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While she ascended the guillotine her eyes flashed and her
face still glowed with unafllected pride and pleasure.

E\ren in her last moments, the handkerchief which
covered her bosom having been removed, her cheeks v/ere
suffused with the blush of modesty. She was a descend-
ant of the great Pierre Corneille.

This unfortunate woman utterly failed in her purpose,
as murderers always will. The peace of France was not
secured, for Marat living was a monster who, if per-
mitted to run his mad career, could not have surpassed
Robespierre in wanton atrocity, and, in the nature of
things, must have eventually received his reward at the
hands of the executioner. But Marat assassinated was a
martyred saint. He died poor, five francs being the whole
sum left of his earthly possessions. This very circum-
stance endeared him to the masses. To them, his ene-
mies were the enemies of the people. His death was
seized upon to justify the taking of other lives. The next
victims demanded by the Mountain were Marie Antoinette,
the imprisoned Girondists, and the seventy-three Deputies
— signers of the protest against the riotous acts of the 2nd
of June, and against the arbitrary ejectment of the
twenty-two Girondists from the Convention.

The seventy-three Deputies were seized in their seats
and placed under arrest,' the Girondists being turned over
to Fouquier-Tinville, the Prosecuting Attorney of the
Revolutionary Tribunal — one of the most evil and perverse
characters of the Revolution.

On the 14th of October, and before the Girondists
were brought to trial, the ex- Queen vv^as taken before this
tribunal merelyto surround her immolation with the appear-
ances of a legal proceeding. Her condemnation and exe-
cution were foreordained, and formed only a part in the


sanguinary programme adopted hj the ruling faction.
Whether merited or not, her execution, the same as tliat
of the King, was as unnecessary as it was cruel. Instead
of advancing the cause of liberty, its growth was retarded
in Europe by these wanton acts for almost a century.
The oppressed people on the continent greatly preferred
the despotism of their crowned rulers to Danton's and
Robespierre's conception of liberty.

On the 3rd of October, Deputy Amar, in the name of
the Committee of Public Safety, read a report before the
Convention, charging the accused Deputies with '^ Con-
spiracy against the ' Unity and Ind ivisibility ^ of the Repub-
lic, and against the liberty and security of the French
people.^' Upon hearing the report, based upon expres-
sions made during debates, and upon writings of public
concern, the Convention as a body, having lost all dignity
and self-control, decreed that their most virtuous and
able colleagues be delivered over to their mortal enemies,
to stand the insults and mockery of a trial. Of the forty
members included in the decree, only twenty-one were
thus surrendered, the rest, for the time being, having
effected their escape.

The members placed on trial were Brissot, Lasource,
Vergniaud, Ducos, Gensonne, Valaze, Lohardy, Gardien,
Boileau, Vigee, Fonfrede, Lacaze, Duprat, Duperret,
Mainville, Fauchet, Carra, Duchtael, Antiboul, Sillery,
and Lesterp-Beauvais.

On the 24th of October, these Representatives, the
most illustrious of the National Convention, appeared
before the Revolutionary Tribunal, seated upon the benches
as criminals. Their demeanor was calm and dignified but
without ostentation. The great Virgniaud, serene, and
proud in the conciousness of his martyrdom; Brissot, the
philosopher, grave and reflecting, the sad expression upon
his intellectual face showing how deeply he felt the degrada-


tion of his country; Gensonne with lips curled in dis-
dain as his honest eyes fell upon the ignoble judges and
Fouquier — Tinville, the former detective, now dignified
with the office of Prosecuting Attorney — these men rep-
resented a spectacle upon which coming generations will
look with an admiration not inferior to that bestowed
upon Socrates and the Gracchii.

Mercier says, of the Attorney: " Nothing aroused his
mind but the prospect of inflicting death, and then his
animation was such that his countenance became in truth
radiant and expressive."

