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The French Revolution by Thomas Carlyle

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Chapter 1.4.I.

The Notables Again.

The universal prayer, therefore, is to be fulfilled! Always in days of
national perplexity, when wrong abounded and help was not, this remedy of
States-General was called for; by a Malesherbes, nay by a Fenelon;
(Montgaillard, i. 461.) even Parlements calling for it were 'escorted with
blessings.' And now behold it is vouchsafed us; States-General shall
verily be!

To say, let States-General be, was easy; to say in what manner they shall
be, is not so easy. Since the year of 1614, there have no States-General
met in France, all trace of them has vanished from the living habits of
men. Their structure, powers, methods of procedure, which were never in
any measure fixed, have now become wholly a vague possibility. Clay which
the potter may shape, this way or that:--say rather, the twenty-five
millions of potters; for so many have now, more or less, a vote in it! How
to shape the States-General? There is a problem. Each Body-corporate,
each privileged, each organised Class has secret hopes of its own in that
matter; and also secret misgivings of its own,--for, behold, this monstrous
twenty-million Class, hitherto the dumb sheep which these others had to
agree about the manner of shearing, is now also arising with hopes! It has
ceased or is ceasing to be dumb; it speaks through Pamphlets, or at least
brays and growls behind them, in unison,--increasing wonderfully their
volume of sound.

As for the Parlement of Paris, it has at once declared for the 'old form of
1614.' Which form had this advantage, that the Tiers Etat, Third Estate,
or Commons, figured there as a show mainly: whereby the Noblesse and
Clergy had but to avoid quarrel between themselves, and decide unobstructed
what they thought best. Such was the clearly declared opinion of the Paris
Parlement. But, being met by a storm of mere hooting and howling from all
men, such opinion was blown straightway to the winds; and the popularity of
the Parlement along with it,--never to return. The Parlements part, we
said above, was as good as played. Concerning which, however, there is
this further to be noted: the proximity of dates. It was on the 22nd of
September that the Parlement returned from 'vacation' or 'exile in its
estates;' to be reinstalled amid boundless jubilee from all Paris.
Precisely next day it was, that this same Parlement came to its 'clearly
declared opinion:' and then on the morrow after that, you behold it
covered with outrages;' its outer court, one vast sibilation, and the glory
departed from it for evermore. (Weber, i. 347.) A popularity of twenty-
four hours was, in those times, no uncommon allowance.

On the other hand, how superfluous was that invitation of Lomenie's: the
invitation to thinkers! Thinkers and unthinkers, by the million, are
spontaneously at their post, doing what is in them. Clubs labour: Societe
Publicole; Breton Club; Enraged Club, Club des Enrages. Likewise Dinner-
parties in the Palais Royal; your Mirabeaus, Talleyrands dining there, in
company with Chamforts, Morellets, with Duponts and hot Parlementeers, not
without object! For a certain Neckerean Lion's-provider, whom one could
name, assembles them there; (Ibid. i. 360.)--or even their own private
determination to have dinner does it. And then as to Pamphlets--in
figurative language; 'it is a sheer snowing of pamphlets; like to snow up
the Government thoroughfares!' Now is the time for Friends of Freedom;
sane, and even insane.

Count, or self-styled Count, d'Aintrigues, 'the young Languedocian
gentleman,' with perhaps Chamfort the Cynic to help him, rises into furor
almost Pythic; highest, where many are high. (Memoire sur les Etats-
Generaux. See Montgaillard, i. 457-9.) Foolish young Languedocian
gentleman; who himself so soon, 'emigrating among the foremost,' must fly
indignant over the marches, with the Contrat Social in his pocket,--towards
outer darkness, thankless intriguings, ignis-fatuus hoverings, and death by
the stiletto! Abbe Sieyes has left Chartres Cathedral, and canonry and
book-shelves there; has let his tonsure grow, and come to Paris with a
secular head, of the most irrefragable sort, to ask three questions, and
answer them: What is the Third Estate? All.--What has it hitherto been in
our form of government? Nothing.--What does it want? To become Something.

