move-
ment, or of Judicial assassination, I declare to the citi-
zens of my department, and to all France, that I shall
welcome death if, thereby, the establishment of the Ee-
public and the happiness of the people caii be secured. I
declare that I have never ceased to be wholly devoted to
France, and with no other ambition than to perform the
mandates of her people with courage and integrity of pur-
pose; that my only desire has been the adoption of a Ee-
publican Constitution; that I have lived, and shall die a

''I beseecb, my fellow-citizens of Bordeaux, in partic-
ular, and the Eepublicans of all France, to carefully scru-
tinize the charges — if there be such — which may be brought
against me, etc., etc.

''In these exciting events, during which I shall, in all
probability, meet my death, I conjure all good citizens^



and especially yon of the South, not to charge the excesses
committed here to a majority of the people of Paris —
under the circumstances they cannot prevent it — and that
you remember the services this great city has rendered to
the Revolution^ and reserve your wrath for the miscreants
Avho have planned this infamous conspiracy against her.
Prepared for the Avorst, in thought I embrace my fellow-
citizens, all friends of liberty, and of the French Repub-
lic. Adding to my services for my country my life-blood,
my last sigh shall be for France, and my last words, ' Vive
la Repuhliqiie! ' "

Three days after the adoption of the decree of suspen-
sion. Representative Fonfrede appeared before the Con-
vention and requested immediate action in the disposition
of the Girondists' case. "1'l is necessary," said he, ''to use
all possible expedition in proving the innocence of our
colleagues. I have staid here for no other object than to
aid in their defense. I swear to you that an armed force
is marching from Bordeaux to avenge the violence offered
their Representatives.'''

This threat excited the Mountain and had an opposite
effect to the one desired by Fonfrede.

To say that the citizens not only of Bordeaux, but the
people of every Department of France were in a fever of
excitement, would but faintly express the fact. They
Avere ready and anxious to take up arms. Many of the
Girondists, having escaped from Paris, were now engaged
in their respective Departments organizing a general move-
ment against the anarchists at the capital.

*'As early as the 13th of June," says Thiers, ''the
Department of Eure met together and raised the first
signal of insurrection." The National Convention, it was
declared, being no longer a free, representative body, it
became all good citizens to make it so. It was resolved
that a force of 4,000 men be raised for the purpose of


marching to Paris. Commissioners were sent to the
neighboring Department to urge co-operation. Two com-
missioners sent by the Convention to the Department of
Calvados to accelerate the organization of troops, were
arrested. Normandy had agreed to send representatives
to an extraordinary meeting to be held at Caen for the
purpose of forming themselves into a confederation. All
the Departments of Bretagne, such as Cotes- du-JSTord, Fin-
istere, Morbihan, Vilaine, etc., passed similar resolutions,
and dispatched commissioners to Rennes to establish there
a central authority for Bretagne.

The Department of the Basin of the Loire, except the
section occupied by the Vendeeans, followed the general
movement. They offered to send commissioners to Bour-
ges for the purpose of holding a Convention, to be com-
posed of two Deputies from each Department, the object
of which should be the organization of a force to march
upon Paris for the liberation of the arrested Eepresenta-
tives. At Bordeaux the excitement increased daily. All
the constituted authorities assembled at a meeting, called
''The People^s Commission of Public Welfare," and
resolved to raise an armed force, at the same time dis-
patching commissioners to all the Departments inviting
united action. Toulouse had raised a thousand men.
Its authorities declared they no longer recognized the
authority of the Paris Convention and were ready to form
a federation with the Departments of the South. The
upper Departments, Tarn, Lot, Garonne, etc., followed
the example set by Bordeaux and Toulouse. Nimes
declared itself in a state of resistance, and Marseilles
had a force of six thousand men in readiness, while
Lyons pledged itself to muster thirty thousand. Thus, in
an incredibly short space of time, seventy-two of the
eighty-three Provincial Departments of France were in
arms against the usurpers in Paris.