And the witnesses who appeared against these men of
untarnished virtue! The maudlin Hebert, first ticket-ped-
dler at a small theatre, discharged for dishonesty; then
lackey, discharged again for stealing, after which he
lead a life best expressed by the Americanism '^dead
beat," until conditions became favorable for the publi-
cation of Pere Duclisne, a disreptuable newspaper more
virulent and brutal than Marat's UAmidu Peuple; Chabot,
another 'SSeptembriseur;" a certain Desfieux, and other
obscure individuals, the scum thrown upon the political
surface by the Revolution — creatures filled with hate and
revenge against the noble patriots, whom, upon many
occasions, they had been compelled to brand as malefactors.
These were the witnesses the procution confidently
expected would impeach the honor, the loyalty and patri-
otism of a Virgniaud, a Brissot, a Gensonne, and the

To save appearances, a few men of reputation and
character had also been summoned as witnesses. These,
however, knev>^ nothing against the accused, or, upon
being intimidated, as every conscientious citizen was,
would make some general charge, such as the fed'eralizing
tendencies of the Girondists, and their friendship for
General Dumoui-iez. The whole procedure, however.


shows that the " crime " of federalism was all the prose-
cution desired to prove in order to secure conviction and
the subsequent public sanction of their verdict.

The President read the act of accusation, and Pache,
the Mayor of Paris, was introduced as first witness.

''While I was Minister/' said he, " I noticed a faction
in the Convention the acts of which were tending toward
the ruin of the Republic, and what confirmed my susj)i-
cion was its demand for an armed departmental force for
the ])ut'pose of federating the RepiMic. The Commission
of Twelve/' he continued, "was contrary to all principles,
and the arrests it ordered had the object of inciting an
insurrection against the Convention, in order to furnish
an opportunity to slander Paris" — meaning the expres-
sion of sentiments against the monsters ordering the mur-
ders of the 2d of September, as slandering Paris.

Chaumette, a member of the Convention, and Prose-
cuting Attorney of the Commune of Paris, a Jacobin of
good standing, had the audacity to charge the Girond-
ists with being themselves responsible for the September
horrors. He also accused them with instigating the pop-
ular uprisings in the Departments, and of having favored
the King's appeal to the people of France just previous to
his execution.

This latter charge is as curious as it was significant. — •
To a Jacobin it would appear that ''the people of France/'
were only the members of the Jacobin Clubs, — absolutely
insignificant however, when counted by numbers only.

On the 25th, Destournelles, a former member of the
Commune, and present Minister of General Contributions,
testified against the accused to the effect that they sought
to master the Convention; direct the course of the Revolu-
tion; calumniate Paris, and excite the Departments against
her, and, also, that they favored the appeal of the King.

The infamous Hebert was then called to the witness



^' There existed/' said he, ''at the beginning of the
Legislative Assembly, a faction which constantly pro-
tected the tyrant. The Chief of this faction was Brissot,
This man has long lived in England where he has acted
the part of a spy. His rascalities have been committed
in company with such other criminals as Bailly and Lafa-
yette." Hebert then accused the Girondists with the
responsibility of the Cliamp de Mars massacres. A tirade
of abuse followed these absurd allegations, against Ver-
gniaud, Guadet, Gensonne and Petion, concluding with
the astounding accusation that they had conspired for the
destruction of Eobespierre. This appears to have been
the most fatal charge yet brought. Chabot, the friend
of Marat, declared Brissot was the agent of Pitt, of Eng-
land, and had aided in arming the foreign powers against
Paris. All were accused of having favored the King's
appeal to the people, and of having labored to federalize
France, Chabot concluding with the statement that work
on the Constitution had been persistently retarded by the
men on trial."

To this Brissot replied : " The minutes of the Conven-
tion will show that, since April 15th, we have urged the
discussion of the Constitution, upon an average, three
times a week."

"Yes," interrupted the President of the Tribunal,
ironically, ''the British Constitution of Condorcet." To
which Brissot instantly replied: "This Constitution was
more democratic than any that had ever existed, that of
the United States not excepted."

The President hereupon retorted: "The best proof of
the truth of their intention to federalize the Eej)ublic is
Brissot's citation of the Constitution of the United States —
a citation which was constantly made by all the accused."

Upon such flimsy charges, upon accusations reflecting
honor upon the condemned, this noble band of scholars,


statesmen and patriots were sentenced at midnight^ Octo-
ber 30th, to die upon the scaffold.