D'Orleans,--for be sure he, on his way to Chaos, is in the thick of this,--
promulgates his Deliberations; (Deliberations a prendre pour les Assemblees
des Bailliages.) fathered by him, written by Laclos of the Liaisons
Dangereuses. The result of which comes out simply: 'The Third Estate is
the Nation.' On the other hand, Monseigneur d'Artois, with other Princes
of the Blood, publishes, in solemn Memorial to the King, that if such
things be listened to, Privilege, Nobility, Monarchy, Church, State and
Strongbox are in danger. (Memoire presente au Roi, par Monseigneur Comte
d'Artois, M. le Prince de Conde, M. le Duc de Bourbon, M. le Duc d'Enghien,
et M. le Prince de Conti. (Given in Hist. Parl. i. 256.)) In danger
truly: and yet if you do not listen, are they out of danger? It is the
voice of all France, this sound that rises. Immeasurable, manifold; as the
sound of outbreaking waters: wise were he who knew what to do in it,--if
not to fly to the mountains, and hide himself?

How an ideal, all-seeing Versailles Government, sitting there on such
principles, in such an environment, would have determined to demean itself
at this new juncture, may even yet be a question. Such a Government would
have felt too well that its long task was now drawing to a close; that,
under the guise of these States-General, at length inevitable, a new
omnipotent Unknown of Democracy was coming into being; in presence of which
no Versailles Government either could or should, except in a provisory
character, continue extant. To enact which provisory character, so
unspeakably important, might its whole faculties but have sufficed; and so
a peaceable, gradual, well-conducted Abdication and Domine-dimittas have
been the issue!

This for our ideal, all-seeing Versailles Government. But for the actual
irrational Versailles Government? Alas, that is a Government existing
there only for its own behoof: without right, except possession; and now
also without might. It foresees nothing, sees nothing; has not so much as
a purpose, but has only purposes,--and the instinct whereby all that exists
will struggle to keep existing. Wholly a vortex; in which vain counsels,
hallucinations, falsehoods, intrigues, and imbecilities whirl; like
withered rubbish in the meeting of winds! The Oeil-de-Boeuf has its
irrational hopes, if also its fears. Since hitherto all States-General
have done as good as nothing, why should these do more? The Commons,
indeed, look dangerous; but on the whole is not revolt, unknown now for
five generations, an impossibility? The Three Estates can, by management,
be set against each other; the Third will, as heretofore, join with the
King; will, out of mere spite and self-interest, be eager to tax and vex
the other two. The other two are thus delivered bound into our hands, that
we may fleece them likewise. Whereupon, money being got, and the Three
Estates all in quarrel, dismiss them, and let the future go as it can! As
good Archbishop Lomenie was wont to say: "There are so many accidents; and
it needs but one to save us."--How many to destroy us?

Poor Necker in the midst of such an anarchy does what is possible for him.
He looks into it with obstinately hopeful face; lauds the known rectitude
of the kingly mind; listens indulgent-like to the known perverseness of the
queenly and courtly;--emits if any proclamation or regulation, one
favouring the Tiers Etat; but settling nothing; hovering afar off rather,
and advising all things to settle themselves. The grand questions, for the
present, have got reduced to two: the Double Representation, and the Vote
by Head. Shall the Commons have a 'double representation,' that is to say,
have as many members as the Noblesse and Clergy united? Shall the States-
General, when once assembled, vote and deliberate, in one body, or in three
separate bodies; 'vote by head, or vote by class,'--ordre as they call it?
These are the moot-points now filling all France with jargon, logic and
eleutheromania. To terminate which, Necker bethinks him, Might not a
second Convocation of the Notables be fittest? Such second Convocation is
resolved on.

