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The French Revolution A History by Thomas Carlyle

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ii.213), &c. &c.) and very significant.

Chapter 3.1.V.

A Trilogy.

As all Delineation, in these ages, were it never so Epic, 'speaking itself
and not singing itself,' must either found on Belief and provable Fact, or
have no foundation at all (nor except as floating cobweb any existence at
all),--the Reader will perhaps prefer to take a glance with the very eyes
of eye-witnesses; and see, in that way, for himself, how it was. Brave
Jourgniac, innocent Abbe Sicard, judicious Advocate Maton, these, greatly
compressing themselves, shall speak, each an instant. Jourgniac's Agony of
Thirty-eight hours went through 'above a hundred editions,' though
intrinsically a poor work. Some portion of it may here go through above
the hundred-and-first, for want of a better.

'Towards seven o'clock' (Sunday night, at the Abbaye; for Jourgniac goes by
dates): 'We saw two men enter, their hands bloody and armed with sabres; a
turnkey, with a torch, lighted them; he pointed to the bed of the
unfortunate Swiss, Reding. Reding spoke with a dying voice. One of them
paused; but the other cried Allons donc; lifted the unfortunate man;
carried him out on his back to the street. He was massacred there.

'We all looked at one another in silence, we clasped each other's hands.
Motionless, with fixed eyes, we gazed on the pavement of our prison; on
which lay the moonlight, checkered with the triple stancheons of our

'Three in the morning: They were breaking-in one of the prison-doors. We
at first thought they were coming to kill us in our room; but heard, by
voices on the staircase, that it was a room where some Prisoners had
barricaded themselves. They were all butchered there, as we shortly

'Ten o'clock: The Abbe Lenfant and the Abbe de Chapt-Rastignac appeared in
the pulpit of the Chapel, which was our prison; they had entered by a door
from the stairs. They said to us that our end was at hand; that we must
compose ourselves, and receive their last blessing. An electric movement,
not to be defined, threw us all on our knees, and we received it. These
two whitehaired old men, blessing us from their place above; death hovering
over our heads, on all hands environing us; the moment is never to be
forgotten. Half an hour after, they were both massacred, and we heard
their cries.' (Jourgniac Saint-Meard, Mon Agonie de Trente-huit heures
(reprinted in Hist. Parl. xviii. 103-135).)--Thus Jourgniac in his Agony in
the Abbaye.

But now let the good Maton speak, what he, over in La Force, in the same
hours, is suffering and witnessing. This Resurrection by him is greatly
the best, the least theatrical of these Pamphlets; and stands testing by

'Towards seven o'clock,' on Sunday night, 'prisoners were called
frequently, and they did not reappear. Each of us reasoned in his own way,
on this singularity: but our ideas became calm, as we persuaded ourselves
that the Memorial I had drawn up for the National Assembly was producing

'At one in the morning, the grate which led to our quarter opened anew.
Four men in uniform, each with a drawn sabre and blazing torch, came up to
our corridor, preceded by a turnkey; and entered an apartment close to
ours, to investigate a box there, which we heard them break up. This done,
they stept into the gallery, and questioned the man Cuissa, to know where
Lamotte (Necklace's Widower) was. Lamotte, they said, had some months ago,
under pretext of a treasure he knew of, swindled a sum of three-hundred
livres from one of them, inviting him to dinner for that purpose. The
wretched Cuissa, now in their hands, who indeed lost his life this night,
answered trembling, That he remembered the fact well, but could not tell
what was become of Lamotte. Determined to find Lamotte and confront him
with Cuissa, they rummaged, along with this latter, through various other
apartments; but without effect, for we heard them say: "Come search among
the corpses then: for, nom de Dieu! we must find where he is."

'At this time, I heard Louis Bardy, the Abbe Bardy's name called: he was
brought out; and directly massacred, as I learnt. He had been accused,
along with his concubine, five or six years before, of having murdered and
cut in pieces his own Brother, Auditor of the Chambre des Comptes at
Montpelier; but had by his subtlety, his dexterity, nay his eloquence,
outwitted the judges, and escaped.

'One may fancy what terror these words, "Come search among the corpses
then," had thrown me into. I saw nothing for it now but resigning myself
to die. I wrote my last-will; concluding it by a petition and adjuration,
that the paper should be sent to its address. Scarcely had I quitted the
pen, when there came two other men in uniform; one of them, whose arm and
sleeve up to the very shoulder, as well as the sabre, were covered with
blood, said, He was as weary as a hodman that had been beating plaster.

'Baudin de la Chenaye was called; sixty years of virtues could not save
him. They said, "A l'Abbaye:" he passed the fatal outer-gate; gave a cry
of terror, at sight of the heaped corpses; covered his eyes with his hands,
and died of innumerable wounds. At every new opening of the grate, I
thought I should hear my own name called, and see Rossignol enter.

'I flung off my nightgown and cap; I put on a coarse unwashed shirt, a worn
frock without waistcoat, an old round hat; these things I had sent for,
some days ago, in the fear of what might happen.

'The rooms of this corridor had been all emptied but ours. We were four
together; whom they seemed to have forgotten: we addressed our prayers in
common to the Eternal to be delivered from this peril.

'Baptiste the turnkey came up by himself, to see us. I took him by the
hands; I conjured him to save us; promised him a hundred louis, if he would
conduct me home. A noise coming from the grates made him hastily withdraw.

'It was the noise of some dozen or fifteen men, armed to the teeth; as we,
lying flat to escape being seen, could see from our windows: "Up stairs!"
said they: "Let not one remain." I took out my penknife; I considered
where I should strike myself,'--but reflected 'that the blade was too
short,' and also 'on religion.'

Finally, however, between seven and eight o'clock in the morning, enter
four men with bludgeons and sabres!--'to one of whom Gerard my comrade
whispered, earnestly, apart. During their colloquy I searched every where
for shoes, that I might lay off the Advocate pumps (pantoufles de Palais) I
had on,' but could find none.--'Constant, called le Sauvage, Gerard, and a
third whose name escapes me, they let clear off: as for me, four sabres
were crossed over my breast, and they led me down. I was brought to their
bar; to the Personage with the scarf, who sat as judge there. He was a
lame man, of tall lank stature. He recognised me on the streets, and spoke
to me seven months after. I have been assured that he was son of a retired
attorney, and named Chepy. Crossing the Court called Des Nourrices, I saw
Manuel haranguing in tricolor scarf.' The trial, as we see, ends in
acquittal and resurrection. (Maton de la Varenne, Ma Resurrection (in
Hist. Parl. xviii. 135-156).)

Poor Sicard, from the violon of the Abbaye, shall say but a few words;
true-looking, though tremulous. Towards three in the morning, the killers
bethink them of this little violon; and knock from the court. 'I tapped
gently, trembling lest the murderers might hear, on the opposite door,
where the Section Committee was sitting: they answered gruffly that they
had no key. There were three of us in this violon; my companions thought
they perceived a kind of loft overhead. But it was very high; only one of
us could reach it, by mounting on the shoulders of both the others. One of
them said to me, that my life was usefuller than theirs: I resisted, they
insisted: no denial! I fling myself on the neck of these two deliverers;
never was scene more touching. I mount on the shoulders of the first, then
on those of the second, finally on the loft; and address to my two comrades
the expression of a soul overwhelmed with natural emotions. (Abbe Sicard:
Relation adressee a un de ses amis (Hist. Parl. xviii. 98-103).)

The two generous companions, we rejoice to find, did not perish. But it is
time that Jourgniac de Saint-Meard should speak his last words, and end
this singular trilogy. The night had become day; and the day has again
become night. Jourgniac, worn down with uttermost agitation, has fallen
asleep, and had a cheering dream: he has also contrived to make
acquaintance with one of the volunteer bailiffs, and spoken in native
Provencal with him. On Tuesday, about one in the morning, his Agony is
reaching its crisis.

'By the glare of two torches, I now descried the terrible tribunal, where
lay my life or my death. The President, in grey coats, with a sabre at his
side, stood leaning with his hands against a table, on which were papers,
an inkstand, tobacco-pipes and bottles. Some ten persons were around,
seated or standing; two of whom had jackets and aprons: others were
sleeping stretched on benches. Two men, in bloody shirts, guarded the door
of the place; an old turnkey had his hand on the lock. In front of the
President, three men held a Prisoner, who might be about sixty' (or
seventy: he was old Marshal Maille, of the Tuileries and August Tenth).
'They stationed me in a corner; my guards crossed their sabres on my
breast. I looked on all sides for my Provencal: two National Guards, one
of them drunk, presented some appeal from the Section of Croix Rouge in
favour of the Prisoner; the Man in Grey answered: "They are useless, these
appeals for traitors." Then the Prisoner exclaimed: "It is frightful;
your judgment is a murder." The President answered; "My hands are washed
of it; take M. Maille away." They drove him into the street; where,
through the opening of the door, I saw him massacred.

'The President sat down to write; registering, I suppose, the name of this
one whom they had finished; then I heard him say: "Another, A un autre!"

'Behold me then haled before this swift and bloody judgment-bar, where the
best protection was to have no protection, and all resources of ingenuity
became null if they were not founded on truth. Two of my guards held me
each by a hand, the third by the collar of my coat. "Your name, your
profession?" said the President. "The smallest lie ruins you," added one
of the judges,--"My name is Jourgniac Saint-Meard; I have served, as an
officer, twenty years: and I appear at your tribunal with the assurance of
an innocent man, who therefore will not lie."--"We shall see that," said
the President: "Do you know why you are arrested?"--"Yes, Monsieur le
President; I am accused of editing the Journal De la Cour et de la Ville.
But I hope to prove the falsity"'--

But no; Jourgniac's proof of the falsity, and defence generally, though of
excellent result as a defence, is not interesting to read. It is long-
winded; there is a loose theatricality in the reporting of it, which does
not amount to unveracity, yet which tends that way. We shall suppose him
successful, beyond hope, in proving and disproving; and skip largely,--to
the catastrophe, almost at two steps.

'"But after all," said one of the Judges, "there is no smoke without
kindling; tell us why they accuse you of that."--"I was about to do so"'--
Jourgniac does so; with more and more success.

'"Nay," continued I, "they accuse me even of recruiting for the Emigrants!"
At these words there arose a general murmur. "O Messieurs, Messieurs," I
exclaimed, raising my voice, "it is my turn to speak; I beg M. le President
to have the kindness to maintain it for me; I never needed it more."--"True
enough, true enough," said almost all the judges with a laugh: "Silence!"

'While they were examining the testimonials I had produced, a new Prisoner
was brought in, and placed before the President. "It was one Priest more,"
they said, "whom they had ferreted out of the Chapelle." After very few
questions: "A la Force!" He flung his breviary on the table: was hurled
forth, and massacred. I reappeared before the tribunal.

'"You tell us always," cried one of the judges, with a tone of impatience,
"that you are not this, that you are not that: what are you then?"--"I was
an open Royalist."--There arose a general murmur; which was miraculously
appeased by another of the men, who had seemed to take an interest in me:
"We are not here to judge opinions," said he, "but to judge the results of
them." Could Rousseau and Voltaire both in one, pleading for me, have said
better?--"Yes, Messieurs," cried I, "always till the Tenth of August, I was
an open Royalist. Ever since the Tenth of August that cause has been
finished. I am a Frenchman, true to my country. I was always a man of

'"My soldiers never distrusted me. Nay, two days before that business of
Nanci, when their suspicion of their officers was at its height, they chose
me for commander, to lead them to Luneville, to get back the prisoners of
the Regiment Mestre-de-Camp, and seize General Malseigne."' Which fact
there is, most luckily, an individual present who by a certain token can

'The President, this cross-questioning being over, took off his hat and
said: "I see nothing to suspect in this man; I am for granting him his
liberty. Is that your vote?" To which all the judges answered: "Oui,
oui; it is just!"'

And there arose vivats within doors and without; 'escort of three,' amid
shoutings and embracings: thus Jourgniac escaped from jury-trial and the
jaws of death. (Mon Agonie (ut supra), Hist. Parl. xviii. 128.) Maton and
Sicard did, either by trial, and no bill found, lank President Chepy
finding 'absolutely nothing;' or else by evasion, and new favour of Moton
the brave watchmaker, likewise escape; and were embraced, and wept over;
weeping in return, as they well might.

Thus they three, in wondrous trilogy, or triple soliloquy; uttering
simultaneously, through the dread night-watches, their Night-thoughts,--
grown audible to us! They Three are become audible: but the other
'Thousand and Eighty-nine, of whom Two Hundred and Two were Priests,' who
also had Night-thoughts, remain inaudible; choked for ever in black Death.
Heard only of President Chepy and the Man in Grey!--

Chapter 3.1.VI.

The Circular.

But the Constituted Authorities, all this while? The Legislative Assembly;
the Six Ministers; the Townhall; Santerre with the National Guard?--It is
very curious to think what a City is. Theatres, to the number of some
twenty-three, were open every night during these prodigies: while right-
arms here grew weary with slaying, right-arms there are twiddledeeing on
melodious catgut; at the very instant when Abbe Sicard was clambering up
his second pair of shoulders, three-men high, five hundred thousand human
individuals were lying horizontal, as if nothing were amiss.

As for the poor Legislative, the sceptre had departed from it. The
Legislative did send Deputation to the Prisons, to the Street-Courts; and
poor M. Dusaulx did harangue there; but produced no conviction whatsoever:
nay, at last, as he continued haranguing, the Street-Court interposed, not
without threats; and he had to cease, and withdraw. This is the same poor
worthy old M. Dusaulx who told, or indeed almost sang (though with cracked
voice), the Taking of the Bastille,--to our satisfaction long since. He
was wont to announce himself, on such and on all occasions, as the
Translator of Juvenal. "Good Citizens, you see before you a man who loves
his country, who is the Translator of Juvenal," said he once.--"Juvenal?'
interrupts Sansculottism: "who the devil is Juvenal? One of your sacres
Aristocrates? To the Lanterne!" From an orator of this kind, conviction
was not to be expected. The Legislative had much ado to save one of its
own Members, or Ex-Members, Deputy Journeau, who chanced to be lying in
arrest for mere Parliamentary delinquencies, in these Prisons. As for poor
old Dusaulx and Company, they returned to the Salle de Manege, saying, "It
was dark; and they could not see well what was going on." (Moniteur,
Debate of 2nd September, 1792.)

