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History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814 by F. A. M. Mignet

Part 2 out of 8

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would soon be followed by thirty thousand more.

This appeased the people for some time, and the committee was enabled to
pursue quietly its task of organizing a militia of citizens. In less than
four hours the plan was drawn up, discussed, adopted, printed, and
proclaimed. It was resolved that the Parisian guard should, till further
orders, be increased to forty-eight thousand men. All citizens were
invited to enrol their names; every district had its battalion; every
battalion its leaders; the command of this army of citizens was offered to
the duc d'Aumont, who required twenty-four hours to decide. In the
meantime the marquis de la Salle was appointed second in command. The
green cockade was then exchanged for a blue and red one, which were the
colours of the city. All this was the work of a few hours. The districts
gave their assent to the measures adopted by the permanent committee. The
clerks of the Châtelet, those of the Palais, medical students, soldiers of
the watch, and what was of still greater value, the French guards offered
their services to the assembly. Patrols began to be formed, and to
perambulate the streets.

The people waited with impatience the realisation of the promise of the
provost of the merchants, but no guns arrived; evening approached, and
they feared during the night another attack from the troops. They thought
they were betrayed when they heard of an attempt to convey secretly from
Paris nearly fifty cwt. of powder, which had been intercepted by the
people at the barriers. But soon after some cases arrived, labelled
_Artillery_. At this sight, the commotion subsided; the cases were
escorted to the Hôtel de Ville, it being supposed that they contained the
guns expected from Charleville. On opening them, they were found to
contain old linen and pieces of wood. A cry of treachery arose on every
side, mingled with murmurs and threats against the committee and the
provost of the merchants. The latter apologized, declaring he had been
deceived; and to gain time, or to get rid of the crowd, sent them to the
Chartreux, to seek for arms. Finding none there, the mob returned, enraged
and mistrustful. The committee then felt satisfied there was no other way
of arming Paris, and curing the suspicions of the people, than by forging
pikes; and accordingly gave orders that fifty thousand should be made
immediately. To avoid the excesses of the preceding night, the town was
illuminated, and patrols marched through it in every direction.

The next day, the people that had been unable to obtain arms on the
preceding day, came early in the morning to solicit some from the
committee, blaming its refusal and failures of the day before. The
committee had sent for some in vain; none had arrived from Charleville,
none were to be found at the Chartreux, and the arsenal itself was empty.

The mob, no longer satisfied with excuses, and more convinced than ever
that they were betrayed, hurried in a mass to the Hôtel des Invalides,
which contained a considerable depot of arms. It displayed no fear of the
troops established in the Champ de Mars, broke into the Hôtel, in spite of
the entreaties of the governor, M. de Sombreuil, found twenty-eight
thousand guns concealed in the cellars, seized them, took all the sabres,
swords, and cannon, and carried them off in triumph. The cannon were
placed at the entrance of the Faubourgs, at the palace of the Tuileries,
on the quays and on the bridges, for the defence of the capital against
the invasion of troops, which was expected every moment.

Even during the same morning an alarm was given that the regiments
stationed at Saint Denis were on the march, and that the cannon of the
Bastille were pointed on the Rue Saint Antoine. The committee immediately
sent to ascertain the truth; appointed bands of citizens to defend that
side of the town, and sent a deputation to the governor of the Bastille,
soliciting him to withdraw his cannon and engage in no act of hostility.
This alarm, together with the dread which that fortress inspired, the
hatred felt for the abuses it shielded, the importance of possessing so
prominent a point, and of not leaving it in the power of the enemy in a
moment of insurrection, drew the attention of the populace in that
direction. From nine in the morning till two, the only rallying word
throughout Paris was "à la Bastille! à la Bastille!" The citizens hastened
thither in bands from all quarters, armed with guns, pikes, and sabres.
The crowd which already surrounded it was considerable; the sentinels of
the fortress were at their posts, and the drawbridges raised as in war.

A deputy of the district of Saint Louis de la Culture, named Thuriot de la
Rosière, then requested a parley with De Launay, the governor. When
admitted to his presence he summoned him to change the direction of the
cannon. The governor replied, that the cannon had always been placed on
the towers, and it was not in his power to remove them; yet, at the same
time, having heard of the alarm prevalent among the Parisians, he had had
them withdrawn a few paces, and taken out of the port-holes. With some
difficulty Thuriot obtained permission to enter the fortress further, and
examine if its condition was really as satisfactory for the town as the
governor represented it to be. As he advanced, he observed three pieces of
cannon pointed on the avenues leading to the open space before the
fortress, and ready to sweep those who might attempt to attack it. About
forty Swiss, and eighty Invalides, were under arms. Thuriot urged them, as
well as the staff of the place, in the name of honour and of their
country, not to act as the enemies of the people. Both officers and
soldiers swore they would not make use of their arms unless attacked.
Thuriot then ascended the towers, and perceived a crowd gathering in all
directions, and the inhabitants of the Faubourg Saint Antoine, who were
rising in a mass. The multitude without, not seeing him return, were
already demanding him with great clamour. To satisfy the people, he
appeared on the parapet of the fortress, and was received with loud
applause from the gardens of the arsenal. He then rejoined his party, and
having informed them of the result of his mission, proceeded to the

But the impatient crowd now clamoured for the surrender of the Bastille.
From time to time the cry arose, "The Bastille! we will have the
Bastille!" At length, two men, more determined than the rest, darting from
the crowd, sprang on a guardhouse, and struck at the chains of the
drawbridge with heavy hatchets. The soldiers shouted to them to retire,
and threatened to fire; but they continued to strike, succeeded in
breaking the chains and lowering the bridge, and then rushed over it,
followed by the crowd. In this way they advanced to cut the chains of the
second bridge. The garrison now dispersed them with a discharge of
musketry. They returned, however, to the attack, and for several hours
their efforts were confined to the second bridge, the approach to which
was defended by a ceaseless fire from the fortress. The mob infuriated by
this obstinate resistance, tried to break in the gates with hatchets, and
to set fire to the guard-house. A murderous discharge of grapeshot
proceeded from the garrison, and many of the besiegers were killed and
wounded. They only became the more determined, and seconded by the daring
and determination of the two brave men, Elie and Hulin, who were at their
head, they continued the attack with fury.

The committee of the Hôtel de Ville were in a state of great anxiety. The
siege of the Bastille seemed to them a very rash enterprise. They ever and
anon received intelligence of the disasters that had taken place before
the fortress. They wavered between fear of the troops should they prove
victorious, and that of the multitude who clamoured for ammunition to
continue the siege. As they could not give what they did not possess, the
mob cried treachery. Two deputations had been sent by the committee for
the purpose of discontinuing hostilities, and inviting the governor to
confide the keeping of the place to the citizens; but in the midst of the
tumult, the cries, and the firing, they could not make themselves heard. A
third was sent, carrying a drum and banner, that it might be more easily
distinguished, but it experienced no better fortune: neither side would
listen to anything. The assembly at the Hôtel de Ville, notwithstanding it
efforts and activity, still incurred the suspicions of the populace. The
provost of the merchants, especially, excited the greatest mistrust. "He
has already deceived us several times during the day," said one. "He
talks," said another, "of opening a trench; he only wants to gain time, to
make us lose ours." Then an old man cried: "Comrades, why do you listen to
traitors? Forward, follow me! In less than two hours the Bastille will be

The siege had lasted more than four hours when the French guards arrived
with cannon. Their arrival changed the appearance of the combat. The
garrison itself begged the governor to yield. The unfortunate De Launay,
dreading the fate that awaited him, wished to blow up the fortress, and
bury himself under its ruins and those of the faubourg. He went in despair
towards the powder magazine, with a lighted match. The garrison stopped
him, raised a white standard on the platform, and reversed the guns, in
token of peace. But the assailants still continued to fight and advance,
shouting, "Lower the bridges!" Through the battlements a Swiss officer
proposed to capitulate, with permission to retire from the building with
the honours of war. "No! no!" clamoured the crowd. The same officer
proposed to lay down arms, on the promise that their lives should be
spared. "Lower the bridge," rejoined the foremost of the assailants, "you
shall not be injured." The gates were opened and the bridge lowered, on
this assurance, and the crowd rushed into the Bastille. Those who led the
multitude wished to save from its vengeance the governor, Swiss soldiers,
and Invalides; but cries of "Give them up! give them up! they fired on
their fellow-citizens, they deserve to be hanged!" rose on every side. The
governor, a few Swiss soldiers and Invalides were torn from the protection
of those who sought to defend them, and put to death by the implacable

The permanent committee knew nothing of the issue of the combat. The hall
of the sittings was invaded by a furious multitude, who threatened the
provost of the merchants and electors. Flesselles began to be alarmed at
his position; he was pale and agitated. The object of the most violent
reproaches and threats, they obliged him to go from the hall of the
committee to the hall of the general assembly, where a great crowd of
citizens was assembled. "Let him come; let him follow us," resounded from
all sides. "This is too much!" rejoined Flesselles. "Let us go, since they
request it; let us go where I am expected." They had scarcely reached the
great hall, when the attention of the multitude was drawn off by shouts on
the Place de Grève. They heard the cries of "Victory! victory! liberty!"
It was the arrival of the conquerors of the Bastille which this announced.
They themselves soon entered the hall with the most noisy and the most
fearful pomp. The persons who had most distinguished themselves were
carried in triumph, crowned with laurels. They were escorted by more than
fifteen hundred men, with glaring eyes and dishevelled hair, with all
kinds of arms, pressing one upon another, and making the flooring yield
beneath their feet. One carried the keys and standard of the Bastille;
another, its regulations suspended to his bayonet; a third, with horrible
barbarity, raised in his bleeding hand the buckle of the governor's stock.
With this parade, the procession of the conquerors of the Bastille,
followed by an immense crowd that thronged the quays, entered the hall of
the Hôtel de Ville to inform the committee of their triumph, and decide
the fate of the prisoners who survived. A few wished to leave it to the
committee, but others shouted: "No quarter for the prisoners! No quarter
for the men who fired on their fellow-citizens!" La Salle, the commandant,
the elector Moreau de Saint-Méry, and the brave Elie, succeeded in
appeasing the multitude, and obtained a general amnesty.

It was now the turn of the unfortunate Flesselles. It is said that a
letter found on De Launay proved the treachery of which he was suspected.
"I am amusing the Parisians," he wrote, "with cockades and promises. Hold
out till the evening, and you shall be reinforced." The mob hurried to his
office. The more moderate demanded that he should be arrested and confined
in the Châtelet; but others opposed this, saying that he should be
conveyed to the Palais-Royal, and there tried. This decision gave general
satisfaction. "To the Palais-Royal! To the Palais-Royal!" resounded from
every side. "Well--be it so, gentlemen," replied Flesselles, with
composure, "let us go to the Palais-Royal." So saying, he descended the
steps, passed through the crowd, which opened to make way for him, and
which followed without offering him any violence. But at the corner of the
Quay Pelletier a stranger rushed forward, and killed him with a pistol-

After these scenes of war, tumult, dispute, and vengeance, the Parisians,
fearing, from some intercepted letters, that an attack would be made
during the night, prepared to receive the enemy. The whole population
joined in the labour of fortifying the town; they formed barricades,
opened intrenchments, unpaved streets, forged pikes, and cast bullets.
Women carried stones to the tops of the houses to crush the soldiers as
they passed. The national guard were distributed in posts; Paris seemed
changed into an immense foundry and a vast camp, and the whole night was
spent under arms, expecting the conflict.

While the insurrection assumed this violent, permanent, and serious
character at Paris, what was doing at Versailles? The court was preparing
to realize its designs against the capital and assembly. The night of the
14th was fixed upon for their execution. The baron de Breteuil, who was at
the head of the ministry, had promised to restore the royal authority in
three days. Marshal de Broglie, commander of the army collected around
Paris, had received unlimited powers of all kinds. On the 15th the
declaration of the 23rd of June was to be renewed, and the king, after
forcing the assembly to adopt it, was to dissolve it. Forty thousand
copies of this declaration were in readiness to be circulated throughout
the kingdom; and to meet the pressing necessities of the treasury more
than a hundred millions of paper money was created. The movement in Paris,
so far from thwarting the court, favoured its views. To the last moment it
looked upon it as a passing tumult that might easily be suppressed; it
believed neither in its perseverance nor in its success, and it did not
seem possible to it that a town of citizens could resist an army.

