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The French Revolution, Volume 3 The Origins of Contemporary France, Volume 4 by Hippolyte A. Taine

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The French Revolution, Volume 1.
The Origins of Contemporary France, Volume 2^M
by Hippolyte A. Taine^M

BOOK FIRST. The Establishment of the Revolutionary Government.
BOOK SECOND. The Jacobin Program.
BOOK THIRD. The Governors.
CHAPTER I. Psychology of the Jacobin Leaders.
CHAPTER II. The Rulers of the Country.
CHAPTER III. The Rulers. (continued).
BOOK FOURTH. The Governed.
CHAPTER I. The Oppressed.
CHAPTER II. Food and Provisions.
BOOK FIFTH. The End of the Revolutionary Government.


"In Egypt," says Clement of Alexandria,[1] "the sanctuaries of the
temples are shaded by curtains of golden tissue. But on going
further into the interior in quest of the statue, a priest of grave
aspect, advancing to meet you and chanting a hymn in the Egyptian
tongue, slightly raises a veil to show you the god. And what do you
behold? A crocodile, or some indigenous serpent, or other dangerous
animal, the Egyptian god being a beast sprawling on a purple carpet."

We need not visit Egypt or go so far back in history to encounter
crocodile worship, as this can be readily found in France at the end
of the last century. -- Unfortunately, a hundred years is too long
an interval, too far away, for an imaginative retrospect of the past.
At the present time, standing where we do and regarding the horizon
behind us, we see only forms which the intervening atmosphere
embellishes, shimmering contours which each spectator may interpret in
his own fashion; no distinct, animated figure, but merely a mass of
moving points, forming and dissolving in the midst of picturesque
architecture. I was anxious to take a closer view of these vague
points, and, accordingly, deported myself back to the last half of the
eighteenth century. I have now been living with them for twelve
years, and, like Clement of Alexandria, examined, first, the temple,
and next the god. A passing glance at these is not sufficient; it
was also necessary to understand the theology on which this cult is
founded. This one, explained by a very specious theology, like most
others, is composed of dogmas called the principles of 1789; they were
proclaimed, indeed, at that date, having been previously formulated by
Jean-Jacques Rousseau:

* The well known sovereignty of the people.

* The rights of Man.

* The social contract.

Once adopted, their practical results unfolded themselves naturally.
In three years these dogmas installed the crocodile on the purple
carpet insides the sanctuary behind the golden veil. He was selected
for the place on account of the energy of his jaws and the capacity of
his stomach; he became a god through his qualities as a destructive
brute and man-eater. -- Comprehending this, the rites which
consecrate him and the pomp which surrounds him need not give us any
further concern. -- We can observe him, like any ordinary animal, and
study his various attitudes, as he lies in wait for his prey, springs
upon it, tears it to pieces, swallows it, and digests it. I have
studied the details of his structure, the play of his organs, his
habits, his mode of living, his instincts, his faculties, and his
appetites. -- Specimens abounded. I have handled thousands of them,
and have dissected hundreds of every species and variety, always
preserving the most valuable and characteristic examples, but for lack
of room I have been compelled to let many of them go because my
collections was too large. Those that I was able to bring back with
me will be found here, and, among others, about twenty individuals of
different dimensions, which -- a difficult undertaking -- I have kept
alive with great pains. At all events, they are intact and perfect,
and particularly the three largest. These seem to me, of their kind,
truly remarkable, and those in which the divinity of the day might
well incarnate himself. - Authentic and rather well kept cookbooks
inform us about the cost of the cult: We can more or less estimate how
much the sacred crocodiles consumed in ten years; we know their bills
of daily fare, their favorite morsels. Naturally, the god selected
the fattest victims, but his voracity was so great that he likewise
bolted down, and blindly, the lean ones, and in much greater number
than the fattest. Moreover, by virtue of his instincts, and an
unfailing effect of the situation, he ate his equals once or twice a
year, except when they succeeded in eating him. -- This cult
certainly is instructive, at least to historians and men of pure
science. If any believers in it still remain I do not aim to convert
them; one cannot argue with a devotee on matters of faith. This
volume, accordingly, like the others that have gone before it, is
written solely for amateurs of moral zoology, for naturalists of the
understanding, for seekers of truth, of texts, and of proofs -- for
these alone and not for the public, whose mind is made up and which
has its own opinion on the Revolution. This opinion began to be
formed between 1825 and 1830, after the retirement or withdrawal of
eye witnesses. When they disappeared it was easy to convince a
credulous public that crocodiles were philanthropists; that many
possessed genius; that they scarcely ate others than the guilty, and
that if they sometimes ate too many it was unconsciously and in spite
of themselves, or through devotion and self-sacrifice for the common

H. A. Taine, Menthon Saint Bernard, July 1884.





Weakness of former governments. - Energy of the new government. -
The despotic creed and instincts of the Jacobin.

So far, the weakness of the legal government is extreme. During four
years, whatever its kind, it has constantly and everywhere been
disobeyed. For four years it never dared enforce obedience.
Recruited among the cultivated and refined class, the rulers of the
country have brought with them into power the prejudices and
sensibilities of the epoch. Under the influence of the prevailing
dogma they have submitted to the will of the multitude and, with too
much faith in the rights of Man, they have had too little in the
authority of the magistrate. Moreover, through humanity, they have
abhorred bloodshed and, unwilling to repress, they have allowed
themselves to be repressed. Thus from the 1st of May, 1789, to June
2, 1793, they have administrated or legislated, escaping countless
insurrections, almost all of them going unpunished ; while their
constitution, an unhealthy product of theory and fear, have done no
more than transform spontaneous anarchy into legal anarchy.
Deliberately and through distrust of authority they have undermined
the principle of command, reduced the King to the post of a decorative
puppet, and almost annihilated the central power: from the top to the
bottom of the hierarchy the superior has lost his hold on the
inferior, the minister on the departments, the departments on the
districts, and the districts on the communes. Throughout all branches
of the service, the chief, elected on the spot and by his
subordinates, has come to depend on them. Thenceforth, each post in
which authority is vested is found isolated, dismantled and preyed
upon, while, to crown all, the Declaration of Rights, proclaiming "the
jurisdiction of constituents over their clerks,"[2] has invited the
assailants to make the assault. On the strength of this a faction
arises which ends in becoming an organized band ; under its clamor,
its menaces and its pikes, at Paris and in the provinces, at the polls
and in the parliament, the majorities are all silenced, while the
minorities vote, decree and govern; the Legislative Assembly is
purged, the King is dethroned, and the Convention is mutilated. Of
all the garrisons of the central citadel, whether royalists,
Constitutionalists, or Girondins, not one has been able to defend
itself, to re-fashion the executive instrument, to draw the sword and
use it in the streets: on the first attack, often at the first
summons, all have surrendered, and now the citadel, with every other
public fortress, is in the hands of the Jacobins.

This time, its occupants are of a different stamp. Aside from the
great mass of well-disposed people fond of a quiet life, the
Revolution has sifted out and separated from the rest all who are
fanatical, brutal or perverse enough to have lost respect for others;
these form the new garrison -- sectarians blinded by their creed, the
roughs (assommeurs) who are hardened by their calling, and those who
make all they can out of their offices. None of this class are
scrupulous concerning human life or property ; for, as we have seen,
they have shaped the theory to suit themselves, and reduced popular
sovereignty to their sovereignty. The commonwealth, according to the
Jacobin, is his; with him, the commonwealth comprises all private
possessions, bodies, estates, souls and consciences; everything
belongs to him; the fact of being a Jacobin makes him legitimately
czar and pope. Little does he care about the wills of actually living
Frenchmen; his mandate does not emanate from a vote ; it descends to
him from aloft, conferred on him by Truth, by Reason, by Virtue. As
he alone is enlightened, and the only patriot, he alone is worthy to
take command, while resistance, according to his imperious pride, is
criminal. If the majority protests it is because the majority is
imbecile or corrupt; in either case, it deserves to be brought to
heel. And, in fact, the Jacobin only does that and right away too;
insurrections, usurpations, pillaging, murders, assaults on
individuals, on judges and public attorneys, on assemblies, violations
of law, attacks on the State, on communities -- there is no outrage
not committed by him. He has always acted as sovereign instinctively
; he was so as a private individual and clubbist; he is not to cease
being so, now that he possesses legal authority, and all the more
because if he hesitates he knows he is lost; to save himself from the
scaffold he has no refuge but in a dictatorship. Such a man, unlike
his predecessors, will not allow himself to be turned out; on the
contrary, he will exact obedience at any cost. He will not hesitate
to restore the central power; he will put back the local wheels that
have been detached; he will repair the old forcing gear; he will set
it agoing so as to work more rudely and arbitrarily than ever, with
greater contempt for private rights and public liberties than either a
Louis XIV. or a Napoleon.

II. Jacobin Dissimulation.

Contrast between his words and his acts. - How he dissimulates his
change of front. -- The Constitution of June, 1793. - Its promises
of freedom.

In the mean time, he has to harmonize his coming acts with his recent
declarations, which, at the first glance, seems a difficult operation:
for, in the speeches he has made he has already condemned the actions
he meditates. Yesterday he exaggerated the rights of the governed,
even to a suppression of those of the government; to-morrow he is to
exaggerate the rights of the people in power, even to suppressing
those who are governed. The people, as he puts it, is the sole
sovereign, and he is going to treat the people as slaves; the
government, as he puts it, is a valet, and he is going to endow the
government with prerogatives of a sultan. He has just denounced the
slightest exercise of public authority as a crime; he is now going to
punish as a crime the slightest resistance to public authority. What
will justify such a volte-face and with what excuse can he repudiate
the principles with which he justified his takeover? -- He takes good
care not to repudiate them; it would drive the already rebellious
provinces to extremes; on the contrary, he proclaims them with renewed
vigor, through which move the ignorant crowd, seeing the same flask
always presented to it, imagines that it is always served with the
same liquor, and is thus forced to drink tyranny under the label of
freedom. Whatever the charlatan can do with his labels, signboards,
shouting and lies for the next six months, will be done to disguise
the new nostrum; so much the worse for the public if, later on, it
discovers that the draught is bitter; sooner or later it must swallow
it, willingly or by compulsion: for, in the interval, the instruments
are being got ready to force it down the public throat.[3]

As a beginning, the Constitution, so long anticipated and so often
promised, is hastily fabricated:[4] declarations of rights in thirty-
five articles, the Constitutional bill in one hundred and twenty-four
articles, political principles and institutions of every sort,
electoral, legislative, executive, administrative, judicial, financial
and military;[5] in three weeks all is drawn up and passed on the
double. -- Of course, the new Constitutionalists do not propose to
produce an effective and serviceable instrument; that is the least of
their worries. Hérault Séchelles, the reporter of the bill, writes on
the 7th of June, "to have procured for him at once the laws of Minos,
of which he has urgent need;" very urgent need, as he must hand in the
Constitution that week.[6] Such circumstance is sufficiently
characteristic of both the workmen and the work. All is mere show and
pretense. Some of the workmen are shrewd politicians whose sole
object is to furnish the public with words instead of realities;
others, ordinary scribblers of abstractions, or even ignoramuses, and
unable to distinguish words from reality, imagine that they are
framing laws by stringing together a lot of phrases. -- It is not a
difficult job; the phrases are ready-made to hand. "Let the plotters
of anti-popular systems," says the reporter, "painfully elaborate
their projects! Frenchmen . . . . have only to consult their
hearts to read the Republic there!"[7] Drafted in accordance with the
"Contrat-Social," filled with Greek and Latin reminiscences, it is a
summary "in pithy style" of the manual of current aphorisms then in
vogue, Rousseau's mathematical formulas and prescriptions, "the axioms
of truth and the consequences flowing from these axioms," in short, a
rectilinear constitution which any school-boy may spout on leaving
college. Like a handbill posted on the door of a new shop, it
promises to customers every imaginable article that is handsome and
desirable. Would you have rights and liberties? You will find them
all here. Never has the statement been so clearly made, that the
government is the servant, creature and tool of the governed; it is
instituted solely "to guarantee to them their natural, imprescriptible
rights." [8] Never has a mandate been more strictly limited: "The
right of expressing one's thoughts and opinions, either through the
press or in any other way; the right of peaceful assembly, the free
exercise of worship, cannot be interdicted." Never have citizens been
more carefully guarded against the encroachments and excesses of
public authority: "The law should protect public and private liberties
against the oppression of those who govern . . . offenses committed
by the people's mandatories and agents must never go unpunished. Let
free men instantly put to death every individual usurping sovereignty.
. . Every act against a man outside of the cases and forms which the
law determines is arbitrary and tyrannical; whosoever is subjected to
violence in the execution of this act has the right to repel it by
force. . . When the government violates the people's rights
insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people,
the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties."