It was France against a handful of demagogues and a
few newspapers styling themselves the French people.
Their principle at stake still continued to be, '' The Indi-
visibility of the Kepublic/' The Unity of France, as
understood by Marat, Danton and Eobespierre, however,
was not a unity of principles, purposes and aspirations,
but the unity of Nero and Caligula, with this difference,
that while the latter strengthened their thrones in the
imperial palaces, the former strengthened theirs among
the mobs in the streets.

Alarmed at the threatening state of affairs in the De-
partments, Barrere proj)osed to the Convention the policy
of compromises. Conciliatory measures, however, were
tantamount to a return to law and order — tlie rule of the
majority and the punishment of the criminal and lawless;
a gloomy future for such as had defied all law and whose
only hope lay in continued disorder and agitation. The
battle of the Mountain against the earnest, honest and
wise Girondists had been waged for political supremacy ;
it must now be continued for personal safety.

The Girondists were charged by the Mountain with
favoring a system of government for France similar to that
but recently adopted by the United States; in fact. Feder-
alism was the chief accusation brought against them. On
the other hand Marat, Danton, Eobespierre, and their fol-
lowers, were desciples of the socialistic theory of !N"ational
Supremacy, which system for organization they had styled
"The Unity of France," or " Indivisibility of the Repub-

A socialist panegyrist of Danton, in a recent work,
calls him " thegreatest of French Statesmen," "the power
behind Evolution." " That power," he continues, "which
irresistibly pushes the stupid, selfish and indolent multi-
tude onward; that power which raises a comparatively few
to co-operate with him." As to Danton's co-operators.


Marat and Eobespierre^ tliey were sufficient to push the
stupid, selfish and indolent multitude of Paris on to such
a state of frenzy that it was easy to establish any system
of government, or to prevent any from being estab-

Sentimentalism was not an attribute of Danton^s char-
acter. He was a man watli a powerful organization, men-
tally and physically. With him it was rule or ruin, and
conciliation at this juncture meant ruin. The law of
evolution, which in 1789 substituted liberty for absolu-
tism and placed a ballot in the hand of every French citi-
zen, by which act four million freemen were expected to
work out the destiny of France, was interfered with by
the Dantons and Marats, and tlierefore these men were
traitors to their country, and deserved to be dealt with as
public enemies. The crisis in the Convention which had
placed the Mountain in possession of the National
authority, its leaders, rejecting all compromises, proceeded
to use it against the country itself.

Danton, adroitly drawing a parallel between the past
dangers which the Eepublic had happily escaped and her
present emergency, declared the country could be saved
only by the immediate and energetic assertion of National

The Convention was thereupon moved to the adoption
of a decree directed against all the Departments, requir-
ing them to retract their proceedings within twenty-four
hours after its reception, upon penalty of being outlawed.
It further decreed that the people of Paris had, by their
insurrection of the 2d of June, deserved well of the coun-
try ; that the departmental or municipal authorities
could neither quit their places nor remove from one town
to another ; that they could not correspond together, and
that all the Commissioners sent from Department to
Department for the purpose of forming a coalition were


to be immediately seized by the good citizens and sent to
Paris under escort.

The only good citizens in the Provinces, in the opinion
of theMountain^ were the JacobinS;, who were now ordered
to seize the Representatives of the people and all actively
opposed to their methods, and hurry them off to Paris to
be guillotined.

In the meantime^, the Departments of the North
continued to organize for resistance, and at Bordeaux the
sentiment against the leaders of the Coup d'etat of the 2nd of
June was indescribable. Along the banks of the Ehone,
and from Marseilles to Lyons, the inhabitants were making
preparations for a general junction of the federative forces,
for the purpose of marching upon Paris. When the
obstacles to be overcome are considered, the failure of the
enterprise is not a matter of wonder. In the first place,
the movements of the bodies of citizens was necessarily
slow, while the Convention hesitated not an instant.
Communication between the Federates was difficult, con-
sequently combined action was almost impossible. The
Mountain, on the other hand, acted in perfect unison, their
movements being directed in the name of France.