The assembly was apprised of these projects. For two days it had sat
without interruption, in a state of great anxiety and alarm. It was
ignorant of the greater portion of what was passing in Paris. At one time
it was announced that the insurrection was general, and that all Paris was
marching on Versailles; then that the troops were advancing on the
capital. They fancied they heard cannon, and they placed their ears to the
ground to assure themselves. On the evening of the 14th it was announced
that the king intended to depart during the night, and that the assembly
would be left to the mercy of the foreign regiments. This last alarm was
not without foundation. A carriage and horses were kept in readiness, and
the body-guard remained booted for several days. Besides, at the Orangery,
incidents truly alarming took place; the troops were prepared and
stimulated for their expedition by distributions of wine and by
encouragements. Everything announced that a decisive moment had arrived.

Despite the approaching and increasing danger, the assembly was unshaken,
and persisted in its first resolutions. Mirabeau, who had first required
the dismissal of the troops, now arranged another deputation. It was on
the point of setting out, when the viscount de Noailles, a deputy, just
arrived from Paris, informed the assembly of the progress of the
insurrection, the pillage of the Invalides, the arming of the people, and
the siege of the Bastille. Wimpfen, another deputy, to this account added
that of the personal dangers he had incurred, and assured them that the
fury of the populace was increasing with its peril. The assembly proposed
the establishment of couriers to bring them intelligence every half hour.

M. M. Ganilh and Bancal-des-Issarts, despatched by the committee at the
Hôtel de Ville as a deputation to the assembly, confirmed all they had
just heard. They informed them of the measures taken by the electors to
secure order and the defence of the capital; the disasters that had
happened before the Bastille; the inutility of the deputations sent to the
governor, and told them that the fire of the garrison had surrounded the
fortress with the slain. A cry of indignation arose in the assembly at
this intelligence, and a second deputation was instantly despatched to
communicate these distressing tidings to the king. The first returned with
an unsatisfactory answer; it was now ten at night. The king, on learning
these disastrous events, which seemed to presage others still greater,
appeared affected. Struggling against the part he had been induced to
adopt, he said to the deputies,--"You rend my heart more and more by the
dreadful news you bring of the misfortunes of Paris. It is impossible to
suppose that the orders given to the troops are the cause of these
disasters. You are acquainted with the answer I returned to the first
deputation; I have nothing to add to it." This answer consisted of a
promise that the troops of the Champ de Mars should be sent away from
Paris, and of an order given to general officers to assume the command of
the guard of citizens. Such measures were not sufficient to remedy the
dangerous situation in which men were placed; and it neither satisfied nor
gave confidence to the assembly.

Shortly after this, the deputies d'Ormesson and Duport announced to the
assembly the taking of the Bastille, and the deaths of De Launay and
Flesselles. It was proposed to send a third deputation to the king,
imploring the removal of the troops. "No," said Clermont Tonnerre, "leave
them the night to consult in; kings must buy experience as well as other
men." In this way the assembly spent the night. On the following morning,
another deputation was appointed to represent to the king the misfortunes
that would follow a longer refusal. When on the point of starting,
Mirabeau stopped it: "Tell him," he exclaimed, "that the hordes of
strangers who invest us, received yesterday, visits, caresses,
exhortations, and presents from the princes, princesses, and favourites;
tell him that, during the night, these foreign satellites, gorged with
gold and wine, predicted in their impious songs the subjection of France,
and invoked the destruction of the national assembly; tell him, that in
his own palace, courtiers danced to the sound of that barbarous music, and
that such was the prelude to the massacre of Saint Bartholomew! Tell him
that the Henry of his ancestors, whom he wished to take as his model,
whose memory is honoured by all nations, sent provisions into a Paris in
revolt when besieging the city himself, while the savage advisers of Louis
send away the corn which trade brings into Paris loyal and starving."

But at that moment the king entered the assembly. The duke de Liancourt,
taking advantage of the access his quality of master of the robes gave
him, had informed the king, during the night, of the desertion of the
French guard, and of the attack and taking of the Bastille. At this news,
of which his councillors had kept him in ignorance, the monarch exclaimed,
with surprise, "this is a revolt!" "No sire! it is a revolution." This
excellent citizen had represented to him the danger to which the projects
of the court exposed him; the fears and exasperations of the people, the
disaffection of the troops, and he determined upon presenting himself
before the assembly, to satisfy them as to his intentions. The news at
first excited transports of joy. Mirabeau represented to his colleagues,
that it was not fit to indulge in premature applause. "Let us wait," said
he, "till his majesty makes known the good intentions we are led to expect
from him. The blood of our brethren flows in Paris. Let a sad respect be
the first reception given to the king by the representatives of an
unfortunate people: the silence of the people is the lesson of kings."

The assembly resumed the sombre demeanour which had never left it during
the three preceding days. The king entered without guards, and only
attended by his brothers. He was received, at first, in profound silence;
but when he told them he was _one with the nation_, and that, relying on
the love and fidelity of his subjects, he had ordered the troops to leave
Paris and Versailles; when he uttered the affecting words--_Eh bien, c'est
moi qui me fie à vous_, general applause ensued. The assembly arose
spontaneously, and conducted him back to the château.

This intelligence diffused gladness in Versailles and Paris, where the
reassured people passed, by sudden transition, from animosity to
gratitude. Louis XVI. thus restored to himself, felt the importance of
appeasing the capital in person, of regaining the affection of the people,
and of thus conciliating the popular power. He announced to the assembly
that he would recall Necker, and repair to Paris the following day. The
assembly had already nominated a deputation of a hundred members, which
preceded the king to the capital. It was received with enthusiasm. Bailly
and Lafayette, who formed part of it, were appointed, the former mayor of
Paris, the latter commander-in-chief of the citizen guard. Bailly owed
this recompense to his long and difficult presidency of the assembly, and
Lafayette to his glorious and patriotic conduct. A friend of Washington,
and one of the principal authors of American independence, he had, on his
return to his country, first pronounced the name of the states-general,
had joined the assembly, with the minority of the nobility, and had since
proved himself one of the most zealous partisans of the revolution.

On the 27th, the new magistrates went to receive the king at the head of
the municipality and the Parisian guard. "Sire," said Bailly, "I bring
your majesty the keys of your good town of Paris; they are the same which
were presented to Henry IV.; he had regained his people; now the people
have regained their king." From the Place Louis XV. to the Hôtel de Ville,
the king passed through a double line of the national guard, placed in
ranks three or four deep, and armed with guns, pikes, lances, scythes, and
staves. Their countenances were still gloomy; and no cry was heard but the
oft-repeated shout of "Vive la Nation!" But when Louis XVI. had left his
carriage and received from Bailly's hands the tri-coloured cockade, and,
surrounded by the crowd without guards, had confidently entered the Hôtel
de Ville, cries of "Vive le Roi!" burst forth on every side. The
reconciliation was complete; Louis XVI. received the strongest marks of
affection. After approving the choice of the people with respect to the
new magistrates, he returned to Versailles, where some anxiety was
entertained as to the success of his journey, on account of the preceding
troubles. The national assembly met him in the Avenue de Paris; it
accompanied him as far as the château, where the queen and her children
ran to his arms.

The ministers opposed to the revolution, and all the authors of the
unsuccessful projects, retired from court. The count d'Artois and his two
sons, the prince de Condé, the prince de Conti, and the Polignac family,
accompanied by a numerous train, left France. They settled at Turin, where
the count d'Artois and the prince de Condé were soon joined by Calonne,
who became their agent. Thus began the first emigration. The emigrant
princes were not long in exciting civil war in the kingdom, and forming an
European coalition against France.

Necker returned in triumph. This was the finest moment of his life; few
men have had such. The minister of the nation, disgraced for it, and
recalled for it, he was welcomed along the road from Bâle to Paris, with
every expression of public gratitude and joy. His entry into Paris was a
day of festivity. But the day that raised his popularity to its height put
a term to it. The multitude, still enraged against all who had
participated in the project of the 14th of July, had put to death, with
relentless cruelty, Foulon, the intended minister, and his nephew,
Berthier. Indignant at these executions, fearing that others might fall
victims, and especially desirous of saving the baron de Besenval,
commander of the army of Paris, under marshal de Broglie, and detained
prisoner, Necker demanded a general amnesty and obtained it from the
assembly of electors. This step was very imprudent, in a moment of
enthusiasm and mistrust. Necker did not know the people; he was not aware
how easily they suspect their chiefs and destroy their idols. They thought
he wished to protect their enemies from the punishment they had incurred;
the districts assembled, the legality of an amnesty pronounced by an
unauthorised assembly was violently attacked, and the electors themselves
revoked it. No doubt, it was advisable to calm the rage of the people, and
recommend them to be merciful; but instead of demanding the liberation of
the accused, the application should have been for a tribunal which would
have removed them from the murderous jurisdiction of the multitude. In
certain cases that which appears most humane is not really so. Necker,
without gaining anything, excited the people against himself, and the
districts against the electors; from that time he began to contend against
the revolution, of which, because he had been for a moment its hero, he
hoped to become the master. But an individual is of slight importance
during a revolution which raises the masses; that vast movement either
drags him on with it, or tramples him under foot; he must either precede
or succumb. At no time is the subordination of men to circumstances more
clearly manifested: revolutions employ many leaders, and when they submit,
it is to one alone.

The consequences of the 14th of July were immense. The movement of Paris
communicated itself to the provinces; the country population, imitating
that of the capital, organized itself in all directions into
municipalities for purposes of self-government; and into bodies of
national guards for self-defence. Authority and force became wholly
displaced; royalty had lost them by its defeat, the nation had acquired
them. The new magistrates were alone powerful, alone obeyed; their
predecessors were altogether mistrusted. In towns, the people rose against
them and against the privileged classes, whom they naturally supposed
enemies to the change that had been effected. In the country, the châteaux
were fired and the peasantry burned the title-deeds of their lords. In a
moment of victory it is difficult not to make an abuse of power. But to
appease the people it was necessary to destroy abuses, in order that, they
might not, while seeking to get rid of them, confound privilege with
property. Classes had disappeared, arbitrary power was destroyed; with
these, their old accessory, inequality, too, must be suppressed. Thus must
proceed the establishment of the new order of things, and these
preliminaries were the work of a single night.

The assembly had addressed to the people proclamations calculated to
restore tranquillity. The Châtelet was constituted a court for trying the
conspirators of the 14th of July, and this also contributed to the
restoration of order by satisfying the multitude. An important measure
remained to be executed, the abolition of privileges. On the night of the
4th of August, the viscount de Noailles gave the signal for this. He
proposed the redemption of feudal rights, and the suppression of personal
servitude. With this motion began the sacrifice of all the privileged
classes; a rivalry of patriotism and public offerings arose among them.
The enthusiasm became general; in a few hours the cessation of all abuses
was decreed. The duke du Châtelet proposed the redemption of tithes and
their conversion into a pecuniary tax; the bishop of Chartres, the
abolition of the game-laws; the count de Virieu, that of the law
protecting doves and pigeons. The abolition of seigneurial courts, of the
purchase and sale of posts in the magistracy, of pecuniary immunities, of
favouritism in taxation, of surplice money, first-fruits, pluralities, and
unmerited pensions, were successively proposed and carried. After
sacrifices made by individuals, came those of bodies, of towns and
provinces. Companies and civic freedoms were abolished. The marquis des
Blacons, a deputy of Dauphiné, in the name of his province, pronounced a
solemn renunciation of its privileges. The other provinces followed the
example of Dauphiné, and the towns that of the provinces. A medal was
struck to commemorate the day; and the assembly decreed to Louis XVI. the
title of _Restorer of French Liberty_.

That night, which an enemy of the revolution designated at the time, the
Saint Bartholomew of property, was only the Saint Bartholomew of abuses.
It swept away the rubbish of feudalism; it delivered persons from the
remains of servitude, properties from seigneurial liabilities; from the
ravages of game, and the exaction of tithes. By destroying the seigneurial
courts, that remnant of private power, it led to the principle of public
power; in putting an end to the purchasing posts in the magistracy, it
threw open the prospect of unbought justice. It was the transition from an
order of things in which everything belonged to individuals, to another in
which everything was to belong to the nation. That night changed the face
of the kingdom; it made all Frenchmen equal; all might now obtain public
employments; aspire to the idea of property of their own, of exercising
industry for their own benefit. That night was a revolution as important
as the insurrection of the 14th of July, of which it was the consequence.
It made the people masters of society, as the other had made them masters
of the government, and it enabled them to prepare the new, while
destroying the old constitution.

The revolution had progressed rapidly, had obtained great results in a
very short time; it would have been less prompt, less complete, had it not
been attacked. Every refusal became for it the cause of a new success; it
foiled intrigue, resisted authority, triumphed over force; and at the
point of time we have reached, the whole edifice of absolute monarchy had
fallen to the ground, through the errors of its chiefs. The 17th of June
had witnessed the disappearance of the three orders, and the states-
general changed into the national assembly; with the 23rd of June
terminated the moral influence of royalty; with the 14th of July its
physical power; the assembly inherited the one, the people the other;
finally, the 4th of August completed this first revolution. The period we
have just gone over stands prominently out from the rest; in its brief
course force was displaced, and all the preliminary changes were
accomplished. The following period is that in which the new system is
discussed, becomes established, and in which the assembly, after having
been destructive, becomes constructive.