To civil rights the generous legislator has added political rights,
and multiplied every precaution for maintaining the dependence of
rulers on the people. -- In the first place, rulers are appointed by
the people and through direct choice or nearly direct choice: in
primary meetings the people elect deputies, city officers, justices of
the peace, and electors of the second degree; the latter, in their
turn, elect in the secondary meetings, district and department
administrators, civil arbitrators, criminal judges, judges of appeal
and the eighty candidates from amongst which the legislative body is
to select its executive council. -- In the second place, all powers
of whatever kind are never conferred except for a very limited term:
one year for deputies, for electors of the second degree, for civil
arbitrators, and for judges of every kind and class. As to
municipalities and also department and district administrations, these
are one-half renewable annually. Every first of May the fountain-head
of authority flows afresh, the people in its primary assemblies,
spontaneously formed, manifesting or changing at will its staff of
clerks. -- In the third place, even when installed and at work, the
people may, if it pleases, become their collaborator: means are
provided for "deliberating" with its deputies. The latter, on
incidental questions, those of slight importance, on the ordinary
business of the year, may enact laws; but on matters of general,
considerable and permanent interest, they are simply to propose the
laws, while, especially as regards a declaration of war, the people
alone must decide. The people have a suspensive veto and, finally, a
definitive veto, which they may exercise when they please. To this
end, they may assemble in extraordinary session; one-fifth of the
citizens who have the right to vote suffice for their convocation.
Once convoked, the vote is determined by a Yes or a No on the act
proposed by the legislative body. If, at the expiration of forty
days, one-tenth of the primary assemblies in one-half of the
departments vote No, there is a suspensive veto. In that event all
the primary assemblies of the Republic must be convoked and if the
majority still decides in the negative, that is a definitive veto.
The same formalities govern a revision of the established
constitution. -- In all this, the plan of the "Montagnards" is a
further advance on that of the Girondins; never was so insignificant a
part assigned to the rulers nor so extensive a part to the governed.
The Jacobins profess a respect for the popular initiative which
amounts to a scruple.[9] According to them the sovereign people should
be sovereign de facto, permanently, and without interregnum, allowed
to interfere in all serious affairs, and not only possess the right,
but the faculty, of imposing its will on its mandatories. -- All the
stronger is the reason for referring to it the institutions now being
prepared for it. Hence the Convention, after the parade is over,
convokes the primary assemblies and submits to them for ratification
the Constitutional bill has been drawn up.


Primary Assemblies. - Proportion of Absentees. -- Unanimity of the
voters. -- Their motives for accepting the Constitution. -- Pressure
brought to bear on voters. - Choice of Delegates.

The ratification will, undoubtedly, be approved. Everything has been
combined beforehand to secure it, also to secure it as wanted,
apparently spontaneously, and almost unanimously. -- The primary
assemblies, indeed, are by no means fully attended; only one-half, or
a quarter, or a third of the electors in the cities deposit their
votes, while in the rural districts there is only a quarter, and
less.[10] Repelled by their experience with previous convocations the
electors know too well the nature of these assemblies; how the Jacobin
faction rules them, how it manages the electoral comedy, with what
violence and threats it reduces all dissidents to voting either as
figurants or claqueurs. From four to five million of electors prefer
to hold aloof and stay at home as usual. Nevertheless the
organization of most of the assemblies takes place, amounting to some
six or seven thousand. This is accounted for by the fact that each
canton contains its small group of Jacobins. Next to these come the
simple-minded who still believe in official declarations; in their
eyes a constitution which guarantees private rights and institutes
public liberties must be accepted, no matter what hand may present it
to them. And all the more readily because the usurpers offer to
resign; in effect, the Convention has just solemnly declared that once
the Constitution is adopted, the people shall again be convoked to
elect "a new national assembly . . . a new representative body
invested with a later and more immediate trust,"[11] which will allow
electors, if they are so disposed, to return honest deputies and
exclude the knaves who now rule. Thereupon even the insurgent
departments, the mass of the Girondins population, after a good deal
of hesitation, resign themselves at last to voting for it.[12] This
is done at Lyons and in the department of Calvados only on the 30th of
July. A number of Constitutionalists or neutrals have done the same
thing, some through a horror of civil war and a spirit of
conciliation, and others through fear of persecution and of being
taxed with royalism;[13] one conception more: through docility they
may perhaps succeed in depriving the "Mountain" of all pretext for

In this they greatly deceive themselves, and, from the first, they are
able to see once more the Jacobins interpretation of electoral
liberty. -- At first, all the registered,[14] and especially the
"suspects," are compelled to vote, and to vote Yes; otherwise, says a
Jacobin journal,[15] "they themselves will indicate the true opinion
one ought to have of their attitudes, and no longer have reason to
complain of suspicions that are found to be so well grounded." They
come accordingly, "very humbly and very penitent." Nevertheless they
meet with a rebuff, and a cold shoulder is turned on them; they are
consigned to a corner of the room, or near the doors, and are openly
insulted. Thus received, it is clear that they will keep quiet and
not risk the slightest objection. At Macon "a few aristocrats
muttered to themselves, but not one dared say No."[16] It would,
indeed, be extremely imprudent. At Montbrison, "six individuals who
decline to vote," are denounced in the procès-verbal of the Canton,
while a deputy in the Convention demands "severe measures" against
them. At Nogent-sur-Seine, three administrators, guilty of the same
offense, are to be turned out of office.[17] A few months later, the
offense becomes a capital crime, and people are to be guillotined "for
having voted against the Constitution of 1793."[18] Almost all the
ill-disposed foresaw this danger; hence, in nearly all the primary
assemblies, the adoption is unanimous, or nearly unanimous.[19] At
Rouen, there are but twenty-six adverse votes; at Caen, the center of
the Girondin opposition, fourteen; at Rheims, there are only two; at
Troyes, Besançon, Limoges and Paris, there are none at all; in fifteen
departments the number of negatives varies from five to one; not one
is found in Var; this apparent unity is most instructive. The
commune of St. Donau, the only one in France, in the remote district
of Cotês-du-Nord, dares demand the restoration of the clergy and the
son of Capet for king. All the others vote as if directed with a
baton; they have understood the secret of the plebiscite; that it is a
Jacobin demonstration, not an honest vote, which is required.[20] The
operation undertaken by the local party is actually carried out. It
beats to arms around the ballot-box; it arrives in force; it alone
speaks with authority; it animates officers; it moves all the
resolutions and draws up the report of proceedings, while the
representatives on mission from Paris add to the weight of the local
authority that of the central authority. In the Macon assembly "they
address the people on each article; this speech is followed by immense
applause and redoubled shouting of Vive la République! Vive la
Constitution! Vive le Peuple Français! " Beware, ye lukewarm, who do
not join in the chorus! They are forced to vote "in a loud,
intelligible voice." They are required to shout in unison, to sign the
grandiloquent address in which the leaders testify their gratitude to
the Convention, and give their adhesion to the eminent patriots
delegated by the primary assembly to bear its report to Paris.[21]


The Delegates reach Paris. -- Precautions taken against them. --
Constraints and Seductions.

The first act of the comedy is over and the second act now begins.--
The faction has convoked the delegates of the primary assemblies to
Paris for a purpose. Like the primary assemblies, they are to serve
as its instruments for governing; they are to form the props of
dictatorship, and the object now is to restrict them to that task
only. -- Indeed, it is not certain that all will lend themselves to
it. For, among the eight thousand commissioners, some, appointed by
refractory assemblies, bring a refusal instead of an adhesion;[22]
others, more numerous, are instructed to present objections and point
out omissions:[23] it is very certain that the envoys of the Girondist
departments will insist on the release or return of their excluded
representatives. And lastly, a good many delegates who have accepted
the Constitution in good faith desire its application as soon as
possible, and that the Convention should fulfill its promise of
abdication, so as to give way to a new Assembly. - As it is important
to suppress at once all these vague desires for independence or
tendencies for opposition a decree of the Convention "authorizes the
Committee of General Security to order the arrest of 'suspect'
commissioners;" it is especially to look after those who, "charged
with a special mission, would hold meetings to win over their
colleagues, . . . . and engage them in proceedings contrary to
their mandate."[24] In the first place, and before they are admitted
into Paris, their Jacobinism is to be verified, like a bale in the
customs-house, by the special agents of the executive council, and
especially by Stanislas Maillard, the famous September judge, and his
sixty-eight bearded ruffians, each receiving pay at five francs a day.
"On all the roads, within a circuit of fifteen or twenty leagues of
the capital," the delegates are searched; their trunks are opened, and
their letters read. At the barriers in Paris they find "inspectors"
posted by the Commune, under the pretext of protecting them against
prostitutes and swindlers. There, they are taken possession of, and
conducted to the mayoralty, where they receive lodging tickets, while
a picket of gendarmerie escorts them to their allotted domiciles.[25]
-- Behold them in pens like sheep, each in his numbered stall; there
is no fear of the dissidents trying to escape and form a band apart:
one of them, who comes to the Convention and asks for a separate hall
for himself and his adherents, is snubbed in the most outrageous
manner; they denounce him as an intriguer, and accuse him of a desire
to defend the traitor Castries; they take his name and credentials,
and threaten him with an investigation.[26] The unfortunate speaker
hears the Abbaye alluded to, and evidently thinks himself fortunate to
escape sleeping there that night. -- After this, it is certain that
he will not again demand the privilege of speaking, and that his
colleagues will remain quiet; and all this is the more likely

* because the revolutionary tribunal holds permanent sessions under
their eyes,

* because the guillotine is set up and in operation on the "Place de
la Révolution;"

* because a recent act of the Commune enjoins on the police "the most
active surveillance" and "constant patrols" by the armed force;

* because, from the first to the fourth of August, the barriers are

* because, on the 2nd of August, a raid into three of the theaters
puts five hundred young men in the lock-up,[27]

so the discontented soon discover, if there are any, that this is not
the time or the place to protest.

As to the others, already Jacobin, the faction takes it upon itself to
render them still more so. -- Lost in the immensity of Paris, all
these provincials require moral as well as physical guides; it agrees
to exercise toward them "hospitality in all its plenitude, the
sweetest of Republican virtues."[28] Hence, ninety-six sans-culottes,
selected from among the sections, wait on them at the Mayoralty to
serve as their correspondents, and perhaps as their guarantees, and
certainly as pilots

* to give them lodging-tickets,

* to escort and install them,

* to indoctrinate them, as formerly with the federates of July, 1792,

* to prevent their getting into bad company,

* to introduce them into all the exciting meetings,

* to see that their ardent patriotism quickly rises to the proper
temperature of Parisian Jacobinism.[29]

The theaters must not offend their eyes or ears with pieces "opposed
to the spirit of the Revolution."[30] An order is issued for the
performance three times a week of "republican tragedies, such as
'Brutus', 'William Tell', 'Caius Gracchus,' and other dramas suitable
for the maintenance of the principles of equality and liberty." Once a
week the theaters must be free, when Chéniér's alexandrines are
spouted on the stage to the edification of the delegates, crowded into
the boxes at the expense of the State. The following morning, led in
groups into the tribunes of the Convention,[31] they there find the
same, classic, simple, declamatory, sanguinary tragedy, except that
the latter is not feigned but real, and the tirades are in prose
instead of in verse. Surrounded by paid yappers like victims for the
ancient Romans celebrations of purifications, our provincials applaud,
cheer and get excited, the same as on the night before at the signal
given by the claqueurs and the regulars. Another day, the procureur-
syndic Lhullier summons them to attend the "Evéché," to "fraternize
with the authorities of the Paris department;"[32] the "Fraternité"
section invites them to its daily meetings; the Jacobin club lends
them its vast hall in the morning and admits them to its sessions in
the evening. -- Thus monopolized and kept, as in a diving bell, they
breathe in Paris nothing but a Jacobin atmosphere; from one Jacobin
den to another, as they are led about in this heated atmosphere, their
pulse beats more rapidly. Many of them, who, on their arrival, were
"plain, quiet people,"[33] but out of their element, subjected to
contagion without any antidote, quickly catch the revolutionary fever.
The same as at an American revival, under the constant pressure of
preaching and singing, of shouts and nervous spasms, the lukewarm and
even the indifferent have not long to wait before the delirium puts
them in harmony with the converted.