On the 6th of November of this year 1788, these Notables accordingly have
reassembled; after an interval of some eighteen months. They are Calonne's
old Notables, the same Hundred and Forty-four,--to show one's impartiality;
likewise to save time. They sit there once again, in their Seven Bureaus,
in the hard winter weather: it is the hardest winter seen since 1709;
thermometer below zero of Fahrenheit, Seine River frozen over. (Marmontel,
Memoires (London, 1805), iv. 33. Hist. Parl, &c.) Cold, scarcity and
eleutheromaniac clamour: a changed world since these Notables were
'organed out,' in May gone a year! They shall see now whether, under their
Seven Princes of the Blood, in their Seven Bureaus, they can settle the

To the surprise of Patriotism, these Notables, once so patriotic, seem to
incline the wrong way; towards the anti-patriotic side. They stagger at
the Double Representation, at the Vote by Head: there is not affirmative
decision; there is mere debating, and that not with the best aspects. For,
indeed, were not these Notables themselves mostly of the Privileged
Classes? They clamoured once; now they have their misgivings; make their
dolorous representations. Let them vanish, ineffectual; and return no
more! They vanish after a month's session, on this 12th of December, year
1788: the last terrestrial Notables, not to reappear any other time, in
the History of the World.

And so, the clamour still continuing, and the Pamphlets; and nothing but
patriotic Addresses, louder and louder, pouting in on us from all corners
of France,--Necker himself some fortnight after, before the year is yet
done, has to present his Report, (Rapport fait au Roi dans son Conseil, le
27 Decembre 1788.) recommending at his own risk that same Double
Representation; nay almost enjoining it, so loud is the jargon and
eleutheromania. What dubitating, what circumambulating! These whole six
noisy months (for it began with Brienne in July,) has not Report followed
Report, and one Proclamation flown in the teeth of the other? (5th July;
8th August; 23rd September, &c. &c.)

However, that first moot-point, as we see, is now settled. As for the
second, that of voting by Head or by Order, it unfortunately is still left
hanging. It hangs there, we may say, between the Privileged Orders and the
Unprivileged; as a ready-made battle-prize, and necessity of war, from the
very first: which battle-prize whosoever seizes it--may thenceforth bear
as battle-flag, with the best omens!

But so, at least, by Royal Edict of the 24th of January, (Reglement du Roi
pour la Convocation des Etats-Generaux a Versailles. (Reprinted, wrong
dated, in Histoire Parlementaire, i. 262.)) does it finally, to impatient
expectant France, become not only indubitable that National Deputies are to
meet, but possible (so far and hardly farther has the royal Regulation
gone) to begin electing them.

Chapter 1.4.II.

The Election.

Up, then, and be doing! The royal signal-word flies through France, as
through vast forests the rushing of a mighty wind. At Parish Churches, in
Townhalls, and every House of Convocation; by Bailliages, by Seneschalsies,
in whatsoever form men convene; there, with confusion enough, are Primary
Assemblies forming. To elect your Electors; such is the form prescribed:
then to draw up your 'Writ of Plaints and Grievances (Cahier de plaintes et
doleances),' of which latter there is no lack.

With such virtue works this Royal January Edict; as it rolls rapidly, in
its leathern mails, along these frostbound highways, towards all the four
winds. Like some fiat, or magic spell-word;--which such things do
resemble! For always, as it sounds out 'at the market-cross,' accompanied
with trumpet-blast; presided by Bailli, Seneschal, or other minor
Functionary, with beef-eaters; or, in country churches is droned forth
after sermon, 'au prone des messes paroissales;' and is registered, posted
and let fly over all the world,--you behold how this multitudinous French
People, so long simmering and buzzing in eager expectancy, begins heaping
and shaping itself into organic groups. Which organic groups, again, hold
smaller organic grouplets: the inarticulate buzzing becomes articulate
speaking and acting. By Primary Assembly, and then by Secondary; by
'successive elections,' and infinite elaboration and scrutiny, according to
prescribed process--shall the genuine 'Plaints and Grievances' be at length
got to paper; shall the fit National Representative be at length laid hold