The national assembly, composed of the élite of the nation, was full of
intelligence, pure intentions, and projects for the public good. It was
not, indeed, free from parties, or wholly unanimous; but the mass was not
dominated by any man or idea; and it was the mass which, upon a conviction
ever untrammelled and often entirely spontaneous, decided the
deliberations and bestowed popularity. The following were the divisions of
views and interests it contained within itself:--

The court had a party in the assembly, the privileged classes, who
remained for a long time silent, and took but a tardy share in the
debates. This party consisted of those who during the dispute as to the
orders had declared against union. The aristocratic classes,
notwithstanding their momentary agreement with the commons, had interests
altogether contrary to those of the national party; and, accordingly, the
nobility and higher clergy, who formed the Right of the assembly, were in
constant opposition to it, except on days of peculiar excitement. These
foes of the revolution, unable to prevent it by their sacrifices, or to
stop it by their adhesion, systematically contended against all its
reforms. Their leaders were two men who were not the first among them in
birth or rank, but who were superior to the rest in talents. Maury and
Cazalès represented, as it were, the one the clergy, and the other the

These two orators of the privileged classes, according to the intentions
of their party, who put little faith in the duration of these changes,
rather protested than stood on the defensive; and in all their discussions
their aim was not to instruct the assembly, but to bring it into
disrepute. Each introduced into his part the particular turn of his mind
and character: Maury made long speeches, Cazalès lively sallies. The first
preserved at the tribune his habits as a preacher and academician; he
spoke on legislative subjects without understanding them, never seizing
the right view of the subject, nor even that most advantageous to his
party; he gave proofs of audacity, erudition, skill, a brilliant and well-
sustained facility, but never displayed solidity of judgment, firm
conviction, or real eloquence. The abbé Maury spoke as soldiers fight. No
one could contradict oftener or more pertinaciously than he, or more
flippantly substitute quotations and sophisms for reasoning, or rhetorical
phrases for real bursts of feeling. He possessed much talent, but wanted
the faculty which gives it life and truth. Cazalès was the opposite of
Maury: he had a just and ready mind; his eloquence was equally facile, but
more animated; there was candour in his outbursts, and he always gave the
best reasons. No rhetorician, he always took the true side of a question
that concerned his party, and left declamation to Maury. With the
clearness of his views, his ardent character, and the good use he made of
his talents, his only fault was that of his position; Maury, on the other
hand, added the errors of his mind to those which were inseparable from
the cause he espoused.

Necker and the ministry had also a party; but it was less numerous than
the other, on account of its moderation. France was then divided into the
privileged classes opposed to the revolution, and the people who
strenuously desired it. As yet there was no place for a mediating party
between them. Necker had declared himself in favour of the English
constitution, and those who from ambition or conviction were of his views,
rallied round him. Among these was Mounier, a man of strong mind and
inflexible spirit, who considered that system as the type of
representative governments; Lally-Tollendal, as decided in his views as
the former, and more persuasive; Clermont-Tonnerre, the friend and ally of
Mounier and Lally; in a word, the minority of the nobility, and some of
the bishops, who hoped to become members of the upper chamber, should
Necker's views be adopted.

The leaders of this party, afterwards called the monarchical party, wished
to affect a revolution by compromise, and to introduce into France a
representative government, ready formed, namely, that of England. At every
point, they besought the powerful to make a compromise with the weak.
Before the 14th of July they asked the court and privileged classes to
satisfy the commons; afterwards, they asked the commons to agree to an
arrangement with the court and the privileged classes. They thought that
each ought to preserve his influence in the state; that deposed parties
are discontented parties, and that a legal existence must be made for
them, or interminable struggles be expected on their part. But they did
not see how little their ideas were appropriate to a moment of exclusive
passions. The struggle was begun, the struggle destined to result in the
triumph of a system, and not in a compromise. It was a victory which had
made the three orders give place to a single assembly, and it was
difficult to break the unity of this assembly in order to arrive at a
government of two Chambers. The moderate party had not been able to obtain
this government from the court, nor were they to obtain it from the
nation: to the one it had appeared too popular; for the other, it was too

The rest of the assembly consisted of the national party. As yet there
were not observed in it men who, like Robespierre, Pétion, Buzot, etc.,
wished to begin a second revolution when the first was accomplished. At
this period the most extreme of this party were Duport, Barnave, and
Lameth, who formed a triumvirate, whose opinions were prepared by Duport,
sustained by Barnave, and managed by Alexander Lameth. There was something
remarkable and announcing the spirit of equality of the times, in this
intimate union of an advocate belonging to the middle classes, of a
counsellor belonging to the parliamentary class, and a colonel belonging
to the court, renouncing the interests of their order to unite in views of
the public good and popular happiness. This party at first took a more
advanced position than that which the revolution had attained. The 14th of
July had been the triumph of the middle class; the constituent assembly
was its legislature, the national guard its armed force, the mayoralty its
popular power. Mirabeau, Lafayette, Bailly, relied on this class; one was
its tribune, the other its general, and the third its magistrate. Duport,
Barnave, and Lameth's party were of the principles and sustained the
interests of that period of the revolution; but this party, composed of
young men of ardent patriotism, who entered on public affairs with
superior qualities, fine talents, and elevated positions, and who joined
to the love of liberty the ambition of playing a leading part, placed
itself from the first rather in advance of the revolution of July the
14th. Its fulcrum within the assembly was the members of the extreme left
without, in the clubs, in the nation, in the party of the people, who had
co-operated on the 14th of July, and who were unwilling that the
bourgeoisie alone should derive advantage from the victory. By putting
itself at the head of those who had no leaders, and who being a little out
of the government aspired to enter it, it did not cease to belong to this
first period of the revolution; only it formed a kind of democratic
opposition, even in the middle class itself, only differing from its
leaders on a few unimportant points, and voting with them on most
questions. It was, among these popular men, rather a patriotic emulation
than a party dissension.

Duport, who was strong-minded, and who had acquired premature experience
of the management of political passions, in the struggles which parliament
had sustained against the ministry, and which he had chiefly directed,
knew well that a people reposes the moment it has gained its rights, and
that it begins to grow weak as soon as it reposes. To keep in vigour those
who governed in the assembly, in the mayoralty, in the militia; to prevent
public activity from slackening, and not to disband the people, whose aid
he might one day require, he conceived and executed the famous
confederation of the clubs. This institution, like everything that gives a
great impulse to a nation, caused a great deal of good, and a great deal
of harm. It impeded legal authority, when this of itself was sufficient;
but it also gave an immense energy to the revolution, when, attacked on
all sides, it could only save itself by the most violent efforts. For the
rest, the founders of this association had not calculated all its
consequences. They regarded it simply as a wheel destined to keep or put
in movement the public machine, without danger, when it tended to abate or
to cease its activity; they did not think they were working for the
advantage of the multitude. After the flight of Varennes, this party had
become too exacting and too formidable; they forsook it, and supported
themselves against it with the mass of the assembly and the middle class,
whose direction was left vacant by the death of Mirabeau. At this period,
it was important to them speedily to fix the constitutional revolution;
for to protract it would have been to bring on the republican revolution.

The mass of the assembly, we have just mentioned, abounded in just,
experienced, and even superior minds. Its leaders were two men, strangers
to the third estate, and adopted by it. Without the abbé Sieyès, the
constituent assembly would probably have had less unity in its operation,
and without Mirabeau, less energy in its conduct.

Sieyès was one of those men who create sects in an age of enthusiasm, and
who exercise the ascendancy of a powerful reason in an enlightened era.
Solitude and philosophical studies had matured him at an early age. His
views were new, strong, and extensive, but somewhat too systematic.
Society had especially been the subject of his examination; he had watched
its progress, investigated its springs. The nature of government appeared
to him less a question of right than a question of epoch. His vast
intellect ranged the society of our days in its divisions, relations,
powers, and movement. Sieyès, though of cold temperament, had the ardour
which the pursuit of truth inspires, and the passion which its discovery
gives; he was accordingly absolute in his views, disdaining those of
others, because he considered them incomplete, and because, in his
opinion, half truth was error. Contradiction irritated him; he was not
communicative. Desirous of making himself thoroughly known, he could not
do so with every one. His disciples imparted his systems to others, which
surrounded him with a sort of mystery, and rendered him the object of a
species of reverence. He had the authority which complete political
science procures, and the constitution might have emerged from his head
completely armed, like the Minerva of Jupiter, or the legislation of the
ancients, were it not that in our days every one sought to be engaged in
the task, or to criticise it. Yet, with the exception of some
modifications, his plans were generally adopted, and he had in the
committees more disciples than colleagues.

Mirabeau obtained in the tribune the same ascendancy as Sieyès in the
committees. He was a man who only waited the occasion to become great. At
Rome, in the best days of the republic, he would have been a Gracchus; in
its decline, a Catiline; under the Fronde, a cardinal de Retz; and in the
decrepitude of a monarchy, when such a being could only find scope for his
immense faculties in agitation, he became remarkable for the vehemence of
his passions, and for their punishment, a life passed in committing
excesses, and suffering for them. This prodigious activity required
employment; the revolution provided it. Accustomed to the struggle against
despotism, irritated by the contempt of a nobility who were inferior to
him, and who excluded him from their body; clever, daring, eloquent,
Mirabeau felt that the revolution would be his work, and his life. He
exactly corresponded to the chief wants of his time. His thought, his
voice, his action, were those of a tribune. In perilous circumstances, his
was the earnestness which carries away an assembly; in difficult
discussions, the unanswerable sally which at once puts an end to them;
with a word he prostrated ambition, silenced enmities, disconcerted
rivalries. This powerful being, perfectly at his ease in the midst of
agitation, now giving himself up to the impetuosity, now to the
familiarities of conscious strength, exercised a sort of sovereignty in
the assembly. He soon obtained immense popularity, which he retained to
the last; and he whom, at his first entrance into the legislature, every
eye shunned, was, at his death, received into the Pantheon, amidst the
tears of the assembly; and of all France. Had it not been for the
revolution, Mirabeau would have failed in realizing his destiny, for it is
not enough to be great: one must live at the fitting period.

The duke of Orleans, to whom a party has been given, had but little
influence in the assembly; he voted with the majority, not the majority
with him. The personal attachment of some of its members, his name, the
fears of the court, the popularity his opinions enjoyed, hopes rather than
conspiracies had increased his reputation as a factious character. He had
neither the qualities nor the defects of a conspirator; he may have aided
with his money and his name popular movements, which would have taken
place just the same without him, and which had another object than his
elevation. It is still a common error to attribute the greatest of
revolutions to some petty private manoeuvring, as if at such an epoch a
whole people could be used as the instrument of one man.

The assembly had acquired the entire power; the corporations depended on
it; the national guards obeyed it. It was divided into committees to
facilitate its operations, and execute them. The royal power, though
existing of right, was in a measure suspended, since it was not obeyed,
and the assembly had to supply its action by its own. Thus, independently
of committees entrusted with the preparation of its measures, it had
appointed others to exercise a useful superintendence without. A committee
of supply occupied itself with provisions, an important object in a year
of scarcity; a committee of inquiry corresponded with the corporations and
provinces; a committee of researches received informations against the
conspirators of the 14th of July. But finance and the constitution, which
the past crises had adjourned, were the special subjects of attention.