They make their profession of Jacobin faith. -- Their part in the
Fête of August 10th. -- Their enthusiasm.

On the 7th of August things come to a head. -- Led by the department
and the municipality, a number of delegates march to the bar of the
Convention, and make a confession of Jacobin faith. "Soon," they
exclaim, "will search be made on the banks of the Seine for the foul
marsh intended to engulf us. Were the royalist and intriguers to die
of spite, we will live and die 'Montagnards.'"[34] Applause and
embraces. -- From thence they betake themselves to the Jacobin Club,
where one of them proposes an address prepared beforehand: the object
of this is to justify the 31st of May, and the 2nd of June, "to open
the eyes" of provincial France, to declare "war against the
federalists."[35] "Down with the infamous libelers who have
calumniated Paris! .... We cherish but one sentiment, our souls are
all melted into one ... We form here but one vast, terrible mountain,
about to vomit forth its fires on the royalists and supporters of
tyranny." Applause and cheers. -- Robespierre declares that they are
there to save the country.[36] On the following day, August 8th, this
address is presented to the Convention and Robespierre has a
resolution adopted, ordering it to be sent to the armies, to foreign
powers and all the Communes. More applause, more embraces, and more
cheers. -- On the 9th of August,[37] by order of the Convention, the
delegates meet in the Tuileries garden, where, divided into as many
groups as there are departments, they study the program drawn up by
David, in order to familiarize themselves with the parts they are to
play in the festival of the following day.

What an odd festival and how well it expresses the spirit of the time!
It is a sort of opera played in the streets by the public authorities,
with triumphant chariots, altars, censers, an Ark of the Covenant,
funeral urns, classic banners and other trappings! Its divinities
consist of plaster statues representing Nature, Liberty, the People,
and Hercules, all of which are personified abstractions, like those
painted on the ceiling of a theater. In all this there is no
spontaneity nor sincerity; the actors, whose consciences tell them
that they are only actors, render homage to symbols which they know to
be nothing but symbols, while the mechanical procession,[38] the
invocations, the apostrophes, the postures, the gestures are regulated
beforehand, the same as by a ballet-manager. To any truth-loving
person all this must seem like a charade performed by puppets. -- But
the festival is colossal, well calculated to stimulate the imagination
and excite pride through physical excitement.[39] On this grandiose
stage the delegates become quite intoxicated with their part; for,
evidently, theirs is the leading part; they represent twenty-six
millions of Frenchmen, and the sole object of this ceremony is to
glorify the national will of which they are the bearers. -- On the
Place de la Bastille[40] where the gigantic effigy of nature pours
forth from its two breasts "the regenerating water," Hérault, the
president, after offering libations and saluting the new goddess,
passes the cup to the eighty-seven elders (les doyens) of the eighty-
seven departments, each "summoned by sound of drum and trumpet" to
step forward and drink in his turn, while cannon belch forth their
thunders as if for a monarch. After the eighty-seven have passed the
cup around, the artillery roars. The procession them moves on, and
the delegates again are assigned the place of honor. The elders,
holding an olive-branch in one hand, and a pike in the other, with a
streamer on the end of it bearing the name of their department, "bound
to each other by a small three-color ribbon," surround the Convention
as if to convey the idea that the nation maintains and conducts its
legal representative. Behind them march the rest of the eight
thousand delegates, likewise holding olive-branches and forming a
second distinct body, the largest of all, and on which all eyes are
centered. For, in their wake, "their is no longer any distinction
between persons and functionaries," all being confounded together,
marching pell-mell, executive council, city officials, judges
scattered about haphazard and, by virtue of equality, lost in the
crowd. At each station, thanks to their insignia, the delegates form
the most conspicuous element. On reaching the last one, that of the
Champ de Mars, they alone with the Convention, ascend the steps
leading to the alter of the country; on the highest platform stands
the eldest of all alongside the president of the Convention, also
standing; thus graded above each other, the seven thousand, who
envelope the seven hundred and fifty, form "the veritable Sacred
Mountain." Now, the president, on the highest platform, turns toward
the eighty-seven elders; he confides to the Ark containing the
Constitutional Act and the list of those who voted for it; they, on
their part, then advance and hand him their pikes, which he gathers
together into one bundle as an emblem of national unity and
indivisibility. At this, shouts arise from every point of the immense
enclosure; salvoes of artillery follow again and again; "one would say
that heaven and earth answered each other" in honor "of the greatest
epoch of humanity." -- Certainly, the delegates are beside themselves;
their nerves, strained to the utmost, vibrates too powerfully; the
millennium discloses itself before their eyes. Already, many among
them on the Place de la Bastille, had addressed the universe; others,
"seized with a prophetic spirit," promise eternity to the
Constitution. They feel themselves "reborn again, along with the
human species;" they regard themselves as beings of a new world.
History is consummated in them; the future is in their hands; they
believe themselves gods on earth. -- In this critical state, their
reason, like a pair of ill-balanced scales, yields to the slightest
touch; under the pressure of the manufacturers of enthusiasm, a sudden
reaction will carry them away. They consider the Constitution as a
panacea, and they are going to consign it, like some dangerous drug,
to this coffer which they call an ark. They have just proclaimed the
liberty of the people, and are going to perpetuate the dictatorship of
the Convention.

VI. The Mountain.

Maneuvers of the "Mountain." -- The Jacobin Club on the eve of August
11th. -- Session of the Convention on the 11th of August. -- The
Delegates initiate Terror. -- Popular consecration of the Jacobin

This volteface has, of course, to appear spontaneous and the hand of
the titular rulers remain invisible: the Convention, as usual with
usurpers, is to simulate reserve and disinterestedness. -
Consequently, the following morning, August 11, on the opening of
the session, it simply declares that "its mission is fulfilled:"[41]
on the motion of Lacroix, a confederate of Danton's, it passes a law
that a new census of the population and of electors shall be made with
as little delay as possible, in order to convoke the primary
assemblies at once; it welcomes with joy the delegates who bring to it
the Constitutional Ark; the entire Assembly rises in the presence of
this sacred receptacle, and allows the delegates to exhort it and
instruct it concerning its duties.[42] But in the evening, at the
Jacobin Club, Robespierre, after a long and vague discourse on public
dangers, conspiracies, and traitors, suddenly utters the decisive

"The most important of my reflections was about to escape me[43]. .
. The proposition made this morning will only facilitate the
replacement of the purified members of this Convention by the envoys
of Pitt and Cobourg."

Dreadful words in the mouth of a man of principles! They are at once
understood by the leaders, great and small, also by the selected
fifteen hundred Jacobins then filling the hall. "No! no! shouts the
entire club." The delegates are carried away:

"I demand," exclaims one of them, "that the dissolution of the
Convention be postponed until the end of the war." -

At last, the precious motion, so long desired and anticipated, is
made: the calumnies of the Girondins now fall the ground; it is
demonstrated that the Convention does not desire to perpetuate itself
and that it has no ambition; if it remains in power it is because it
is kept there; the delegates of the people compel it to stay.

And better still, they are going to mark out its course of action. --
The next day, the 12th of August, with the zeal of new converts, they
spread themselves through the hall in such numbers that Assembly, no
longer able to carry on is deliberations, crowds toward the left and
yields the whole of the space on the right that they may occupy and
"purify"" it.[44] All the combustible material in their minds,
accumulated during the past fortnight, takes fire and explodes; they
are more furious than the most ultra Jacobins; they repeat at the bar
of the house the extravagances of Rose Lacombe, and of the lowest
clubs; they even transcend the program drawn up by the "Mountain."
"The time for deliberation is past," exclaims their spokesman, "we
must act[45]. . . Let the people rouse themselves in a mass. . .
it alone can annihilate its enemies. . . We demand that all
'suspects' be put under arrest; that they be dispatched to the
frontiers, followed by the terrible mass of sans-culottes. There, in
the front ranks, they will be obliged to fight for that liberty which
they have outraged for the past four years, or be immolated on the
tyrants' cannon. . . . Women, children, old men and the infirm
shall be kept as hostages by the women and children of sans-culottes."
Danton seizes the opportunity. With his usual lucidity he finds the
expression which describes the situation:

"The deputies of the primary assemblies," he says, "have just begun to
practice among us the initiative of terror."

He moreover reduces the absurd notions of the fanatics to a practical
measure: "A mobilization en masse, yes, but with order" by at once
calling out the first class of conscript, all men from eighteen to
twenty-five years of age; the arrest of all 'suspects', yes, but not
to lead them against the enemy; "they would be more dangerous than
useful in our armies; let us shut them up; they will be our hostages."
-- He also proposes employment for the delegates who are only in the
way in Paris and might be useful in the provinces. Let us make of
them "various kinds of representatives charged with animating
citizens. . . Let them, along with all good citizens and the
constituted authorities, take charge of the inventories of grain and
arms, and make requisitions for men, and let the Committee of Public
Safety direct this sublime movement. . . . All will swear that, on
returning to their homes, they will give this impulse their fellow
citizens." Universal applause; the delegates exclaim in one voice, "We
swear!" Everybody springs to his feet; the men in the tribunes wave
their hats and likewise should the same oath. -- The scheme is
successful; a semblance of popular will has authorized the staff of
officials, the policy, the principles and the very name of Terror. As
to the instruments for the operation they are all there ready to be
back into action. The delegates, of whose demands and interference
the "Mountain" is still in dread, are sent back to their departmental
holes, where they shall serve as agents and missionaries.[46] There is
no further mention of putting the Constitution into operation; this
was simply a bait, a decoy, contrived for fishing in turbid waters:
the fishing ended, the Constitution is now placed in a conspicuous
place in the hall, in a small monument for which David furnished the
design.[47] -- The Convention, now, says Danton, "will rise to a sense
of its dignity, for it is now invested with the full power of the
nation." In other words, artifice completes what violence has begun.
Through the outrages committed in May and June, the Convention had
lost its legitimacy; through the maneuvers of July and August it
recovered the semblance of it. The Montagnards still hold their slave
by his lash, but they have restored his prestige so as to make the
most of him to their own profit.


Effect of this maneuver. -- Extent and Manifesto of the departmental
insurrection. -- Its fundamental weakness. -- The mass of the
population inert and distrustful. -- The small number of Girondists.
-- Their lukewarm adherents. -- Scruples of fugitive deputies and
insurgent administrators. -- They form no central government. --
They leave military authority in the hands of the Convention. --
Fatal progress of their concessions. -- Withdrawal of the departments
one by one. -- Retraction of the compromised authorities. -- Effect
of administrative habits. -- Failings and illusions of the Moderates.
-- Opposite character of the Jacobins.