Roland writes indignant messages, in the name of Order, Humanity, and the
Law; but there is no Force at his disposal. Santerre's National Force
seems lazy to rise; though he made requisitions, he says,--which always
dispersed again. Nay did not we, with Advocate Maton's eyes, see 'men in
uniform,' too, with their 'sleeves bloody to the shoulder?' Petion goes in
tricolor scarf; speaks "the austere language of the law:" the killers give
up, while he is there; when his back is turned, recommence. Manuel too in
scarf we, with Maton's eyes, transiently saw haranguing, in the Court
called of Nurses, Cour des Nourrices. On the other hand, cruel Billaud,
likewise in scarf, 'with that small puce coat and black wig we are used to
on him,' (Mehee, Fils (ut supra, in Hist. Parl. xviii. p. 189).) audibly
delivers, 'standing among corpses,' at the Abbaye, a short but ever-
memorable harangue, reported in various phraseology, but always to this
purpose: "Brave Citizens, you are extirpating the Enemies of Liberty; you
are at your duty. A grateful Commune, and Country, would wish to
recompense you adequately; but cannot, for you know its want of funds.
Whoever shall have worked (travaille) in a Prison shall receive a draft of
one louis, payable by our cashier. Continue your work." (Montgaillard,
iii. 191.)--The Constituted Authorities are of yesterday; all pulling
different ways: there is properly not Constituted Authority, but every man
is his own King; and all are kinglets, belligerent, allied, or armed-
neutral, without king over them.

'O everlasting infamy,' exclaims Montgaillard, 'that Paris stood looking on
in stupor for four days, and did not interfere!' Very desirable indeed
that Paris had interfered; yet not unnatural that it stood even so, looking
on in stupor. Paris is in death-panic, the enemy and gibbets at its door:
whosoever in Paris has the heart to front death finds it more pressing to
do it fighting the Prussians, than fighting the killers of Aristocrats.
Indignant abhorrence, as in Roland, may be here; gloomy sanction,
premeditation or not, as in Marat and Committee of Salvation, may be there;
dull disapproval, dull approval, and acquiescence in Necessity and Destiny,
is the general temper. The Sons of Darkness, 'two hundred or so,' risen
from their lurking-places, have scope to do their work. Urged on by fever-
frenzy of Patriotism, and the madness of Terror;--urged on by lucre, and
the gold louis of wages? Nay, not lucre: for the gold watches, rings,
money of the Massacred, are punctually brought to the Townhall, by Killers
sans-indispensables, who higgle afterwards for their twenty shillings of
wages; and Sergent sticking an uncommonly fine agate on his finger ('fully
meaning to account for it'), becomes Agate-Sergent. But the temper, as we
say, is dull acquiescence. Not till the Patriotic or Frenetic part of the
work is finished for want of material; and Sons of Darkness, bent clearly
on lucre alone, begin wrenching watches and purses, brooches from ladies'
necks 'to equip volunteers,' in daylight, on the streets,--does the temper
from dull grow vehement; does the Constable raise his truncheon, and
striking heartily (like a cattle-driver in earnest) beat the 'course of
things' back into its old regulated drove-roads. The Garde-Meuble itself
was surreptitiously plundered, on the 17th of the Month, to Roland's new
horror; who anew bestirs himself, and is, as Sieyes says, 'the veto of
scoundrels,' Roland veto des coquins. (Helen Maria Williams, iii. 27.)--

This is the September Massacre, otherwise called 'Severe Justice of the
People.' These are the Septemberers (Septembriseurs); a name of some note
and lucency,--but lucency of the Nether-fire sort; very different from that
of our Bastille Heroes, who shone, disputable by no Friend of Freedom, as
in heavenly light-radiance: to such phasis of the business have we
advanced since then! The numbers massacred are, in Historical fantasy,
'between two and three thousand;' or indeed they are 'upwards of six
thousand,' for Peltier (in vision) saw them massacring the very patients of
the Bicetre Madhouse 'with grape-shot;' nay finally they are 'twelve
thousand' and odd hundreds,--not more than that. (See Hist. Parl. xvii.
421, 422.) In Arithmetical ciphers, and Lists drawn up by accurate
Advocate Maton, the number, including two hundred and two priests, three
'persons unknown,' and 'one thief killed at the Bernardins,' is, as above
hinted, a Thousand and Eighty-nine,--no less than that.

A thousand and eighty-nine lie dead, 'two hundred and sixty heaped
carcasses on the Pont au Change' itself;--among which, Robespierre pleading
afterwards will 'nearly weep' to reflect that there was said to be one
slain innocent. (Moniteur of 6th November (Debate of 5th November, 1793).)
One; not two, O thou seagreen Incorruptible? If so, Themis Sansculotte
must be lucky; for she was brief!--In the dim Registers of the Townhall,
which are preserved to this day, men read, with a certain sickness of
heart, items and entries not usual in Town Books: 'To workers employed in
preserving the salubrity of the air in the Prisons, and persons 'who
presided over these dangerous operations,' so much,--in various items,
nearly seven hundred pounds sterling. To carters employed to 'the Burying-
grounds of Clamart, Montrouge, and Vaugirard,' at so much a journey, per
cart; this also is an entry. Then so many francs and odd sous 'for the
necessary quantity of quick-lime!' (Etat des sommes payees par la Commune
de Paris (Hist. Parl. xviii. 231).) Carts go along the streets; full of
stript human corpses, thrown pellmell; limbs sticking up:--seest thou that
cold Hand sticking up, through the heaped embrace of brother corpses, in
its yellow paleness, in its cold rigour; the palm opened towards Heaven, as
if in dumb prayer, in expostulation de profundis, Take pity on the Sons of
Men!--Mercier saw it, as he walked down 'the Rue Saint-Jacques from
Montrouge, on the morrow of the Massacres:' but not a Hand; it was a
Foot,--which he reckons still more significant, one understands not well
why. Or was it as the Foot of one spurning Heaven? Rushing, like a wild
diver, in disgust and despair, towards the depths of Annihilation? Even
there shall His hand find thee, and His right-hand hold thee,--surely for
right not for wrong, for good not evil! 'I saw that Foot,' says Mercier;
'I shall know it again at the great Day of Judgment, when the Eternal,
throned on his thunders, shall judge both Kings and Septemberers.'
(Mercier, Nouveau Paris, vi. 21.)

That a shriek of inarticulate horror rose over this thing, not only from
French Aristocrats and Moderates, but from all Europe, and has prolonged
itself to the present day, was most natural and right. The thing lay done,
irrevocable; a thing to be counted besides some other things, which lie
very black in our Earth's Annals, yet which will not erase therefrom. For
man, as was remarked, has transcendentalisms in him; standing, as he does,
poor creature, every way 'in the confluence of Infinitudes;' a mystery to
himself and others: in the centre of two Eternities, of three
Immensities,--in the intersection of primeval Light with the everlasting
dark! Thus have there been, especially by vehement tempers reduced to a
state of desperation, very miserable things done. Sicilian Vespers, and
'eight thousand slaughtered in two hours,' are a known thing. Kings
themselves, not in desperation, but only in difficulty, have sat hatching,
for year and day (nay De Thou says, for seven years), their Bartholomew
Business; and then, at the right moment, also on an Autumn Sunday, this
very Bell (they say it is the identical metal) of St. Germain l'Auxerrois
was set a-pealing--with effect. (9th to 13th September, 1572 (Dulaure,
Hist. de Paris, iv. 289.) Nay the same black boulder-stones of these Paris
Prisons have seen Prison-massacres before now; men massacring countrymen,
Burgundies massacring Armagnacs, whom they had suddenly imprisoned, till as
now there are piled heaps of carcasses, and the streets ran red;--the Mayor
Petion of the time speaking the austere language of the law, and answered
by the Killers, in old French (it is some four hundred years old): "Maugre
bieu, Sire,--Sir, God's malison on your justice, your pity, your right
reason. Cursed be of God whoso shall have pity on these false traitorous
Armagnacs, English; dogs they are; they have destroyed us, wasted this
realm of France, and sold it to the English." (Dulaure, iii. 494.) And so
they slay, and fling aside the slain, to the extent of 'fifteen hundred and
eighteen, among whom are found four Bishops of false and damnable counsel,
and two Presidents of Parlement.' For though it is not Satan's world this
that we live in, Satan always has his place in it (underground properly);
and from time to time bursts up. Well may mankind shriek, inarticulately
anathematising as they can. There are actions of such emphasis that no
shrieking can be too emphatic for them. Shriek ye; acted have they.

Shriek who might in this France, in this Paris Legislative or Paris
Townhall, there are Ten Men who do not shriek. A Circular goes out from
the Committee of Salut Public, dated 3rd of September 1792; directed to all
Townhalls: a State-paper too remarkable to be overlooked. 'A part of the
ferocious conspirators detained in the Prisons,' it says, 'have been put to
death by the People; and it,' the Circular, 'cannot doubt but the whole
Nation, driven to the edge of ruin by such endless series of treasons, will
make haste to adopt this means of public salvation; and all Frenchmen will
cry as the men of Paris: We go to fight the enemy, but we will not leave
robbers behind us, to butcher our wives and children.' To which are
legibly appended these signatures: Panis, Sergent; Marat, Friend of the
People; (Hist. Parl. xvii. 433.) with Seven others;--carried down thereby,
in a strange way, to the late remembrance of Antiquarians. We remark,
however, that their Circular rather recoiled on themselves. The Townhalls
made no use of it; even the distracted Sansculottes made little; they only
howled and bellowed, but did not bite. At Rheims 'about eight persons'
were killed; and two afterwards were hanged for doing it. At Lyons, and a
few other places, some attempt was made; but with hardly any effect, being
quickly put down.

Less fortunate were the Prisoners of Orleans; was the good Duke de la
Rochefoucault. He journeying, by quick stages, with his Mother and Wife,
towards the Waters of Forges, or some quieter country, was arrested at
Gisors; conducted along the streets, amid effervescing multitudes, and
killed dead 'by the stroke of a paving-stone hurled through the coach-
window.' Killed as a once Liberal now Aristocrat; Protector of Priests,
Suspender of virtuous Petions, and his unfortunate Hot-grown-cold,
detestable to Patriotism. He dies lamented of Europe; his blood spattering
the cheeks of his old Mother, ninety-three years old.

As for the Orleans Prisoners, they are State Criminals: Royalist
Ministers, Delessarts, Montmorins; who have been accumulating on the High
Court of Orleans, ever since that Tribunal was set up. Whom now it seems
good that we should get transferred to our new Paris Court of the
Seventeenth; which proceeds far quicker. Accordingly hot Fournier from
Martinique, Fournier l'Americain, is off, missioned by Constituted
Authority; with stanch National Guards, with Lazouski the Pole; sparingly
provided with road-money. These, through bad quarters, through
difficulties, perils, for Authorities cross each other in this time,--do
triumphantly bring off the Fifty or Fifty-three Orleans Prisoners, towards
Paris; where a swifter Court of the Seventeenth will do justice on them.
(Ibid. xvii. 434.) But lo, at Paris, in the interim, a still swifter and
swiftest Court of the Second, and of September, has instituted itself:
enter not Paris, or that will judge you!--What shall hot Fournier do? It
was his duty, as volunteer Constable, had he been a perfect character, to
guard those men's lives never so Aristocratic, at the expense of his own
valuable life never so Sansculottic, till some Constituted Court had
disposed of them. But he was an imperfect character and Constable; perhaps
one of the more imperfect.

Hot Fournier, ordered to turn thither by one Authority, to turn thither by
another Authority, is in a perplexing multiplicity of orders; but finally
he strikes off for Versailles. His Prisoners fare in tumbrils, or open
carts, himself and Guards riding and marching around: and at the last
village, the worthy Mayor of Versailles comes to meet him, anxious that the
arrival and locking up were well over. It is Sunday, the ninth day of the
month. Lo, on entering the Avenue of Versailles, what multitudes,
stirring, swarming in the September sun, under the dull-green September
foliage; the Four-rowed Avenue all humming and swarming, as if the Town had
emptied itself! Our tumbrils roll heavily through the living sea; the
Guards and Fournier making way with ever more difficulty; the Mayor
speaking and gesturing his persuasivest; amid the inarticulate growling
hum, which growls ever the deeper even by hearing itself growl, not without
sharp yelpings here and there:--Would to God we were out of this strait
place, and wind and separation had cooled the heat, which seems about
igniting here!

And yet if the wide Avenue is too strait, what will the Street de
Surintendance be, at leaving of the same? At the corner of Surintendance
Street, the compressed yelpings became a continuous yell: savage figures
spring on the tumbril-shafts; first spray of an endless coming tide! The
Mayor pleads, pushes, half-desperate; is pushed, carried off in men's arms:
the savage tide has entrance, has mastery. Amid horrid noise, and tumult
as of fierce wolves, the Prisoners sink massacred,--all but some eleven,
who escaped into houses, and found mercy. The Prisons, and what other
Prisoners they held, were with difficulty saved. The stript clothes are
burnt in bonfire; the corpses lie heaped in the ditch on the morrow
morning. (Pieces officielles relatives au massacre des Prisonniers a
Versailles (in Hist. Parl. xviii. 236-249).) All France, except it be the
Ten Men of the Circular and their people, moans and rages, inarticulately
shrieking; all Europe rings.