After having momentarily provided for the necessities of the treasury, the
assembly, although now become sovereign, consulted, by examining the
_cahiers_, the wishes of its constituents. It then proceeded to form its
institutions with a method, a liberal and extensive spirit of discussion,
which was to procure for France a constitution conformable with justice
and suited to its necessities. The United States of America, at the time
of its independence, had set forth in a declaration the rights of man, and
those of the citizen. This will ever be the first step. A people rising
from slavery feels the necessity of proclaiming its rights, even before it
forms its government. Those Frenchmen who had assisted at the American
revolution, and who co-operated in ours, proposed a similar declaration as
a preamble to our laws. This was agreeable to an assembly of legislators
and philosophers, restricted by no limits, since no institutions existed,
and directed by primitive and fundamental ideas of society, since it was
the pupil of the eighteenth century. Though this declaration only
contained general principles, and confined itself to setting forth in
maxims what the constitution was to put into laws, it was calculated to
elevate the mind, and impart to the citizens a consciousness of their
dignity and importance. At Lafayette's suggestion, the assembly had before
commenced this discussion; but the events at Paris, and the decrees of the
4th of August, had interrupted its labours; they were now resumed, and
concluded, by determining the principles which were to form the table of
the new law, and which were the assumption of right in the name of

These generalities being adopted, the assembly turned its attention to the
organization of the legislative power. This was one of its most important
objects; it was to fix the nature of its functions, and establish its
relations with the king. In this discussion the assembly had only to
decide the future condition of the legislative power. Invested as it was
with constituent authority, it was raised above its own decisions, and no
intermediate power could suspend or prevent its mission. But what should
be the form of the deliberative body in future sessions? Should it remain
indivisible, or be divided into two chambers? If the latter form should be
adopted, what should be the nature of the second chamber? Should it be
made an aristocratic assembly, or a moderative senate? And, whatever the
deliberative body might be, was it to be permanent or periodical, and
should the king share the legislative power with it? Such were the
difficulties that agitated the assembly and Paris during the month of

If we consider the position of the assembly and its ideas of sovereignty,
we shall easily understand the manner in which these questions were
decided. It regarded the king merely as the hereditary agent of the
nation, having neither the right to assemble its representatives nor that
of directing or suspending them. Accordingly, it refused to grant him the
initiative in making laws and dissolving the assembly. It considered that
the legislative body ought not to be dependent on the king. It moreover
feared that by granting the government too strong an influence over the
assembly, or by not keeping the latter always together, the prince might
profit by the intervals in which he would be left alone, to encroach on
the other powers, and perhaps even to destroy the new system. Therefore to
an authority in constant activity, they wished to oppose an always
existing assembly, and the permanence of the assembly was accordingly
declared. The debate respecting its indivisibility, or its division, was
very animated. Necker, Mounier, and Lally-Tollendal desired, in addition
to a representative chamber, a senate, to be composed of members to be
appointed by the king on the nomination of the people. They considered
this as the only means of moderating the power, and even of preventing the
tyranny of a single assembly. They had as partisans such members as
participated in their ideas, or who hoped to form part of the upper
chamber. The majority of the nobility did not wish for a house of peers,
but for an aristocratic assembly, whose members it should elect. They
could not agree; Mounier's party refusing to fall in with a project
calculated to revive the orders, and the aristocracy refusing to accept a
senate, which would confirm the ruin of the nobility. The greater portion
of the deputies of the clergy and of the commons were in favour of the
unity of the assembly. The popular party considered it illegal to appoint
legislators for life; it thought that the upper chamber would become the
instrument of the court and aristocracy, and would then be dangerous, or
become useless by uniting with the commons. Thus the nobility, from
dissatisfaction, and the national party, from a spirit of absolute
justice, alike rejected the upper chamber.

This determination of the assembly has been the object of many reproaches.
The partisans of the peerage have attributed all the evils of the
revolution to the absence of that order; as if it had been possible for
anybody whatsoever to arrest its progress. It was not the constitution
which gave it the character it has had, but events arising from party
struggles. What would the upper chamber have done between the court and
the nation? If in favour of the first, it would have been unable to guide
or save it; if in favour of the second, it would not have strengthened it;
in either case, its suppression would have infallibly ensued. In such
times, progress is rapid, and all that seeks to check it is superfluous.
In England, the house of lords, although docile, was suspended during the
crisis. These various systems have each their epoch; revolutions are
achieved by one chamber, and end with two.

The royal sanction gave rise to great debates in the assembly, and violent
clamours without. The question was as to the part of the king in the
making of laws; the deputies were nearly all agreed on one point. They
were determined, in admitting his right to sanction or refuse laws; but
some desired that this right should be unlimited, others that it should be
temporary. This, in reality, amounted to the same thing, for it was not
possible for the king to prolong his refusal indefinitely, and the veto,
though absolute, would only have been suspensive. But this faculty,
bestowed on a single man, of checking the will of the people, appeared
exorbitant, especially out of the assembly, where it was less understood.

Paris had not yet recovered from the agitation of the 14th of July; the
popular government was but beginning, and the city experienced all its
liberty and disorder. The assembly of electors, who in difficult
circumstances had taken the place of a provisional corporation, had just
been replaced. A hundred and eighty members nominated by the districts,
constituted themselves legislators and representatives of the city. While
they were engaged on a plan of municipal organization, each desired to
command; for in France the love of liberty is almost the love of power.
The committees acted apart from the mayor; the assembly of representatives
arose against the committees, and the districts against the assembly of
representatives. Each of the sixty districts attributed to itself the
legislative power, and gave the executive power to its committees; they
all considered the members of the general assembly as their subordinates,
and themselves as invested with the right of annulling their decrees. This
idea of the sovereignty of the principal over the delegate made rapid
progress. Those who had no share in authority, formed assemblies, and then
gave themselves up to discussion; soldiers debated at the Oratoire,
journeymen tailors at the Colonnade, hairdressers in the Champs Élysées,
servants at the Louvre; but the most animated debates took place in the
Palais Royal. There were inquired into the questions that occupied the
national assembly, and its discussions criticised. The dearth of
provisions also brought crowds together, and these mobs were not the least

Such was the state of Paris when the debate concerning the veto was begun.
The alarm which this right conferred on the king excited, was extreme. It
seemed as though the fate of liberty depended on the decision of this
question, and that the veto alone would bring back the ancient system. The
multitude, ignorant of the nature and limits of power, wished the
assembly, on which it relied, to do all, and the king, whom it mistrusted,
to do nothing. Every instrument left at the disposal of the court appeared
the means of a counter-revolution. The crowds at the Palais Royal grew
turbulent; threatening letters were sent to those members of the assembly,
who, like Mounier, had declared in favour of the absolute veto. They spoke
of dismissing them as faithless representatives, and of marching upon
Versailles. The Palais Royal sent a deputation to the assembly, and
required the commune to declare that the deputies were revocable, and to
make them at all times dependent on the electors. The commune remained
firm, rejected the demands of the Palais Royal, and took measures to
prevent the riotous assemblies. The national guard supported it; this body
was well disposed; Lafayette had acquired its confidence; it was becoming
organised, it wore a uniform, submitted to discipline after the example of
the French guard, and learned from its chief the love of order and respect
for the law. But the middle class that composed it had not yet taken
exclusive possession of the popular government. The multitude which was
enrolled on the 14th of July, was not as yet entirely disbanded. This
agitation from without rendered the debates upon the veto stormy; in this
way a very simple question acquired great importance, and the ministry,
perceiving how fatal the influence of an absolute decision might prove,
and seeing, also, that the _unlimited veto_ and the _suspensive veto_ were
one and the same thing, induced the king to be satisfied with the latter,
and give up the former. The assembly declared that the refusal of his
sanction could not be prolonged by the prince beyond two sessions; and
this decision satisfied every one.

The court took advantage of the agitation in Paris to realise other
projects. For some time it had influenced the king's mind. At first, he
had refused to sanction the decrees of the 4th of August, although they
were constitutive, and consequently he could not avoid promulgating them.
After accepting them, on the remonstrances of the assembly, he renewed the
same difficulties relative to the declaration of rights. The object of the
court was to represent Louis XVI. as oppressed by the assembly, and
constrained to submit to measures which he was unwilling to accept; it
endured its situation with impatience and strove to regain its former
authority. Flight was the only means, and it was requisite to legitimate
it; nothing could be done in the presence of the assembly, and in the
neighbourhood of Paris. Royal authority had fallen on the 23rd of June,
military power on the 14th of July; there was no alternative but civil
war. As it was difficult to persuade the king to this course, they waited
till the last moment to induce him to flee; his hesitation caused the
failure of the plan. It was proposed to retire to Metz, to Bouillé, in the
midst of his army; to call around the monarch the nobility, the troops who
continued faithful, the parliaments; to declare the assembly and Paris in
a state of rebellion; to invite them to obedience or to force them to it;
and if the ancient system could not be entirely re-established, at least
to confine themselves to the declaration of the 20th of June. On the other
hand, if the court had an interest in removing the king from Versailles,
that it might effect something, it was the interest of the partisans of
the revolution to bring him to Paris; the Orleans faction, if one existed,
had an interest in driving the king to flight, by intimidating him, in the
hope that the assembly would appoint its leader _lieutenant-general of the
kingdom_; and, lastly, the people, who were in want of bread, wished for
the king to reside at Paris, in the hope that his presence would diminish,
or put a stop to the dearth of provisions. All these causes existing, an
occasion was only wanting to bring about an insurrection; the court
furnished this occasion. On the pretext of protecting itself against the
movements in Paris, it summoned troops to Versailles, doubled the
household guards, and sent for the dragoons and the Flanders regiment. All
this preparation of troops gave rise to the liveliest fears; a report
spread of an anti-revolutionary measure, and the flight of the king, and
the dissolution of the assembly, were announced as at hand. Strange
uniforms, and yellow and black cockades, were to be seen at the
Luxembourg, the Palais Royal, and at the Champs Élysées; the foes of the
revolution displayed a degree of joy they had not manifested for some
time. The behaviour of the court confirmed these suspicions, and disclosed
the object of all these preparations.

The officers of the Flanders regiment, received with anxiety in the town
of Versailles, were fêted at the château, and even admitted to the queen's
card tables. Endeavours were made to secure their devotion, and a banquet
was given to them by the king's guards. The officers of the dragoons and
the chasseurs, who were at Versailles, those of the Swiss guards, of the
hundred Swiss, of the prevoté, and the staff of the national guard were
invited. The theatre in the château, which was reserved for the most
solemn fêtes of the court, and which, since the marriage of the second
brother of the king, had only been used for the emperor Joseph II., was
selected for the scene of the festival. The king's musicians were ordered
to attend this, the first fête which the guards had given. During the
banquet, toasts to the king and royal family were drunk with enthusiasm,
while the nation was omitted or rejected. At the second course, the
grenadiers of Flanders, the two bodies of Swiss, and the dragoons were
admitted to witness the spectacle, and share the sentiments which animated
the guests. The enthusiasm increased every moment. Suddenly the king was
announced; he entered attired in a hunting dress, the queen leaning on his
arm, and carrying the dauphin. Shouts of affection and devotion arose on
every side. The health of the royal family was drunk, with swords drawn;
and when Louis XVI. withdrew, the music played, "_O Richard! O mon roi!
l'univers t'abandonne_." The scene now assumed a very significant
character; the march of the Hullans, and the profusion of wine, deprived
the guests of all reserve. The charge was sounded; tottering guests
climbed the boxes, as if mounting to an assault; while cockades were
distributed; the tri-coloured cockade, it is said, was trampled on, and
the guests then spread through the galleries of the château, where the
ladies of the court loaded them with congratulations, and decorated them
with ribbons and cockades.

Such was this famous banquet of the 1st of October, which the court was
imprudent enough to repeat on the third. One cannot help lamenting its
fatal want of foresight; it could neither submit to nor change its
destiny. This assembling of the troops, so far from preventing aggression
in Paris, provoked it; the banquet did not make the devotion of the
soldiers any more sure, while it augmented the ill disposition of the
people. To protect itself there was no necessity for so much ardour, nor
for flight was there needful so much preparation; but the court never took
the measure calculated to make its designs succeed, or else it only half
took it, and, in order to decide, it always waited until there was no
longer any time.

The news of this banquet, and the appearance of black cockades, produced
the greatest sensation in Paris. From the 4th, suppressed rumours,
counter-revolutionary provocations, the dread of conspiracies, indignation
against the court, and increasing alarm at the dearth of provisions, all
announced an insurrection; the multitude already looked towards
Versailles. On the 5th, the insurrection broke out in a violent and
invincible manner; the entire want of flour was the signal. A young girl,
entering a guardhouse, seized a drum, and rushed through the streets
beating it, and crying, "Bread! Bread!" She was soon surrounded by a crowd
of women. This mob advanced towards the Hôtel de Ville, increasing as it
went. It forced the guard that stood at the door, and penetrated into the
interior, clamouring for bread and arms; it broke open doors, seized
weapons, sounded the tocsin, and marched towards Versailles. The people
soon rose _en masse_, uttering the same demand, till the cry, "To
Versailles!" rose on every side. The women started first, headed by
Maillard, one of the volunteers of the Bastille. The populace, the
national guard, and the French guards requested to follow them. The
commander, Lafayette, opposed their departure a long time, but in vain;
neither his efforts nor his popularity could overcome the obstinacy of the
people. For seven hours he harangued and retained them. At length,
impatient at this delay, rejecting his advice, they prepared to set
forward without him; when, feeling that it was now his duty to conduct as
it had previously been to restrain them, he obtained his authorization
from the corporation, and gave the word for departure about seven in the

The excitement at Versailles was less impetuous, but quite as real; the
national guard and the assembly were anxious and irritated. The double
banquet of the household troops, the approbation the queen had expressed,
_J'ai été enchantée de la journée de Jeudi_--the king's refusal to accept
simply the Rights of Man, his concerted temporizings, and the want of
provisions, excited the alarm of the representatives of the people and
filled them with suspicion. Pétion, having denounced the banquets of the
guards, was summoned by a royalist deputy to explain his denunciation, and
make known the guilty parties. "Let it be expressly declared," exclaimed
Mirabeau, "that whosoever is not king is a subject and responsible, and I
will speedily furnish proofs." These words, which pointed to the queen,
compelled the Right to be silent. This hostile discussion was preceded and
succeeded by debates equally animated, concerning the refusal of the
sanction, and the scarcity of provisions in Paris. At length, just as a
deputation was despatched to the king, to require his pure and simple
acceptance of the Rights of Man, and to adjure him to facilitate with all
his power the supplying Paris with provisions, the arrival of the women,
headed by Maillard, was announced.