With the same blow, and amongst the same playacting, they have nearly
disarmed their adversaries. -- On learning the events of May 31 and
June 2, a loud cry of indignation arose among republicans of the
cultivated class in this generation, who, educated by the
philosophers, sincerely believed in the rights of man.[48] Sixty-nine
department administrations had protested,[49] and, in almost all the
towns of the west, the south, the east and the center of France, at
Caen, Alençon, Evreux, Rennes, Brest, Lorient, Nantes and Limoges, at
Bordeaux, Toulouse, Montpellier, Nîmes and Marseilles, at Grenoble,
Lyons, Clermont, Lons-le-Saunier, Besançon, Mâcon and Dijon,[50] the
citizens, assembled in their sections, had provoked, or maintained by
cheering them on, the acts of their administrators. Rulers and
citizens, all declared that, the Convention not being free, its
decrees after the 31st of May, no longer had the force of law; that
the troops of the departments should march on Paris to deliver that
city from its oppressors, and that their substitutes should be called
out and assemble at Bourges. In many places words were converted into
acts. Already before the end of May, Marseilles and Lyons had taken
up arms and checkmated their local Jacobins. After the 2nd of June,
Normandy, Brittany, Gard, Jura, Toulouse and Bordeaux, had also raised
troops. At Marseilles, Bordeaux and Caen representatives on mission,
arrested or under guard, were retained as hostages.[51] At Nantes, the
national Guard and popular magistrates who, a week before, had so
bravely repulsed the great Vendéan army, dared to more than this; they
limited the powers of the Convention and condemned all meddling:
according to them, the sending of representatives on mission was "an
usurpation, an attack on national sovereignty;" representatives had
been elected

"to make and not to execute laws, to prepare a constitution and
regulate all public powers, and not to confound these together and
exercise them all at once; to protect and maintain intermediary powers
which the people have delegated, and not to encroach upon and
annihilate them."[52]

With still greater boldness, Montpellier enjoined all representatives
everywhere to meet at the headquarters of their respective
departments, and await the verdict of a national jury. In short, in
accordance with the very democratic creed, "nothing was visible amid
the ruins of the Convention," mutilated and degraded, but interloping
"attorneys." "The people's workmen" are summoned "to return to
obedience and do justice to the reproaches addressed to them by their
legitimate master;"[53] the nation canceled the pay of its clerks at
the capital, withdrew the mandate they had misused, and declared them
usurpers if they persisted in not yielding up their borrowed
sovereignty "to its inalienable sovereignty." -- To this stroke, which
strikes deep, the "Mountain" replies by a similar stroke; it also
renders homage to principles and falls back on the popular will.
Through the sudden manufacture of an ultra-democratic constitution,
through a convocation of the primary assemblies, and a ratification of
its work by the people in these assemblies, through the summoning of
delegates to Paris, through the assent of these converted, fascinated,
or constrained delegates, it exonerates and justifies itself, and thus
deprives the Girondins of the grievances to which they had given
currency, of the axioms they had displayed on their standards, and of
the popularity they thought they had acquired.[54] -- Henceforth, the
ground their opponents had built on sinks under their feet; the
materials collected by them disintegrate in their hands; their league
dissolves before it is completed, and the incurable weakness of the
party appears in full daylight.

Firstly, in the departments, as at Paris,[55] the party has no roots.
For the past three years all the sensible and orderly people, occupied
with their own affairs, who has no taste or interest in politics,
nine-tenths of the electors, abstain from voting and in this large
mass the Girondins have no adherents. As they themselves admit,[56]
this class remains attached to the institutions of 1791, which they
have overthrown; if it has any esteem for them, it is as "extremely
honest madmen." Again, this esteem is mingled with aversion: it
reproaches them with the violent decrees they have passed in concert
with the "Mountain;" with persecutions, confiscations, every species
of injustice and cruelty; it always sees the King's blood on their
hands; they, too, are regicides, anti-Catholics, anti-Christians,
demolishers and levelers.[57] -- Undoubtedly they are less so than the
"Mountain;" hence, when the provincial insurrection breaks out, many
Feuillants and even Royalists follow them to the section assemblies
and join in their protests. But the majority goes no further, and
soon falls back into is accustomed inertia. It is not in harmony with
its leaders:[58] its latent preferences are opposed to their avowed
program; it does not wholly trust them; it has only a half-way
affection for them; its recent sympathies are deadened by old
animosities: everywhere, instead of firmness there is only caprice.
All this affords no assurance of steadfast loyalty and practical
adhesion. The Girondin deputies scattered through the provinces
relied upon each department arousing itself at their summons and
forming a republican Vendée against the "Mountain:" nowhere do they
find anything beyond mild approval and speculative hopes.

There remains to support them the élite of the republican party, the
scholars and lovers of literature, who are honest and sincere
thinkers, who, worked upon by the current dogmas, have accepted the
philosophical catechism literally and seriously. Elected judges, or
department, district, and city administrators, commanders and officers
of the National Guard, presidents and secretaries of sections, they
occupy most of the places conferred by local authority, and hence
their almost unanimous protest seems at first to be the voice of
France. In reality, it is only the despairing cry of a group of
staff-officers without an army. Chosen under the electoral pressure
with which we are familiar, they possess rank, office and titles, but
no credit or influence; they are supported only by those whom they
really represent, that is to say, those who elected them, a tenth of
the population, and forming a sectarian minority. Again, in this
minority there are a good many who are lukewarm; with most men the
distance is great between conviction and action; the interval is
filled up with acquired habits, indolence, fear and egoism. One's
belief in the abstractions of the "Contrat-social" is of little
account; no one readily bestirs oneself for an abstract end.
Uncertainties beset one at the outset; the road one has to follow is
found to be perilous and obscure, and one hesitates and postpones; one
feels himself a home-body and is afraid of engaging too deeply and of
going too far. Having expended one's breath in words one is less
willing to give one's money; another may open his purse but he may not
be disposed to give himself, which is as true of the Girondins as it
is of the Feuillants.

"At Marseilles,[59] at Bordeaux," says a deputy, "in nearly all the
principal towns, the proprietor, slow, indifferent and timid, could
not make up his mind to leave home for a moment; it was to mercenaries
that he entrusted his cause his arms."

Only the federates of Mayenne, Ile-et-Vilaine, and especially of
Finisterre, were "young men well brought up and well informed about
the cause they were going to support." In Normandy, the Central
Committee, unable to do better, has to recruit its soldiers, and
especially gunners, from the band of Carabots, former Jacobins, a lot
of ruffians ready for anything, pillagers and runaways at the first
canon-shot. At Caen, Wimpffen, having ordered the eight battalions of
the National Guard to assemble in the court, demands volunteers and
finds that only seventeen step forth; on the following day a formal
requisition brings out only one hundred and thirty combatants; other
towns, except Vire, which furnishes about twenty, refuse their
contingent. In short, a marching army cannot be formed, or, if it
does march, it halts at the first station, that of Evreux before
reaching Vernon, and that of Marseilles at the walls of Avignon.

On the other hand, by virtue of being sincere and logical, those who
have rebelled entertain scruples and themselves define the limits of
their insurrection. The fugitive deputies at their head would believe
themselves guilty of usurpation had they, like the "Mountain" at
Paris, constituted themselves at Caen en sovereign assembly[60]:
according to them, their right and their duty is reduced to giving
testimony concerning the 31st of May and the 1st of June, and to
exhorting the people and to being eloquent. They are not legally
qualified to take executive power; it is for the local magistrates,
the élus(elected) of the sections, and better still, the department committees
to command in the departments. Lodged as they are in official
quarters, they are merely to print formal statements, write letters,
and, behaving properly, wait until the sovereign people, their
employer, reinstates them. It has been outraged in their persons; it
must avenge itself for this outrage; since it approves of its
mandatories, it is bound to restore them to office; it being the
master of the house, it is bound to have its own way in the house. --
As to the department committees, it is true that, in the heat of the
first excitement, they thought of forming a new Convention at
Bourges,[61] either through a muster of substitute deputies, or
through the convocation of a national commission of one hundred and
seventy members. But time is wanting, also the means, to carry out
the plan; it remains suspended in the air like vain menace; at the end
of a fortnight it vanishes in smoke; the departments succeed in
federating only in scattered groups; they desist from the formation of
a central government, and thus, through this fact alone, condemn
themselves to succumb, one after the other, in detail, and each at
home. -- What is worse, through conscientiousness and patriotism,
they prepare their own defeat: the refrain from calling upon the
armies and from stripping the frontiers; they do not contest the right
of the Convention to provide as it pleases for the national defense.
Lyons allows the passage of convoys of cannon-balls which are to be
subsequently used in cannonading its defenders[62]. The authorities
of Puy-de-Dome aid by sending to Vendée the battalion that they had
organized against the "Mountain." Bordeaux is to surrender Chateau-
Trompette, its munitions of war and supplies, to the representatives
on mission; and, without a word, with exemplary docility, both the
Bordeaux battalions which guard Blaye suffer themselves to be
dislodged by two Jacobin battalions.[63] -- Comprehending the
insurrection in this way, defeat is certain beforehand.

The insurgents are thus conscious of their false position; they have a
vague sort of feeling that, in recognizing the military authority of
the Convention, they admit its authority in full; insensibly they
glide down this slope, from concession to concession, until they reach
complete submission. From the 16th of June, at Lyons,[64] "people
begin to feel that it ought not break with the Convention." Five weeks
later, the authorities of Lyons "solemnly recognize that the
Convention is the sole central rallying point of all French citizens
and republicans," and decree that "all acts emanating from it
concerning the general interests of the republic are to be
executed."[65] Consequently, at Lyons and in other departments, the
administrations convoke the primary assemblies as the Convention has
prescribed; consequently, the primary assemblies accept the
Constitution which it has proposed; consequently, the delegates of the
primary assemblies betake themselves to Paris according to its orders.
-- Henceforth, the Girondins' cause is lost; the discharge of a few
cannon at Vernon and Avignon disperse the only two columns of soldiery
that have set out on their march. In each department, the Jacobins,
encouraged by the representatives on mission, raise their heads;
everywhere the local club enjoins the local government to submit,[66]
everywhere the local governments report the acts they pass, make
excuses and ask forgiveness. Proportionately to the retraction of one
department, the rest, feeling themselves abandoned, are more disposed
to retract. On the 9th of July forty-nine departments are enumerated
as having given in their adhesion. Several of them declare that the
scales have dropped from their eyes, that they approve of the acts of
May 31 and June 2, and thus ensure their safety by manifesting their
zeal. The administration of Calvados notifies the Breton fédérés that
"having accepted the Constitution it can no longer tolerate their
presence in Caen;" it sends them home, and secretly makes peace with
the "Mountain;" and only informs the deputies, who are its guests, of
this proceeding, three days afterwards, by postings on their door the
decree that declares them outlaws.

Disguised as soldiers, the latter depart along with the Breton
fédérés; on the way, they are able to ascertain the veritable
sentiments of this people whom they believe imbued with their rights
and capable of taking a political initiative.[67] The pretended
citizens and republicans they have to do with are, in sum, the former
subjects of Louis XVI. and the future subjects of Napoleon I., that
is to say, administrators and people, disciplined by habit and
instinctively subordinate, requiring a government just as sheep
require a shepherd and a watch-dog, accepting or submitting to
shepherd and dog, provided these look and act the part, even if the
shepherd be a butcher and the dog a wolf. To avoid isolation, to
rejoin the most numerous herd as soon as possible, to always form
masses and bodies and thus follow the impulsion which comes from
above, and gather together scattered individuals, such is the instinct
of the flock.

In the battalion of federates, they begin by saying that, as the
Constitution is now accepted and the convention recognized, it is no
longer allowed to protect deputies whom it has declared outlaws: "that
would be creating a faction." Thereupon, the deputies withdraw from
the battalion, and, in a little squad by themselves, march along
separately. As they are nineteen in number, resolute and well armed,
the authorities of the market-towns through which they pass make no
opposition by force; it would be offering battle, and that surpasses a
functionary's zeal; moreover, the population is either indifferent
toward them or sympathetic. Nevertheless, efforts are made to stop
them, sometimes to surround them and take them by surprise; for, a
warrant of arrest is out against them, transmitted through the
hierarchical channel, and every local magistrate feels bound to do his
duty as gendarme. Under this administrative network, the meshes of
which they encounter everywhere, the proscribed deputies can do naught
else but hide in caves or escape by sea. -- On reaching Bordeaux,
they find other sheep getting ready for the slaughter-house. Saige,
the mayor, preaches conciliation and patience: he declines the aid of
four or five thousand young men, three thousand grenadiers of the
National Guard, and two or three hundred volunteers who had formed
themselves into a club against the Jacobin club. He persuades them to
disband; he sends a deputation to Paris to entreat the Convention to
overlook "a moment of error" and pardon their "brethren who had gone
astray." -- "They flattered themselves," says a deputy, an eye-
witness,[68] "that prompt submission would appease the resentment of
tyrants and that these would be, or pretend to be, generous enough to
spare a town that had distinguished itself more than any other during
the Revolution." Up to the last, they are to entertain the same
illusions and manifest the same docility. When Tallien, with his
eighteen hundred peasants and brigands, enters Bordeaux, twelve
thousand National Guards, equipped, armed and in uniform, receive him
wearing oak-leaf crowns; they listen in silence to "his astounding and
outrageous discourse;" they suffer him to tear off their crowns,
cockades and epaulettes; the battalions allow themselves to be
disbanded on the spot; on returning to their quarters they listen with
downcast eyes to the proclamation which "orders all inhabitants
without distinction to bring their arms within thirty-six hours, under
the penalty of death, to the glacis of the Chateau-Trompette; before
the time elapses thirty thousand guns, swords, pistols and even
pocket-knives are given up."