But neither did Danton shriek; though, as Minister of Justice, it was more
his part to do so. Brawny Danton is in the breach, as of stormed Cities
and Nations; amid the Sweep of Tenth-of-August cannon, the rustle of
Prussian gallows-ropes, the smiting of September sabres; destruction all
round him, and the rushing-down of worlds: Minister of Justice is his
name; but Titan of the Forlorn Hope, and Enfant Perdu of the Revolution, is
his quality,--and the man acts according to that. "We must put our enemies
in fear!" Deep fear, is it not, as of its own accord, falling on our
enemies? The Titan of the Forlorn Hope, he is not the man that would
swiftest of all prevent its so falling. Forward, thou lost Titan of an
Enfant Perdu; thou must dare, and again dare, and without end dare; there
is nothing left for thee but that! "Que mon nom soit fletri, Let my name
be blighted:" what am I? The Cause alone is great; and shall live, and
not perish.--So, on the whole, here too is a swallower of Formulas; of
still wider gulp than Mirabeau: this Danton, Mirabeau of the Sansculottes.
In the September days, this Minister was not heard of as co-operating with
strict Roland; his business might lie elsewhere,--with Brunswick and the
Hotel-de-Ville. When applied to by an official person, about the Orleans
Prisoners, and the risks they ran, he answered gloomily, twice over, "Are
not these men guilty?"--When pressed, he 'answered in a terrible voice,'
and turned his back. (Biographie des Ministres, p. 97.) Two Thousand
slain in the Prisons; horrible if you will: but Brunswick is within a
day's journey of us; and there are Five-and twenty Millions yet, to slay or
to save. Some men have tasks,--frightfuller than ours! It seems strange,
but is not strange, that this Minister of Moloch-Justice, when any
suppliant for a friend's life got access to him, was found to have human
compassion; and yielded and granted 'always;' 'neither did one personal
enemy of Danton perish in these days.' (Ibid. p. 103.)

To shriek, we say, when certain things are acted, is proper and
unavoidable. Nevertheless, articulate speech, not shrieking, is the
faculty of man: when speech is not yet possible, let there be, with the
shortest delay, at least--silence. Silence, accordingly, in this forty-
fourth year of the business, and eighteen hundred and thirty-sixth of an
'Era called Christian as lucus a non,' is the thing we recommend and
practise. Nay, instead of shrieking more, it were perhaps edifying to
remark, on the other side, what a singular thing Customs (in Latin, Mores)
are; and how fitly the Virtue, Vir-tus, Manhood or Worth, that is in a man,
is called his Morality, or Customariness. Fell Slaughter, one the most
authentic products of the Pit you would say, once give it Customs, becomes
War, with Laws of War; and is Customary and Moral enough; and red
individuals carry the tools of it girt round their haunches, not without an
air of pride,--which do thou nowise blame. While, see! so long as it is
but dressed in hodden or russet; and Revolution, less frequent than War,
has not yet got its Laws of Revolution, but the hodden or russet
individuals are Uncustomary--O shrieking beloved brother blockheads of
Mankind, let us close those wide mouths of ours; let us cease shrieking,
and begin considering!

Chapter 3.1.VII.

September in Argonne.

Plain, at any rate, is one thing: that the fear, whatever of fear those
Aristocrat enemies might need, has been brought about. The matter is
getting serious then! Sansculottism too has become a Fact, and seems
minded to assert itself as such? This huge mooncalf of Sansculottism,
staggering about, as young calves do, is not mockable only, and soft like
another calf; but terrible too, if you prick it; and, through its hideous
nostrils, blows fire!--Aristocrats, with pale panic in their hearts, fly
towards covert; and a light rises to them over several things; or rather a
confused transition towards light, whereby for the moment darkness is only
darker than ever. But, What will become of this France? Here is a
question! France is dancing its desert-waltz, as Sahara does when the
winds waken; in whirlblasts twenty-five millions in number; waltzing
towards Townhalls, Aristocrat Prisons, and Election Committee-rooms;
towards Brunswick and the Frontiers;--towards a New Chapter of Universal
History; if indeed it be not the Finis, and winding-up of that!

In Election Committee-rooms there is now no dubiety; but the work goes
bravely along. The Convention is getting chosen,--really in a decisive
spirit; in the Townhall we already date First year of the Republic. Some
Two hundred of our best Legislators may be re-elected, the Mountain bodily:
Robespierre, with Mayor Petion, Buzot, Curate Gregoire, Rabaut, some three
score Old-Constituents; though we once had only 'thirty voices.' All
these; and along with them, friends long known to Revolutionary fame:
Camille Desmoulins, though he stutters in speech; Manuel, Tallien and
Company; Journalists Gorsas, Carra, Mercier, Louvet of Faublas; Clootz
Speaker of Mankind; Collot d'Herbois, tearing a passion to rags; Fabre
d'Eglantine, speculative Pamphleteer; Legendre the solid Butcher; nay
Marat, though rural France can hardly believe it, or even believe that
there is a Marat except in print. Of Minister Danton, who will lay down
his Ministry for a Membership, we need not speak. Paris is fervent; nor is
the Country wanting to itself. Barbaroux, Rebecqui, and fervid Patriots
are coming from Marseilles. Seven hundred and forty-five men (or indeed
forty-nine, for Avignon now sends Four) are gathering: so many are to
meet; not so many are to part!

Attorney Carrier from Aurillac, Ex-Priest Lebon from Arras, these shall
both gain a name. Mountainous Auvergne re-elects her Romme: hardy tiller
of the soil, once Mathematical Professor; who, unconscious, carries in
petto a remarkable New Calendar, with Messidors, Pluvioses, and such like;-
-and having given it well forth, shall depart by the death they call Roman.
Sieyes old-Constituent comes; to make new Constitutions as many as wanted:
for the rest, peering out of his clear cautious eyes, he will cower low in
many an emergency, and find silence safest. Young Saint-Just is coming,
deputed by Aisne in the North; more like a Student than a Senator: not
four-and-twenty yet; who has written Books; a youth of slight stature, with
mild mellow voice, enthusiast olive-complexion, and long dark hair.
Feraud, from the far valley D'Aure in the folds of the Pyrenees, is coming;
an ardent Republican; doomed to fame, at least in death.

All manner of Patriot men are coming: Teachers, Husbandmen, Priests and
Ex-Priests, Traders, Doctors; above all, Talkers, or the Attorney-species.
Man-midwives, as Levasseur of the Sarthe, are not wanting. Nor Artists:
gross David, with the swoln cheek, has long painted, with genius in a state
of convulsion; and will now legislate. The swoln cheek, choking his words
in the birth, totally disqualifies him as orator; but his pencil, his head,
his gross hot heart, with genius in a state of convulsion, will be there.
A man bodily and mentally swoln-cheeked, disproportionate; flabby-large,
instead of great; weak withal as in a state of convulsion, not strong in a
state of composure: so let him play his part. Nor are naturalised
Benefactors of the Species forgotten: Priestley, elected by the Orne
Department, but declining: Paine the rebellious Needleman, by the Pas de
Calais, who accepts.

Few Nobles come, and yet not none. Paul Francois Barras, 'noble as the
Barrases, old as the rocks of Provence;' he is one. The reckless,
shipwrecked man: flung ashore on the coast of the Maldives long ago, while
sailing and soldiering as Indian Fighter; flung ashore since then, as
hungry Parisian Pleasure-hunter and Half-pay, on many a Circe Island, with
temporary enchantment, temporary conversion into beasthood and hoghood;--
the remote Var Department has now sent him hither. A man of heat and
haste; defective in utterance; defective indeed in any thing to utter; yet
not without a certain rapidity of glance, a certain swift transient
courage; who, in these times, Fortune favouring, may go far. He is tall,
handsome to the eye, 'only the complexion a little yellow;' but 'with a
robe of purple with a scarlet cloak and plume of tricolor, on occasions of
solemnity,' the man will look well. (Dictionnaire des Hommes Marquans,
para Barras.) Lepelletier Saint-Fargeau, Old-Constituent, is a kind of
noble, and of enormous wealth; he too has come hither:--to have the Pain of
Death abolished? Hapless Ex-Parlementeer! Nay, among our Sixty Old-
Constituents, see Philippe d'Orleans a Prince of the Blood! Not now
d'Orleans: for, Feudalism being swept from the world, he demands of his
worthy friends the Electors of Paris, to have a new name of their choosing;
whereupon Procureur Manuel, like an antithetic literary man, recommends
Equality, Egalite. A Philippe Egalite therefore will sit; seen of the
Earth and Heaven.

Such a Convention is gathering itself together. Mere angry poultry in
moulting season; whom Brunswick's grenadiers and cannoneers will give short
account of. Would the weather only mend a little! (Bertrand-Moleville,
Memoires, ii. 225.)

In vain, O Bertrand! The weather will not mend a whit:--nay even if it
did? Dumouriez Polymetis, though Bertrand knows it not, started from brief
slumber at Sedan, on that morning of the 29th of August; with stealthiness,
with promptitude, audacity. Some three mornings after that, Brunswick,
opening wide eyes, perceives the Passes of the Argonne all seized; blocked
with felled trees, fortified with camps; and that it is a most shifty swift
Dumouriez this, who has outwitted him!

The manoeuvre may cost Brunswick 'a loss of three weeks,' very fatal in
these circumstances. A Mountain-wall of forty miles lying between him and
Paris: which he should have preoccupied;--which how now to get possession
of? Also the rain it raineth every day; and we are in a hungry Champagne
Pouilleuse, a land flowing only with ditch-water. How to cross this
Mountain-wall of the Argonne; or what in the world to do with it?--there
are marchings and wet splashings by steep paths, with sackerments and
guttural interjections; forcings of Argonne Passes,--which unhappily will
not force. Through the woods, volleying War reverberates, like huge gong-
music, or Moloch's kettledrum, borne by the echoes; swoln torrents boil
angrily round the foot of rocks, floating pale carcasses of men. In vain!
Islettes Village, with its church-steeple, rises intact in the Mountain-
pass, between the embosoming heights; your forced marchings and climbings
have become forced slidings, and tumblings back. From the hill-tops thou
seest nothing but dumb crags, and endless wet moaning woods; the Clermont
Vache (huge Cow that she is) disclosing herself (See Helen Maria Williams.
Letters, iii. 79-81.) at intervals; flinging off her cloud-blanket, and
soon taking it on again, drowned in the pouring Heaven. The Argonne Passes
will not force: by must skirt the Argonne; go round by the end of it.

But fancy whether the Emigrant Seigneurs have not got their brilliancy
dulled a little; whether that 'Foot Regiment in red-facings with nankeen
trousers' could be in field-day order! In place of gasconading, a sort of
desperation, and hydrophobia from excess of water, is threatening to
supervene. Young Prince de Ligne, son of that brave literary De Ligne the
Thundergod of Dandies, fell backwards; shot dead in Grand-Pre, the
Northmost of the Passes: Brunswick is skirting and rounding, laboriously,
by the extremity of the South. Four days; days of a rain as of Noah,--
without fire, without food! For fire you cut down green trees, and produce
smoke; for food you eat green grapes, and produce colic, pestilential
dysentery, (Greek). And the Peasants assassinate us, they do not join us;
shrill women cry shame on us, threaten to draw their very scissors on us!
O ye hapless dulled-bright Seigneurs, and hydrophobic splashed Nankeens;--
but O, ten times more, ye poor sackerment-ing ghastly-visaged Hessians and
Hulans, fallen on your backs; who had no call to die there, except
compulsion and three-halfpence a-day! Nor has Mrs. Le Blanc of the Golden
Arm a good time of it, in her bower of dripping rushes. Assassinating
Peasants are hanged; Old-Constituent Honourable members, though of
venerable age, ride in carts with their hands tied; these are the woes of

Thus they; sprawling and wriggling, far and wide, on the slopes and passes
of the Argonne;--a loss to Brunswick of five-and-twenty disastrous days.
There is wriggling and struggling; facing, backing, and right-about facing;
as the positions shift, and the Argonne gets partly rounded, partly
forced:--but still Dumouriez, force him, round him as you will, sticks like
a rooted fixture on the ground; fixture with many hinges; wheeling now this
way, now that; shewing always new front, in the most unexpected manner:
nowise consenting to take himself away. Recruits stream up on him: full
of heart; yet rather difficult to deal with. Behind Grand-Pre, for
example, Grand-Pre which is on the wrong-side of the Argonne, for we are
now forced and rounded,--the full heart, in one of those wheelings and
shewings of new front, did as it were overset itself, as full hearts are
liable to do; and there rose a shriek of sauve qui peut, and a death-panic
which had nigh ruined all! So that the General had to come galloping; and,
with thunder-words, with gesture, stroke of drawn sword even, check and
rally, and bring back the sense of shame; (Dumouriez, Memoires, iii. 29.)--
nay to seize the first shriekers and ringleaders; 'shave their heads and
eyebrows,' and pack them forth into the world as a sign. Thus too (for
really the rations are short, and wet camping with hungry stomach brings
bad humour) there is like to be mutiny. Whereupon again Dumouriez 'arrives
at the head of their line, with his staff, and an escort of a hundred
huzzars. He had placed some squadrons behind them, the artillery in front;
he said to them: "As for you, for I will neither call you citizens, nor
soldiers, nor my men (ni mes enfans), you see before you this artillery,
behind you this cavalry. You have dishonoured yourselves by crimes. If
you amend, and grow to behave like this brave Army which you have the
honour of belonging to, you will find in me a good father. But plunderers
and assassins I do not suffer here. At the smallest mutiny I will have you
shivered in pieces (hacher en pieces). Seek out the scoundrels that are
among you, and dismiss them yourselves; I hold you responsible for them."'
(Ibid., Memoires iii. 55.)

