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month system had to be maintained; still, not to be van-
quished entirely, the month was divided into three decades
of ten days, each of ten hours, the tenth to be a day of
rest and recreation. The months were named for the
seasons in which they occur. For instance, the year
began with the autumn, and the first month was called
Vendemiaire, etc. But the whole twelve months only
made three hundred and sixty daj^s ! What was to be
done Avith the five extra periods of time? They were
called the Sans-Culottides, and were set apart for national
rejoicings or holidays.

Political opinions, business affairs, and the time of the
people having been regulated, reformed,and made uniform,
by order of Eobespierre's faction in the Convention, the


Hebertists controlling the Commune set about '^ dethron-
ing the King of Heaven, the same as they had dethroned
the King of France." With the guillotine before their
eyes, they compelled the Bishop of Paris and his vicara
to abjure Christianity at the bar of the Convention.
Through the efforts of Chaumette, the Cathedral of
Notre Dame was converted into a '' Temple of Eeason,''
and on the 10th of November the Festival of Eeason was
held with imposing ceremonies. All churches were com-
pelled to either close their doors or be transformed into
" Temples of Eeason,"

Robespierre, whose early training had been of a relig-
ious character, denounced these innovations at the Jaco-
bin Club, declaring atheism to be the religion of the aris-
tocrats, and obnoxious to the common people. " The idea
of a Grod," said he, *'is popular with the masses, and if
no God exists, we must make one."

A division in the faction of '* Regulators" soon
became apparent. Danton had grown skeptical of their
poAver to establish a rej)ublic upon the system of force.
Agreeing with Eobespierre in his opposition to the athe-
istic comedy now being played by the Hebertists, he was
as much opposed to the indiscriminate slaughter inaugu-
rated all over the country by the decree of the suspects,
Tii:s terrible law had come grimly forward to torment its

Married to an attractive young widow, Danton had re-
tired to the country to spend a few months in her society.
Upon his return to the cajDital, it was noticed that his
views had been considerably modified. He who had car-
ried his war against the Girondists to the steps of the
scaffold ; who had been the prime mover in all the acts of
violence committed by the Mountain since the 10th of
August, 1792, now began openly to express sentiments of
regret at the unwarranted execution of these Deputies,


advocating tlie formation of a legall3^-constitnted author-
ity v/ith well-defined laws to supplant the autocratic and
arbitrary Revolutionary Tribunal. In his less sanguinary
views he was joined by some of the most influential mem-
bers of the Mountain.

At this time, the fall of 1793, Robespierre occupied the
most conspicuous place in the Convention. His austere
manner, in imitation of the ancient republicans, and his
seeming devotion to the interests of the people, as repre-
sented in the Jacobin organizations, had made him the
incorruptible idol of this element. Their admiration and
support had been so demonstrative and unfailing dur-
ing the whole course of the Revolution, that he had be-
come fixed in the belief that he was, indeed, endowed with
all the attributes they claimed for him; his virtue, his prob-
ity, his devotion to the cause of liberty, were beyond re-
proach. He probably never said, ''La Revolution c'est
moi," but he believed in his potency and destiny with as
much sincerity as did Louis XIV., when he said, " U etat
c^est moi.''

The theory of Rousseau, that human misery is the result
of human depravity, Robespierre had accepted, and be-
lieving that vice and immorality could only be obliterated
from the face of the earth by force, he had used force. The
two factions which had now arisen, Danton and his fol-
lowing on one side, and the Hebertists on the other, stood
in a menacing attitude to the fulfillment of Robespierre's

Danton was against the continuance of the Revolution-
ary Tribunal; Robespierre was in favor of it. In support
of his stand, he said in the Convention, ''The people can
be influenced by reason, but the enemies of the people can
only be influenced by terror. If the source of popular
government in peace be virtue, the source of pojDular gov-
ernment in revolution is both virtue and terror. Terror



without virtue is fatal; virtue without terror is powerless.
Subdue, then, the enemies of liberty with terror."