Here, as at Paris, on the 20th of June, 10th of August, 2nd of
September, 3rd of May and 2nd of June, as at every critical moment of
the Revolution in Paris and the provinces, habits of subordination and
of amiability, stamped on a people by a provident monarchy and a time-
honored civilization, have blunted in man the foresight of danger, his
aggressive instinct, his independence and the faculty of depending
upon himself only, the willingness to help one another and of saving
himself. Inevitably, when anarchy brings a nation back to the state
of nature, the tame animals will be eaten by the savage ones, -- these
are now let loose and immediately they show their true nature.

VIII. The Reasons for the Terror.

The last local resistance. -- Political orthodoxy of the insurgent
towns. -- They stipulate but one condition. -- Reasons of State for
granting this. -- Party arguments against it.

If the men of the "Mountain" had been statesmen, or even sensible men,
they would have shown themselves humane, if not for the sake of
humanity, at least through calculation; for in this France, so little
republican, all the republican strength is not too great for the
founding of the Republic, while, through their principles, their
culture, their social position and their number, the Girondins form
the élite and the force, the flower and the sap of the party. -- The
death-cry of the "Mountain" against the insurgents of Lozére[69] and
Vendée can be understood: they had raised the king's white flag; they
accepted leaders and instructions from Coblentz and London. But
neither Bordeaux, Marseilles nor Lyons are royalist, or in alliance
with the foreigner.

"We, rebels!" write the Lyonnese;[70] "Why we see no other than the
tri-color flag waving; the white cockade, the symbol of rebellion, has
never been raised within our walls. We, royalists! Why, shouts of
'Long live the Republic' are heard on all sides, and, spontaneously
(in the session of July 2nd) we have all sworn to fall upon whoever
should propose a king. . . . Your representatives tell you that we
are anti-revolutionaries, we who have accepted the Constitution. They
tell you that we protect émigrés when we have offered to surrender all
those that you might indicate. They tell you that our streets are
filled with refractory priests, when we have not even opened the doors
of Pierre-en-Cize (prison) to the thirty-two priests confined there by
the old municipality, without indictment, without any charge whatever
against them, solely because they were priests."

Thus, at Lyons, the pretended aristocrats were, then, not only
republicans but democrats and radicals, loyal to the established
régime, and submissive to the worst of the revolutionary laws, while
the same state of things prevailed at Bordeaux, at Marseilles and even
at Toulon.[71] And furthermore, they accepted the outrages of May 31
and June 2;[72] they stopped contesting the usurpations of Paris; they
no longer insisted on the return of the excluded deputies. On the 2nd
of August at Bordeaux, and the 30th of July at Lyons, the Committee-
Extraordinary of Public Safety resigned; there no longer existed any
rival assembly opposed to the Convention. After the 24th of July,[73]
Lyons solemnly recognized the supreme and central authority, reserving
nothing but its municipal franchises. - And better still, in striking
testimony of political orthodoxy, the Council-General of the
department prescribed a civic festival for the 10th of August
analogous to that of Paris. The Lyonnese, already blockaded, indulged
in no hostile manifestation; on the 7th of August they marched out of
their advanced positions to fraternize with the first body of troops
sent against them.[74] They conceded everything, save on one point,
which they could not yield without destruction, namely, the assurance
that they should not be given up defenseless to the arbitrary judgment
of their local tyrants, to the spoliation, proscriptions and revenge
of the Jacobin rabble. In sum, at Marseilles and Bordeaux, especially
at Lyons and Toulon, the sections had revolted only on that account;
acting promptly and spontaneously, the people had thrust aside the
knife which a few ruffians aimed at their throats; they had not been,
and were not now, willing to be "Septemberised," that was their sole
concern. Provided they were not handed over to the butchers bound
hand and foot, they would open their gates. On these minimum terms
the "Mountain" could terminate the civil war before the end of July.
It had only to follow the example of Robert Lindet who, at Evreux the
home of Buzot, at Caen the home of Charlotte Corday and the central
seat of the fugitive Girondins, established permanent obedience
through the moderation he had shown and the promises he had kept.[75]
The measures that had pacified the most compromised province would
have brought back the others, and through this policy, Paris, without
striking a blow, would have secured the three largest cities in
France, the capital of the South-west, that of the South, and the
capital of the Center.

On the contrary, should Paris persist in imposing on them the
domination of its local Jacobins there was a risk of their being
thrown into the arms of the enemy. Rather than fall back into the
hands of the bandits who had ransomed and decimated them, Toulon,
starved out, was about to receive the English within its walls and
surrender to them the great arsenal of the South. Not less famished,
Bordeaux might be tempted to demand aid from another English fleet; a
few marches would brings the Piedmontese army to Lyons; France would
then b cut in two, while the plan of stirring up the South against the
North was proposed to the allies by the most clear-sighted of their
councilors.[76] Had this plan been carried out it is probably that the
country would have been lost. -- In any event, there was danger in
driving the insurgents to despair: for, between the unbridled
dictatorship of their victorious assassins and the musketry of the
besieging army, there could be no hesitation by men of any feeling; it
was better to be beaten on the ramparts than allow themselves to be
bound for the guillotine; brought to a stand under the scaffold, their
sole resource was to depend on themselves to the last. -- Thus,
through its unreasonableness, the "Mountain" condemns itself to a
number of sieges or blockades which lasted several months,[77] to
leaving Var and Savoy unprotected, to exhausting the arsenals, to
employing against Frenchmen[78] troops and munitions needed against
foreigners, and all this at the moment the foreigner was taking
Valenciennes[79] and Mayence, when thirty thousand royalist were
organizing in Lozére, when the great Vendean army was laying siege to
Nantes, when each new outbreak of fighting was threatening to connect
the flaming frontier with the conflagration in the Catholic
countries.[80] -- With a jet of cold water aptly directed, the
"Mountain" could extinguish the fires it had kindled in the great
republican towns; otherwise, nothing remained but to let them increase
at the risk of consuming the whole country, with no other hope than
that they might at last die out under a mass of ruins, and with no
other object but to rule over captives and the dead.

But this is precisely the Jacobin aim; for, he is not satisfied with
less than absolute submission ; he must rule at any cost, just as he
pleases, by fair means or foul, no matter over what ruins. A despot
by instinct and installation, his dogma has consecrated him King ; he
is King by natural and divine right, in the name of eternal verity,
the same as Philip II., enthroned by his religious system and blessed
by his Holy Office. Hence he can abandon no jot or title of his
authority without a sacrifice of principle, nor treat with rebels,
unless they surrender at discretion; simply for having risen against
legitimate authority, they are traitors and villains. And who are
greater rascals the renegades who, after three years of patient
effort, just as the sect finally reaches its goal, oppose its
accession to power![81] At Nîmes, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Toulon, and
Lyons, not only have they interfered with or arrested the blow which
Paris struck, but they have put down the aggressors, closed the club,
disarmed the fanatical and imprisoned the leading Maratists; and worse
still, at Lyons and at Toulon, five or six massacreurs, or promoters
of massacre, Châlier and Riard, Jassaud, Sylvestre and Lemaille,
brought before the courts, have been condemned and executed after a
trial in which all the forms were strictly adhered to. -- That is the
inexpiable crime; for, in this trial, the "Mountain" is involved; the
principles of Sylvestre and Châlier are its principles; what is
accomplished in Paris, they have attempted in the provinces; if they
are guilty, it is also guilty; it cannot tolerate their punishment
without assenting to its own punishment. Accordingly,

* it must proclaim them heroes and martyrs,

* it must canonize their memory,[82]

* it must avenge their tortures,

* it must resume and complete their assaults,

* it must restore their accomplices to their places,

* it must render them omnipotent,

* it must force each rebel city to accept the rule of its rabble and

It matters little whether the Jacobins be a minority, whether at
Bordeaux, they have but four out of twenty-eight sections on their
side, at Marseilles five out of thirty-two, whether at Lyons they can
count up only fifteen hundred devoted adherents.[83] Suffrages are
not reckoned, but weighed, for legality is founded, not on numbers,
but on patriotism, the sovereign people being composed wholly of sans-
culottes. So much the worse for towns where the anti-revolutionary
majority is so great; they are only more dangerous; under the
republican demonstrations is concealed the hostility of old parties
and of the "suspect" classes, the Moderates, the Feuillants and
Royalists, merchants, men of the legal profession, property-owners and
muscadins.[84] These towns are nests of reptiles and must be crushed


Destruction of Rebel Cities. -- Bordeaux. -- Marseilles. -- Lyons.-
- Toulon.

Consequently, obedient or disobedient, they are crushed out. They are
declared traitors to the country, not merely the members of the
departmental committees, but, at Bordeaux, all who have "aided or
abetted the Committee of Public Safety;" at Lyons, all administrators,
functionaries, military or civil officers who "convoked or tolerated
the Rhône-et-Loire congress," and furthermore, "every individual whose
son, clerk, servant, or even day-laborer, may have borne arms or
contributed the means of resistance," that is to say, the entire
National Guard who took up arms, and nearly all the population which
gave its money or voted in the sections.[85] -- By virtue of this
decree, all are "outlaws," or, in other words subject to the
guillotine just on the establishment of their identity, and their
property confiscated. Consequently, at Bordeaux, where not a gun had
been fired, the mayor Saige, and principal author of the submission,
is at once led to the scaffold without any form of trial,[86] while
eight hundred and eighty-one others succeed him amidst the solemn
silence of a dismayed population.[87] Two hundred prominent merchants
are arrested in one night; more than fifteen hundred persons are
imprisoned; all who are well off are ransomed, even those against who
no political charge could be made; nine millions of fines are levied
against "rich egoists." One of these,[88] accused of "indifference and
moderatism," pays twenty thousand francs "not to be harnessed to the
car of the Revolution;" another "convicted of having shown contempt
for his section and for the poor by giving thirty livres per months,"
is taxed at one million two hundred thousand livres, while the new
authorities, a crooked mayor and twelve knaves composing the
Revolutionary Committee, traffic in lives and property.89 At
Marseilles, says Danton,[90] the object is "to give the commercial
aristocracy an important lesson;" we must "show ourselves as terrible
to traders as to nobles and priests;" consequently, twelve thousand of
them are proscribed and their possessions sold.[91] From the first day
the guillotine works as fast as possible; nevertheless, it does not
work fast enough for Representative Fréron who finds the means for
making it work faster.