Patience, O Dumouriez! This uncertain heap of shriekers, mutineers, were
they once drilled and inured, will become a phalanxed mass of Fighters; and
wheel and whirl, to order, swiftly like the wind or the whirlwind: tanned
mustachio-figures; often barefoot, even bare-backed; with sinews of iron;
who require only bread and gunpowder: very Sons of Fire, the adroitest,
hastiest, hottest ever seen perhaps since Attila's time. They may conquer
and overrun amazingly, much as that same Attila did;--whose Attila's-Camp
and Battlefield thou now seest, on this very ground; (Helen Maria Williams,
iii. 32.) who, after sweeping bare the world, was, with difficulty, and
days of tough fighting, checked here by Roman Aetius and Fortune; and his
dust-cloud made to vanish in the East again!--

Strangely enough, in this shrieking Confusion of a Soldiery, which we saw
long since fallen all suicidally out of square in suicidal collision,--at
Nanci, or on the streets of Metz, where brave Bouille stood with drawn
sword; and which has collided and ground itself to pieces worse and worse
ever since, down now to such a state: in this shrieking Confusion, and not
elsewhere, lies the first germ of returning Order for France! Round which,
we say, poor France nearly all ground down suicidally likewise into rubbish
and Chaos, will be glad to rally; to begin growing, and new-shaping her
inorganic dust: very slowly, through centuries, through Napoleons, Louis
Philippes, and other the like media and phases,--into a new, infinitely
preferable France, we can hope!--

These wheelings and movements in the region of the Argonne, which are all
faithfully described by Dumouriez himself, and more interesting to us than
Hoyle's or Philidor's best Game of Chess, let us, nevertheless, O Reader,
entirely omit;--and hasten to remark two things: the first a minute
private, the second a large public thing. Our minute private thing is:
the presence, in the Prussian host, in that war-game of the Argonne, of a
certain Man, belonging to the sort called Immortal; who, in days since
then, is becoming visible more and more, in that character, as the
Transitory more and more vanishes; for from of old it was remarked that
when the Gods appear among men, it is seldom in recognisable shape; thus
Admetus' neatherds give Apollo a draught of their goatskin whey-bottle
(well if they do not give him strokes with their ox-rungs), not dreaming
that he is the Sungod! This man's name is Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He
is Herzog Weimar's Minister, come with the small contingent of Weimar; to
do insignificant unmilitary duty here; very irrecognizable to nearly all!
He stands at present, with drawn bridle, on the height near Saint-
Menehould, making an experiment on the 'cannon-fever;' having ridden
thither against persuasion, into the dance and firing of the cannon-balls,
with a scientific desire to understand what that same cannon-fever may be:
'The sound of them,' says he, 'is curious enough; as if it were compounded
of the humming of tops, the gurgling of water and the whistle of birds. By
degrees you get a very uncommon sensation; which can only be described by
similitude. It seems as if you were in some place extremely hot, and at
the same time were completely penetrated by the heat of it; so that you
feel as if you and this element you are in were perfectly on a par. The
eyesight loses nothing of its strength or distinctness; and yet it is as if
all things had got a kind of brown-red colour, which makes the situation
and the objects still more impressive on you.' (Goethe, Campagne in
Frankreich (Werke, xxx. 73.)

This is the cannon-fever, as a World-Poet feels it.--A man entirely
irrecognisable! In whose irrecognisable head, meanwhile, there verily is
the spiritual counterpart (and call it complement) of this same huge Death-
Birth of the World; which now effectuates itself, outwardly in the Argonne,
in such cannon-thunder; inwardly, in the irrecognisable head, quite
otherwise than by thunder! Mark that man, O Reader, as the memorablest of
all the memorable in this Argonne Campaign. What we say of him is not
dream, nor flourish of rhetoric; but scientific historic fact; as many men,
now at this distance, see or begin to see.

But the large public thing we had to remark is this: That the Twentieth of
September, 1792, was a raw morning covered with mist; that from three in
the morning Sainte-Menehould, and those Villages and homesteads we know of
old were stirred by the rumble of artillery-wagons, by the clatter of
hoofs, and many footed tramp of men: all manner of military, Patriot and
Prussian, taking up positions, on the Heights of La Lune and other Heights;
shifting and shoving,--seemingly in some dread chess-game; which may the
Heavens turn to good! The Miller of Valmy has fled dusty under ground; his
Mill, were it never so windy, will have rest to-day. At seven in the
morning the mist clears off: see Kellermann, Dumouriez' second in command,
with 'eighteen pieces of cannon,' and deep-serried ranks, drawn up round
that same silent Windmill, on his knoll of strength; Brunswick, also, with
serried ranks and cannon, glooming over to him from the height of La Lune;
only the little brook and its little dell now parting them.

So that the much-longed-for has come at last! Instead of hunger and
dysentery, we shall have sharp shot; and then!--Dumouriez, with force and
firm front, looks on from a neighbouring height; can help only with his
wishes, in silence. Lo, the eighteen pieces do bluster and bark,
responsive to the bluster of La Lune; and thunder-clouds mount into the
air; and echoes roar through all dells, far into the depths of Argonne Wood
(deserted now); and limbs and lives of men fly dissipated, this way and
that. Can Brunswick make an impression on them? The dull-bright Seigneurs
stand biting their thumbs: these Sansculottes seem not to fly like
poultry! Towards noontide a cannon-shot blows Kellermann's horse from
under him; there bursts a powder-cart high into the air, with knell heard
over all: some swagging and swaying observable;--Brunswick will try!
"Camarades," cries Kellermann, "Vive la Patria! Allons vaincre pour elle,
Let us conquer." "Live the Fatherland!" rings responsive, to the welkin,
like rolling-fire from side to side: our ranks are as firm as rocks; and
Brunswick may recross the dell, ineffectual; regain his old position on La
Lune; not unbattered by the way. And so, for the length of a September
day,--with bluster and bark; with bellow far echoing! The cannonade lasts
till sunset; and no impression made. Till an hour after sunset, the few
remaining Clocks of the District striking Seven; at this late time of day
Brunswick tries again. With not a whit better fortune! He is met by rock-
ranks, by shouts of Vive la Patrie; and driven back, not unbattered.
Whereupon he ceases; retires 'to the Tavern of La Lune;' and sets to
raising a redoute lest he be attacked!

Verily so: ye dulled-bright Seigneurs, make of it what ye may. Ah, and
France does not rise round us in mass; and the Peasants do not join us, but
assassinate us: neither hanging nor any persuasion will induce them! They
have lost their old distinguishing love of King, and King's-cloak,--I fear,
altogether; and will even fight to be rid of it: that seems now their
humour. Nor does Austria prosper, nor the siege of Thionville. The
Thionvillers, carrying their insolence to the epigrammatic pitch, have put
a Wooden Horse on their walls, with a bundle of hay hung from him, and this
Inscription: 'When I finish my hay, you will take Thionville.' (Hist.
Parl. xix. 177.) To such height has the frenzy of mankind risen.

The trenches of Thionville may shut: and what though those of Lille open?
The Earth smiles not on us, nor the Heaven; but weeps and blears itself, in
sour rain, and worse. Our very friends insult us; we are wounded in the
house of our friends: "His Majesty of Prussia had a greatcoat, when the
rain came; and (contrary to all known laws) he put it on, though our two
French Princes, the hope of their country, had none!" To which indeed, as
Goethe admits, what answer could be made? (Goethe, xxx. 49.)--Cold and
Hunger and Affront, Colic and Dysentery and Death; and we here, cowering
redouted, most unredoubtable, amid the 'tattered corn-shocks and deformed
stubble,' on the splashy Height of La Lune, round the mean Tavern de La

This is the Cannonade of Valmy; wherein the World-Poet experimented on the
cannon-fever; wherein the French Sansculottes did not fly like poultry.
Precious to France! Every soldier did his duty, and Alsatian Kellermann
(how preferable to old Luckner the dismissed!) began to become greater; and
Egalite Fils, Equality Junior, a light gallant Field-Officer, distinguished
himself by intrepidity:--it is the same intrepid individual who now, as
Louis-Philippe, without the Equality, struggles, under sad circumstances,
to be called King of the French for a season.

Chapter 3.1.VIII.


But this Twentieth of September is otherwise a great day. For, observe,
while Kellermann's horse was flying blown from under him at the Mill of
Valmy, our new National Deputies, that shall be a NATIONAL CONVENTION, are
hovering and gathering about the Hall of the Hundred Swiss; with intent to
constitute themselves!

On the morrow, about noontide, Camus the Archivist is busy 'verifying their
powers;' several hundreds of them already here. Whereupon the Old
Legislative comes solemnly over, to merge its old ashes Phoenix-like in the
body of the new;--and so forthwith, returning all solemnly back to the
Salle de Manege, there sits a National Convention, Seven Hundred and Forty-
nine complete, or complete enough; presided by Petion;--which proceeds
directly to do business. Read that reported afternoon's-debate, O Reader;
there are few debates like it: dull reporting Moniteur itself becomes more
dramatic than a very Shakespeare. For epigrammatic Manuel rises, speaks
strange things; how the President shall have a guard of honour, and lodge
in the Tuileries:--rejected. And Danton rises and speaks; and Collot
d'Herbois rises, and Curate Gregoire, and lame Couthon of the Mountain
rises; and in rapid Meliboean stanzas, only a few lines each, they propose
motions not a few: That the corner-stone of our new Constitution is
Sovereignty of the People; that our Constitution shall be accepted by the
People or be null; further that the People ought to be avenged, and have
right Judges; that the Imposts must continue till new order; that Landed
and other Property be sacred forever; finally that 'Royalty from this day
is abolished in France:'--Decreed all, before four o'clock strike, with
acclamation of the world! (Hist. Parl. xix. 19.) The tree was all so
ripe; only shake it and there fall such yellow cart-loads.

And so over in the Valmy Region, as soon as the news come, what stir is
this, audible, visible from our muddy heights of La Lune? (Williams, iii.
71.) Universal shouting of the French on their opposite hillside; caps
raised on bayonets; and a sound as of Republique; Vive la Republique borne
dubious on the winds!--On the morrow morning, so to speak, Brunswick slings
his knapsacks before day, lights any fires he has; and marches without tap
of drum. Dumouriez finds ghastly symptoms in that camp; 'latrines full of
blood!' (1st October, 1792; Dumouriez, iii. 73.) The chivalrous King of
Prussia, for he as we saw is here in person, may long rue the day; may look
colder than ever on these dulled-bright Seigneurs, and French Princes their
Country's hope;--and, on the whole, put on his great-coat without ceremony,
happy that he has one. They retire, all retire with convenient despatch,
through a Champagne trodden into a quagmire, the wild weather pouring on
them; Dumouriez through his Kellermanns and Dillons pricking them a little
in the hinder parts. A little, not much; now pricking, now negotiating:
for Brunswick has his eyes opened; and the Majesty of Prussia is a
repentant Majesty.

Nor has Austria prospered, nor the Wooden Horse of Thionville bitten his
hay; nor Lille City surrendered itself. The Lille trenches opened, on the
29th of the month; with balls and shells, and redhot balls; as if not
trenches but Vesuvius and the Pit had opened. It was frightful, say all
eye-witnesses; but it is ineffectual. The Lillers have risen to such
temper; especially after these news from Argonne and the East. Not a Sans-
indispensables in Lille that would surrender for a King's ransom. Redhot
balls rain, day and night; 'six-thousand,' or so, and bombs 'filled
internally with oil of turpentine which splashes up in flame;'--mainly on
the dwellings of the Sansculottes and Poor; the streets of the Rich being
spared. But the Sansculottes get water-pails; form quenching-regulations,
"The ball is in Peter's house!" "The ball is in John's!" They divide
their lodging and substance with each other; shout Vive la Republique; and
faint not in heart. A ball thunders through the main chamber of the Hotel-
de-Ville, while the Commune is there assembled: "We are in permanence,"
says one, coldly, proceeding with his business; and the ball remains
permanent too, sticking in the wall, probably to this day. (Bombardement
de Lille (in Hist. Parl. xx. 63-71).)

The Austrian Archduchess (Queen's Sister) will herself see red artillery
fired; in their over-haste to satisfy an Archduchess 'two mortars explode
and kill thirty persons.' It is in vain; Lille, often burning, is always
quenched again; Lille will not yield. The very boys deftly wrench the
matches out of fallen bombs: 'a man clutches a rolling ball with his hat,
which takes fire; when cool, they crown it with a bonnet rouge.' Memorable
also be that nimble Barber, who when the bomb burst beside him, snatched up
a shred of it, introduced soap and lather into it, crying, "Voila mon plat
a barbe, My new shaving-dish!" and shaved 'fourteen people' on the spot.
Bravo, thou nimble Shaver; worthy to shave old spectral Redcloak, and find
treasures!--On the eighth day of this desperate siege, the sixth day of
October, Austria finding it fruitless, draws off, with no pleasurable
consciousness; rapidly, Dumouriez tending thitherward; and Lille too, black
with ashes and smoulder, but jubilant skyhigh, flings its gates open. The
Plat a barbe became fashionable; 'no Patriot of an elegant turn,' says
Mercier several years afterwards, 'but shaves himself out of the splinter
of a Lille bomb.'

Quid multa, Why many words? The Invaders are in flight; Brunswick's Host,
the third part of it gone to death, staggers disastrous along the deep
highways of Champagne; spreading out also into 'the fields, of a tough
spongy red-coloured clay;--like Pharaoh through a Red Sea of mud,' says
Goethe; 'for he also lay broken chariots, and riders and foot seemed
sinking around.' (Campagne in Frankreich, p. 103.) On the eleventh
morning of October, the World-Poet, struggling Northwards out of Verdun,
which he had entered Southwards, some five weeks ago, in quite other order,
discerned the following Phenomenon and formed part of it:

'Towards three in the morning, without having had any sleep, we were about
mounting our carriage, drawn up at the door; when an insuperable obstacle
disclosed itself: for there rolled on already, between the pavement-stones
which were crushed up into a ridge on each side, an uninterrupted column of
sick-wagons through the Town, and all was trodden as into a morass. While
we stood waiting what could be made of it, our Landlord the Knight of
Saint-Louis pressed past us, without salutation.' He had been a Calonne's
Notable in 1787, an Emigrant since; had returned to his home, jubilant,
with the Prussians; but must now forth again into the wide world, 'followed
by a servant carrying a little bundle on his stick.

'The activity of our alert Lisieux shone eminent; and, on this occasion
too, brought us on: for he struck into a small gap of the wagon-row; and
held the advancing team back till we, with our six and our four horses, got
intercalated; after which, in my light little coachlet, I could breathe
freer. We were now under way; at a funeral pace, but still under way. The
day broke; we found ourselves at the outlet of the Town, in a tumult and
turmoil without measure. All sorts of vehicles, few horsemen, innumerable
foot-people, were crossing each other on the great esplanade before the
Gate. We turned to the right, with our Column, towards Estain, on a
limited highway, with ditches at each side. Self-preservation, in so
monstrous a press, knew now no pity, no respect of aught. Not far before
us there fell down a horse of an ammunition-wagon: they cut the traces,
and let it lie. And now as the three others could not bring their load
along, they cut them also loose, tumbled the heavy-packed vehicle into the
ditch; and, with the smallest retardation, we had to drive on, right over
the horse, which was just about to rise; and I saw too clearly how its
legs, under the wheels, went crashing and quivering.