How the whole People shakes itself, as if it had one life; and, in
thousand-voiced rumour, announces that it is awake, suddenly out of long
death-sleep, and will thenceforth sleep no more! The long looked-for has
come at last; wondrous news, of Victory, Deliverance, Enfranchisement,
sounds magical through every heart. To the proud strong man it has come;
whose strong hands shall no more be gyved; to whom boundless unconquered
continents lie disclosed. The weary day-drudge has heard of it; the beggar
with his crusts moistened in tears. What! To us also has hope reached;
down even to us? Hunger and hardship are not to be eternal? The bread we
extorted from the rugged glebe, and, with the toil of our sinews, reaped
and ground, and kneaded into loaves, was not wholly for another, then; but
we also shall eat of it, and be filled? Glorious news (answer the prudent
elders), but all-too unlikely!--Thus, at any rate, may the lower people,
who pay no money-taxes and have no right to vote, (Reglement du Roi (in
Histoire Parlementaire, as above, i. 267-307.) assiduously crowd round
those that do; and most Halls of Assembly, within doors and without, seem
animated enough.

Paris, alone of Towns, is to have Representatives; the number of them
twenty. Paris is divided into Sixty Districts; each of which (assembled in
some church, or the like) is choosing two Electors. Official deputations
pass from District to District, for all is inexperience as yet, and there
is endless consulting. The streets swarm strangely with busy crowds,
pacific yet restless and loquacious; at intervals, is seen the gleam of
military muskets; especially about the Palais, where Parlement, once more
on duty, sits querulous, almost tremulous.

Busy is the French world! In those great days, what poorest speculative
craftsman but will leave his workshop; if not to vote, yet to assist in
voting? On all highways is a rustling and bustling. Over the wide surface
of France, ever and anon, through the spring months, as the Sower casts his
corn abroad upon the furrows, sounds of congregating and dispersing; of
crowds in deliberation, acclamation, voting by ballot and by voice,--rise
discrepant towards the ear of Heaven. To which political phenomena add
this economical one, that Trade is stagnant, and also Bread getting dear;
for before the rigorous winter there was, as we said, a rigorous summer,
with drought, and on the 13th of July with destructive hail. What a
fearful day! all cried while that tempest fell. Alas, the next anniversary
of it will be a worse. (Bailly, Memoires, i. 336.) Under such aspects is
France electing National Representatives.

The incidents and specialties of these Elections belong not to Universal,
but to Local or Parish History: for which reason let not the new troubles
of Grenoble or Besancon; the bloodshed on the streets of Rennes, and
consequent march thither of the Breton 'Young Men' with Manifesto by their
'Mothers, Sisters and Sweethearts;' (Protestation et Arrete des Jeunes Gens
de la Ville de Nantes, du 28 Janvier 1789, avant leur depart pour Rennes.
Arrete des Jeunes Gens de la Ville d'Angers, du 4 Fevrier 1789. Arrete des
Meres, Soeurs, Epouses et Amantes des Jeunes Citoyens d'Angers, du 6
Fevrier 1789. (Reprinted in Histoire Parlementaire, i. 290-3.)) nor
suchlike, detain us here. It is the same sad history everywhere; with
superficial variations. A reinstated Parlement (as at Besancon), which
stands astonished at this Behemoth of a States-General it had itself
evoked, starts forward, with more or less audacity, to fix a thorn in its
nose; and, alas, is instantaneously struck down, and hurled quite out,--for
the new popular force can use not only arguments but brickbats! Or else,
and perhaps combined with this, it is an order of Noblesse (as in
Brittany), which will beforehand tie up the Third Estate, that it harm not
the old privileges. In which act of tying up, never so skilfully set
about, there is likewise no possibility of prospering; but the Behemoth-
Briareus snaps your cords like green rushes. Tie up? Alas, Messieurs!
And then, as for your chivalry rapiers, valour and wager-of-battle, think
one moment, how can that answer? The plebeian heart too has red life in
it, which changes not to paleness at glance even of you; and 'the six
hundred Breton gentlemen assembled in arms, for seventy-two hours, in the
Cordeliers' Cloister, at Rennes,'--have to come out again, wiser than they
entered. For the Nantes Youth, the Angers Youth, all Brittany was astir;
'mothers, sisters and sweethearts' shrieking after them, March! The Breton
Noblesse must even let the mad world have its way. (Hist. Parl. i. 287.
Deux Amis de la Liberte, i. 105-128.)