The remainder of the night was spent together in
friendly intercourse, in listening to speeches from Vergni-
aud and others and in singing the patriotic hymns of

The next day, conducted through the thronged streets
to the Place de la Eevolution, after a farewell embrace,
one after the other mounted the scaffold and with the
shout, " Vive la Re23uUigue" ^i\\\ warm upon their lips,
heroically received the fatal stroke.




All opposition to the supreme will of the Mountain
having been removed^ and the voice of every man of rational
convictions effectually silenced, the socialistic theory of
regulating by Vorder de Vetati\\Q affairs of the people was
now to be put in practice. The energy of the Mountain,
in regulating political opinions, had borne its legitimate
result, and it was maintained that, with the same degree
of energy exerted in regulating the business affairs of the
people, the annoying cry for bread would never more be
heard in the land.

Administrative and political " unity '^ could alone be
maintained by uniformity of aims, customs, habits, time,
dress and religion. The Convention being the supreme
power of the Republic, these reforms could only be instituted
by this body. As this body was considered too cumbersome,
the Committee of Public Safety was selected for the execu-
tion of its orders, this committee having been reorganized by
appointing its members exclusively from the Mountain,
Robespierre being of the number.

Unfortunately for the tranquillity of the members of this
committee, at the very threshold of their duties, they were
met by the Commune, or city government of Paris, ready to
dispute their authority. Chaumette, Hebert, the editor,
and Rousin, Commander of the Revolutionary Army, were
the leaders of this body, of which Marat had been the dis-
tinguished head, Their missionary or chief agitator in



the faubourgs and among the rabble was Anacharsis
Olootz, a crack-brained theorist from Germany, a
violent atheist, and apostle of communism in property.

While this struggle was in progress, although opposed
upon most questions, these two factions were agreed upon
the necessity of ridding France of all suspects. And who
were the suspects? Let us examine the list of crimes of
which a man could be accused, this list beingsent to every
section in Paris to aid in making arrests:

''Those who, in the gatherings of the people, dampen
their ardor through crafty speeches, by cries and threats;
those who, more prudent, talk mysteriously of the disas-
ters of the Eepublic, deplore the lot of the people, and
are always ready to propagate bad news; those who have
changed their conduct and language according to events;
who, silent regarding the crimes of the royalists and the
federalists,declaim against the slightest mistake of the patri-
ots, and are all indulgence in whatever concerns a mod-
erate or an aristocrat ; those who pity the farmers and
the greedy shopkeepers, against whom the law is obliged to
take action; those Avho, though they have the words liberty,
republic, andcountry continually in their minds, associate
with ex-nobles, priests, counter-revolutionists, aristocrats
and moderates and take an interest in their fate ; those
who have not taken an active part in anything con-
nected with the Revolution, and who, to excuse them-
selves from so doing, plead the payment of their contribu-
tions, their services in the National Guard by substitute
or otherwise; those who, though having done nothing
against liberty, have done nothing for it; those who have not
attended the meetings of their sections, alleging in excuse
that they are no speakers, or are prevented by business ]
those who speak disrespectfully of the constituted author-
ities, of the executors of the law, of popular (Jacobin) so-
cietiesj and of the defenders of the people's liberties ;


those Avho have signed counter-revohitionary petitions^ or
have frequented anti-civic societies and clubs; those who
are known to have been sincere partisans of Lafayette,
and those who marched to the charge in the Champ de

As would be naturally inferred from this list of crimes,
the prisons of Paris were soon overflowing, and pri-
vate residences were taken to confine the suspects, their
rent to be paid for by the prisoners,