'Horse and foot endeavoured to escape from the narrow laborious highway
into the meadows: but these too were rained to ruin; overflowed by full
ditches, the connexion of the footpaths every where interrupted. Four
gentlemanlike, handsome, well-dressed French soldiers waded for a time
beside our carriage; wonderfully clean and neat: and had such art of
picking their steps, that their foot-gear testified no higher than the
ancle to the muddy pilgrimage these good people found themselves engaged

'That under such circumstances one saw, in ditches, in meadows, in fields
and crofts, dead horses enough, was natural to the case: by and by,
however, you found them also flayed, the fleshy parts even cut away; sad
token of the universal distress.

'Thus we fared on; every moment in danger, at the smallest stoppage on our
own part, of being ourselves tumbled overboard; under which circumstances,
truly, the careful dexterity of our Lisieux could not be sufficiently
praised. The same talent shewed itself at Estain; where we arrived towards
noon; and descried, over the beautiful well-built little Town, through
streets and on squares, around and beside us, one sense-confusing tumult:
the mass rolled this way and that; and, all struggling forward, each
hindered the other. Unexpectedly our carriage drew up before a stately
house in the market-place; master and mistress of the mansion saluted us in
reverent distance.' Dexterous Lisieux, though we knew it not, had said we
were the King of Prussia's Brother!

'But now, from the ground-floor windows, looking over the whole market-
place, we had the endless tumult lying, as it were, palpable. All sorts of
walkers, soldiers in uniform, marauders, stout but sorrowing citizens and
peasants, women and children, crushed and jostled each other, amid vehicles
of all forms: ammunition-wagons, baggage-wagons; carriages, single,
double, and multiplex; such hundredfold miscellany of teams, requisitioned
or lawfully owned, making way, hitting together, hindering each other,
rolled here to right and to left. Horned-cattle too were struggling on;
probably herds that had been put in requisition. Riders you saw few; but
the elegant carriages of the Emigrants, many-coloured, lackered, gilt and
silvered, evidently by the best builders, caught your eye. (See Hermann
and Dorothea (also by Goethe), Buch Kalliope.)

'The crisis of the strait however arose further on a little; where the
crowded market-place had to introduce itself into a street,--straight
indeed and good, but proportionably far too narrow. I have, in my life,
seen nothing like it: the aspect of it might perhaps be compared to that
of a swoln river which has been raging over meadows and fields, and is now
again obliged to press itself through a narrow bridge, and flow on in its
bounded channel. Down the long street, all visible from our windows, there
swelled continually the strangest tide: a high double-seated travelling-
coach towered visible over the flood of things. We thought of the fair
Frenchwomen we had seen in the morning. It was not they, however, it was
Count Haugwitz; him you could look at, with a kind of sardonic malice,
rocking onwards, step by step, there.' (Campagne in Frankreich, Goethe's
Werke (Stuttgart, 1829), xxx. 133-137.)

In such untriumphant Procession has the Brunswick Manifesto issued! Nay in
worse, 'in Negotiation with these miscreants,'--the first news of which
produced such a revulsion in the Emigrant nature, as put our scientific
World-Poet 'in fear for the wits of several.' There is no help: they must
fare on, these poor Emigrants, angry with all persons and things, and
making all persons angry, in the hapless course they struck into. Landlord
and landlady testify to you, at tables-d'hote, how insupportable these
Frenchmen are: how, in spite of such humiliation, of poverty and probable
beggary, there is ever the same struggle for precedence, the same
forwardness, and want of discretion. High in honour, at the head of the
table, you with your own eyes observe not a Seigneur but the automaton of a
Seigneur, fallen into dotage; still worshipped, reverently waited on, and
fed. In miscellaneous seats, is a miscellany of soldiers, commissaries,
adventurers; consuming silently their barbarian victuals. 'On all brows is
to be read a hard destiny; all are silent, for each has his own sufferings
to bear, and looks forth into misery without bounds.' One hasty wanderer,
coming in, and eating without ungraciousness what is set before him, the
landlord lets off almost scot-free. "He is," whispered the landlord to me,
"the first of these cursed people I have seen condescend to taste our
German black bread." (Ibid. 152.) (Ibid. 210-12.)

And Dumouriez is in Paris; lauded and feasted; paraded in glittering
saloons, floods of beautifullest blond-dresses and broadcloth-coats flowing
past him, endless, in admiring joy. One night, nevertheless, in the
splendour of one such scene, he sees himself suddenly apostrophised by a
squalid unjoyful Figure, who has come in uninvited, nay despite of all
lackeys; an unjoyful Figure! The Figure is come "in express mission from
the Jacobins," to inquire sharply, better then than later, touching certain
things: "Shaven eyebrows of Volunteer Patriots, for instance?" Also "your
threats of shivering in pieces?" Also, "why you have not chased Brunswick
hotly enough?" Thus, with sharp croak, inquires the Figure.--"Ah, c'est
vous qu'on appelle Marat, You are he they call Marat!" answers the General,
and turns coldly on his heel. (Dumouriez, iii. 115.--Marat's account, In
the Debats des Jacobins and Journal de la Republique (Hist. Parl. xix. 317-
21), agrees to the turning on the heel, but strives to interpret it
differently.)--"Marat!" The blonde-gowns quiver like aspens; the dress-
coats gather round; Actor Talma (for it is his house), and almost the very
chandelier-lights, are blue: till this obscene Spectrum, or visual
Appearance, vanish back into native Night.

General Dumouriez, in few brief days, is gone again, towards the
Netherlands; will attack the Netherlands, winter though it be. And General
Montesquiou, on the South-East, has driven in the Sardinian Majesty; nay,
almost without a shot fired, has taken Savoy from him, which longs to
become a piece of the Republic. And General Custine, on the North-East,
has dashed forth on Spires and its Arsenal; and then on Electoral Mentz,
not uninvited, wherein are German Democrats and no shadow of an Elector
now:--so that in the last days of October, Frau Forster, a daughter of
Heyne's, somewhat democratic, walking out of the Gate of Mentz with her
Husband, finds French Soldiers playing at bowls with cannon-balls there.
Forster trips cheerfully over one iron bomb, with "Live the Republic!" A
black-bearded National Guard answers: "Elle vivra bien sans vous, It will
probably live independently of you!" (Johann Georg Forster's Briefwechsel
(Leipzig, 1829), i. 88.)



Chapter 3.2.I.

The Deliberative.

France therefore has done two things very completely: she has hurled back
her Cimmerian Invaders far over the marches; and likewise she has shattered
her own internal Social Constitution, even to the minutest fibre of it,
into wreck and dissolution. Utterly it is all altered: from King down to
Parish Constable, all Authorities, Magistrates, Judges, persons that bore
rule, have had, on the sudden, to alter themselves, so far as needful; or
else, on the sudden, and not without violence, to be altered: a Patriot
'Executive Council of Ministers,' with a Patriot Danton in it, and then a
whole Nation and National Convention, have taken care of that. Not a
Parish Constable, in the furthest hamlet, who has said De Par le Roi, and
shewn loyalty, but must retire, making way for a new improved Parish
Constable who can say De par la Republique.

It is a change such as History must beg her readers to imagine,
undescribed. An instantaneous change of the whole body-politic, the soul-
politic being all changed; such a change as few bodies, politic or other,
can experience in this world. Say perhaps, such as poor Nymph Semele's
body did experience, when she would needs, with woman's humour, see her
Olympian Jove as very Jove;--and so stood, poor Nymph, this moment Semele,
next moment not Semele, but Flame and a Statue of red-hot Ashes! France
has looked upon Democracy; seen it face to face.--The Cimmerian Invaders
will rally, in humbler temper, with better or worse luck: the wreck and
dissolution must reshape itself into a social Arrangement as it can and
may. But as for this National Convention, which is to settle every thing,
if it do, as Deputy Paine and France generally expects, get all finished
'in a few months,' we shall call it a most deft Convention.

In truth, it is very singular to see how this mercurial French People
plunges suddenly from Vive le Roi to Vive la Republique; and goes simmering
and dancing; shaking off daily (so to speak), and trampling into the dust,
its old social garnitures, ways of thinking, rules of existing; and
cheerfully dances towards the Ruleless, Unknown, with such hope in its
heart, and nothing but Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood in its mouth. Is
it two centuries, or is it only two years, since all France roared
simultaneously to the welkin, bursting forth into sound and smoke at its
Feast of Pikes, "Live the Restorer of French Liberty?" Three short years
ago there was still Versailles and an Oeil-de-Boeuf: now there is that
watched Circuit of the Temple, girt with dragon-eyed Municipals, where, as
in its final limbo, Royalty lies extinct. In the year 1789, Constituent
Deputy Barrere 'wept,' in his Break-of-Day Newspaper, at sight of a
reconciled King Louis; and now in 1792, Convention Deputy Barrere,
perfectly tearless, may be considering, whether the reconciled King Louis
shall be guillotined or not.

Old garnitures and social vestures drop off (we say) so fast, being indeed
quite decayed, and are trodden under the National dance. And the new
vestures, where are they; the new modes and rules? Liberty, Equality,
Fraternity: not vestures but the wish for vestures! The Nation is for the
present, figuratively speaking, naked! It has no rule or vesture; but is
naked,--a Sansculottic Nation.

So far, therefore, in such manner have our Patriot Brissots, Guadets
triumphed. Vergniaud's Ezekiel-visions of the fall of thrones and crowns,
which he spake hypothetically and prophetically in the Spring of the year,
have suddenly come to fulfilment in the Autumn. Our eloquent Patriots of
the Legislative, like strong Conjurors, by the word of their mouth, have
swept Royalism with its old modes and formulas to the winds; and shall now
govern a France free of formulas. Free of formulas! And yet man lives not
except with formulas; with customs, ways of doing and living: no text
truer than this; which will hold true from the Tea-table and Tailor's
shopboard up to the High Senate-houses, Solemn Temples; nay through all
provinces of Mind and Imagination, onwards to the outmost confines of
articulate Being,--Ubi homines sunt modi sunt! There are modes wherever
there are men. It is the deepest law of man's nature; whereby man is a
craftsman and 'tool-using animal;' not the slave of Impulse, Chance, and
Brute Nature, but in some measure their lord. Twenty-five millions of men,
suddenly stript bare of their modi, and dancing them down in that manner,
are a terrible thing to govern!

Eloquent Patriots of the Legislative, meanwhile, have precisely this
problem to solve. Under the name and nickname of 'statesmen, hommes
d'etat,' of 'moderate-men, moderantins,' of Brissotins, Rolandins, finally
of Girondins, they shall become world-famous in solving it. For the
Twenty-five millions are Gallic effervescent too;--filled both with hope of
the unutterable, of universal Fraternity and Golden Age; and with terror of
the unutterable, Cimmerian Europe all rallying on us. It is a problem like
few. Truly, if man, as the Philosophers brag, did to any extent look
before and after, what, one may ask, in many cases would become of him?
What, in this case, would become of these Seven Hundred and Forty-nine men?
The Convention, seeing clearly before and after, were a paralysed
Convention. Seeing clearly to the length of its own nose, it is not

To the Convention itself neither the work nor the method of doing it is
doubtful: To make the Constitution; to defend the Republic till that be
made. Speedily enough, accordingly, there has been a 'Committee of the
Constitution' got together. Sieyes, Old-Constituent, Constitution-builder
by trade; Condorcet, fit for better things; Deputy Paine, foreign
Benefactor of the Species, with that 'red carbuncled face, and the black
beaming eyes;' Herault de Sechelles, Ex-Parlementeer, one of the handsomest
men in France: these, with inferior guild-brethren, are girt cheerfully to
the work; will once more 'make the Constitution;' let us hope, more
effectually than last time. For that the Constitution can be made, who
doubts,--unless the Gospel of Jean Jacques came into the world in vain?
True, our last Constitution did tumble within the year, so lamentably. But
what then, except sort the rubbish and boulders, and build them up again
better? 'Widen your basis,' for one thing,--to Universal Suffrage, if need
be; exclude rotten materials, Royalism and such like, for another thing.
And in brief, build, O unspeakable Sieyes and Company, unwearied! Frequent
perilous downrushing of scaffolding and rubble-work, be that an irritation,
no discouragement. Start ye always again, clearing aside the wreck; if
with broken limbs, yet with whole hearts; and build, we say, in the name of
Heaven,--till either the work do stand; or else mankind abandon it, and the
Constitution-builders be paid off, with laughter and tears! One good time,
in the course of Eternity, it was appointed that this of Social Contract
too should try itself out. And so the Committee of Constitution shall
toil: with hope and faith;--with no disturbance from any reader of these

To make the Constitution, then, and return home joyfully in a few months:
this is the prophecy our National Convention gives of itself; by this
scientific program shall its operations and events go on. But from the
best scientific program, in such a case, to the actual fulfilment, what a
difference! Every reunion of men, is it not, as we often say, a reunion of
incalculable Influences; every unit of it a microcosm of Influences;--of
which how shall Science calculate or prophesy! Science, which cannot, with
all its calculuses, differential, integral, and of variations, calculate
the Problem of Three gravitating Bodies, ought to hold her peace here, and
say only: In this National Convention there are Seven Hundred and Forty-
nine very singular Bodies, that gravitate and do much else;--who, probably
in an amazing manner, will work the appointment of Heaven.

Of National Assemblages, Parliaments, Congresses, which have long sat;
which are of saturnine temperament; above all, which are not 'dreadfully in
earnest,' something may be computed or conjectured: yet even these are a
kind of Mystery in progress,--whereby we see the Journalist Reporter find
livelihood: even these jolt madly out of the ruts, from time to time. How
much more a poor National Convention, of French vehemence; urged on at such
velocity; without routine, without rut, track or landmark; and dreadfully
in earnest every man of them! It is a Parliament literally such as there
was never elsewhere in the world. Themselves are new, unarranged; they are
the Heart and presiding centre of a France fallen wholly into maddest
disarrangement. From all cities, hamlets, from the utmost ends of this
France with its Twenty-five million vehement souls, thick-streaming
influences storm in on that same Heart, in the Salle de Manege, and storm
out again: such fiery venous-arterial circulation is the function of that
Heart. Seven Hundred and Forty-nine human individuals, we say, never sat
together on Earth, under more original circumstances. Common individuals
most of them, or not far from common; yet in virtue of the position they
occupied, so notable. How, in this wild piping of the whirlwind of human
passions, with death, victory, terror, valour, and all height and all depth
pealing and piping, these men, left to their own guidance, will speak and

Readers know well that this French National Convention (quite contrary to
its own Program) became the astonishment and horror of mankind; a kind of
Apocalyptic Convention, or black Dream become real; concerning which
History seldom speaks except in the way of interjection: how it covered
France with woe, delusion, and delirium; and from its bosom there went
forth Death on the pale Horse. To hate this poor National Convention is
easy; to praise and love it has not been found impossible. It is, as we
say, a Parliament in the most original circumstances. To us, in these
pages, be it as a fuliginous fiery mystery, where Upper has met Nether, and
in such alternate glare and blackness of darkness poor bedazzled mortals
know not which is Upper, which is Nether; but rage and plunge distractedly,
as mortals, in that case, will do. A Convention which has to consume
itself, suicidally; and become dead ashes--with its World! Behoves us, not
to enter exploratively its dim embroiled deeps; yet to stand with
unwavering eyes, looking how it welters; what notable phases and
occurrences it will successively throw up.