Their unexpected appearance, for they had intercepted all the couriers who
might have announced it, excited the terrors of the court. The troops of
Versailles flew to arms and surrounded the château, but the intentions of
the women were not hostile. Maillard, their leader, had recommended them
to appear as suppliants, and in that attitude they presented their
complaints successively to the assembly and to the king. Accordingly, the
first hours of this turbulent evening were sufficiently calm. Yet it was
impossible but that causes of hostility should arise between an excited
mob and the household troops, the objects of so much irritation. The
latter were stationed in the court of the château opposite the national
guard and the Flanders regiment. The space between was filled by women and
volunteers of the Bastille. In the midst of the confusion, necessarily
arising from such a juxtaposition, a scuffle arose; this was the signal
for disorder and conflict. An officer of the guards struck a Parisian
soldier with his sabre, and was in turn shot in the arm. The national
guards sided against the household troops; the conflict became warm, and
would have been sanguinary, but for the darkness, the bad weather, and the
orders given to the household troops first to cease firing and then to
retire. But as these were accused of being the aggressors, the fury of the
multitude continued for some time; their quarters were broken into, two of
them were wounded, and another saved with difficulty.

During this tumult, the court was in consternation; the flight of the king
was suggested, and carriages prepared; a picket of the national guard saw
them at the gate of the Orangery, and, after closing the gate, compelled
them to go back; moreover, the king, either ignorant of the designs of the
court, or conceiving them impracticable, refused to escape. Fears were
mingled with his pacific intentions, when he hesitated to repel the
aggression or to take flight. Conquered, he apprehended the fate of
Charles I. of England; absent, he feared that the duke of Orleans would
obtain the lieutenancy of the kingdom. But, in the meantime, the rain,
fatigue, and the inaction of the household troops, lessened the fury of
the multitude, and Lafayette arrived at the head of the Parisian army.

His presence restored security to the court, and the replies of the king
to the deputation from Paris, satisfied the multitude and the army. In a
short time, Lafayette's activity, the good sense and discipline of the
Parisian guard, restored order everywhere. Tranquillity returned. The
crowd of women and volunteers, overcome by fatigue, gradually dispersed,
and some of the national guard were entrusted with the defence of the
château, while others were lodged with their companions in arms at
Versailles. The royal family, reassured after the anxiety and fear of this
painful night, retired to rest about two o'clock in the morning. Towards
five, Lafayette, having visited the outposts which had been confided to
his care, and finding the watch well kept, the town calm, and the crowds
dispersed or sleeping, also took a few moments repose.

About six, however, some men of the lower class, more enthusiastic than
the rest, and awake sooner than they, prowled round the château. Finding a
gate open, they informed their companions, and entered. Unfortunately, the
interior posts had been entrusted to the household guards, and refused to
the Parisian army. This fatal refusal caused all the misfortunes of the
night. The interior guard had not even been increased; the gates scarcely
visited, and the watch kept as negligently as on ordinary occasions. These
men, excited by all the passions that had brought them to Versailles,
perceiving one of the household troops at a window, began to insult him.
He fired, and wounded one of them. They then rushed on the household
troops who defended the château breast to breast, and sacrificed
themselves heroically. One of them had time to warn the queen, whom the
assailants particularly threatened; and half dressed, she ran for refuge
to the king. The tumult and danger were extreme in the château.

Lafayette, apprised of the invasion of the royal residence, mounted his
horse, and rode hastily to the scene of danger. On the square he met some
of the household troops surrounded by an infuriated mob, who were on the
point of killing them. He threw himself among them, called some French
guards who were near, and having rescued the household troops, and
dispersed their assailants, he hurried to the château. He found it already
secured by the grenadiers of the French guard, who, at the first noise of
the tumult, had hastened and protected the household troops from the fury
of the Parisians. But the scene was not over; the crowd assembled again in
the marble court under the king's balcony, loudly called for him, and he
appeared. They required his departure for Paris; he promised to repair
thither with his family, and this promise was received with general
applause. The queen was resolved to accompany him; but the prejudice
against her was so strong that the journey was not without danger; it was
necessary to reconcile her with the multitude. Lafayette proposed to her
to accompany him to the balcony; after some hesitation, she consented.
They appeared on it together, and to communicate by a sign with the
tumultuous crowd, to conquer its animosity, and awaken its enthusiasm,
Lafayette respectfully kissed the queen's hand; the crowd responded with
acclamations. It now remained to make peace between them and the household
troops. Lafayette advanced with one of these, placed his own tricoloured
cockade on his hat, and embraced him before the people, who shouted
"_Vivent les gardes-du-corps!_" Thus terminated this scene; the royal
family set out for Paris, escorted by the army, and its guards mixed with

The insurrection of the 5th and 6th of October was an entirely popular
movement. We must not try to explain it by secret motives, nor attribute
it to concealed ambition; it was provoked by the imprudence of the court.
The banquet of the household troops, the reports of flight, the dread of
civil war, and the scarcity of provisions alone brought Paris upon
Versailles. If special instigators, which the most careful inquiries have
still left doubtful, contributed to produce this movement, they did not
change either its direction or its object. The result of this event was
the destruction of the ancient régime of the court; it deprived it of its
guard, it removed it from the royal residence at Versailles to the capital
of the revolution, and placed it under the surveillance of the people.



The period which forms the subject of this chapter was less remarkable for
events than for the gradually decided separation of parties. In proportion
as changes were introduced into the state and the laws, those whose
interests or opinions they injured declared themselves against them. The
revolution had had as enemies, from the beginning of the states-general,
the court; from the union of orders and the abolition of privileges, the
nobility; from the establishment of a single assembly and the rejection of
the two chambers, the ministry and the partisans of the English form of
government. It had, moreover, against it since the departmental
organization, the provinces; since the decree respecting the property and
civil constitution of the clergy, the whole ecclesiastical body; since the
introduction of the new military laws, all the officers of the army. It
might seem that the assembly ought not to have effected so many changes at
once, so as to have avoided making so many enemies; but its general plans,
its necessities, and the very plots of its adversaries, required all these

After the 5th and 6th of October, the assembly emigrated as the court had
done after the 14th of July. Mounier and Lally-Tollendal deserted it,
despairing of liberty from the moment their views ceased to be followed.
Too absolute in their plans, they wanted the people, after having
delivered the assembly on the 14th of July, suddenly to cease acting,
which was displaying an entire ignorance of the impetus of revolutions.
When the people have once been made use of, it is difficult to disband
them, and the most prudent course is not to contest, but to regulate
intervention. Lally-Tollendal renounced his title of Frenchman, and
returned to England, the land of his ancestors. Mounier repaired to
Dauphiné, his native province, which he endeavoured to excite to a revolt
against the assembly. It was inconsistent to complain of an insurrection,
and yet to provoke one, especially when it was to the profit of another
party, for his was too weak to maintain itself against the ancient régime
and the revolution. Notwithstanding his influence in Dauphiné, whose
former movements he had directed, Mounier was unable to establish there a
centre of permanent resistance, but the assembly was thereby warned to
destroy the ancient provincial organisation, which might become the frame-
work of a civil war.

After the 5th and 6th of October, the national representatives followed
the king to the capital, which their common presence had contributed
greatly to tranquillise. The people were satisfied with possessing the
king, the causes which had excited their ebullition had ceased. The duke
of Orleans, who, rightly or wrongly, was considered the contriver of the
insurrection, had just been sent away; he had accepted a mission to
England; Lafayette was resolved to maintain order; the national guard,
animated by a better spirit, acquired every day habits of discipline and
obedience; the corporation, getting over the confusion of its first
establishment, began to have authority. There remained but one cause of
disturbance--the scarcity of provisions. Notwithstanding the zeal and
foresight of the committee entrusted with the task of providing supplies,
daily assemblages of the people threatened the public tranquillity. The
people, so easily deceived when suffering, killed a baker called François,
who was unjustly accused as a monopolist. On the 21st of October a martial
law was proclaimed, authorizing the corporation to employ force to
disperse the mob, after having summoned the citizens to retire. Power was
vested in a class interested in maintaining order; the districts and the
national guard were obedient to the assembly. Submission to the law was
the prevailing passion of that epoch. The deputies on their side only
aspired at completing the constitution and effecting the re-organisation
of the state. They had the more reason for hastening their task, as the
enemies of the assembly made use of what remained of the ancient régime,
to occasion it embarrassment. Accordingly, it replied to each of their
endeavours by a decree, which, changing the ancient order of things,
deprived them of one of their means of attack.

It began by dividing the kingdom more equally and regularly. The
provinces, which had witnessed with regret the loss of their privileges,
formed small states, the extent of which was too vast, and the
administration too independent. It was essential to reduce their size,
change their names, and subject them to the same government. On the 22nd
of December, the assembly adopted in this respect the project conceived by
Sieyès, and presented by Thouret in the name of the committee, which
occupied itself constantly on this subject for two months.

France was divided into eighty-three departments, nearly equal in extent
and population; the departments were subdivided into districts and
cantons. Their administration received a uniform and hierarchical form.
The department had an administrative council composed of thirty-six
members, and an executive directory composed of five members: as the names
indicate, the functions of the one were to decide, and of the other to
act. The district was organised in the same way; although on a smaller
scale, it had a council and a directory, fewer in number, and subordinate
to the superior directory and council. The canton composed of five or six
parishes, was an electoral not an administrative division; the active
citizens, and to be considered such it was necessary to pay taxes
amounting to three days' earnings, united in the canton to nominate their
deputies and magistrates. Everything in the new plan was subject to
election, but this had several degrees. It appeared imprudent to confide
to the multitude the choice of its delegates, and illegal to exclude them
from it; this difficult question was avoided by the double election. The
active citizens of the canton named electors intrusted with nominating the
members of the national assembly, the administrators of the department,
those of the district, and the judges of tribunals; a criminal court was
established in each department, a civil court in each district, and a
police-court in each canton.

Such was the institution of the department. It remained to regulate that
of the corporation: the administration of this was confided to a general
council and a municipality, composed of members whose numbers were
proportioned to the population of the towns. The municipal officers were
named immediately by the people, and could alone authorize the employment
of the armed force. The corporation formed the first step of the
association, the kingdom formed the last; the department was intermediate
between the corporation and the state, between universal interests and
purely local interests.

The execution of this plan, which organized the sovereignty of the people,
which enabled all citizens to concur in the election of their magistrates,
and entrusted them with their own administration, and distributed them
into a machinery which, by permitting the whole state to move, preserved a
correspondence between its parts, and prevented their isolation, excited
the discontent of some provinces. The states of Languedoc and Brittany
protested against the new division of the kingdom, and on their side the
parliaments of Metz, Rouen, Bordeaux, and Toulouse rose against the
operations of the assembly which suppressed the Chambres de Vacations,
abolished the orders, and declared the commissions of the states
incompetent. The partisans of the ancient régime employed every means to
disturb its progress; the nobility excited the provinces, the parliaments
took resolutions, the clergy issued mandates, and writers took advantage
of the liberty of the press to attack the revolution. Its two principal
enemies were the nobles and the bishops. Parliament, having no root in the
nation, only formed a magistracy, whose attacks were prevented by
destroying the magistracy itself, whereas the nobility and the clergy had
means of action which survived the influence of the body. The misfortunes
of these two classes were caused by themselves. After harassing the
revolution in the assembly, they afterwards attacked it with open force--
the clergy, by internal insurrections--the nobility, by arming Europe
against it. They had great expectations from anarchy, which, it is true,
caused France many evils, but which was far from rendering their own
position better. Let us now see how the hostilities of the clergy were
brought on; for this purpose we must go back a little.