In other Provinces, the Noblesse, with equal goodwill, finds it better to
stick to Protests, to well-redacted 'Cahiers of grievances,' and satirical
writings and speeches. Such is partially their course in Provence; whither
indeed Gabriel Honore Riquetti Comte de Mirabeau has rushed down from
Paris, to speak a word in season. In Provence, the Privileged, backed by
their Aix Parlement, discover that such novelties, enjoined though they be
by Royal Edict, tend to National detriment; and what is still more
indisputable, 'to impair the dignity of the Noblesse.' Whereupon Mirabeau
protesting aloud, this same Noblesse, amid huge tumult within doors and
without, flatly determines to expel him from their Assembly. No other
method, not even that of successive duels, would answer with him, the
obstreperous fierce-glaring man. Expelled he accordingly is.

'In all countries, in all times,' exclaims he departing, 'the Aristocrats
have implacably pursued every friend of the People; and with tenfold
implacability, if such a one were himself born of the Aristocracy. It was
thus that the last of the Gracchi perished, by the hands of the Patricians.
But he, being struck with the mortal stab, flung dust towards heaven, and
called on the Avenging Deities; and from this dust there was born Marius,--
Marius not so illustrious for exterminating the Cimbri, as for overturning
in Rome the tyranny of the Nobles.' (Fils Adoptif, v. 256.) Casting up
which new curious handful of dust (through the Printing-press), to breed
what it can and may, Mirabeau stalks forth into the Third Estate.

That he now, to ingratiate himself with this Third Estate, 'opened a cloth-
shop in Marseilles,' and for moments became a furnishing tailor, or even
the fable that he did so, is to us always among the pleasant memorabilities
of this era. Stranger Clothier never wielded the ell-wand, and rent webs
for men, or fractional parts of men. The Fils Adoptif is indignant at such
disparaging fable, (Memoires de Mirabeau, v. 307.)--which nevertheless was
widely believed in those days. (Marat, Ami-du-Peuple Newspaper (in
Histoire Parlementaire, ii. 103), &c.) But indeed, if Achilles, in the
heroic ages, killed mutton, why should not Mirabeau, in the unheroic ones,
measure broadcloth?

More authentic are his triumph-progresses through that disturbed district,
with mob jubilee, flaming torches, 'windows hired for two louis,' and
voluntary guard of a hundred men. He is Deputy Elect, both of Aix and of
Marseilles; but will prefer Aix. He has opened his far-sounding voice, the
depths of his far-sounding soul; he can quell (such virtue is in a spoken
word) the pride-tumults of the rich, the hunger-tumults of the poor; and
wild multitudes move under him, as under the moon do billows of the sea:
he has become a world compeller, and ruler over men.

One other incident and specialty we note; with how different an interest!
It is of the Parlement of Paris; which starts forward, like the others
(only with less audacity, seeing better how it lay), to nose-ring that
Behemoth of a States-General. Worthy Doctor Guillotin, respectable
practitioner in Paris, has drawn up his little 'Plan of a Cahier of
doleances;'--as had he not, having the wish and gift, the clearest liberty
to do? He is getting the people to sign it; whereupon the surly Parlement
summons him to give an account of himself. He goes; but with all Paris at
his heels; which floods the outer courts, and copiously signs the Cahier
even there, while the Doctor is giving account of himself within! The
Parlement cannot too soon dismiss Guillotin, with compliments; to be borne
home shoulder-high. (Deux Amis de la Liberte, i. 141.) This respectable
Guillotin we hope to behold once more, and perhaps only once; the Parlement
not even once, but let it be engulphed unseen by us.