Collot d^Herbois, Fouclie and Couthon, three of the
most radical members of the Committee of Public Safety,
were sent to Lyons, and nearly decimated her inhabitants.
Toulon, Marseilles, Bordeaux and Caen experienced the
same fate. At JSTantes hundreds were placed in boats and
sunk in the river. In Paris the guillotine was set up in
jiermanence. The first victims were such prominent citi-
zens, oiitside of the Convention, as had expressed senti-
ments opposed to this anarchistic method of republican-
izing France; men whose pens were feared; these were
silenced by '^removal." If the statement of Allison, the
historian, is authoritative, Robespierre used this system of
summary removal for purposes of extortion, and gives
the following illustration: The Duke of Orleans, being
despised by theEoyalists on account of the betrayal of his
relatives, Louis XVI. and tlie Qieen, and distrusted by
the Jacobins, no objection was offered to his '"^ removal."
"When led out to the place of execution," says Allison,
" he gazed for a time, with a smile upon his countenance,
on the Palais Royal, the scenes of his former orgies; he
was detained about a quarter of an hour in front of this
palace by order of Robespierre, wJio had in vain asked his
danghter's ha7id in marriage, andhad proriiised, if lietoould
relent in this eoafremity, to excite a tumult which ivould save
his life. Ambitious and treacherous as the Duke was, he
ret^ilied too much honor to save himself at such a sacrifice^,


and was kept waiting twenty minutes before allowed to
continue his journey to the scaffold^ in the hope that at
the last moment he would relent."

Among those who had more especially incurred the
displeasure of the ^' patriots/^ and who, in the field of
political and scientific literature, had acquired world-wide
reputations, were ex-Mayor Bailly and Madame Roland.
Their ** removal^' was not determined upon, however, to
gratify a sentiment of revenge, but as a matter of pru-
dence. The pen in such hands v/as in danger of supplant-
ing the sword, ''and although the freedom of the press
must be unrestricted,'^ said Eobespierre, after the execu-
tion of the Girondists, "but it must not be employed to
destroy liberty." These able and incisive writers were a
menace to the peace of Deputy Robespierre. As Madame
Roland was the most to be feared, she Avas selected to die

Of that noble band of patriots, representing the
Grironde, the most central and interesting figure was Madame
Roland. We have seen that in the seclusion of her study,
while presiding at her husband's unpretentious table, sur-
rounded by the scholars and statesmen of France, she
remained a true woman. Consistent with her nature, she
died one. The following picture of her appearance on the
day of her trial and condemnation is given by an eye-

''Although past the jDrime of life, she was a magnifi-
cent looking woman, tall and elegant in form, with an
expression infinitely superior to that usually found in
Avomen beaming from her large, black eyes, at the same
time forcible and mild. The day on Avhich she was to
meet her fate, Avith solicitous care she had robed herself in
a white gown; her long, black hair hung in rich masses to
her waist. After her sentence she returned to her prison
with unfeigned cheerfulness. By a sign that Avas not to



bo mistaken, she conveyed to us the information that she
was to die."

Truer words were never uttered than those which
escaped her lijDS while passing the statue of liberty, on
her way to execution. ''Oh Liberty, Liberty! What crimes
are committed in thy name!" Upon receiving the terrible
news of his wife's death, M. Eoland, who had accepted
asylum at the house of a friend near Rouen, at once
determined upon suicide. A short time after, he was
discovered at the foot of a tree near the highway, bleed-
ing from wounds made by his own sword.

This honest man, by his exposure of the misdeeds of
the Commune, in his capacity of Minister of the Interior,
had drawn upon himself the bitterest hatred of the Jaco-
bins, and sooner or later, must have been called to
answer his charges against them with his life.

The next victim whose quiet existence disturbed the
dreams of the " patriots " was M. Bailly, the first Mayor
after the Eevolution, and the intimate friend of General
Lafayette. A scholar and writer, he had rendered
eminent service to the cause of freedom. While Mayor of
Paris, his chief occupation consisted in devising means and
carrying them into execution for the provisioning of the
city. He was remarkable for his gentleness of disposition,
his moderation and philanthropy; nevertheless he was an
enemy to wrong-doers, and an outspoken opponent to
the violence and excesses of the Commune andtheMount-
ain. He wielded not only an able, but a fearless pen.
All sorts of absurd charges were trumped up in order to
stifle all sympathy for his feeble condition and to arouse the
rabble against him, so that when the aged man was led to
his doom, this same multitude, which he had often saved
from starvation, hooted at and insulted him as he passed
on, while others struck him with sticks and pelted him with
mud, not ceasing their brutal barbarities until their victim



was fastened to the fatal plank by tlie executioner. The
Girondists who had escaped to the provinces were pursued
with fiendish relentlessness, and finally driven to suicide or
into the hands of the executioner.