The revolution had commenced with the finances, and had not yet been able
to put an end to the embarrassments by which it was caused. More important
objects had occupied the attention of the assembly. Summoned, no longer to
defray the expenses of administration, but to constitute the state, it had
suspended its legislative discussions, from time to time, in order to
satisfy the more pressing necessities of the treasury. Necker had proposed
provisional means, which had been adopted in confidence, and almost
without discussion. Despite this zeal, he did not without displeasure see
the finances considered as subordinate to the constitution, and the
ministry to the assembly. A first loan of thirty millions (1,200,000l.),
voted the 9th of August, had not succeeded; a subsequent loan of eighty
millions (3,200,000l.), voted the 27th of the same month, had been
insufficient. Duties were reduced or abolished, and they yielded scarcely
anything, owing to the difficulty of collecting them. It became useless to
have recourse to public confidence, which refused its aid; and in
September, Necker had proposed, as the only means, an extraordinary
contribution of a fourth of the revenue, to be paid at once. Each citizen
was to fix his proportion himself, making use of that simple form of oath,
which well expressed these first days of honour and patriotism:--"_I
declare with truth._"

Mirabeau now caused Necker to be invested with a complete financial
dictatorship. He spoke of the urgent wants of the state, of the labours of
the assembly which did not permit it to discuss the plan of the minister,
and which at the same time prevented its examining any other; of Necker's
skill, which ensured the success of his own measure; and urged the
assembly to leave with him the responsibility of its success, by
confidently adopting it. As some did not approve of the views of the
minister, and others suspected the intentions of Mirabeau with respect to
him, he closed his speech, one of the most eloquent he ever delivered, by
displaying bankruptcy impending, and exclaiming, "Vote this extraordinary
subsidy, and may it prove sufficient! Vote it; for if you have doubts
respecting the means, you have none respecting the want, and our inability
to supply it. Vote it, for the public circumstances will not bear delay,
and we shall be accountable for all postponement. Beware of asking for
time; misfortune never grants it. Gentlemen, on the occasion of a
ridiculous motion at the Palais Royal, an absurd incursion, which had
never had any importance, save in feeble imaginations, or the minds of men
of ill designs and bad faith, you once heard these words, '_Catiline is at
the gates of Rome, and yet they deliberate!_' And yet there were around us
neither Catiline, nor perils, nor factions, nor Rome. But now bankruptcy,
hideous bankruptcy, is there; it threatens to consume you, your
properties, your honour, and yet you deliberate!" Mirabeau had carried
away the assembly by his oratory; and the patriotic contribution was voted
with unanimous applause.

But this resource had only afforded momentary relief. The finances of the
revolution depended on a more daring and more vast measure. It was
necessary not only to support the revolution, but to repair the immense
deficit which stopped its progress, and threatened its future destiny. One
way alone remained--to declare ecclesiastical property national, and to
sell it for the rescue of the state. Public interest prescribed this
course; and it could be done with justice, the clergy not being the
proprietors, but the simple administrators of this property, devoted to
religion, and not to the priests. The nation, therefore, by taking on
itself the expenses of the altar, and the support of its ministers might
procure and appropriate an important financial resource, and obtain a
great political result.

It was important not to leave an independent body, and especially an
ancient body, any longer in the state; for in a time of revolution
everything ancient is hostile. The clergy, by its formidable hierarchy and
its opulence, a stranger to the new changes, would have remained as a
republic in the kingdom. Its form belonged to another system: when there
was no state, but only bodies, each order had provided for its own
regulation and existence. The clergy had its decretals, the nobility its
law of fiefs, the people its corporations; everything was independent,
because everything was private. But now that functions were becoming
public, it was necessary to make a magistracy of the priesthood as they
had made one of royalty; and, in order to make them dependent on the
state, it was essential they should be paid by it, and to resume from the
monarch his domains, from the clergy its property, by bestowing on each of
them suitable endowments. This great operation, which destroyed the
ancient ecclesiastical régime, was effected in the following manner:

One of the most pressing necessities was the abolition of tithes. As these
were a tax paid by the rural population to the clergy, the sacrifice would
be for the advantage of those who were oppressed by them. Accordingly,
after declaring they were redeemable, on the night of the 4th of August,
they were suppressed on the 11th, without providing any equivalent. The
clergy opposed the measure at first, but afterwards had the good sense to
consent. The archbishop of Paris gave up tithes in the name of all his
brethren, and by this act of prudence he showed himself faithful to the
line of conduct adopted by the privileged classes on the night of the 4th
of August; but this was the extent of his sacrifices.

A short time after, the debate respecting the possession of ecclesiastical
property began. Talleyrand, bishop of Autun, proposed to the clergy that
they should renounce it in favour of the nation, which would employ it in
defraying the expenses of worship, and liquidating its debt. He proved the
justice and propriety of this measure; and he showed the great advantages
which would accrue to the state. The property of the clergy amounted to
several thousand millions of francs. After paying its debts, providing for
the ecclesiastical services and that of hospitals, and the endowment of
its ministers, sufficient would still remain to extinguish the public
debt, whether permanent or annuities, and to reimburse the money paid for
judicial offices. The clergy rose against this proposition. The discussion
became very animated; and it was decided, in spite of their resistance,
that they were not proprietors, but simple depositaries of the wealth that
the piety of kings and of the faithful had devoted to religion, and that
the nation, on providing for the service of public worship, had a right to
recall such property. The decree which placed it at its disposal was
passed on the 2nd of December, 1789.

From that moment the hatred of the clergy to the revolution broke out. At
the commencement of the states-general it had been less intractable than
the nobility, in order to preserve its riches; it now showed itself as
opposed as they to the new régime, of which it became the most tenacious
and furious foe. Yet, as the decree placed ecclesiastical property at the
disposal of the nation, without, as yet, displacing it, it did not break
out into opposition at once. The administration was still confided to it,
and it hoped that the possessions of the church might serve as a mortgage
for the debt, but would not be sold.

It was, indeed, difficult to effect the sale, which, however, could not be
delayed, the treasury only subsisting on anticipations, and the exchequer,
which supplied it with bills, beginning to lose all credit on account of
the number it had issued.

They obtained their end, and proceeded with the new financial organisation
in the following manner: The necessities of this and the following year
required a sale of this property to the amount of four hundred millions of
francs; to facilitate it, the corporation of Paris made considerable
subscriptions, and the municipalities of the kingdom followed the example
of Paris. They were to return to the treasury the equivalent of the
property they received from the state to sell to private individuals; but
they wanted money, and they could not deliver the amount since they had
not yet met with purchasers. What was to be done? They supplied municipal
notes intended to reimburse the public creditors, until they should
acquire the funds necessary for withdrawing the notes. Once arrived thus
far, they saw that, instead of municipal notes, it would be better to
create exchequer bills, which would have a compulsory circulation, and
answer the purpose of specie: this was simplifying the operation by
generalising it. In this way the assignats had their origin.

This invention was of great utility to the revolution, and alone secured
the sale of ecclesiastical property. The assignats, which were a means of
payment for the state, became a pledge to the creditors. The latter by
receiving them were not obliged to accept payment in land for what they
had furnished in money. But sooner or later the assignats would fall into
the hands of men disposed to realise them, and then they were to be
destroyed at the same time that they ceased to be a pledge. In order that
they might fulfil their design, their forced circulation was required; to
render them safe, the quantity was limited to the value of the property
proposed for sale; and that they might not fall by too sudden a change,
they were made to bear interest. The assembly, from the moment of their
issue, wished to give them all the consistency of money. It was hoped that
specie concealed by distrust would immediately re-appear, and that the
assignats would enter into competition with it. Mortgage made them quite
as sure, and interest made them more profitable; but this interest, which
was attended with much inconvenience, disappeared after the first issue.
Such was the origin of the paper money issued under so much necessity, and
with so much prudence, which enabled the revolution to accomplish such
great things, and which was brought into discredit by causes that belonged
less to its nature than to the subsequent use made of it.

When the clergy saw by a decree of the 29th of December the administration
of church property transferred to the municipalities, the sale they were
about to make of it to the value of four hundred millions of francs, and
the creation of a paper money calculated to facilitate this spoliation,
and render it definitive, it left nothing undone to secure the
intervention of God in the cause of its wealth. It made a last attempt: it
offered to realize in its own name the loan of four hundred millions of
francs, which was rejected, because otherwise, after having decided that
it was not the proprietor of church property, it would thus have again
been admitted to be so. It then sought every means of impeding the
operations of the municipalities. In the south, it raised catholics
against protestants; in the pulpit, it alarmed consciences; in the
confessional, it treated sales as sacrilegious, and in the tribune it
strove to render the sentiments of the assembly suspected. It excited as
much as possible religious questions for the purpose of compromising the
assembly, and confounding the cause of its own interest with that of
religion. The abuses and inutility of monastic vows were at this period
admitted by every one, even by the clergy. At their abolition on the 13th
of February, 1790, the bishop of Nancy proposed incidentally and
perfidiously that the catholic religion alone should have a public
worship. The assembly were indignant at the motives that suggested such a
proposition, and it was abandoned. But the same motion was again brought
forward in another sitting, and after stormy debates the assembly declared
that from respect to the Supreme Being and the catholic religion, the only
one supported at the expense of the state, it conceived it ought not to
decide upon the question submitted to it.

Such was the disposition of the clergy, when, in the months of June and
July, 1790, the assembly turned its attention to its internal
organization. The clergy waited with impatience for this opportunity of
exciting a schism. This project, the adoption of which caused so much
evil, went to re-establish the church on its ancient basis, and to restore
the purity of its doctrine; it was not the work of philosophers, but of
austere Christians, who wished to support religion by the state, and to
make them concur mutually in promoting its happiness. The reduction of
bishoprics to the same number as the departments, the conformity of the
ecclesiastical circumscription with the civil circumscription, the
nomination of bishops by electors, who also chose deputies and
administrators, the suppression of chapters, and the substitution of
vicars for canons, were the chief features of this plan; there was nothing
in it that attacked the dogmas or worship of the church. For a long time
the bishops and other ecclesiastics had been nominated by the people; as
for diocesan limits, the operation was purely material, and in no respect
religious. It moreover generously provided for the support of the members
of the church, and if the high dignitaries saw their revenues reduced, the
curés, who formed the most numerous portion, had theirs augmented.

But a pretext was wanting, and the civil constitution of the clergy was
eagerly seized upon. From the outset of the discussion, the archbishop of
Aix protested against the principles of the ecclesiastical committee. In
his opinion, the appointment or suspension of bishops by civil authority
was opposed to discipline; and when the decree was put to the vote, the
bishop of Clermont recapitulated the principles advanced by the archbishop
of Aix, and left the hall at the head of all the dissentient members. The
decree passed, but the clergy declared war against the revolution. From
that moment it leagued more closely with the dissentient nobility. Equally
reduced to the common condition, the two privileged classes employed all
their means to stop the progress of reform.

The departments were scarcely formed when agents were sent by them to
assemble the electors, and try new nominations. They did not hope to
obtain a favourable choice, but aimed at fomenting divisions between the
assembly and the departments. This project was denounced from the tribune,
and failed as soon as it was made known. Its authors then went to work in
another way. The period allotted to the deputies of the states-general had
expired, their power having been limited to one year, according to the
desire of the districts. The aristocrats availed themselves of this
circumstance to require a fresh election of the assembly. Had they gained
this point, they would have acquired a great advantage, and with this view
they themselves appealed to the sovereignty of the people. "Without
doubt," replied Chapelier, "all sovereignty rests with the people; but
this principle has no application to the present case; it would be
destroying the constitution and liberty to renew the assembly before the
constitution is completed. This is, indeed, the hope of those who wish to
see liberty and the constitution perish, and to witness the return of the
distinction of orders, of prodigality in the public expenditure, and of
the abuses that spring from despotism." At this moment all eyes were
turned to the Right, and rested on the abbé Maury. "_Send those people to
the Châtelet,_" cried the latter, sharply; "_or if you do not know them,
do not speak of them._" "The constitution," continued Chapelier, "can only
be made by one assembly. Besides, the former electors no longer exist; the
bailiwicks are absorbed in the departments, the orders are no longer
separate. The clause respecting the limitation of power is consequently
without value; it will therefore be contrary to the constitution, if the
deputies do not retain their seats in this assembly; their oath commands
them to continue there, and public interest requires it."

"You entangle us in sophisms," replied the abbé Maury; "how long have we
been a national convention? You talk of the oath we took on the 20th of
June, without considering that it cannot weaken that which we made to our
constituents. Besides, gentlemen, the constitution is completed; you have,
only now to declare that the king enjoys the plenitude of the executive
power. We are here for the sole purpose of securing to the French nation
the right of influencing its legislation, of establishing the principle
that taxation shall be consented to by the people, and of securing our
liberty. Yes, the constitution is made; and I will oppose every decree
calculated to limit the rights of the people over their representatives.
The founders of liberty ought to respect the liberty of the nation; the
nation is above us all, and we destroy our authority by limiting the
national authority."