Charging the two factions opposed to him with dan-
gerous heresies — heresies threatening the existence of the
Eepublic — one through weakness, the other with advocat-
ing extreme atheistic doctrines — Robespierre, on the loth
of December, opened his attack on the latter, composed
of the Hebertists, in a craftily-worded speech, closing with
the demand for a decree declaring unlawful *^'all outrages
and measures against the freedom of worship." In con-
sequence, a few days after, Hebert, whose paper had
received immense subsidies from the Commune, Clootz,
Eousin and others of this faction were brought before the
Revolutionary Tribunal, sentenced and executed. Robes-
pierre's path was thus cleared of one dangerous obstruction.
Three months of wrestling with the Dantonists now fol-
lowed. Its leader was reproached with being a licentious,
corruptible man, with leanings toward moderation for
selfish and reactionary purposes.

Danton's faction had Desmoulins' newspaper behind it.
Its columns were pointed and instructive. To illustrate
the condition of France it frequently reproduced de-
scriptions of ancient political situations. For example,
in likening Robespierre to Nero, he quoted the following
from Tacitus:

''Everything gave offense to the tyrant. "Was a citizen
popular? He was a rival to the prince and might excite
civil war — he was suspected. Did he, on the contrary,
shun popularity and keep at home? A life so private caused
him to be observed — he was suspected. Was he rich?
There was imminent danger lest the people be corrupted
by his bounty — he was suspected. Was he poor? , He
must be strictly watched, because there is no one so alert
as he wlw has nothing — he was suspected. Was he of
grave and melancholy demeanor? The cause of his sad-

320 THB foes of the FliENCH RE VOL UTIOM.

ness was the public prosperity — he was suspected. Did
a citizen live merrily? It was because the prince was sick —
he was suspected. Was he a philosopher^ poet, or orator?
He coveted more reputation than those who governed —
he was suspected. Lastly, had he acquired reputation in
war? He was only the more dangerous — he was suspected. ■''

Such personal attacks, in the nature of things, could
not long be borne by Robespierre, and Editor Desmoulins
was expelled from the Jacobin Club. Then followed
Barere's attack upon the faction in the Convention, in
the name of the Committee of Public Safety.

On the 30th of March, 1794, Danton^s arrest was dis-
cussed in the committee. When informed of the fact, he
exclaimed with the roar of a lion, "They dare not!"
Nevertheless, that very night, himself, Oamille Desmou-
lins, Philipeaux, Lacroix, and the victorious General
Westerman were taken from their homes and conducted
to the Luxembourg. Danton was caged. In the beating
of his imprisoned spirit against its iron bars, he "begged
pardon of God for having been the means of establishing
the Revolutionary Tribunal, but it was not instituted tliat
it might become the scourge of humanity." In other
words, it was not instituted to destroy its inventors.

An ineffectual effort was made by Legender to alloAv
the arrested members a hearing before the Convention.
The request was defeated by Robespierre. A few minutes
later Saint Just appeared in the tribune and read the
Report of Accusation against the Dantonists. The Con-
vention decreed their transfer before the Revolutionary
Tribunal. There they appeai'ed proud and disdainful.
Upon hearing his sentence, Danton exclaimed fiercely :

" We are sacrificed to further the ambition of a few
cowardly brigands ; but they will not long enjoy the fruits
of their victory. / drag Rohesijierre — Robespierre follo%uii


The next day they were guillotined. Danton had no
right to lay his fall at the door of Eobespierre. By
encouraging and using a Marat he prepared the way for
a Eobespierre. For creating the Eevolutionary Tribunal
and aiding in formulating the Law of Suspects, he
deserved a thousand deaths.



The destruction of the Dantonists left the Committee
of Public Safety, with Robespierre at its head, to perfect
its work of centralization, ^' or unity/' without opposition.

Heretofore, the consummate actor, Robespierre, had
posed as the embodiment of virtue and the unwavering
champion of the common people. But he never had
had a policy of his own, or was the advocate of a dis-
tinctive political system. Nor does he in his subsequent
public career appear to have had the intention of organiz-
ing a party based upon practical reforms. His ambition
took another direction. He aimed at founding a sect
upon the philosophical system of Rousseau, of which he
would become the modern prophet. His speeches, all
carefully prepared, are the best index of the man. Full
of glittering generalities concerning " civic virtues,
probity and modesty, '^ with frequent allusions to his own
known merits, accompanied by fulsome praises "of the
people," always vociferously appreciative in the galleries,
they show him to have had no other end in view than self-
elevation thr.ough the ordinary methods of a common
demagogue. Now, that the clear-sighted, positive and
ponderous Danton had been removed, and the witty,
blistering pen of Demoulins was silenced in death, Robes-
pierre could fearlessly step forward with his absurd pro-
posals for further regulating the affairs of the Republic.