The hastily organized forces of the Departments,
although full of patriotisms, were undrilled and undis-
ciplined, hardly more than a body of recruits, while the
Convention had under control the regular army of France,
thoroughly disciplined and accustomed to strict obedience
to orders. The Convention issued its decrees with the
weight and prestige of legal authority, while the forces of
the Departments stood in the attitude of rebels to the
Eepublic. As might have been expected, the decrees of
the Convention intimidated the politic and half-hearted,
who submitted at the outset; the Departmental authori-
ties, dependent upon the Convention for their tenure of
office, being threatened with outlawry, submitted one after


another to the decrees of the Convention. Thus, within
the space of three months, with the exception of the larger
cities, all resistance to the usurping power at Paris had
been overcome, and all hope of establishing a representa-
tive government in France abandoned by the Conservatives.
The following decree passed against the people of Bor-
deaux, on the 6th of August, will serve to show the man-
ner in which the country was brought under the rule of

'' All the acts performed by the gathering at Bordeaux,
called 'The People's Commission of Public Safety' are
hereby annulled, as destructive to liberty and the sov-
ereignty of the French people.

" Second. All members composing this gathering, as
well as those who promoted, abetted and adhered to the
acts there promulgated, are hereby declared traitors to
their country, and outlawed. Their property shall be con-
fiscated for the benefit of the Eepublic.^'

While the inhabitants of the Departments were thus
being subdued, an event occurred at Paris which fur-
nished additional material to the Mountain for exciting
the multitude still further against the Girondists. It was
the assassination of Marat by Charlotte Corday.

This young woman, aged but twenty-five, was born at
St, Saturins. She was handsome, witty, and endowed
with a masculine understanding. Deeply impressed with
the truth of her father's publications on the privileges and
local independence of his Province, an enthusiast for
republican institutions, based upon law, the Girondists
appeared to her as the embodiment of these principles,
and when the news of the outrage upon these Deputies
reached her quiet home, she at once determined to be
their avenger. The war in her Department (Calvados)
had begun, and believing the death of the usurpers at
Paris would insure victory, she resolved to perform that


greatest of all acts, the consecration of her life to the cause
of her country. She left Caen on the 1st of July, arriving
in Paris on the 3rd. The second day after her arrival she
went to the Palace Royal, bought a knife, hired a coach
and drove to the house of Marat. Being denied admit-
tance, she returned to her hotel and wrote a letter to him,
in which she claimed to have important news to com-
municate. Fearing to be again disappointed, she wrote
another letter still more pressing and took it to Marat's
residence herself. The Deputy, who at the time lay in his
bath, ordered her to be immediately admitted; they being
left alone, this young girl answered faithfully his inquiries
respecting the proscribed Deputies at Caen. Marat wrote
their names upon a memorandum book, and, with an air of
satisfaction, said: "Very good; they shall all goto the
guillotine!^' "^'To the guillotine I" ejaculated the young
girl vehemently, and quickly drawing a dagger from her
bosom, buried it to the hilt in his heart. The single excla-
mation, ''Help," escaped Marat, and he was no more.

The last official act of this heartless creature was his
unnatural demand for General Custin's proscription. On
the 28th of August, this brave officer, Commander-in-_
Chief of the Army of the North, whose only crime consisted
in having expressed sentiments of horror at the excesses
of the Mountain, was placed under arrest, dragged before
the Revolutionary Tribunal, condemned, and executed
the next day.

Charlotte Corday suffered the death penalty on the
15th of July. When brought before the Revolutionary
Tribunal she was calm and composed. "It is I, who
killed Marat," she said. She admitted all the charges
brought against her, with the exception of that of com-
plicity with the Girondists. " I took council with no
one," she said. ''I was anxious to bring peace to my
country." On her way to the scaffold her beautiful face



betrayed 'no emotion; an angelic smile alone showed to
the multitude her consciousness of a task well done.

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Online LibraryHermann LiebThe foes of the French revolution → online text (page 22 of 25)