The abbé Maury's speech was received with loud applause from the Right.
Mirabeau immediately ascended the tribune. "It is asked," said he, "how
long the deputies of the people have been a national convention? I answer,
from the day when, finding the door of their session-house surrounded by
soldiers, they went and assembled where they could, and swore to perish
rather than betray or abandon the rights of the nation. Whatever our
powers were, that day their nature was changed; and whatever powers we may
have exercised, our efforts and labours have rendered them legitimate, and
the adhesion of the nation has sanctified them. You all remember the
saying of the great man of antiquity, who had neglected legal forms to
save his country. Summoned by a factious tribune to declare whether he had
observed the laws, he replied, 'I swear I have saved my country!'
Gentlemen," he exclaimed, turning to the deputies of the commons, "I swear
that you have saved France!"

The assembly then rose by a spontaneous movement, and declared that the
session should not close till their task was accomplished.

Anti-revolutionary efforts were increasing, at the same time, without the
assembly. Attempts were made to seduce or disorganize the army, but the
assembly took prudent measures in this respect. It gained the affections
of the troops by rendering promotion independent of the court, and of
titles of nobility. The count d'Artois and the prince de Condé, who had
retired to Turin after the 14th of July, corresponded with Lyons and the
south; but the emigrants not having yet the external influence they
afterwards acquired at Coblentz, and failing to meet with internal
support, all their efforts were vain. The attempts at insurrection,
originating with the clergy in Languedoc, had as little effect. They
brought on some transient disturbances, but did not effect a religious
war. Time is necessary to form a party; still more is required to induce
it to decide on serious hostilities. A more practicable design was that of
carrying off the king and conveying him to Peronne. The marquis de Favras,
with the support of _Monsieur_, the king's brother, was preparing to
execute it, when it was discovered. The Châtelet condemned to death this
intrepid adventurer, who had failed in his enterprise, through undertaking
it with too much display. The king's flight, after the events of October,
could only be effected furtively, as it subsequently happened at Varennes.

The position of the court was equivocal and embarrassing. It encouraged
every anti-revolutionary enterprise and avowed none; it felt more than
ever its weakness and dependence on the assembly; and while desirous of
throwing off the yoke, feared to make the attempt because success appeared
difficult. Accordingly, it excited opposition without openly co-operating
in it; with some it dreamed of the restoration of the ancient régìme, with
others it only aimed at modifying the revolution. Mirabeau had been
recently in treaty with it. After having been one of the chief authors of
reform, he sought to give it stability by enchaining faction. His object
was to convert the court to the revolution, not to give up the revolution
to the court. The support he offered was constitutional; he could not
offer any other; for his power depended on his popularity, and his
popularity on his principles. But he was wrong in suffering it to be
bought. Had not his immense necessities obliged him to accept money and
sell his counsels, he would not have been more blameable than the
unalterable Lafayette, the Lameths and the Girondins, who successively
negotiated with it. But none of them gained the confidence of the court;
it only had recourse to them in extremity. By their means it endeavoured
to suspend the revolution, while by the means of the aristocracy it tried
to destroy it. Of all the popular leaders, Mirabeau had perhaps the
greatest ascendancy over the court, because he was the most winning, and
had the strongest mind.

The assembly worked unceasingly at the constitution, in the midst of these
intrigues and plots. It decreed the new judicial organization of France.
All the new magistracies were temporary. Under the absolute monarchy, all
powers emanated from the throne, and all functionaries were appointed by
the king; under the constitutional monarchy, all powers emanating from the
people, the functionaries were to be appointed by it. The throne alone was
transmissible; the other powers being the property neither of a man nor of
a family, were neither of life-tenure, nor hereditary. The legislation of
that period depended on one sole principle, the sovereignty of the nation.
The judicial functions had themselves that changeable character. Trial by
jury, a democratic institution formerly common to nearly all the
continent, but which in England alone had survived the encroachments of
feudalism and the throne, was introduced into criminal causes. For civil
causes special judges were nominated. Fixed courts were established, two
courts of appeal to prevent error, and a _cour de cassation_ intended to
secure the preservation of the protecting forms of the law. This
formidable power, when it proceeds from the throne, can only be
independent by being fixed; but it must be temporary when it proceeds from
the people; because, while depending on all, it depends upon no one.

In another matter, quite as important, the right of making peace or war,
the assembly decided a new and delicate question, and this in a sure,
just, and prompt manner, after one of the most luminous and eloquent
discussions that ever distinguished its sittings. As peace and war
belonged more to action than to will, it confided, contrary to the usual
rule, the initiative to the king. He who was best able to judge of its
fitness was to propose the question, but it was left to the legislative
body to decide it.

The popular torrent, after having burst forth against the ancient regime,
gradually subsided into its bed; new dykes restrained it on all sides. The
government of the revolution was rapidly becoming established. The
assembly had given to the new régime its monarch, its national
representation, its territorial division, its armed force, its municipal
and administrative power, its popular tribunals, its currency, its clergy;
it had made an arrangement with respect to its debt, and it had found
means to reconstruct property without injustice.

The 14th of July approached: that day was regarded by the nation as the
anniversary of its deliverance, and preparations were made to celebrate it
with a solemnity calculated to elevate the souls of the citizens, and to
strengthen the common bonds of union. A confederation of the whole kingdom
was appointed to take place in the Champ de Mars; and there, in the open
air, the deputies sent by the eighty-three departments, the national
representatives, the Parisian guard, and the monarch, were to take the
oath to the constitution. By way of prelude to this patriotic fête, the
popular members of the nobility proposed the abolition of titles; and the
assembly witnessed another sitting similar to that of the 4th of August.
Titles, armorial bearings, liveries, and orders of knighthood, were
abolished on the 20th of June, and vanity, as power had previously done,
lost its privileges.

This sitting established equality everywhere, and made things agree with
words, by destroying all the pompous paraphernalia of other times.
Formerly titles had designated functions; armorial bearings had
distinguished powerful families; liveries had been worn by whole armies of
vassals; orders of knighthood had defended the state against foreign foes,
Europe against Islamism; but now, nothing of this remained. Titles had
lost their truth and their fitness; nobility, after ceasing to be a
magistracy, had even ceased to be an ornament; and power, like glory, was
henceforth to spring from plebeian ranks. But whether the aristocracy set
more value on their titles than on their privileges, or whether they only
awaited a pretext for openly declaring themselves, this last measure, more
than any other, decided the emigration and its attacks. It was for the
nobility what the civil constitution had been for the clergy, an occasion,
rather than a cause of hostility.

The 14th of July arrived, and the revolution witnessed few such glorious
days--the weather only did not correspond with this magnificent fête. The
deputies of all the departments were presented to the king, who received
them with much affability; and he, on his part, met also with the most
touching testimonies of love, but as a constitutional king. "Sire," said
the leader of the Breton deputation, kneeling on one knee, and presenting
his sword, "I place in your hands the faithful sword of the brave Bretons:
it shall only be reddened by the blood of your foes." Louis XVI. raised
and embraced him, and returned the sword. "It cannot be in better hands
than in those of my brave Bretons," he replied; "I have never doubted
their loyalty and affection; assure them that I am the father and brother,
the friend of all Frenchmen." "Sire," returned the deputy, "every
Frenchman loves, and will continue to love you, because you are a citizen-

The confederation was to take place in the Champ de Mars. The immense
preparations were scarcely completed in time; all Paris had been engaged
for several weeks in getting the arrangements ready by the 14th. At seven
in the morning, the procession of electors, of the representatives of the
corporation, of the presidents of districts, of the national assembly, of
the Parisian guard, of the deputies of the army, and of the federates of
the departments, set out in complete order from the site of the Bastille.
The presence of all these national corps, the floating banners, the
patriotic inscriptions, the varied costumes, the sounds of music, the joy
of the crowd, rendered the procession a most imposing one. It traversed
the city, and crossed the Seine, amidst a volley of artillery, over a
bridge of boats, which had been thrown across it the preceding day. It
entered the Champ de Mars under a triumphal arch, adorned with patriotic
inscriptions. Each body took the station assigned it in excellent order,
and amidst shouts of applause.

The vast space of the Champ de Mars was inclosed by raised seats of turf,
occupied by four hundred thousand spectators. An antique altar was erected
in the middle; and around it, on a vast amphitheatre, were the king, his
family, the assembly, and the corporation. The federates of the
departments were ranged in order under their banners; the deputies of the
army and the national guards were in their ranks, and under their ensigns.
The bishop of Autun ascended the altar in pontifical robes; four hundred
priests in white copes, and decorated with flowing tricoloured sashes,
were posted at the four corners of the altar. Mass was celebrated amid the
sounds of military music; and then the bishop of Autun blessed the
oriflamme, and the eighty-three banners.

A profound silence now reigned in the vast inclosure, and Lafayette,
appointed that day to the command in chief of all the national guards of
the kingdom, advanced first to take the civic oath. Borne on the arms of
grenadiers to the altar of the country, amidst the acclamations of the
people, he exclaimed with a loud voice, in his own name, and that of the
federates and troops: "We swear eternal fidelity to the nation, the law,
and the king; to maintain to the utmost of our power the constitution
decreed by the national assembly, and accepted by the king; and to remain
united with every Frenchman by the indissoluble ties of fraternity."
Forthwith the firing of cannon, prolonged cries of "Vive la nation!" "Vive
le roi!" and sounds of music, mingled in the air. The president of the
national assembly took the same oath, and all the deputies repeated it
with one voice. Then Louis XVI. rose and said: "I, king of the French,
swear to employ all the power delegated to me by the constitutional act of
the state, in maintaining the constitution decreed by the national
assembly and accepted by me." The queen, carried away by the enthusiasm of
the moment, rose, lifted up the dauphin in her arms, and showing him to
the people, exclaimed: "Behold my son, he unites with me in the same
sentiments." At that moment the banners were lowered, the acclamations of
the people were heard, and the subjects believed in the sincerity of the
monarch, the monarch in the affection of the subjects, and this happy day
closed with a hymn of thanksgiving.

The fêtes of the confederation were protracted for some days.
Illuminations, balls, and sports were given by the city of Paris to the
deputies of the departments. A ball took place on the spot where had
stood, a year before, the Bastille; gratings, fetters, ruins, were
observed here and there, and on the door was the inscription, "_Ici on
danse_," a striking contrast with the ancient destination of the spot. A
contemporary observes: "They danced indeed with joy and security on the
ground where so many tears had been shed; where courage, genius, and
innocence had so often groaned; where so often the cries of despair had
been stifled." A medal was struck to commemorate the confederation; and at
the termination of the fêtes the deputies returned to their departments.

The confederation only suspended the hostility of parties. Petty intrigues
were resumed in the assembly as well as out of doors. The duke of Orleans
had returned from his mission, or, more strictly speaking, from his exile.
The inquiry respecting the events of the 5th and 6th of October, of which
he and Mirabeau were accused as the authors, had been conducted by the
Châtelets inquiry, which had been suspended, was now resumed. By this
attack the court again displayed its want of foresight; for it ought to
have proved the accusation or not to have made it. The assembly having
decided on giving up the guilty parties, had it found any such, declared
there was no ground for proceeding; and Mirabeau, after an overwhelming
outburst against the whole affair, obliged the Right to be silent, and
thus arose triumphantly from an accusation which had been made expressly
to intimidate him.

They attacked not only a few deputies but the assembly itself. The court
intrigued against it, but the Right drove this to exaggeration. "We like
its decrees," said the abbé Maury; "we want three or four more of them."
Hired libellists sold, at its very doors, papers calculated to deprive it
of the respect of the people; the ministers blamed and obstructed its
progress. Necker, still haunted by the recollection of his former
ascendancy, addressed to it memorials, in which he opposed its decrees and
gave it advice. This minister could not accustom himself to a secondary
part: he would not fall in with the abrupt plans of the assembly, so
entirely opposed to his ideas of gradual reform. At length, convinced or
weary of the inutility of his efforts, he left Paris, after resigning, on
the 4th of September, 1790, and obscurely traversed those provinces which
a year before he had gone through in triumph. In revolutions, men are
easily forgotten, for the nation sees many in its varied course. If we
would not find them ungrateful, we must not cease for an instant to serve
according to their own desire.

On the other hand, the nobility which had found a new subject of
discontent in the abolition of titles, continued its anti-revolutionary
efforts. As it did not succeed in exciting the people, who, from their
position, found the recent changes very beneficial, it had recourse to
means which it considered more certain; it quitted the kingdom, with the
intention of returning thither with all Europe as its armed ally; but
while waiting till a system of emigration could be organised, while
waiting for the appearance of foreign foes to the revolution, it continued
to arouse enemies to it in the interior of the kingdom. The troops, as we
have before observed, had already for some time been tampered with in
various ways. The new military code was favourable to the soldiers;
promotion formerly granted to the nobility was now granted to seniority.
Most of the officers were attached to the ancient régime, nor did they
conceal the fact. Compelled to take what had become the common oath, the
oath of fidelity to the nation, the law, and the king, some left the army,
and increased the number of emigrants, while others endeavoured to win the
soldiers over to their party.