One general superficial circumstance we remark with praise: the force of
Politeness. To such depth has the sense of civilisation penetrated man's
life; no Drouet, no Legendre, in the maddest tug of war, can altogether
shake it off. Debates of Senates dreadfully in earnest are seldom given
frankly to the world; else perhaps they would surprise it. Did not the
Grand Monarque himself once chase his Louvois with a pair of brandished
tongs? But reading long volumes of these Convention Debates, all in a foam
with furious earnestness, earnest many times to the extent of life and
death, one is struck rather with the degree of continence they manifest in
speech; and how in such wild ebullition, there is still a kind of polite
rule struggling for mastery, and the forms of social life never altogether
disappear. These men, though they menace with clenched right-hands, do not
clench one another by the collar; they draw no daggers, except for
oratorical purposes, and this not often: profane swearing is almost
unknown, though the Reports are frank enough; we find only one or two
oaths, oaths by Marat, reported in all.

For the rest, that there is 'effervescence' who doubts? Effervescence
enough; Decrees passed by acclamation to-day, repealed by vociferation to-
morrow; temper fitful, most rotatory changeful, always headlong! The
'voice of the orator is covered with rumours;' a hundred 'honourable
Members rush with menaces towards the Left side of the Hall;' President has
'broken three bells in succession,'--claps on his hat, as signal that the
country is near ruined. A fiercely effervescent Old-Gallic Assemblage!--
Ah, how the loud sick sounds of Debate, and of Life, which is a debate,
sink silent one after another: so loud now, and in a little while so low!
Brennus, and those antique Gael Captains, in their way to Rome, to Galatia,
and such places, whither they were in the habit of marching in the most
fiery manner, had Debates as effervescent, doubt it not; though no Moniteur
has reported them. They scolded in Celtic Welsh, those Brennuses; neither
were they Sansculotte; nay rather breeches (braccae, say of felt or rough-
leather) were the only thing they had; being, as Livy testifies, naked down
to the haunches:--and, see, it is the same sort of work and of men still,
now when they have got coats, and speak nasally a kind of broken Latin!
But on the whole does not TIME envelop this present National Convention; as
it did those Brennuses, and ancient August Senates in felt breeches? Time
surely; and also Eternity. Dim dusk of Time,--or noon which will be dusk;
and then there is night, and silence; and Time with all its sick noises is
swallowed in the still sea. Pity thy brother, O Son of Adam! The angriest
frothy jargon that he utters, is it not properly the whimpering of an
infant which cannot speak what ails it, but is in distress clearly, in the
inwards of it; and so must squall and whimper continually, till its Mother
take it, and it get--to sleep!

This Convention is not four days old, and the melodious Meliboean stanzas
that shook down Royalty are still fresh in our ear, when there bursts out a
new diapason,--unhappily, of Discord, this time. For speech has been made
of a thing difficult to speak of well: the September Massacres. How deal
with these September Massacres; with the Paris Commune that presided over
them? A Paris Commune hateful-terrible; before which the poor effete
Legislative had to quail, and sit quiet. And now if a young omnipotent
Convention will not so quail and sit, what steps shall it take? Have a
Departmental Guard in its pay, answer the Girondins, and Friends of Order!
A Guard of National Volunteers, missioned from all the Eighty-three or
Eighty-five Departments, for that express end; these will keep
Septemberers, tumultuous Communes in a due state of submissiveness, the
Convention in a due state of sovereignty. So have the Friends of Order
answered, sitting in Committee, and reporting; and even a Decree has been
passed of the required tenour. Nay certain Departments, as the Var or
Marseilles, in mere expectation and assurance of a Decree, have their
contingent of Volunteers already on march: brave Marseillese, foremost on
the Tenth of August, will not be hindmost here; 'fathers gave their sons a
musket and twenty-five louis,' says Barbaroux, 'and bade them march.'

Can any thing be properer? A Republic that will found itself on justice
must needs investigate September Massacres; a Convention calling itself
National, ought it not to be guarded by a National force?--Alas, Reader, it
seems so to the eye: and yet there is much to be said and argued. Thou
beholdest here the small beginning of a Controversy, which mere logic will
not settle. Two small well-springs, September, Departmental Guard, or
rather at bottom they are but one and the same small well-spring; which
will swell and widen into waters of bitterness; all manner of subsidiary
streams and brooks of bitterness flowing in, from this side and that; till
it become a wide river of bitterness, of rage and separation,--which can
subside only into the Catacombs. This Departmental Guard, decreed by
overwhelming majorities, and then repealed for peace's sake, and not to
insult Paris, is again decreed more than once; nay it is partially
executed, and the very men that are to be of it are seen visibly parading
the Paris streets,--shouting once, being overtaken with liquor: "A bas
Marat, Down with Marat!" (Hist. Parl. xx. 184.) Nevertheless, decreed
never so often, it is repealed just as often; and continues, for some seven
months, an angry noisy Hypothesis only: a fair Possibility struggling to
become a Reality, but which shall never be one; which, after endless
struggling, shall, in February next, sink into sad rest,--dragging much
along with it. So singular are the ways of men and honourable Members.

But on this fourth day of the Convention's existence, as we said, which is
the 25th of September 1792, there comes Committee Report on that Decree of
the Departmental Guard, and speech of repealing it; there come
denunciations of anarchy, of a Dictatorship,--which let the incorruptible
Robespierre consider: there come denunciations of a certain Journal de la
Republique, once called Ami du Peuple; and so thereupon there comes,
visibly stepping up, visibly standing aloft on the Tribune, ready to speak,
the Bodily Spectrum of People's-Friend Marat! Shriek, ye Seven Hundred and
Forty-nine; it is verily Marat, he and not another. Marat is no phantasm
of the brain, or mere lying impress of Printer's Types; but a thing
material, of joint and sinew, and a certain small stature: ye behold him
there, in his blackness in his dingy squalor, a living fraction of Chaos
and Old Night; visibly incarnate, desirous to speak. "It appears," says
Marat to the shrieking Assembly, "that a great many persons here are
enemies of mine." "All! All!" shriek hundreds of voices: enough to drown
any People's-Friend. But Marat will not drown: he speaks and croaks
explanation; croaks with such reasonableness, air of sincerity, that
repentant pity smothers anger, and the shrieks subside or even become
applauses. For this Convention is unfortunately the crankest of machines:
it shall be pointing eastward, with stiff violence, this moment; and then
do but touch some spring dexterously, the whole machine, clattering and
jerking seven-hundred-fold, will whirl with huge crash, and, next moment,
is pointing westward! Thus Marat, absolved and applauded, victorious in
this turn of fence, is, as the Debate goes on, prickt at again by some
dexterous Girondin; and then and shrieks rise anew, and Decree of
Accusation is on the point of passing; till the dingy People's-Friend bobs
aloft once more; croaks once more persuasive stillness, and the Decree of
Accusation sinks, Whereupon he draws forth--a Pistol; and setting it to his
Head, the seat of such thought and prophecy, says: "If they had passed
their Accusation Decree, he, the People's-Friend, would have blown his
brains out." A People's Friend has that faculty in him. For the rest, as
to this of the two hundred and sixty thousand Aristocrat Heads, Marat
candidly says, "C'est la mon avis, such is my opinion." Also it is not
indisputable: "No power on Earth can prevent me from seeing into traitors,
and unmasking them,"--by my superior originality of mind? (Moniteur
Newspaper, Nos. 271, 280, 294, Annee premiere; Moore's Journal, ii. 21,
157, &c. (which, however, may perhaps, as in similar cases, be only a copy
of the Newspaper).) An honourable member like this Friend of the People
few terrestrial Parliaments have had.

We observe, however, that this first onslaught by the Friends of Order, as
sharp and prompt as it was, has failed. For neither can Robespierre,
summoned out by talk of Dictatorship, and greeted with the like rumour on
shewing himself, be thrown into Prison, into Accusation;--not though
Barbarous openly bear testimony against him, and sign it on paper. With
such sanctified meekness does the Incorruptible lift his seagreen cheek to
the smiter; lift his thin voice, and with jesuitic dexterity plead, and
prosper: asking at last, in a prosperous manner: "But what witnesses has
the Citoyen Barbaroux to support his testimony?" "Moi!" cries hot
Rebecqui, standing up, striking his breast with both hands, and answering,
"Me!" (Moniteur, ut supra; Seance du 25 Septembre.) Nevertheless the
Seagreen pleads again, and makes it good: the long hurlyburly, 'personal
merely,' while so much public matter lies fallow, has ended in the order of
the day. O Friends of the Gironde, why will you occupy our august sessions
with mere paltry Personalities, while the grand Nationality lies in such a
state?--The Gironde has touched, this day, on the foul black-spot of its
fair Convention Domain; has trodden on it, and yet not trodden it down.
Alas, it is a well-spring, as we said, this black-spot; and will not tread

Chapter 3.2.II.

The Executive.

May we not conjecture therefore that round this grand enterprise of Making
the Constitution there will, as heretofore, very strange embroilments
gather, and questions and interests complicate themselves; so that after a
few or even several months, the Convention will not have settled every
thing? Alas, a whole tide of questions comes rolling, boiling; growing
ever wider, without end! Among which, apart from this question of
September and Anarchy, let us notice those, which emerge oftener than the
others, and promise to become Leading Questions: of the Armies; of the
Subsistences; thirdly, of the Dethroned King.

As to the Armies, Public Defence must evidently be put on a proper footing;
for Europe seems coalising itself again; one is apprehensive even England
will join it. Happily Dumouriez prospers in the North;--nay what if he
should prove too prosperous, and become Liberticide, Murderer of Freedom!--
Dumouriez prospers, through this winter season; yet not without lamentable
complaints. Sleek Pache, the Swiss Schoolmaster, he that sat frugal in his
Alley, the wonder of neighbours, has got lately--whither thinks the Reader?
To be Minister of war! Madame Roland, struck with his sleek ways,
recommended him to her Husband as Clerk: the sleek Clerk had no need of
salary, being of true Patriotic temper; he would come with a bit of bread
in his pocket, to save dinner and time; and, munching incidentally, do
three men's work in a day" punctual, silent, frugal,--the sleek Tartuffe
that he was. Wherefore Roland, in the late Overturn, recommended him to be
War-Minister. And now, it would seem, he is secretly undermining Roland;
playing into the hands of your hotter Jacobins and September Commune; and
cannot, like strict Roland, be the Veto des Coquins! (Madame Roland,
Memoires, ii. 237, &c.)

How the sleek Pache might mine and undermine, one knows not well; this
however one does know: that his War-Office has become a den of thieves and
confusion, such as all men shudder to behold. That the Citizen
Hassenfratz, as Head-Clerk, sits there in bonnet rouge, in rapine, in
violence, and some Mathematical calculation; a most insolent, red-
nightcapped man. That Pache munches his pocket-loaf, amid head-clerks and
sub-clerks, and has spent all the War-Estimates: that Furnishers scour in
gigs, over all districts of France, and drive bargains;--and lastly that
the Army gets next to no furniture. No shoes, though it is winter; no
clothes; some have not even arms: 'In the Army of the South,' complains an
honourable Member, 'there are thirty thousand pairs of breeches wanting,'--
a most scandalous want.

Roland's strict soul is sick to see the course things take: but what can
he do? Keep his own Department strict; rebuke, and repress wheresoever
possible; at lowest, complain. He can complain in Letter after Letter, to
a National Convention, to France, to Posterity, the Universe; grow ever
more querulous indignant;--till at last may he not grow wearisome? For is
not this continual text of his, at bottom a rather barren one: How
astonishing that in a time of Revolt and abrogation of all Law but Cannon
Law, there should be such Unlawfulness? Intrepid Veto-of-Scoundrels,
narrow-faithful, respectable, methodic man, work thou in that manner, since
happily it is thy manner, and wear thyself away; though ineffectual, not
profitless in it--then nor now!--The brave Dame Roland, bravest of all
French women, begins to have misgivings: the figure of Danton has too much
of the 'Sardanapalus character,' at a Republican Rolandin Dinner-table:
Clootz, Speaker of Mankind, proses sad stuff about a Universal Republic, or
union of all Peoples and Kindreds in one and the same Fraternal Bond; of
which Bond, how it is to be tied, one unhappily sees not.

It is also an indisputable, unaccountable or accountable fact that Grains
are becoming scarcer and scarcer. Riots for grain, tumultuous Assemblages
demanding to have the price of grain fixed abound far and near. The Mayor
of Paris and other poor Mayors are like to have their difficulties. Petion
was re-elected Mayor of Paris; but has declined; being now a Convention
Legislator. Wise surely to decline: for, besides this of Grains and all
the rest, there is in these times an Improvised insurrectionary Commune
passing into an Elected legal one; getting their accounts settled,--not
without irritancy! Petion has declined: nevertheless many do covet and
canvass. After months of scrutinising, balloting, arguing and jargoning,
one Doctor Chambon gets the post of honour: who will not long keep it; but
be, as we shall see, literally crushed out of it. (Dictionnaire des Hommes
Marquans, para Chambon.)