Consequently, on the 7th of May, after several weeks
of seclusion and meditation, he aj)peared before the Con-



vention with a laboriously prepared discourse, in which
he appeared in his new role of social and religious
reformer. He began by assuring his hearers that France
had preceded Europe by a march of at least two thousand
years, and that although existing among the other nations
of the earth, she appeared to belong to another sphere.
Asa specimen, and to show what little common sense was
necessary at the tim.e to acquire oratorical renown, the fol-
lowing extract is taken from this remarkable speech :

" Yes, the delicious land which we inhabit, and which
nature caresses with so much predilection, is made to be
the domain of liberty and of happiness ; and this people,
at once so open to feeling and to generous pride, are born for
glory and for virtue. 0, my native country ! If fortune
had caused my birth in some region remote from thy
shores, I would not the less have addressed constant
prayers to Heaven in thy behalf, and would have wept
over the recital of thy combat and thy virtues. My soul
would have followed with restlesss ardor every change of
this eventful Kevolution. I would have envied the lot of
thy natives — of thy Eepresentatives. But I am myself a
native of France, I am myself a Representative. Intoxi-
cating rapture ! sublime people, receive the sacrifice
of my entire being ! Happy is he who is born in the midst
of Thee. More happy he avIio can lay down his life for
thy Av elf are ! ''

"■ When we read such iniserabie stuff, '^ very pointedly
remarks Sir Walter Scott, ^' and consider the crimes which
such oratory occasioned, it reminds us of the opinion of
a Mohammedan doctor, who assured Bruce that the Degial,
or Anti- Christ, was to appear in the form of an ass, and
that the multitudes were to follow him to hell, attracted
by the music of his braying.^'

Eobespierre then made some eulogistic remarks about
his patron saint, the author of the ''Social Contract,'*


closing his address with a cowardly attack upon the
memory of the noble Condorcet, whom terror had driven to
suicide, and also upon his former associate, Danton, whom
he had basely betrayed. This exhibition fully showed
the ferocity and vindictiveness of the man's character.

Continuing, he thus admonishes the Convention:

" Repose, therefore, in tranquillity upon the immutable
basis of justice. Beware of the intoxicating effect of suc-
cess. Let us be terrible in reverses, but modest in victory,
and let us plant joy and happiness in our midst through
wisdom and morality ! "

When it is considered that while this greatest of charla-
tans was thus enlarging upon the rapture of being born in
France, and upon the joy her inhabitants must feel at being
able *' to dwell in his delicious midst," the guillotine was
standing permanent in every large center of population in
the land, and that not three squares from where he stood
the victims of his cruelty, his fanaticism and his excessive
ambition, were executed at the rate of fifty a day, — the
degree of this man's mendacity may be conjectured.

It is almost superfluous to add that the speech was
applauded by the Convention, since refusal to do so might
have placed the name of the unenthusiastic upon the list
of the suspects. It was, also, ordered printed in all modern
languages, and 200,000 copies were actually distributed,
strange as it may seem.

Robespierre's report of the Committee of Public Safety,
declaring : " The French people recognizes a Supreme
Being, and believes in the immortality of the soul," was
thereupon sanctioned by a decree. It was further decreed
that a number of festivals be held, instituted for the pur-
pose of reminding the citizen of his duty to Divinity, and
for the purpose of strengthening his own dignity. The
first was to be devoted to the " Supreme Being ; " the
next to " Humanity, " one to " Liberty and Equality, "


another to ^'Patriotisms"' another to '' Justice/' to
''Truth/' to "Modesty/' to "Friendship/' and last but
not least, to "Glory/'

The same evening Eobespierre went to the Jacobin
Club, where he received an ovation, and was invited to
repeat his speech. The rabble became thoroughly crazed
over the new prophet who was to pave the way for the
millennium of France*

On the 5th of June, Robespierre was elected President
of the Convention, in order that he might act as high
priest of the great festival to the " Supreme Being,"
which had been fixed by the Assembly to take place on the
9th of the same month. On the appointed day, Paris
having been notified by the Committee of Public Safety to
put her best foot forward, the whole city, young maidens
and matrons, old men and youths, all turned out in fes-
tival attire to participate in the solemn fete.