Meanwhile such things, cheering as they are, tend little to cheer the
national creditor, or indeed the creditor of any kind. In the midst of
universal portentous doubt, what certainty can seem so certain as money in
the purse, and the wisdom of keeping it there? Trading Speculation,
Commerce of all kinds, has as far as possible come to a dead pause; and the
hand of the industrious lies idle in his bosom. Frightful enough, when now
the rigour of seasons has also done its part, and to scarcity of work is
added scarcity of food! In the opening spring, there come rumours of
forestalment, there come King's Edicts, Petitions of bakers against
millers; and at length, in the month of April--troops of ragged Lackalls,
and fierce cries of starvation! These are the thrice-famed Brigands: an
actual existing quotity of persons: who, long reflected and reverberated
through so many millions of heads, as in concave multiplying mirrors,
become a whole Brigand World; and, like a kind of Supernatural Machinery
wondrously move the Epos of the Revolution. The Brigands are here: the
Brigands are there; the Brigands are coming! Not otherwise sounded the
clang of Phoebus Apollos's silver bow, scattering pestilence and pale
terror; for this clang too was of the imagination; preternatural; and it
too walked in formless immeasurability, having made itself like to the
Night (Greek.)!

But remark at least, for the first time, the singular empire of Suspicion,
in those lands, in those days. If poor famishing men shall, prior to
death, gather in groups and crowds, as the poor fieldfares and plovers do
in bitter weather, were it but that they may chirp mournfully together, and
misery look in the eyes of misery; if famishing men (what famishing
fieldfares cannot do) should discover, once congregated, that they need not
die while food is in the land, since they are many, and with empty wallets
have right hands: in all this, what need were there of Preternatural
Machinery? To most people none; but not to French people, in a time of
Revolution. These Brigands (as Turgot's also were, fourteen years ago)
have all been set on; enlisted, though without tuck of drum,--by
Aristocrats, by Democrats, by D'Orleans, D'Artois, and enemies of the
public weal. Nay Historians, to this day, will prove it by one argument:
these Brigands pretending to have no victual, nevertheless contrive to
drink, nay, have been seen drunk. (Lacretelle, 18me Siecle, ii. 155.) An
unexampled fact! But on the whole, may we not predict that a people, with
such a width of Credulity and of Incredulity (the proper union of which
makes Suspicion, and indeed unreason generally), will see Shapes enough of
Immortals fighting in its battle-ranks, and never want for Epical

Be this as it may, the Brigands are clearly got to Paris, in considerable
multitudes: (Besenval, iii. 385, &c.) with sallow faces, lank hair (the
true enthusiast complexion), with sooty rags; and also with large clubs,
which they smite angrily against the pavement! These mingle in the
Election tumult; would fain sign Guillotin's Cahier, or any Cahier or
Petition whatsoever, could they but write. Their enthusiast complexion,
the smiting of their sticks bodes little good to any one; least of all to
rich master-manufacturers of the Suburb Saint-Antoine, with whose workmen
they consort.

Chapter 1.4.III.

Grown Electric.

But now also National Deputies from all ends of France are in Paris, with
their commissions, what they call pouvoirs, or powers, in their pockets;
inquiring, consulting; looking out for lodgings at Versailles. The States-
General shall open there, if not on the First, then surely on the Fourth of
May, in grand procession and gala. The Salle des Menus is all new-
carpentered, bedizened for them; their very costume has been fixed; a grand
controversy which there was, as to 'slouch-hats or slouched-hats,' for the
Commons Deputies, has got as good as adjusted. Ever new strangers arrive;
loungers, miscellaneous persons, officers on furlough,--as the worthy
Captain Dampmartin, whom we hope to be acquainted with: these also, from
all regions, have repaired hither, to see what is toward. Our Paris
Committees, of the Sixty Districts, are busier than ever; it is now too
clear, the Paris Elections will be late.