Think also if the private Sansculotte has not his difficulties, in a time
of dearth! Bread, according to the People's-Friend, may be some 'six sous
per pound, a day's wages some fifteen;' and grim winter here. How the Poor
Man continues living, and so seldom starves, by miracle! Happily, in these
days, he can enlist, and have himself shot by the Austrians, in an
unusually satisfactory manner: for the Rights of Man.--But Commandant
Santerre, in this so straitened condition of the flour-market, and state of
Equality and Liberty, proposes, through the Newspapers, two remedies, or at
least palliatives: First, that all classes of men should live, two days of
the week, on potatoes; then second, that every man should hang his dog.
Hereby, as the Commandant thinks, the saving, which indeed he computes to
so many sacks, would be very considerable. A cheerfuller form of
inventive-stupidity than Commandant Santerre's dwells in no human soul.
Inventive-stupidity, imbedded in health, courage and good-nature: much to
be commended. "My whole strength," he tells the Convention once, "is, day
and night, at the service of my fellow-Citizens: if they find me
worthless, they will dismiss me; I will return and brew beer." (Moniteur
(in Hist. Parl. xx. 412).)

Or figure what correspondences a poor Roland, Minister of the Interior,
must have, on this of Grains alone! Free-trade in Grain, impossibility to
fix the Prices of Grain; on the other hand, clamour and necessity to fix
them: Political Economy lecturing from the Home Office, with demonstration
clear as Scripture;--ineffectual for the empty National Stomach. The Mayor
of Chartres, like to be eaten himself, cries to the Convention: the
Convention sends honourable Members in Deputation; who endeavour to feed
the multitude by miraculous spiritual methods; but cannot. The multitude,
in spite of all Eloquence, come bellowing round; will have the Grain-Prices
fixed, and at a moderate elevation; or else--the honourable Deputies hanged
on the spot! The honourable Deputies, reporting this business, admit that,
on the edge of horrid death, they did fix, or affect to fix the Price of
Grain: for which, be it also noted, the Convention, a Convention that will
not be trifled with, sees good to reprimand them. (Hist. Parl. xx. 431-

But as to the origin of these Grain Riots, is it not most probably your
secret Royalists again? Glimpses of Priests were discernible in this of
Chartres,--to the eye of Patriotism. Or indeed may not 'the root of it all
lie in the Temple Prison, in the heart of a perjured King,' well as we
guard him? (Ibid. 409.) Unhappy perjured King!--And so there shall be
Baker's Queues, by and by, more sharp-tempered than ever: on every Baker's
door-rabbet an iron ring, and coil of rope; whereon, with firm grip, on
this side and that, we form our Queue: but mischievous deceitful persons
cut the rope, and our Queue becomes a ravelment; wherefore the coil must be
made of iron chain. (Mercier, Nouveau Paris.) Also there shall be Prices
of Grain well fixed; but then no grain purchasable by them: bread not to
be had except by Ticket from the Mayor, few ounces per mouth daily; after
long swaying, with firm grip, on the chain of the Queue. And Hunger shall
stalk direful; and Wrath and Suspicion, whetted to the Preternatural pitch,
shall stalk;--as those other preternatural 'shapes of Gods in their
wrathfulness' were discerned stalking, 'in glare and gloom of that fire-
ocean,' when Troy Town fell!--

Chapter 3.2.III.


But the question more pressing than all on the Legislator, as yet, is this
third: What shall be done with King Louis?

King Louis, now King and Majesty to his own family alone, in their own
Prison Apartment alone, has been Louis Capet and the Traitor Veto with the
rest of France. Shut in his Circuit of the Temple, he has heard and seen
the loud whirl of things; yells of September Massacres, Brunswick war-
thunders dying off in disaster and discomfiture; he passive, a spectator
merely;--waiting whither it would please to whirl with him. From the
neighbouring windows, the curious, not without pity, might see him walk
daily, at a certain hour, in the Temple Garden, with his Queen, Sister and
two Children, all that now belongs to him in this Earth. (Moore, i. 123;
ii. 224, &c.) Quietly he walks and waits; for he is not of lively
feelings, and is of a devout heart. The wearied Irresolute has, at least,
no need of resolving now. His daily meals, lessons to his Son, daily walk
in the Garden, daily game at ombre or drafts, fill up the day: the morrow
will provide for itself.

The morrow indeed; and yet How? Louis asks, How? France, with perhaps
still more solicitude, asks, How? A King dethroned by insurrection is
verily not easy to dispose of. Keep him prisoner, he is a secret centre
for the Disaffected, for endless plots, attempts and hopes of theirs.
Banish him, he is an open centre for them; his royal war-standard, with
what of divinity it has, unrolls itself, summoning the world. Put him to
death? A cruel questionable extremity that too: and yet the likeliest in
these extreme circumstances, of insurrectionary men, whose own life and
death lies staked: accordingly it is said, from the last step of the
throne to the first of the scaffold there is short distance.

But, on the whole, we will remark here that this business of Louis looks
altogether different now, as seen over Seas and at the distance of forty-
four years, than it looked then, in France, and struggling, confused all
round one! For indeed it is a most lying thing that same Past Tense
always: so beautiful, sad, almost Elysian-sacred, 'in the moonlight of
Memory,' it seems; and seems only. For observe: always, one most
important element is surreptitiously (we not noticing it) withdrawn from
the Past Time: the haggard element of Fear! Not there does Fear dwell,
nor Uncertainty, nor Anxiety; but it dwells here; haunting us, tracking us;
running like an accursed ground-discord through all the music-tones of our
Existence;--making the Tense a mere Present one! Just so is it with this
of Louis. Why smite the fallen? asks Magnanimity, out of danger now. He
is fallen so low this once-high man; no criminal nor traitor, how far from
it; but the unhappiest of Human Solecisms: whom if abstract Justice had to
pronounce upon, she might well become concrete Pity, and pronounce only
sobs and dismissal!

So argues retrospective Magnanimity: but Pusillanimity, present,
prospective? Reader, thou hast never lived, for months, under the rustle
of Prussian gallows-ropes; never wert thou portion of a National Sahara-
waltz, Twenty-five millions running distracted to fight Brunswick! Knights
Errant themselves, when they conquered Giants, usually slew the Giants:
quarter was only for other Knights Errant, who knew courtesy and the laws
of battle. The French Nation, in simultaneous, desperate dead-pull, and as
if by miracle of madness, has pulled down the most dread Goliath, huge with
the growth of ten centuries; and cannot believe, though his giant bulk,
covering acres, lies prostrate, bound with peg and packthread, that he will
not rise again, man-devouring; that the victory is not partly a dream.
Terror has its scepticism; miraculous victory its rage of vengeance. Then
as to criminalty, is the prostrated Giant, who will devour us if he rise,
an innocent Giant? Curate Gregoire, who indeed is now Constitutional
Bishop Gregoire, asserts, in the heat of eloquence, that Kingship by the
very nature of it is a crime capital; that Kings' Houses are as wild-
beasts' dens. (Moniteur, Seance du 21 Septembre, Annee 1er (1792).)
Lastly consider this: that there is on record a Trial of Charles First!
This printed Trial of Charles First is sold and read every where at
present: (Moore's Journal, ii. 165.)--Quelle spectacle! Thus did the
English People judge their Tyrant, and become the first of Free Peoples:
which feat, by the grace of Destiny, may not France now rival? Scepticism
of terror, rage of miraculous victory, sublime spectacle to the universe,--
all things point one fatal way.

Such leading questions, and their endless incidental ones: of September
Anarchists and Departmental Guard; of Grain Riots, plaintiff Interior
Ministers; of Armies, Hassenfratz dilapidations; and what is to be done
with Louis,--beleaguer and embroil this Convention; which would so gladly
make the Constitution rather. All which questions too, as we often urge of
such things, are in growth; they grow in every French head; and can be seen
growing also, very curiously, in this mighty welter of Parliamentary
Debate, of Public Business which the Convention has to do. A question
emerges, so small at first; is put off, submerged; but always re-emerges
bigger than before. It is a curious, indeed an indescribable sort of
growth which such things have.

We perceive, however, both by its frequent re-emergence and by its rapid
enlargement of bulk, that this Question of King Louis will take the lead of
all the rest. And truly, in that case, it will take the lead in a much
deeper sense. For as Aaron's Rod swallowed all the other Serpents; so will
the Foremost Question, whichever may get foremost, absorb all other
questions and interests; and from it and the decision of it will they all,
so to speak, be born, or new-born, and have shape, physiognomy and destiny
corresponding. It was appointed of Fate that, in this wide-weltering,
strangely growing, monstrous stupendous imbroglio of Convention Business,
the grand First-Parent of all the questions, controversies, measures and
enterprises which were to be evolved there to the world's astonishment,
should be this Question of King Louis.

Chapter 3.2.IV.

The Loser pays.

The Sixth of November, 1792, was a great day for the Republic: outwardly,
over the Frontiers; inwardly, in the Salle de Manege.

Outwardly: for Dumouriez, overrunning the Netherlands, did, on that day,
come in contact with Saxe-Teschen and the Austrians; Dumouriez wide-winged,
they wide-winged; at and around the village of Jemappes, near Mons. And
fire-hail is whistling far and wide there, the great guns playing, and the
small; so many green Heights getting fringed and maned with red Fire. And
Dumouriez is swept back on this wing, and swept back on that, and is like
to be swept back utterly; when he rushes up in person, the prompt
Polymetis; speaks a prompt word or two; and then, with clear tenor-pipe,
'uplifts the Hymn of the Marseillese, entonna la Marseillaise,' (Dumouriez,
Memoires, iii. 174.) ten thousand tenor or bass pipes joining; or say, some
Forty Thousand in all; for every heart leaps at the sound: and so with
rhythmic march-melody, waxing ever quicker, to double and to treble quick,
they rally, they advance, they rush, death-defying, man-devouring; carry
batteries, redoutes, whatsoever is to be carried; and, like the fire-
whirlwind, sweep all manner of Austrians from the scene of action. Thus,
through the hands of Dumouriez, may Rouget de Lille, in figurative speech,
be said to have gained, miraculously, like another Orpheus, by his
Marseillese fiddle-strings (fidibus canoris) a Victory of Jemappes; and
conquered the Low Countries.

Young General Egalite, it would seem, shone brave among the bravest on this
occasion. Doubtless a brave Egalite;--whom however does not Dumouriez
rather talk of oftener than need were? The Mother Society has her own
thoughts. As for the Elder Egalite he flies low at this time; appears in
the Convention for some half-hour daily, with rubicund, pre-occupied, or
impressive quasi-contemptuous countenance; and then takes himself away.
(Moore, ii. 148.) The Netherlands are conquered, at least overrun.
Jacobin missionaries, your Prolys, Pereiras, follow in the train of the
Armies; also Convention Commissioners, melting church-plate,
revolutionising and remodelling--among whom Danton, in brief space, does
immensities of business; not neglecting his own wages and trade-profits, it
is thought. Hassenfratz dilapidates at home; Dumouriez grumbles and they
dilapidate abroad: within the walls there is sinning, and without the
walls there is sinning.

But in the Hall of the Convention, at the same hour with this victory of
Jemappes, there went another thing forward: Report, of great length, from
the proper appointed Committee, on the Crimes of Louis. The Galleries
listen breathless; take comfort, ye Galleries: Deputy Valaze, Reporter on
this occasion, thinks Louis very criminal; and that, if convenient, he
should be tried;--poor Girondin Valaze, who may be tried himself, one day!
Comfortable so far. Nay here comes a second Committee-reporter, Deputy
Mailhe, with a Legal Argument, very prosy to read now, very refreshing to
hear then, That, by the Law of the Country, Louis Capet was only called
Inviolable by a figure of rhetoric; but at bottom was perfectly violable,
triable; that he can, and even should be tried. This Question of Louis,
emerging so often as an angry confused possibility, and submerging again,
has emerged now in an articulate shape.

Patriotism growls indignant joy. The so-called reign of Equality is not to
be a mere name, then, but a thing! Try Louis Capet? scornfully ejaculates
Patriotism: Mean criminals go to the gallows for a purse cut; and this
chief criminal, guilty of a France cut; of a France slashed asunder with
Clotho-scissors and Civil war; with his victims 'twelve hundred on the
Tenth of August alone' lying low in the Catacombs, fattening the passes of
Argonne Wood, of Valmy and far Fields; he, such chief criminal, shall not
even come to the bar?--For, alas, O Patriotism! add we, it was from of old
said, The loser pays! It is he who has to pay all scores, run up by
whomsoever; on him must all breakages and charges fall; and the twelve
hundred on the Tenth of August are not rebel traitors, but victims and
martyrs: such is the law of quarrel.

Patriotism, nothing doubting, watches over this Question of the Trial, now
happily emerged in an articulate shape; and will see it to maturity, if the
gods permit. With a keen solicitude Patriotism watches; getting ever
keener, at every new difficulty, as Girondins and false brothers interpose
delays; till it get a keenness as of fixed-idea, and will have this Trial
and no earthly thing instead of it,--if Equality be not a name. Love of
Equality; then scepticism of terror, rage of victory, sublime spectacle of
the universe: all these things are strong.

But indeed this Question of the Trial, is it not to all persons a most
grave one; filling with dubiety many a Legislative head! Regicide? asks
the Gironde Respectability: To kill a king, and become the horror of
respectable nations and persons? But then also, to save a king; to lose
one's footing with the decided Patriot; and undecided Patriot, though never
so respectable, being mere hypothetic froth and no footing?--The dilemma
presses sore; and between the horns of it you wriggle round and round.
Decision is nowhere, save in the Mother Society and her Sons. These have
decided, and go forward: the others wriggle round uneasily within their
dilemma-horns, and make way nowhither.

Chapter 3.2.V.

Stretching of Formulas.

But how this Question of the Trial grew laboriously, through the weeks of
gestation, now that it has been articulated or conceived, were superfluous
to trace here. It emerged and submerged among the infinite of questions
and embroilments. The Veto of Scoundrels writes plaintive Letters as to
Anarchy; 'concealed Royalists,' aided by Hunger, produce Riots about Grain.
Alas, it is but a week ago, these Girondins made a new fierce onslaught on
the September Massacres!