The windows of the houses the procession was to pass
were profusely decorated with flowers and flags. Early in
the morning Eobespierre hastened to the Tuileries, where
an immense concourse of people had assembled. Upon
entering the Convention, the hero was received with wild
acclamations. Thereupon the members filed out and took
seats upon an amphitheatre erected in front of the Tuil-
eries. Here Robespierre addressed the people again upon
the subject of virtue and human wisdom, closing the cere-
monies with the burlesque performance of setting fire to
a monument representing Atheism, Ambition and Egotism.
The procession was now formed, the Convention leading.
Robespierre, in light nankin breeches, blue coat, a sash of
the National colors tied around his waist, a hat surmounted
by tri-colored feathers, and an immense bouquet of flowers,
ears of wheat, and branches of fruit in his hand, at fifteen
paces in front, opened the solemn march toward the
Champ de Mars, where more oratory was indulged in. Robes-


pierre now stood apparently at the height of mortal ambi-
tion, religiously and politically the Czar of all the French.

'^Itisbut a step from the Caj)itol to the Tarpeian
Eock/^ some member of the Convention is said to have
remarked, as the shades of night gathered over Paris, and
the prophecy was soon to be fulfilled. The Mountain and
the Committee of Public Safety were already beginning to
show signs of discontent and division. Tallien, Barras,
Legender and Fouche had antagonized Robespierre upon
several occasions, and evidence was not wanting to show
that he intended to rid himself of these, as he had done with
Hebert and Danton. The majority of the Convention
felt insecure, and what was most significant, the people
themselves appeared to have grown weary of seeing and
hearing of the daily increasing butcheries. They began to
shut up their shops and windows during the time the carts
of the condemned were passing. A new decree, conferring
upon the Committee of Public Safety additional powers for
more summary executions, had struck Paris with terror.
Representatives as well as the people in the streets met
each other with anxious glances, followed by whispered
expressions of dismay and fear, and soon the high priest
found his circle of intimates reduced to his two satellites
Saint Just and Couthon. Conspiracy followed conspir-
acy. The majority of the Committee of Public Safety
was against Robespierre, but having replaced Pache by his
pliant instrument, Fleuriot, in the mayoralty, Henriot,
the commander of the troops being absolutely reliable,
and the Jacobins devoted to him unto death, his position
seemed impregnable, and, from the following communica-
tion by Henriot to Fleuriot, dated July 4, 1794, it would
seem that a concocted plan to strike a decisive blow at the
Convention had then already been determined upon.

*' Comrade. Thou wilt be satisfied with me and
the manner in which I shall conduct myself; I could have


wished, the secret of the ojjeratioii was confined to our two
selves. Scoundrels should know nothing of it. Safety and
Fraternity ! "

On the 22d of July, Eobespierre thus prepared the
Jacobins for action ; adverting to the attacks he had
been exposed to on the part of the Committee, he said:
'' No trace must remain of faction or of crime in any place
whatever.'^ He then advised them ^o proceed to the
Convention as they had done on June 2nd, the year
before, intimating that Henriot was ready to uphold the
"patriots " as he had upheld them on that day. After an
absence of several weeks from the sittings of the Conven-
tion, at last on the 27th of July, he appeared in the Tri-
bune reading a lengthy defense, in which he eulogized
himself as usual, and denounced the Committees. The
address and the recommendation " to purify the Com-
mittee of Public Safety,'' were received with studied
silence, until the motion for printing the speech was
made, when voices in opposition were heard. Still the
proposition to print prevailed. But the assault upon the
dictator must now be made or the Convention was lost.
Cambon led the storming column. ' ^ It is time to speak the
whole truth," said he boldly. '^A single individual has
paralyzed the Convention; this individual is Eobespierre."
Billaud-Yarennes then jumped to his feet, and cried out:
" The mask must he torn from whatever face it conceals!"