On Monday, the 27th of April, Astronomer Bailly notices that the Sieur
Reveillon is not at his post. The Sieur Reveillon, 'extensive Paper
Manufacturer of the Rue St. Antoine;' he, commonly so punctual, is absent
from the Electoral Committee;--and even will never reappear there. In
those 'immense Magazines of velvet paper' has aught befallen? Alas, yes!
Alas, it is no Montgolfier rising there to-day; but Drudgery, Rascality and
the Suburb that is rising! Was the Sieur Reveillon, himself once a
journeyman, heard to say that 'a journeyman might live handsomely on
fifteen sous a-day?' Some sevenpence halfpenny: 'tis a slender sum! Or
was he only thought, and believed, to be heard saying it? By this long
chafing and friction it would appear the National temper has got electric.

Down in those dark dens, in those dark heads and hungry hearts, who knows
in what strange figure the new Political Evangel may have shaped itself;
what miraculous 'Communion of Drudges' may be getting formed! Enough:
grim individuals, soon waxing to grim multitudes, and other multitudes
crowding to see, beset that Paper-Warehouse; demonstrate, in loud
ungrammatical language (addressed to the passions too), the insufficiency
of sevenpence halfpenny a-day. The City-watch cannot dissipate them;
broils arise and bellowings; Reveillon, at his wits' end, entreats the
Populace, entreats the authorities. Besenval, now in active command,
Commandant of Paris, does, towards evening, to Reveillon's earnest prayer,
send some thirty Gardes Francaises. These clear the street, happily
without firing; and take post there for the night in hope that it may be
all over. (Besenval, iii. 385-8.)

Not so: on the morrow it is far worse. Saint-Antoine has arisen anew,
grimmer than ever;--reinforced by the unknown Tatterdemalion Figures, with
their enthusiast complexion and large sticks. The City, through all
streets, is flowing thitherward to see: 'two cartloads of paving-stones,
that happened to pass that way' have been seized as a visible godsend.
Another detachment of Gardes Francaises must be sent; Besenval and the
Colonel taking earnest counsel. Then still another; they hardly, with
bayonets and menace of bullets, penetrate to the spot. What a sight! A
street choked up, with lumber, tumult and the endless press of men. A
Paper-Warehouse eviscerated by axe and fire: mad din of Revolt; musket-
volleys responded to by yells, by miscellaneous missiles; by tiles raining
from roof and window,--tiles, execrations and slain men!

The Gardes Francaises like it not, but have to persevere. All day it
continues, slackening and rallying; the sun is sinking, and Saint-Antoine
has not yielded. The City flies hither and thither: alas, the sound of
that musket-volleying booms into the far dining-rooms of the Chaussee
d'Antin; alters the tone of the dinner-gossip there. Captain Dampmartin
leaves his wine; goes out with a friend or two, to see the fighting.
Unwashed men growl on him, with murmurs of "A bas les Aristocrates (Down
with the Aristocrats);" and insult the cross of St. Louis? They elbow him,
and hustle him; but do not pick his pocket;--as indeed at Reveillon's too
there was not the slightest stealing. (Evenemens qui se sont passes sous
mes yeux pendant la Revolution Francaise, par A. H. Dampmartin (Berlin,
1799), i. 25-27.)

At fall of night, as the thing will not end, Besenval takes his resolution:
orders out the Gardes Suisses with two pieces of artillery. The Swiss
Guards shall proceed thither; summon that rabble to depart, in the King's
name. If disobeyed, they shall load their artillery with grape-shot,
visibly to the general eye; shall again summon; if again disobeyed, fire,--
and keep firing 'till the last man' be in this manner blasted off, and the
street clear. With which spirited resolution, as might have been hoped,
the business is got ended. At sight of the lit matches, of the foreign
red-coated Switzers, Saint-Antoine dissipates; hastily, in the shades of
dusk. There is an encumbered street; there are 'from four to five hundred'
dead men. Unfortunate Reveillon has found shelter in the Bastille; does
therefrom, safe behind stone bulwarks, issue, plaint, protestation,
explanation, for the next month. Bold Besenval has thanks from all the
respectable Parisian classes; but finds no special notice taken of him at
Versailles,--a thing the man of true worth is used to. (Besenval, iii.