"The military commission we have established in place of the
revolutionary tribunal," he writes, "works frightfully fast against
the conspirators. . . . They fall like hail under the sword of the
law. Fourteen have already paid for their infamous treachery with
their heads. To-morrow, sixteen more are to be guillotined, all
chiefs of the legion, notaries, sectionists, members of the popular
tribunal; to-morrow, also, three merchants will dance the carmagnole,
and they are the ones we are after."[92]

Men and things, all must perish; he wishes to demolish the city and
proposes to fill up the harbor. Restrained with great difficulty,
Fréron contents himself with a destruction of "the haunts" of the
aristocracy, two churches, the concert-hall, the houses around it, and
twenty-three buildings in which the rebel sections had held their

At Lyons, to increase the booty, the representatives had taken pains
to encourage the manufacturers and merchants with vague promises;
these opened their shops and brought their valuable goods, books and
papers out of their hiding-places. No time is lost in seizing the
plunder; "a list of all property belonging to the rich and to anti-
revolutionaries" is drawn up, which is "confiscated for the benefit of
the patriots of the city;" in addition to this a tax of six millions
is imposed, payable in eight days, by those whom the confiscation may
have still spared;[93] it is proclaimed, according to principle, that
the surplus of each individual belongs by right to the sans-culottes,
and whatever may have been retained beyond the strictly necessary, is
a robbery by the individual to the detriment of the nation.[94] In
conformity with this rule there is a general rounding up, prolonged
for ten months, which places the fortunes of a city of one hundred and
twenty thousand souls in the hands of its scoundrels. Thirty-two
revolutionary committees "whose members are thick as thieves select
thousands of guards devoted to them."[95] In confiscated dwellings
and warehouses, they affix seals without an inventory; they drive out
women and children "so that there shall be no witnesses;" they keep
the keys; they enter and steal when they please, or install themselves
for a revel with prostitutes. -- Meanwhile, the guillotine is kept
going, and people are fired at and shot down with grape-shot. The
revolutionary committee officially avow one thousand six hundred and
eighty-two acts of murder committed in five months,[96] while a
confederate of Robespierre's privately declare that there were six

Blacksmiths are condemned to death for having shod the Lyonnese
cavalry, firemen for having extinguished fires kindled by republican
bombshells, a widow for having paid a war-tax during the siege, market
women for "having shown disrespect to patriots." It is an organized
"Septembrisade" made legal and lasting; its authors are so well aware
of the fact as to use the word itself in their public
correspondence.[98] -- At Toulon it is worse, people are slaughtered
in heaps, almost haphazard. Notwithstanding that the inhabitants the
most compromised, to the number of four thousand, take refuge on board
English vessels, the whole city, say the representatives, is guilty.
Four hundred workmen in the navy-yard having marched out to meet
Fréron, he reminds them that they kept on working during the English
occupation of the town, and he has them put to death on the spot. An
order is issued to all "good citizens to assemble in the Champ de Mars
on penalty of death." They come there to the number of three thousand;
Fréron, on horseback, surrounded by cannon and troops, arrives with
about a hundred Maratists, the former accomplices of Lemaille,
Sylvestre, and other well-known assassins, who form a body of local
auxiliaries and counselors; he tells them to select out of the crowd
at pleasure according to their grudge, fancy, or caprice; all who are
designated are ranged along a wall and shot. The next morning, and on
the following days, the operation is renewed: Fréron writes on the
16th of Nivose that "eight hundred Toulonese have already been shot."
. . . "A volley of musketry," says he, in another letter, and after
that, volley after volley, until "the traitors are all gone." Then,
for three months after this, the guillotine dispatches eighteen
hundred persons; eleven young women have to mount the scaffold
together, in honor of a republican festival; an old woman of ninety-
four is borne to it in an armchair. The population, initially of
twenty-eight thousand people, is reduced to six or seven thousand

All this is not enough; the two cities that dared maintain a siege
must disappear from the French soil. The Convention decrees that "the
city of Lyons shall be destroyed: every house occupied by a rich man
shall be demolished; only the dwellings of the poor shall remain, with
edifices specially devoted to industry, and monuments consecrated to
humanity and public education."[99] The same at Toulon: "the houses
within the town shall be demolished; only the buildings that are
essential for army and navy purposes, for stores and munitions, shall
be preserved."[100] Consequently, a requisition is made in Var and
the neighboring departments for twelve thousand masons to level Toulon
to the ground. -- At Lyons, fourteen thousand laborers pull down the
Chateau Pierre-Encize; also the superb houses on Place Bellecour,
those of the Quai St.-Clair, those of the Rues de Flandre and de
Bourgneuf, and many others; the cost of all this amounts to four
hundred thousand livres per decade; in six months the Republic expends
fifteen millions in destroying property valued at three or four
hundred millions, all belonging to the Republic.[101] Since the
Mongols of the fifth and thirteenth centuries, no such vast and
irrational waste had been seen -- such frenzy against the most
profitable fruits of industry and human civilization. -- Again, one
can understand how the Mongols, who were nomads, desired to convert
the soil into one vast steppe. But, to demolish a town whose arsenal
and harbor is maintained by it, to destroy the leaders of
manufacturing interests and their dwellings in a city where its
workmen and factories are preserved, to keep up a fountain and stop
the stream which flows from it, or the stream without the fountain, is
so absurd that the idea could only enter the head of a Jacobin. His
imagination has run so wild and his prevision become so limited that
he is no longer aware of contradictions; the ferocious stupidity of
the barbarian and the fixed idea of the inquisition meet on common
ground; the earth is not big enough for any but himself and the
orthodox of his species. Employing absurd, inflated and sinister
terms he decrees the extermination of heretics: not only shall their
monuments, dwellings and persons be destroyed, but every vestige of
them shall be eradicated and their names lost to the memory of

"The name of Toulon shall be abolished; that commune shall henceforth
bear the name of Port-la-Montagne." - "The name of Lyons shall be
stricken off the list of towns belonging to the Republic; the
remaining collection of houses shall henceforth bear the name of
Ville-Affranchie. A column shall be erected on the ruins of Lyons
bearing this inscription: 'Lyons made war on Liberty! Lyons is no


Destruction of the Girondin party. -- Proscription of the Deputies of
the "Right". -- Imprisonment of the 73. -- Execution of the 21. --
Execution, suicide, or flight of the rest.

In all this there is no intention to spare in Paris the chiefs of the
insurrection or of the party, either deputies or ministers; on the
contrary, the object is to complete the subjection of the Convention,
to stifle the murmurs of the "Right," to impose silence on Ducos,
Boyer-Fonfrède, Vernier, and Couhey, who still speak and protest.[103]
Hence the decrees of arrest or death, launched weekly from the top of
the "Mountain," fall on the majority like guns fired into a crowd.
Decrees of accusation follow: on the 15th of June, against Duchâtel,
on the 17th against Barbaroux, on the 23rd against Brissot, on the 8th
of July against Devérité and Condorcet, on the 14th against Lauze-
Deperret and Fauchet, on the 30th against Duprat Jr., Valée and
Mainvielle, on the 2nd of August against Rouyer, Brunel and Carra;
Carra, Lauze-Deperret and Fauchet, present during the session, are
seized on the spot, which is plain physical warning: none is more
effective to check the unruly. -- Decrees are passed on the 18th of
July accusing Coustard, on the 28th of July against Gensonné, La
Source, Vergniaud, Mollevaut, Gardien, Grangeneuve, Fauchet, Boilleau,
Valazé, Cussy, Meillan; each being aware that the tribunal before
which he must appear is the waiting room to the guillotine. --
Decrees of condemnation are passed on the 12th of July against
Birotteau, the 28 of July against Buzot, Barbaroux, Gorsas,
Lanjuniais, Salles, Louvet, Bergoeing, Pétion, Guadet, Chasset,
Chambon, Lidon, Valady, Defermon, Kervelégen, Larivière, Rabaut-Saint-
Étienne, and Lesage; pronounced outlaws and traitors, they are to be
led to the scaffold without trial as soon as they can be got hold of.
-- Finally, on the 3rd of October, a great haul of the net in the
Assembly itself sweeps off the benches all the deputies that still
seem capable of any independence: the first thing is to close the
doors of the hall, which is done by Amar, reporter of the Committee of
General Security;[104] then, after a declamatory and calumnious
speech, which lasts two hours, he reads off names on two lists of
proscriptions: forty-five deputies, more or less prominent among the
Girondins, are to be at once summoned before the revolutionary
tribunal; seventy-three others, who have signed secret protests
against the 31st of May and 2nd of June, are to be put in jail. No
arguing! the majority dares not even express an opinion. Some of the
proscribed attempt to exculpate themselves, but they are not allowed
to be heard; none but the Montagnards have the floor, and they do no
more than add to the lists, each according to personal enmity;
Levasseur has Vigée put down, and Duroi adds the name of Richon. One
their names being called, all the poor creatures who happen to be
inscribed, quietly advance and "huddle together within the bar of the
house, like lambs destined to slaughter," and here they are separated
into two flocks; on the one hand the seventy-three, and on the other,
the ten or twelve who, with the Girondins already kept under lock and
key, are to furnish the sacramental and popular number, the twenty-two
traitors, whose punishment is a requirement of the Jacobin
imagination;[105] on the left, the batch for the prison; on the right,
the batch for the guillotine.

To those who might be tempted to imitate them or defend them this is a
sufficient lesson. - Subject to the boos, hisses and insults from the
hags lining the streets, the seventy-three[106] are conducted to the
prisoners' room in the town hall. This, already full, is where they
pass the night standing on benches, scarcely able to breathe. The
next day they are crammed into the prison for assassins and robbers,
"la Force," on the sixth story, under the roof; in this narrow garret
their beds touch each other, while two of the deputies are obliged to
sleep on the floor for lack of room. Under the skylights, which serve
for windows, and at the foot of the staircase are two pig-pens; at the
end of the apartment are the privies, and in one corner a night-tub,
which completes the poisoning of the atmosphere already vitiated by
this crowded mass of human beings. The beds consist of sacks of straw
swarming with vermin; they are compelled to endure the
discipline,[107] rations and mess of convicts. And they are lucky to
escape at this rate: for Amar takes advantage of their silent
deportment to tax them with conspiracy; other Montagnards likewise
want to arraign them at the revolutionary Tribunal: at all events, it
is agreed that the Committee of General Security shall examine their
records and maintain the right of designating new culprits amongst
them. For ten months they thus remain under the knife, in daily
expectation of joining the twenty-two on the Place de la Révolution.
-- With respect to the latter, the object is not to try them but to
kill them, and the semblance of a trial is simply judicial
assassination; the bill of indictment against them consists of club
gossip; they are accused of having desired the restoration of the
monarchy, of being in correspondence with Pitt and Coburg;[108] of
having excited Vendée to insurrection. The betrayal of Dumouriez is
imputed to them, also the murder of Lepelletier, and the assassination
of Marat; while pretended witnesses, selected from amongst their
personal enemies, come and repeat, like a theme agreed upon, the same
ill-contrived fable: nothing but vague allegations and manifest
falsehoods, not one definite fact, not once convincing document; the
lack of proof is such that the trial has to be stopped as soon as
possible. "You brave b------ forming the court," writes Hébert,
"don't trifle away your time. Why so much ceremony in shortening the
days of wretches whom the people have already condemned?" Care is
especially taken not to let them have a chance to speak. The
eloquence of Vergniaud and logic of Guadet might turn the tables at
the last moment. Consequently, a prompt decree authorizes the
tribunal to stop proceedings as soon as the jury becomes sufficiently
enlightened, which is the case after the seventh session of the court,
the record of death suddenly greeting the accused, who are not allowed
to defend themselves. One of them, Valazé, stabs himself in open
court, and the next day the national head-chopper strikes off the
remaining twenty heads in thirty-eight minutes. - Still more
expeditious are the proceedings against the accused who avoid a trial.
Gorsas, seized in Paris on the 8th of October, is guillotined the same
day. Birotteau, seized at Bordeaux, on the 24th of October, mounts
the scaffold within twenty-four hours. The others, tracked like
wolves, wandering in disguise from one hiding-place to another, and
most of them arrested in turn, have only choice of several kinds of
death. Cambon is killed in defending himself. Lidon, after having
defended himself, blows out his brains, Condorcet takes poison in the
guard-room of Bourg-la-Reine. Roland kills himself with his sword on
the highway. Clavière stabs himself in prison. Rébecqui is found
drowned in the harbor of Marseilles, and Pétion and Buzon half eaten
by wolves on a moor of Saint-Emilion. Valady is executed at
Périgueux, Dechézeau at Rochefort, Grangeneuve, Guadet, Salle and
Barbaroux at Bordeaux, Coustard, Cussy, Rabout-Saint-Étienne, Bernard,
Masuyer, and Lebrun at Paris. Even those who resigned in January,
1793, Kersaint and Manuel, atone with their lives for the crime of
having sided with the "Right" and, of course, Madame Roland, who is
taken for the leader of the party, is one of the first to be
guillotined.[109] - Of the one-hundred and eighty Girondins who led
the Convention, one hundred and forty have perished or are in prison,
or fled under sentence of death. After such a curtailment and such an
example the remaining deputies cannot be otherwise than docile;[110]
neither in the central nor in the local government will the "Mountain"
encounter resistance; its despotism is practically established, and
all that remains is to proclaim this in legal form.