General Bouillé was of this number. After having long refused to take the
civic oath, he did so at last with this intention. He had a numerous body
of troops under his command near the northern frontier; he was clever,
resolute, attached to the king, opposed to the revolution, such as it had
then become, though the friend of reform; a circumstance that afterwards
brought him into suspicion at Coblentz. He kept his army isolated from the
citizens, that it might remain faithful, and that it might not be infected
with the spirit of insubordination which they communicated to the troops.
By skilful management, and the ascendancy of a great mind, he also
succeeded in retaining the confidence and attachment of his soldiers. It
was not thus elsewhere. The officers were the objects of a general
dislike; they were accused of diminishing the pay, and having no concern
for the great body of the troops. The prevailing opinions had also
something to do with this dissatisfaction. These combined causes led to
revolts among the men; that of Nancy, in August, 1790, produced great
alarm, and became almost the signal of a civil war. Three regiments, those
of Châteauvieux, Maître-de-camp, and the King's own, rebelled against
their chiefs. Bouillé was ordered to march against them; he did so at the
head of the garrison and national guard of Metz. After an animated
skirmish, he subdued them. The assembly congratulated him; but Paris,
which saw in Bouillé a conspirator, was thrown into fresh agitation at
this intelligence. Crowds collected, and the impeachment of the ministers
who had given orders to Bouillé to march upon Nancy was clamorously
demanded. Lafayette, however, succeeded in allaying this ebullition,
supported by the assembly, which, finding itself placed between a counter-
revolution and anarchy, opposed both with equal wisdom and courage.

The aristocracy triumphed at the sight of the difficulties which perplexed
the assembly. They imagined that it would be compelled to be dependent on
the multitude, or deprive itself entirely of its support; and in either
case the return to the ancient régime appeared to them short and easy. The
clergy had its share in this work. The sale of church property, which it
took every means to impede, was effected at a higher price than that
fixed. The people, delivered from tithes and reassured as to the national
debt, were far from listening to the angry suggestions of the priests;
they accordingly made use of the civil constitution of the clergy to
excite a schism. We have seen that this decree of the assembly did not
affect either the discipline or the creed of the church. The king
sanctioned it on the 26th of December; but the bishops, who sought to
cover their interests with the mantle of religion, declared that it
encroached on the spiritual authority. The pope, consulted as to this
purely political measure, refused his assent to it, which the king
earnestly sought, and encouraged the opposition of the priests. The latter
decided that they would not concur in the establishment of the civil
constitution; that those of them who might be suppressed would protest
against this uncanonical act, that every bishopric created without the
concurrence of the pope should be null, and that the metropolitans should
refuse institution to bishops appointed according to civil forms.

The assembly strengthened this league by attempting to frustrate it. If,
contrary to their real desire, it had left the dissentient priests to
themselves, they would not have found the elements of a religious war. But
the assembly decreed that the ecclesiastics should swear fidelity to the
nation, the law, and the king, and to maintain the civil constitution of
the clergy. Refusal to take this oath was to be attended by the
substitution of others in their bishoprics and cures. The assembly hoped
that the higher clergy from interest, and the lower clergy from ambition,
would adopt this measure.

The bishops, on the contrary, thought that all the ecclesiastics would
follow their example, and that by refusing to swear, they would leave the
state without public worship, and the people without priests. The result
satisfied the expectations of neither party; the majority of the bishops
and curés of the assembly refused to take the oath, but a few bishops and
many curés took it. The dissentient incumbents were deprived, and the
electors nominated successors to them, who received canonical institution
from the bishops of Autun and Lida. But the deprived ecclesiastics refused
to abandon their functions, and declared their successors intruders, the
sacraments administred by them null, and all Christians who should venture
to recognise them excommunicated. They did not leave their dioceses; they
issued charges, and excited the people to disobey the laws; and thus an
affair of private interest became first a matter of religion and then a
matter of party. There were two bodies of clergy, one constitutional, the
other refractory; they had each its partisans, and treated each other as
rebels and heretics. According to passion or interest, religion became an
instrument or an obstacle; and while the priests made fanatics the
revolution made infidels. The people, not yet infected with this malady of
the upper classes, lost, especially in towns, the faith of their fathers,
from the imprudence of those who placed them between the revolution and
their religion. "The bishops," said the marquis de Ferrières, who will not
be suspected, "refused to fall in with any arrangements, and by their
guilty intrigues closed every approach to reconciliation; sacrificing the
catholic religion to an insane obstinacy, and a discreditable attachment
to their wealth."

Every party sought to gain the people; it was courted as sovereign. After
attempting to influence it by religion, another means was employed, that
of the clubs. At that period, clubs were private assemblies, in which the
measures of government, the business of the state, and the decrees of the
assembly were discussed; their deliberations had no authority, but they
exercised a certain influence. The first club owed its origin to the
Breton deputies, who already met together at Versailles to consider the
course of proceeding they should take. When the national representatives
were transferred from Versailles to Paris, the Breton deputies and those
of the assembly who were of their views held their sittings in the old
convent of the Jacobins, which subsequently gave its name to their
meetings. It did not at first cease to be a preparatory assembly, but as
all things increase in time, the Jacobin club did not confine itself to
the influencing the assembly; it sought also to influence the municipality
and the people, and received as associates members of the municipality and
common citizens. Its organization became more regular, its action more
powerful; its sittings were regularly reported in the papers; it created
branch clubs in the provinces, and raised by the side of legal power
another power which first counselled and then conducted it.

The Jacobin club, as it lost its primitive character and became a popular
assembly, had been forsaken by part of its founders. The latter
established another society on the plan of the old one, under the name of
the club of '89. Sieyès, Chapelier, Lafayette, La Rochefoucauld directed
it, as Lameth and Barnave directed that of the Jacobins. Mirabeau belonged
to both, and by both was equally courted. These clubs, of which the one
prevailed in the assembly and the other amongst the people, were attached
to the new order of things, though in different degrees. The aristocracy
sought to attack the revolution with its own arms; it opened royalist
clubs to oppose the popular clubs. That first established under the name
of the _Club des Impartiaux_ could not last because it addressed itself to
no class opinion. Reappearing under the name of the _Club Monarchique_, it
included among its members all those whose views it represented. It sought
to render itself popular with the lower classes, and distributed bread;
but far from accepting its overtures, the people considered such
establishments as a counter-revolutionary movement. The people disturbed
their sittings, and obliged them several times to change their place of
meeting. At length, the municipal authority found itself obliged, in
January, 1791, to close this club, which had been the cause of several

The distrust of the multitude was extreme; the departure of the king's
aunts, to which it attached an exaggerated importance, increased its
uneasiness, and led it to suppose another departure was preparing. These
suspicions were not unfounded, and they occasioned a kind of rising which
the anti-revolutionists sought to turn to account by carrying off the
king. This project failed, owing to the resolution and skill of Lafayette.
While the crowd went to Vincennes to demolish the dungeon which they said
communicated with the Tuileries, and would favour the flight of the king,
more than six hundred persons armed with swords and daggers entered the
Tuileries to compel the king to flee. Lafayette, who had repaired to
Vincennes to disperse the multitude, returned to quell the anti-
revolutionists of the château, after dissipating the mob of the popular
party, and by this second expedition he regained the confidence which his
first had lost him.

The attempt rendered the escape of Louis XVI. more feared than ever.
Accordingly, a short time after, when he wished to go to Saint Cloud, he
was prevented by the crowd and even by his own guard, despite the efforts
of Lafayette, who endeavoured to make them respect the law, and the
liberty of the monarch. The assembly on its side, after having decreed the
inviolability of the prince, after having regulated his constitutional
guard, and assigned the regency to the nearest male heir to the crown,
declared that his flight from the kingdom would lead to his dethronement.
The increasing emigration, the open avowal of its objects, and the
threatening attitude of the European cabinets, all cherished the fear that
the king might adopt such a determination.

Then, for the first time, the assembly sought to stop the progress of
emigration by a decree; but this decree was a difficult question. If they
punished those who left the kingdom, they violated the maxims of liberty,
rendered sacred by the declaration of rights; if they did not raise
obstacles to emigration, they endangered the safety of France, as the
nobles merely quitted it in order to invade it. In the assembly, setting
aside those who favoured emigration, some looked only at the right, others
only at the danger, and every one sided with or opposed the restrictive
law, according to his mode of viewing the subject. Those who desired the
law, wished it to be mild; but only one law could be practicable at such a
moment, and the assembly shrank from enacting it. This law, by the
arbitrary order of a committee of three members, was to pronounce a
sentence of civil death on the fugitive, and the confiscation of his
property. "The horror expressed on the reading of this project," cried
Mirabeau, "proves that this is a law worthy of being placed in the code of
Draco, and cannot find place among the decrees of the national assembly of
France. I proclaim that I shall consider myself released from every oath
of fidelity I have made towards those who may be infamous enough to
nominate a dictatorial commission. The popularity I covet, and which I
have the honour to enjoy, is not a feeble reed; I wish it to take root in
the soil, based on justice and liberty." The exterior position was not yet
sufficiently alarming for the adoption of such a measure of safety and
revolutionary defence.

Mirabeau did not long enjoy the popularity which he imagined he was so
sure of. That was the last sitting he attended. A few days afterwards he
terminated a life worn out by passions and by toil. His death, which
happened on the 2nd of March, 1791, was considered a public calamity; all
Paris attended his funeral; there was a general mourning throughout
France, and his remains were deposited in the receptacle which had just
been consecrated _aux grands hommes_, in the name of _la patrie
reconnaissante_. No one succeeded him in power and popularity; and for a
long time, in difficult discussions, the eyes of the assembly would turn
towards the seat from whence they had been accustomed to hear the
commanding eloquence which terminated their debates. Mirabeau, after
having assisted the revolution with his daring in seasons of trial, and
with his powerful reasoning since its victory, died seasonably. He was
revolving vast designs; he wished to strengthen the throne, and
consolidate the revolution; two attempts extremely difficult at such a
time. It is to be feared that royalty, if he had made it independent,
would have put down the revolution; or, if he had failed, that the
revolution would have put down royalty. It is, perhaps, impossible to
convert an ancient power into a new order; perhaps a revolution must be
prolonged in order to become legitimate, and the throne, as it recovers,
acquire the novelty of the other institutions.

From the 5th and 6th of October, 1789, to the month of April, 1791, the
national assembly completed the reorganization of France; the court gave
itself up to petty intrigues and projects of flight; the privileged
classes sought for new means of power, those which they formerly possessed
having been successively taken from them. They took advantage of all the
opportunities of disorder which circumstances furnished them with, to
attack the new régime and restore the old, by means of anarchy. At the
opening of the law courts the nobility caused the Chambres de vacations to
protest; when the provinces were abolished, it made the orders protest. As
soon as the departments were formed, it tried new elections; when the old
writs had expired, it sought the dissolution of the assembly; when the new
military code passed, it endeavoured to excite the defection of the
officers; lastly, all these means of opposition failing to effect the
success of its designs, it emigrated, to excite Europe against the
revolution. The clergy, on its side, discontented with the loss of its
possessions still more than with the ecclesiastical constitution, sought
to destroy the new order by insurrections, and to bring on insurrections
by a schism. Thus it was during this epoch that parties became gradually
disunited, and that the two classes hostile to the revolution prepared the
elements of civil and foreign war.



The French revolution was to change the political state of Europe, to
terminate the strife of kings among themselves, and to commence that
between kings and people. This would have taken place much later had not
the kings themselves provoked it. They sought to suppress the revolution,
and they extended it; for by attacking it they were to render it
victorious. Europe had then arrived at the term of the political system
which swayed it. The political activity of the several states after being
internal under the feudal government, had become external under the
monarchical government. The first period terminated almost at the same
time among all the great nations of Europe. Then kings who had so long
been at war with their vassals, because they were in contact with them,
encountered each other on the boundaries of their kingdoms, and fought. As
no domination could become universal, neither that of Charles V. nor that
of Louis XIV., the weak always uniting against the strong, after several
vicissitudes of superiority and alliance, a sort of European equilibrium
was established. In order to appreciate ulterior events, I propose to
consider this equilibrium before the revolution.

Austria, England, and France had been, from the peace of Westphalia to the
middle of the eighteenth century, the three great powers of Europe.
Interest had leagued the two first against the third. Austria had reason
to dread the influence of France in the Netherlands; England feared it on
the sea. Rivalry of power and commerce often set them at variance, and
they sought to weaken or plunder each other. Spain, since a prince of the

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