For, one day, among the last of October, Robespierre, being summoned to the
tribune by some new hint of that old calumny of the Dictatorship, was
speaking and pleading there, with more and more comfort to himself; till,
rising high in heart, he cried out valiantly: Is there any man here that
dare specifically accuse me? "Moi!" exclaimed one. Pause of deep silence:
a lean angry little Figure, with broad bald brow, strode swiftly towards
the tribune, taking papers from its pocket: "I accuse thee, Robespierre,"-
-I, Jean Baptiste Louvet! The Seagreen became tallow-green; shrinking to a
corner of the tribune: Danton cried, "Speak, Robespierre, there are many
good citizens that listen;" but the tongue refused its office. And so
Louvet, with a shrill tone, read and recited crime after crime:
dictatorial temper, exclusive popularity, bullying at elections, mob-
retinue, September Massacres;--till all the Convention shrieked again, and
had almost indicted the Incorruptible there on the spot. Never did the
Incorruptible run such a risk. Louvet, to his dying day, will regret that
the Gironde did not take a bolder attitude, and extinguish him there and

Not so, however: the Incorruptible, about to be indicted in this sudden
manner, could not be refused a week of delay. That week, he is not idle;
nor is the Mother Society idle,--fierce-tremulous for her chosen son. He
is ready at the day with his written Speech; smooth as a Jesuit Doctor's;
and convinces some. And now? Why, now lazy Vergniaud does not rise with
Demosthenic thunder; poor Louvet, unprepared, can do little or nothing:
Barrere proposes that these comparatively despicable 'personalities' be
dismissed by order of the day! Order of the day it accordingly is.
Barbaroux cannot even get a hearing; not though he rush down to the Bar,
and demand to be heard there as a petitioner. (Louvet, Memoires (Paris,
1823) p. 52; Moniteur (Seances du 29 Octobre, 5 Novembre, 1792); Moore (ii.
178), &c.) The convention, eager for public business (with that first
articulate emergence of the Trial just coming on), dismisses these
comparative miseres and despicabilities: splenetic Louvet must digest his
spleen, regretfully for ever: Robespierre, dear to Patriotism, is dearer
for the dangers he has run.

This is the second grand attempt by our Girondin Friends of Order, to
extinguish that black-spot in their domain; and we see they have made it
far blacker and wider than before! Anarchy, September Massacre: it is a
thing that lies hideous in the general imagination; very detestable to the
undecided Patriot, of Respectability: a thing to be harped on as often as
need is. Harp on it, denounce it, trample it, ye Girondin Patriots:--and
yet behold, the black-spot will not trample down; it will only, as we say,
trample blacker and wider: fools, it is no black-spot of the surface, but
a well-spring of the deep! Consider rightly, it is the apex of the
everlasting Abyss, this black-spot, looking up as water through thin ice;--
say, as the region of Nether Darkness through your thin film of Gironde
Regulation and Respectability; trample it not, lest the film break, and

The truth is, if our Gironde Friends had an understanding of it, where were
French Patriotism, with all its eloquence, at this moment, had not that
same great Nether Deep, of Bedlam, Fanaticism and Popular wrath and
madness, risen unfathomable on the Tenth of August? French Patriotism were
an eloquent Reminiscence; swinging on Prussian gibbets. Nay, where, in few
months, were it still, should the same great Nether Deep subside?--Nay, as
readers of Newspapers pretend to recollect, this hatefulness of the
September Massacre is itself partly an after-thought: readers of
Newspapers can quote Gorsas and various Brissotins approving of the
September Massacre, at the time it happened; and calling it a salutary
vengeance! (See Hist. Parl. xvii. 401; Newspapers by Gorsas and others
(cited ibid. 428.) So that the real grief, after all, were not so much
righteous horror, as grief that one's own power was departing? Unhappy

In the Jacobin Society, therefore, the decided Patriot complains that here
are men who with their private ambitions and animosities, will ruin
Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood, all three: they check the spirit of
Patriotism, throw stumbling-blocks in its way; and instead of pushing on,
all shoulders at the wheel, will stand idle there, spitefully clamouring
what foul ruts there are, what rude jolts we give! To which the Jacobin
Society answers with angry roar;--with angry shriek, for there are
Citoyennes too, thick crowded in the galleries here. Citoyennes who bring
their seam with them, or their knitting-needles; and shriek or knit as the
case needs; famed Tricoteuses, Patriot Knitters;--Mere Duchesse, or the
like Deborah and Mother of the Faubourgs, giving the keynote. It is a
changed Jacobin Society; and a still changing. Where Mother Duchess now
sits, authentic Duchesses have sat. High-rouged dames went once in jewels
and spangles; now, instead of jewels, you may take the knitting-needles and
leave the rouge: the rouge will gradually give place to natural brown,
clean washed or even unwashed; and Demoiselle Theroigne herself get
scandalously fustigated. Strange enough: it is the same tribune raised in
mid-air, where a high Mirabeau, a high Barnave and Aristocrat Lameths once
thundered: whom gradually your Brissots, Guadets, Vergniauds, a hotter
style of Patriots in bonnet rouge, did displace; red heat, as one may say,
superseding light. And now your Brissots in turn, and Brissotins,
Rolandins, Girondins, are becoming supernumerary; must desert the sittings,
or be expelled: the light of the Mighty Mother is burning not red but
blue!--Provincial Daughter-Societies loudly disapprove these things; loudly
demand the swift reinstatement of such eloquent Girondins, the swift
'erasure of Marat, radiation de Marat.' The Mother Society, so far as
natural reason can predict, seems ruining herself. Nevertheless she has,
at all crises, seemed so; she has a preternatural life in her, and will not

But, in a fortnight more, this great Question of the Trial, while the fit
Committee is assiduously but silently working on it, receives an unexpected
stimulus. Our readers remember poor Louis's turn for smithwork: how, in
old happier days, a certain Sieur Gamain of Versailles was wont to come
over, and instruct him in lock-making;--often scolding him, they say for
his numbness. By whom, nevertheless, the royal Apprentice had learned
something of that craft. Hapless Apprentice; perfidious Master-Smith! For
now, on this 20th of November 1792, dingy Smith Gamain comes over to the
Paris Municipality, over to Minister Roland, with hints that he, Smith
Gamain, knows a thing; that, in May last, when traitorous Correspondence
was so brisk, he and the royal Apprentice fabricated an 'Iron Press,
Armoire de Fer,' cunningly inserting the same in a wall of the royal
chamber in the Tuileries; invisible under the wainscot; where doubtless it
still sticks! Perfidious Gamain, attended by the proper Authorities, finds
the wainscot panel which none else can find; wrenches it up; discloses the
Iron Press,--full of Letters and Papers! Roland clutches them out; conveys
them over in towels to the fit assiduous Committee, which sits hard by. In
towels, we say, and without notarial inventory; an oversight on the part of

Here, however, are Letters enough: which disclose to a demonstration the
Correspondence of a traitorous self-preserving Court; and this not with
Traitors only, but even with Patriots, so-called! Barnave's treason, of
Correspondence with the Queen, and friendly advice to her, ever since that
Varennes Business, is hereby manifest: how happy that we have him, this
Barnave, lying safe in the Prison of Grenoble, since September last, for he
had long been suspect! Talleyrand's treason, many a man's treason, if not
manifest hereby, is next to it. Mirabeau's treason: wherefore his Bust in
the Hall of the Convention 'is veiled with gauze,' till we ascertain.
Alas, it is too ascertainable! His Bust in the Hall of the Jacobins,
denounced by Robespierre from the tribune in mid-air, is not veiled, it is
instantly broken to sherds; a Patriot mounting swiftly with a ladder, and
shivering it down on the floor;--it and others: amid shouts. (Journal des
Debats des Jacobins (in Hist. Parl. xxii. 296.) Such is their recompense
and amount of wages, at this date: on the principle of supply and demand!
Smith Gamain, inadequately recompensed for the present, comes, some fifteen
months after, with a humble Petition; setting forth that no sooner was that
important Iron Press finished off by him, than (as he now bethinks himself)
Louis gave him a large glass of wine. Which large glass of wine did
produce in the stomach of Sieur Gamain the terriblest effects, evidently
tending towards death, and was then brought up by an emetic; but has,
notwithstanding, entirely ruined the constitution of Sieur Gamain; so that
he cannot work for his family (as he now bethinks himself). The recompense
of which is 'Pension of Twelve Hundred Francs,' and 'honourable mention.'
So different is the ratio of demand and supply at different times.

Thus, amid obstructions and stimulating furtherances, has the Question of
the Trial to grow; emerging and submerging; fostered by solicitous
Patriotism. Of the Orations that were spoken on it, of the painfully
devised Forms of Process for managing it, the Law Arguments to prove it
lawful, and all the infinite floods of Juridical and other ingenuity and
oratory, be no syllable reported in this History. Lawyer ingenuity is
good: but what can it profit here? If the truth must be spoken, O august
Senators, the only Law in this case is: Vae victis, the loser pays!
Seldom did Robespierre say a wiser word than the hint he gave to that
effect, in his oration, that it was needless to speak of Law, that here, if
never elsewhere, our Right was Might. An oration admired almost to ecstasy
by the Jacobin Patriot: who shall say that Robespierre is not a thorough-
going man; bold in Logic at least? To the like effect, or still more
plainly, spake young Saint-Just, the black-haired, mild-toned youth.
Danton is on mission, in the Netherlands, during this preliminary work.
The rest, far as one reads, welter amid Law of Nations, Social Contract,
Juristics, Syllogistics; to us barren as the East wind. In fact, what can
be more unprofitable than the sight of Seven Hundred and Forty-nine
ingenious men, struggling with their whole force and industry, for a long
course of weeks, to do at bottom this: To stretch out the old Formula and
Law Phraseology, so that it may cover the new, contradictory, entirely
uncoverable Thing? Whereby the poor Formula does but crack, and one's
honesty along with it! The thing that is palpably hot, burning, wilt thou
prove it, by syllogism, to be a freezing-mixture? This of stretching out
Formulas till they crack is, especially in times of swift change, one of
the sorrowfullest tasks poor Humanity has.

Chapter 3.2.VI.

At the Bar.

Meanwhile, in a space of some five weeks, we have got to another emerging
of the Trial, and a more practical one than ever.

On Tuesday, eleventh of December, the King's Trial has emerged, very
decidedly: into the streets of Paris; in the shape of that green Carriage
of Mayor Chambon, within which sits the King himself, with attendants, on
his way to the Convention Hall! Attended, in that green Carriage, by
Mayors Chambon, Procureurs Chaumette; and outside of it by Commandants
Santerre, with cannon, cavalry and double row of infantry; all Sections
under arms, strong Patrols scouring all streets; so fares he, slowly
through the dull drizzling weather: and about two o'clock we behold him,
'in walnut-coloured great-coat, redingote noisette,' descending through the
Place Vendome, towards that Salle de Manege; to be indicted, and judicially
interrogated. The mysterious Temple Circuit has given up its secret; which
now, in this walnut-coloured coat, men behold with eyes. The same bodily
Louis who was once Louis the Desired, fares there: hapless King, he is
getting now towards port; his deplorable farings and voyagings draw to a
close. What duty remains to him henceforth, that of placidly enduring, he
is fit to do.

The singular Procession fares on; in silence, says Prudhomme, or amid
growlings of the Marseillese Hymn; in silence, ushers itself into the Hall
of the Convention, Santerre holding Louis's arm with his hand. Louis looks
round him, with composed air, to see what kind of Convention and Parliament
it is. Much changed indeed:--since February gone two years, when our
Constituent, then busy, spread fleur-de-lys velvet for us; and we came over
to say a kind word here, and they all started up swearing Fidelity; and all
France started up swearing, and made it a Feast of Pikes; which has ended
in this! Barrere, who once 'wept' looking up from his Editor's-Desk, looks
down now from his President's-Chair, with a list of Fifty-seven Questions;
and says, dry-eyed: "Louis, you may sit down." Louis sits down: it is
the very seat, they say, same timber and stuffing, from which he accepted
the Constitution, amid dancing and illumination, autumn gone a year. So
much woodwork remains identical; so much else is not identical. Louis sits
and listens, with a composed look and mind.

Of the Fifty-seven Questions we shall not give so much as one. They are
questions captiously embracing all the main Documents seized on the Tenth
of August, or found lately in the Iron Press; embracing all the main
incidents of the Revolution History; and they ask, in substance, this:
Louis, who wert King, art thou not guilty to a certain extent, by act and
written document, of trying to continue King? Neither in the Answers is
there much notable. Mere quiet negations, for most part; an accused man
standing on the simple basis of No: I do not recognise that document; I
did not do that act; or did it according to the law that then was.
Whereupon the Fifty-seven Questions, and Documents to the number of a
Hundred and Sixty-two, being exhausted in this manner, Barrere finishes,
after some three hours, with his: "Louis, I invite you to withdraw."

Louis withdraws, under Municipal escort, into a neighbouring Committee-
room; having first, in leaving the bar, demanded to have Legal Counsel. He
declines refreshment, in this Committee-room, then, seeing Chaumette busy
with a small loaf which a grenadier had divided with him, says, he will
take a bit of bread. It is five o'clock; and he had breakfasted but
slightly in a morning of such drumming and alarm. Chaumette breaks his
half-loaf: the King eats of the crust; mounts the green Carriage, eating;
asks now what he shall do with the crumb? Chaumette's clerk takes it from
him; flings it out into the street. Louis says, It is pity to fling out
bread, in a time of dearth. "My grandmother," remarks Chaumette, "used to
say to me, Little boy, never waste a crumb of bread, you cannot make one."
"Monsieur Chaumette," answers Louis, "your grandmother seems to have been a
sensible woman." (Prudhomme's Newspaper (in Hist. Parl. xxi. 314.) Poor
innocent mortal: so quietly he waits the drawing of the lot;--fit to do
this at least well; Passivity alone, without Activity, sufficing for it!
He talks once of travelling over France by and by, to have a geographical
and topographical view of it; being from of old fond of geography.--The
Temple Circuit again receives him, closes on him; gazing Paris may retire
to its hearths and coffee-houses, to its clubs and theatres: the damp
Darkness has sunk, and with it the drumming and patrolling of this strange

Louis is now separated from his Queen and Family; given up to his simple
reflections and resources. Dull lie these stone walls round him; of his
loved ones none with him. In this state of 'uncertainty,' providing for
the worst, he writes his Will: a Paper which can still be read; full of
placidity, simplicity, pious sweetness. The Convention, after debate, has
granted him Legal Counsel, of his own choosing. Advocate Target feels

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