Institutions of the Revolutionary Government. - Its principle,
objects, proceedings, tools and structure. - The Committee of Public
Safety. - Subordination of the Convention and ministry. - The use of
the Committee of General Security and the Revolutionary Tribunal. -
Administrative centralization. - Representatives on Mission, National
Agents and Revolutionary Committees. - Law of Lése-majesty. -
Restoration and Aggravation of the institutions of the old monarchy.

After the 2nd of August, on motion of Bazire, the Convention decrees
"that France is in revolution until its independence is recognized."
which means[111] that the period of hypocritical phrases has come to
an end, that the Constitution was merely a signboard for a fair, and
that the charlatans who had made use of it no longer need it, that it
is to be put away in the store containing other advertising material,
that individual, local and parliamentary liberties are abolished, that
the government is arbitrary and absolute, that no institution, law,
dogma, or precedent affords any guarantee for it against the rights of
the people, that property and lives are wholly at its mercy, that
there are no longer any rights of man. - Six weeks later, when,
through the protest of the forty-five and the arrest of the seventy-
three, obedience to the Convention is assured, all this is boldly and
officially announced in the tribune. "Under the present circumstances
of the Republic," says St. Just, "the Constitution cannot be
implemented as this would enable attacks on liberty to take place
because it would lack the violent measures necessary to repress
these." We are no longer to govern "according to maxims of natural
peace and justice; these maxims are only valid among the friends of
liberty;" but they are not applicable between patriots and the
malevolent. The latter are "outside our sovereignty," are lawless,
excluded from the social pact, slaves in rebellion, to be punished or
imprisoned, and, amongst the malevolent must be placed "the
indifferent[112]". - "You are to punish whoever is passive in the
Republic and does nothing for it;" for his passivity is treason and
ranks him among other public enemies. Now, between the people and its
enemies, there is nothing in common but the sword; steel must control
those who cannot be ruled "by justice"; the monarchical and neutral
majority must be repressed (comprimé);

"The Republic will be founded only when the sans-culottes,[113] the
sole representatives of the nation, the only citizens, "shall rule by
right of conquest."[114]

The meaning of this is more than clear. The régime of which St. Just
presents the plan, is that by which every oligarchy of invaders
installs and maintains itself over a subjugated nation. Through this
régime, in Greece, ten thousand Spartans, after the Dorian invasion,
mastered three hundred thousand helots and périocques; through this
régime, in England, sixty thousand Normans, after the battle of
Hastings, mastered two million Saxons; through this régime in Ireland,
since the battle of the Boyne, two hundred thousand English
Protestants have mastered a million of Catholic Irish; through this
régime, the three hundred thousand Jacobins of France will master the
seven or eight millions of Girondins, Feuillants, Royalists or

This system of government is a very simple one and consist in
maintaining the subject population in a state of extreme helplessness
and of extreme terror. To this end, it is disarmed;[115] it is kept
under surveillance ; all action in common is prohibited ; its eyes
should always be directed to the up-lifted ax and to the prison doors
always open ; it is ruined and decimated. - For the past six months
all these rigors are decreed and applied, -- disarmament of
"suspects," taxes on the rich, the maximum against traders,
requisitions on land-owners, wholesale arrests, rapid executions of
sentences, arbitrary penalties of death, and publicized, multiplied
tortures. For the past six months, all sorts of executive instruments
are set up and put into operation: The Committee of Public Safety, the
Committee of General Security, ambulating proconsuls with full power,
local committees authorized to tax and imprison at will, a
revolutionary army, a revolutionary tribunal. But, for lack of
internal harmony and of central impulsion, the machine only half
works, the power not being sufficient and its action not sufficiently
sweeping and universal.

"You are too remote from the conspiracies against you," says St.
Just;[116] "it is essential that the sword of the law should
everywhere be rapidly brandished and your arm be everywhere present to
arrest crime..... The ministers confess that, beyond their first and
second subordinates, they find nothing but inertia and indifference."
-- "A similar apathy is found in all the government agents," adds
Billaud-Varennes;[117] "the secondary authorities which are the strong
points of the Revolution serve only to impede it." Decrees,
transmitted through administrative channels, arrive slowly and are
indolently applied. "You are missing that co-active force which is
the principle of being, of action, of execution. . . . Every good
government should possess a center of willpower and the levers
connected with it. . . . Every government activity should
exclusively originate from the central source." -

"In ordinary governments," says Couthon, finally,[118] "the right of
electing belongs to the people; you cannot take it away from them. In
extraordinary governments all impulsion must come from the center; it
is from the convention that elections must issue. . . . You would
injure the people by confiding the election of officials to them,
because you would expose them to electing men that would betray them."

-- The result is that the constitutional maxims of 1789 give way to
radically opposed maxims ; instead of subjecting the government to the
people, the people is made subject to the government. The hierarchy
of the ancient régime is re-established under revolutionary terms, and
henceforth all powers, much more formidable than those of the ancient
régime, cease to be delegated from the depths to the summit and will
henceforth instead be delegated from the summit to the bottom.

At the summit, a committee of twelve members, similar to the former
royal council, exercises collective royalty ; nominally, authority is
divided amongst the twelve; it is, in practice, concentrated in a few
hands. Several members occupy only a subaltern position, and amongst
these, Barère, who, official secretary and mouthpiece, is always ready
to make a speech or draft an editorial; others, with special
functions, Jean Bon St. André, Lindet, and above all, Prieur de la
Côte d'Or and Carnot, confine themselves each to his particular
department, navy, war, supplies, with blank signatures, for which they
give in return their signatures to the political leaders; the latter,
called "the statesmen," Robespierre, Couthon, Saint-Just, Collot
d'Herbois, Billaud-Varennes, are the real rulers providing overall
direction. It is true that their mandate has to be renewed monthly;
but this is a certainty, for, in the present state of the Convention,
its vote, required beforehand, becomes an almost vain formality. More
submissive than the parliament of Louis XIV., the Convention adopts,
without discussion, the decrees which the Committee of Public Safety
present to it ready made. It is no more than a registry-office, and
scarcely that, for it has relinquished its right of appointing its own
committees, that office being assigned to the Committee of Public
Safety; it votes as a whole all lists of names which the Committee
send in.[119] Naturally, none but the creatures of the latter and the
faithful are inscribed; thus, the whole legislative and parliamentary
power belongs to it. -- As to executive and administrative power, the
ministers have become mere clerks of the Committee of Public Safety;
"they come every day at specified hours to receive its orders and
acts;[120] "they submit to it "the list with explanations, of all the
agents" sent into the departments and abroad ; they refer to it every
minute detail; they are its scribes, merely its puppets, so
insignificant that they finally lose their title, and for the
"Commission on External Relations" a former school-master is taken, an
inept clubbist, bar-fly and the pillar of the billiard-room, scarcely
able to read the documents brought to him to sign in the café where he
passes his days.[121] -- Thus is the second power in the State
converted by the Committee into a squad of domestics, while the
foremost one is converted into an audience of claqueurs.

To make them do their duty, it has two hands. -- One, the right,
which seizes people unawares by the collar, is the Committee of
General Security, composed of twelve extreme Montagnards, such as
Panis, Vadier, Le Bas, Geoffroy, David, Amar, La Vicomterie, Lebon and
Ruhl, all nominated, that is to say, appointed by it, being its
confederates and subalterns. They are its lieutenants of police, and
once a week they come and take part in its labors, as formerly the
Sartines, and the Lenoirs assisted the Comptroller-general. A man who
this secret committee deems a "suspect," is suddenly seized, no matter
who, whether representative, minister, or general, and finds himself
the next morning behind the bars in one of the ten new Bastilles. --
There, the other hand seizes him by the throat; this is the
revolutionary tribunal, an exceptional court like the extraordinary
commissions of the ancient régime, only far more terrible. Aided by
its police gang, the Committee of Public Safety itself selects the
sixteen judges and sixty jurymen[122] from among the most servile, the
most furious, or the most brutal of the fanatics:[123] Fouquier-
Tinville, Hermann, Dumas, Payan, Coffinhal, Fleuriot-Lescot, and,
lower down on the scale, apostate priests, renegade nobles,
disappointed artists, infatuated studio-apprentices, journeymen
scarcely able to write their names, shoemakers, joiners, carpenters,
tailors, barbers, former lackeys, an idiot like Ganney, a deaf man
like Leroy-Dix-Août; their names and professions indicate all that is
necessary to be told: these men are licensed and paid murderers. The
Jurymen themselves are allowed eighteen francs a day, so that they may
attend to their business more leisurely. This business consists in
condemning without proof, without any pleadings, and scarcely any
examination, in a hurry, in batches, whoever the Committee of Public
Safety might send to them, even the most confirmed Montagnards:
Danton, who contrived the tribunal, will soon discover this. - it is
through these two government institutions that the Committee of Public
Safety keeps every head under the cleaver and each head, to avoid
being struck off, bows down,[124] in the provinces as well as in

This has happened when the existing local hierarchy was replaced by
new authorities making the omnipotent will of the Committee present
everywhere. Directly or indirectly, "for all government measures or
measures of public safety, all that relates to persons and the general
and internal police, all constituted bodies and all public
functionaries, are placed under its inspection."[125] You may imagine
how the risk of being guillotined weighed upon them.

To suppress in advance any tendency to administrative inertia, it has
had withdrawn from the too powerful, too much respected, department
governments, "too inclined to federalism," their departmental
dominance and their "political influence."[126] It reduces these to
the levying of taxes and the supervision of roads and canals; it
purges them out through its agents; it even purges out the governments
of municipalities and districts. To suppress beforehand all
probability of popular opposition, it has had the sessions of the
sections reduced to two per week; it installs in these sections, for
about forty sous a day, a majority of sans-culottes ; it orders the
suspension "until further directives" of all municipal elections.[127]

Finally, to have full control on the spot, it appoints its own men,
first, the commissioners and the representatives on missions, a sort
of temporary corps of directors sent into each department with
unlimited powers;[128] next, a body of national agents, a sort of
permanent body of sub-delegates, through whom in each district and
municipality it replaces the procureurs-syndics.[129] To this army of
functionaries is added in each town, bourg or large village, a
revolutionary committee, paid three francs a day per member, charged
with the application of its decrees, and required to make reports
thereon. Never before was such a vast and closely woven network cast
from above to envelope and keep captive twenty-six million people.
Such is the real constitution which the Jacobins substitute for the
constitution they have prepared for show. In the arsenal of the
monarchy which they destroyed they took the most despotic institutions
- centralization, Royal Council, lieutenants of police, special
tribunals, intendants and sub-delegates; they disinterred the antique
Roman law of lèse-majesty, refurbished old blades which civilization
had dulled, aiming them at every throat and now wielded at random
against liberties, property and lives. It is called the
"revolutionary government;" according to official statements it is to
last until peace is secured; in the minds of genuine Jacobins it must
continue until all the French have been regenerated in accordance with
the formula.


[1] Titus Flavious Clemens, (Greek writer born in Athens around 150
and dead in Cappadoce in 250) He lived in Alexandria. (SR).

[2] The words of Marat.

[3] After the Constitution is completed, said Legendre, in the Jacobin
club, we will make the federalists dance.

[4] Archives Nationales, F.I.C.. 56, (Circular of Gohier, Minister of
Justice, to the French people, July 6, 1793). "Certain persons are
disposed to pervert the events of May 31 and June 2, by atrocious
exaggerations and the grossest fables, and prevent the fortunate
results they present from being seen. They are absolutely determined
to see nothing but violations of the liberty of the people's
representatives in a step which was specially designed to hasten on
the Constitutional Act on which the liberty of all is established. Of
what consequence is it who are the authors of the Constitution
presented to you? What does it matter whether it issues from a
mountain amidst lightning and the rolling thunder, like the Tables of
the Law given to the Hebrews, or whether it comes, like the laws given
to the early Romans, inspired in the tranquil asylum of a divinity
jealous of his religious surroundings? Is this constitution worthy of
a free people? That is the only question which citizens who wear the
livery of no party need examine!"