The "j)atriots" considered themselves not only the
ablest of statesmen^, but men of military genius. Their com-
mittees directed the armies, issued orders to the old gen-
erals, insisted upon this and that movement, commanded
attacks, when attack was certain destruction; in short,
raised havoc with the army, and reverses and severe losses
in the field were the natural consequences. If, perchance,
a general, for some reason or other, incurred their dis-
pleasure, he was summoned before the Eevolutionary Tri-
bunal and summarily disposed of. General Custine was thus
wantonly sacrificed, and on the 25th and 26th of Novem-
ber, respectively. General Brunet and the victorious Gen-
eral Houchard were likewise sent to the scaffold.

To complete the disorder and intensify the feeling of
insecurity in commercial affairs, a number of tradesmen
and speculators were arrested as suspects for violations of
the "maximum" decree. This price-regulating ordinance
had proven a great hardship to the retailers buying their
goods before the decree was issued, and at a higher price
than that fixed by the decree. Fearing to be ruined, many
had closed their shops. The Convention, in other words
the Commune, and the Committee of Public Safety, now
seem to have vied with each other to prove which could
reach the highest degree of absurdity.

" The Commune," says M. Thiers, "obliged every dealer
to state the quantity of goods he had on hand, the orders
for more, and the time of their expected arrival. Every
shop-keeper transacting business for a year, who had
either relinquished it or allowed it to languish was declared
a suspect and imprisoned as such. To prevent confusion
and the accumulations arising from an over desire to lay


ill a stock of goods, the Commune decxeed tliat the con-
sumer must only buy of the retailer, and the retailer of
the wholesaler, the quantity which each should be allowed
to order being also fixed by law. Thus the retail grocer
could not buy more than twenty-five pounds of sugar at a
time and the tavern-keeper only twelve, the Eevolution-
ary Committee being charged with the delivery of these
purchasing tickets to the tradesmen, etc. As the throng
about the bakers' doors still continued undiminished, it
was decided that those who had come last should be
served first; but this regulation served neither to lessen
the tumult nor to repress the eagerness of -the customer
The people complaining that the worst flour v»^as reserved
for them, it was resolved, that, in the city of Paris, there
should in the future be made but one sort of bread, this
to be composed of three-fourths wheaten flour and one-
fourth rye."'

The Convention after a time tried its hand also at
the regulating business. It decreed that a statement
should be made by the joroducer, of the cost of price of
goods in 1790, at the place of production; to this price,
one-third was to be added, oioing to circumstances; then a
fixed sum for transportation to the place of consumption;
then five per cent, for the profit of the wholesale dealer,
and ten for the retailer. The local adminstrations of the
consumers, were to superintend what was produced and
consumed, thus placing three-fourths of the private busi-
ness of the people of France in the hands, of officials.
The general supervision of this patronalistic system "was
placed in the hands of a commission of three, appointed
by the Convention. It was to see that the tariff of
prices be strictly adhered to; that the commission perform
its duties; that a statement of the articles of provision
and subsistence throughout France be forthwith com-
pleted; that it order the transfer of provisions froixi one


department to another^, and fix the requisitions for the

The next thing to regulate was the circulating medium.
A decree forbidding the traffic in specie had long been in
operation; but, at this juncture, a law was enacted for-
bidding bargains to be made promising payment in silver
or paper, and, as the jjeople began to hoard specie, it was
decreed that hidden gold, silver or jewels, if discovered,
should belong partly to the state and partly to the
informer. Unable to secrete or trade with these, under
threat of being declared a suspect, the people began to
prefer the assignats, and, outbidding the Convention in
its regulating mania, some of the commoners ordered
specie to be brought in to be exchanged for assignats.
One excellent reform was brought about during this time
of general regulation, "hj order of the State. ■'^ This was
the introduction of the decimal system in weights and
measures. An attempt was about to be made to apply the
decimal system to time. The course of nature, however,
having proved an insurmountable obstacle, the moon per-
sisting in her twelve revolutions a year, the old twelve-

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Online LibraryHermann LiebThe foes of the French revolution → online text (page 23 of 25)