He was followed by half a dozen other Deputies, who had
finally plucked up courage to face the tyrant.

In the evening Robespierre repeated his discourse at
the club of the Jacobins, and urged them to be ready for
action on the next day. The opposition had not been idle.
The Dantonists of the Mountain had succeeded in obtain-
ing a promise from the Eight and the Centre to support
them in their attack upon Eobespierre, and, thus rein-
forced, they were ready for the impending conflict.


On the memorable 28th of July, 9th Thermidor,
Robespierre appeared early in the Convention. He had
hardly taken his seat, however, when Billaud Varennes
rushed to a second attack, and in a fiery speech revealed
the plot of the Jacobins to attack the Convention and
proclaim Eobespierre dictator. At this junction Tallien
sprang to his feet exclaiming: "I perceive with pleasure
that the conspirators are unmasked. Yesterday I was
present at the session of the Jacobins, and saw the army
of the new Cromwell mustering, and I armed myself
with this poinard, (swinging it) to plunge it into his
bosom, if the National Convention has not the firmness
to decree his accusation." He asked for the arrest of
Henriot, which was almost unanimously voted. Billaud
Varennes now demanded the accusation of Eobespierre's
accomplices, but Tallien again turned to the attack. In
vain Robespierre attempts to reply; his voice was drowned
in cries of *'the tyrant;" fists are shaken in his face; he
turns to the right, implores, supplicates, and cries with
fear and agony; he rushes from one to the other, but is
driven back with deafening yells, and, as a last effort he
turns to President Thuriot, who persists in ringing his
bell, and exclaims: *^For the last time. President of
assassins, wilt thou allow me to speak?" His features
betrayed his desperation and his voice grew thick, as the
terrible words rang in his ears: *'The blood of Danton
chokes you." His arrest is demanded and voted with
loud exclamations of assent. Couthon, Lebas, Saint
Just and the younger Robespierre share his fate. They
are led from the hall, but are rescued by the Jacobins,
who take them to the Hotel de Ville.

With the -Commune, the control of the troops and

the Jacobins still at the disposition of Robespierre, he

.might yet have crushed his enemies in the Convention,

buthevvas not a man of action, and the most urgent




remonstrances to show himself to the people, to call upon
them to rise in insurrection received no response from
him — -the man was horror-stricken; in short, a coward.

He had temporized and hesitated until now it was too
late. Still, but for an apparently insignificant incident,
Robespierre might have come out of this conflict victo-
rious. The cannoniers, who had been stationed with their
pieces loaded and pointed upon the Convention, refused
to apply the matches when commanded to do so by Hen-
riot. This mishap, for which the conspirators were not
prepared, disconcerted their leaders and encouraged the
Convention to assume the offensive. It outlawed Henriot,
and at midnight some of the members appeared in the
crowd assembled before the Hotel de Ville, expecting the
armed sections, and while reading the proclamation out-
lawing the Commune, the cry, Vivre la Convention, was
raised. The crowd soon dispersed, and when the troops
of the Convention drew up in front of the Hotel de Ville,
they found the Place de Greve deserted. The caged ter-
rorists, finding themselves abandoned and escape impos-
sible, turned upon each other and upon themselves to end
their miserable lives. Henriot was set upon by Coffinhal
and thrown out of the window. Robespierre himself
received a pistol shot shattering his jaw; whether inflicted
by himself or from some of the attacking party is not
satisfactorily established. Lebas succeeded in blowing
out his brains; Couthon stabbed himself, but not with
sufficient force to end his life ; Robespierre's brother threw
himself from the third-story window, but survived his fall;
Robespierre was placed upon a litter and carried to the
Convention, and from there to the Conciergerie, where he
was exposed to the invectives and curses of the public. The
Convention having ordered them to be executed as out-
laws without the preliminaries of a trial, Robespierre and
twenty-one of his accomplices, among these his brother.


Ooutlion, Saint Just, Ilenriot, and Mayor Fleuriot were
guillotined the next day, the 29th of July, 1794, at five
o'clock in the evening.

With Eobespierre's death, the Eeign of Terror may be
said to have terminated. This circumstance alone should
silence those of his panegyrists who claim that he was
not its principal author. Whether or not he was chiefly
responsible for the wholesale butcheries committed during

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