[5] Buchez et Roux, XXVIII., 177. (report by Hérault Séchelles, June
10, 1793). Ibid, XXXI., 400. (Text of constitution submitted to
discussion June 11th, and passed June 24th.)

[6] De Sybel, II., 331. (According to the facsimile published in the
Quarterly Review). "Hérault says that he and four of his colleagues
are ordered to furnish the draft of a constitution by Monday."

[7] Report by Hérault-Séchelles. (Buchez et Roux, XXVIII. 178.)

[8] Buchez et Roux, XXXI, 400. (Articles of the Declaration of
Rights, 1, 7, 9, 11, 27, 31, 35)

[9] Buchez et Roux, XXVIII., 178. Report by Hérault-Séchelles. "Each
of us had the same desire, that of attaining to the greatest
democratic result. The sovereignty of the people and the dignity of
man were constantly in our minds. . . A secret sentiment tells us
that our work is perhaps the most popular that ever existed."

[10] Archives Nationales, B. II., 23. (Table of votes by the
commission appointed to collect the procès-verbaux of the adoption of
the constitution, August 20, 1793.) -- Number of primary assemblies
sending in their procès-verbaux, 6,589 (516 cantons have not yet sent
theirs in). -- Number of voters on call, 1,795,908; Yes, 1,784,377;
Noes, 11,531.-- Number of primary assemblies voting Yes unanimously,
not on call of names, 297. -- At Paris, 40,990 voters, at Troyes,
2,491, at Limoges, 2,137. -- Cf. For details and motives of
abstention, Sauzay IV. pp. 157-161. Albert Babeau, II, pp. 83 and
84. Moniteur, XVII., 375 (speech by the representative Desvars).

[11] Ibid., Moniteur, XVII., 20. (report by Barrère on the
convocation of the primary assemblies, June 17, 1793.) Ibid., 102
(Report of Cambon, July 11). "It is now a fortnight since you
demanded a Constitution. Very well, here it is . . . . Respect
for persons and property is amply secured in it. Yes, more definitely
than in any other constitution. Does it provide for its own revision?
Yes, for in six weeks, we can convoke the primary assemblies and
express our desire for the reform that may appear necessary. - Will
the popular wish be respected? Yes, the people then will make
definitive laws."

[12] Guillon de Montléon, I., 282, 309. -- Buchez et Roux, XXVIII,
356, 357 (Journal de Lyon Nos. 223 and 224.) "The acceptance of the
Constitution was neither entire nor very sincere; people took credit
to themselves for accepting a vicious and sketchy production."
Meillan, "Mémoires," 120. (In July he leaves Caen for Quimper).
"Although we were assured that we should pass only through Maratist
towns, we had the satisfaction of finding nearly all the inhabitants
regarding Marat with horror. They had indeed accepted the
Constitution offered by the Committee of Public Safety, but solely to
end the matter and on conditions which would speak well for them; for,
everywhere the renewal of the Convention was exacted and the
punishment of assaults made on it." This desire, and others analogous
to it, are given in the procès-verbaux of many of the primary
assemblies (Archives Nationales, B. II., 23); for example, in those
of the thirteen cantons of Ain. A demand is made, furthermore, for
the reintegration of the Twenty-two, the abolition of the
revolutionary tribunal, the suppression of absolute proconsulates, the
organization of a department guard for securing the future of the
Convention, the discharge of the revolutionary army, etc.

[13] Moniteur, XVII., 20. Report of Barère: "The Constitutional act
is going to draw the line between republicans and royalists."

[14] Archives Nationales, F.I.C., 54. (Circular of the Minister,
Gohier, July 6, 1793.) "It is to-day that, summoned to the alter of
the country, those who desire the Republic will be known by name, and
those who do not desire it, whether they speak or keep silent, will be
equally known."

[15] Sauzay, IV., 160, 161. (Article by the Vidette.) Consequently,
"all the unconstitutionalists nobles and priests considered it a duty
to go the assemblies and joyfully accept a constitution which
guaranteed liberty and property to everybody."

[16] "Journal des Débats de la Société des Jacobins," No. For July
27, 1793 (correspondence, No. 122).

[17] Moniteur, XVII., 156, 163.

[18] Sauzay, IV., 158: "The motives for judgments were thus stated by
judges themselves."

[19] Moniteur, XVII., 40, 48, 72, 140, 175, 194, 263. (Cf. Speeches
by Chaumette, July 14, and Report by Gossoin, August 9). - Archives
Nationales, B. II., 23. Negative votes in Ardèche 5, in Aude 5,
Moselle 5, Saône-et-Loire 5, Côte-d'Or 4, Creuse 4, Haut-Rhin 4, Gers
4, Haute-Garonne 3, Aube 2, Bouches-du-Rhône 2, Cantal 2, Basses-Alpes
1, Haute-Marne 1, Haute-Vienne 1, Var 0, Seine 0. - The details and
circumstances of voting are curious. In the department of Aube, at
Troyes, the second section in agreement with the third, excluded
"suspects" from the vote. At Paris, the section "Gardes Française,
Fourcroy president, announces 1,714 voters, of which 1,678 are
citizens and 36 citoyennes. In the "Mont Blanc" section, the
secretary signs as follows: Trone segretaire general de la semblé.

[20] Moniteur, XVII., 375. (Session of the convention, August 11,
1793). Chabot: "I demand a law requiring every man who does not
appear at a primary meeting to give good reason for his absence; also,
that any man who has not favored the Constitution, be declared
ineligible to all constitutional franchises." Ibid., 50. (Meeting of
the Commune, July 4th). Leonard Bourdon demands, in the name of his
section, the Gravilliers, a register on which to inscribe those who
accept the Constitution, "in order that those who do not vote for it
may be known." - Souzay, IV. 159. M. Boillon, of Belleherbe, is
arrested "for being present at the primary assembly of the canton of
Vaucluse, and when called upon to accept the Constitutional act,
leaving without voting."

[21] Moniteur, XVII., 11. (Instructions on the mode of accepting the
Constitution). - Sauzay IV., 158. - Moniteur, XVII., 302. (Speech
by Garat, August 2.) "I have dispatched commissioners to push the
Constitutional Act through the primary assemblies." - Durand-Maillane.
150. "The envoys of the departments were taken from the sans-
culotterie then in fashion, because they ruled in the Convention."

[22] Sauzay, IV., 158.

[23] Moniteur, XVII., 363. (Report of Gossuin to the Convention,
August 9). "There are primary assemblies which have extended their
deliberations beyond the acceptance of the Constitution. This
acceptance being almost unanimous, all other objects form matter for
petitions to be entrusted to competent committees.""--Ibid., 333.
(Speech of Delacroix). "The anti-revolutionary delegates sent by the
conspirators we had in the Convention must be punished. (August 6.).

[24] Moniteur, ibid., 333. Speech and motions of Bazire, August 8. -
XIX., 116. Report of Vouland, January 2, 1794. The pay of Maillard
and his acolytes amounted to twenty-two thousand livres. - XVIII.,
324. (Session of August 5. Speeches of Gossuin, Thibault and
Lacroix.) - Ibid., 90. (Session of Germinal 8, year III.) Speech by
Bourdon de l'Oise: "We have been obliged to pick men out of the envoys
in order to find those disposed for rigorous measures."

[25] Moniteur, XVII., 330. Ordinance of the Commune, August 6.

[26] Moniteur, XVII., 332. (Session of the Convention, August 6.) -
Cf. the "Diurnal" of Beaulieu, August 6. Beaulieu mentions several
deputations and motions of the same order, and states the alarm of the
"Mountain." - Durand-Maillane, "Mémoires," 151. "Among the envoys
from the departments were sensible men who, far from approving of all
the steps taken by their brethren, entertained and manifested very
contrary sentiments. These were molested and imprisoned." - "Archives
des Affaires étrangères," vol. 1411. (Report of the agents of August
10 and 11.) The department commissioners . . . seemed to us in the
best disposition. There are some intriguers among them, however; we
are following up some of them, and striving by fraternizing with them
to prevent them from being seduced or led away by the perfidious
suggestions of certain scoundrels, the friends of federalism, amongst
them. . . . A few patriotic commissioners have already denounced
several of their brethren accused of loving royalty and federalism."

[27] Buchez et Roux, XXVIII., 408.

[28] Moniteur., XVII., 330. (Act passed by the Commune, August 6.)

[29] Archives des Affaires étrangères, vol. 1411. (Reports of
agents, Aug. 10 and 11). "Citizens are, to-day, eager to see who
shall have a commissioner at his table: who shall treat him the best .
. . the Commissioners of the primary assemblies come and fraternise
with them in the Jacobin club. They adopt their maxims, and are
carried away by the energy of the good and true republican sans-
culottes in the clubs."

[30] Moniteur, XVII., 307, 308. (Report of Couthon to the Convention,
Aug. 2.) "You would wound, you would outrage these Republicans, were
you to allow the performance before them of an infinity of pieces
filled with insulting allusions to liberty."

[31] Ibid. 124. (Session of Aug. 5.)

[32] Ibid., 314; (Letter of Lhuillier, Aug. 4.) - 322, Session of the
Commune, Aug. 4th; 332, (Session of the Convention, Aug. 6). -
Buchez et Roux, XXVIII., 409. (Meeting of the Jacobin Club, Aug.

[33] Buchez et Roux, 411 (Article in the Journal de la Montagne.)

[34] Moniteur, XVII., 348.

[35] "Le Féderation" was in 1790 "the Association of the National
Guards." (SR).

[36] Buchez et Roux, XVIII., 415 and following pages.

[37] Ibid., 352. - Cf. Beaulieu, "Diurnal," Aug. 9.

[38] On the mechanical character of the festivals of the Revolution
read the programme of "The civic fete in honor of Valor and Morals,"
ordered by Fouché at Nevers, on the 1st day of the 1st decade of the
2nd month of the year II. (De Martel, "Etude sur Fouché," 202); also,
the programme of the "Fete de l'Etre Supréme," at Sceaux, organized by
the patriot Palloy, Presidial 20, year II. (Dauban, "Paris en 1794,

[39] It cost one million two hundred thousand francs, besides the
traveling expenses of eight thousand delegates.

[40] Buchez et Roux, XXVIII., 439, and following pages. Procès verbal
of he National Festival of the 10th of August. - Dauban "La Demagogie
en 1791." (Extract from the Republican Ritual.)

[41] Moniteur, XVII., 366. (Session of Aug. 11. Speech by Lacroix
and decree in conformity therewith.)

[42] Ibid., 374. "Remember that you are accountable to the nation and
the universe for this sacred Ark. Remember that it is your duty to
die rather than suffer a sacrilegious hand....."

[43] Buchez et Roux, XXVIII., 358. It is evident from the context of
the speech that Robespierre and the Jacobins were desirous of
maintaining the Convention because they foresaw Girondist elections.

[44] Moniteur, XVII., 382. (Session of Aug. 12. Speech by Lacroix).

[45] Ibid., 387. - Cf. Ibid., 410, session of August 16. The
delegates return there to insist on a levy, en masse, the levy of the
first class not appearing sufficient to them. (levy means
mobilization of all men) - Buchez et Roux, XXVIII., 464. Delegate
Royer, Curé of Chalons-sur-Saone, demands that the aristocrats
"chained together in sixes" be put in the front rank in battle "to
avoid the risks of sauve qui peut."

[46] Decrees of August 14 and 16.

[47] Moniteur, XVII., 375.

[48] Riouffe, "Mémoires," 19: "An entire generation, the real
disciples of Jean-Jacques, Voltaire and Diderot, could be, and was
annihilated, to a large extent under the pretext of federalism."

[49] Moniteur, XVII., 102. (Speech by Cambon, July 11, 1793).

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