But how it originated, this fierce electric sputter and explosion? From
D'Orleans! cries the Court-party: he, with his gold, enlisted these
Brigands,--surely in some surprising manner, without sound of drum: he
raked them in hither, from all corners; to ferment and take fire; evil is
his good. From the Court! cries enlightened Patriotism: it is the cursed
gold and wiles of Aristocrats that enlisted them; set them upon ruining an
innocent Sieur Reveillon; to frighten the faint, and disgust men with the
career of Freedom.

Besenval, with reluctance, concludes that it came from 'the English, our
natural enemies.' Or, alas, might not one rather attribute it to Diana in
the shape of Hunger? To some twin Dioscuri, OPPRESSION and REVENGE; so
often seen in the battles of men? Poor Lackalls, all betoiled, besoiled,
encrusted into dim defacement; into whom nevertheless the breath of the
Almighty has breathed a living soul! To them it is clear only that
eleutheromaniac Philosophism has yet baked no bread; that Patrioti
Committee-men will level down to their own level, and no lower. Brigands,
or whatever they might be, it was bitter earnest with them. They bury
their dead with the title of Defenseurs de la Patrie, Martyrs of the good

Or shall we say: Insurrection has now served its Apprenticeship; and this
was its proof-stroke, and no inconclusive one? Its next will be a master-
stroke; announcing indisputable Mastership to a whole astonished world.
Let that rock-fortress, Tyranny's stronghold, which they name Bastille, or
Building, as if there were no other building,--look to its guns!

But, in such wise, with primary and secondary Assemblies, and Cahiers of
Grievances; with motions, congregations of all kinds; with much thunder of
froth-eloquence, and at last with thunder of platoon-musquetry,--does
agitated France accomplish its Elections. With confused winnowing and
sifting, in this rather tumultuous manner, it has now (all except some
remnants of Paris) sifted out the true wheat-grains of National Deputies,
Twelve Hundred and Fourteen in number; and will forthwith open its States-

Chapter 1.4.IV.

The Procession.

On the first Saturday of May, it is gala at Versailles; and Monday, fourth
of the month, is to be a still greater day. The Deputies have mostly got
thither, and sought out lodgings; and are now successively, in long well-
ushered files, kissing the hand of Majesty in the Chateau. Supreme Usher
de Breze does not give the highest satisfaction: we cannot but observe
that in ushering Noblesse or Clergy into the anointed Presence, he
liberally opens both his folding-doors; and on the other hand, for members
of the Third Estate opens only one! However, there is room to enter;
Majesty has smiles for all.

The good Louis welcomes his Honourable Members, with smiles of hope. He
has prepared for them the Hall of Menus, the largest near him; and often
surveyed the workmen as they went on. A spacious Hall: with raised
platform for Throne, Court and Blood-royal; space for six hundred Commons
Deputies in front; for half as many Clergy on this hand, and half as many
Noblesse on that. It has lofty galleries; wherefrom dames of honour,
splendent in gaze d'or; foreign Diplomacies, and other gilt-edged white-
frilled individuals to the number of two thousand,--may sit and look.
Broad passages flow through it; and, outside the inner wall, all round it.
There are committee-rooms, guard-rooms, robing-rooms: really a noble Hall;
where upholstery, aided by the subject fine-arts, has done its best; and
crimson tasseled cloths, and emblematic fleurs-de-lys are not wanting.

The Hall is ready: the very costume, as we said, has been settled; and the
Commons are not to wear that hated slouch-hat (chapeau clabaud), but one
not quite so slouched (chapeau rabattu). As for their manner of working,
when all dressed: for their 'voting by head or by order' and the rest,--
this, which it were perhaps still time to settle, and in few hours will be
no longer time, remains unsettled; hangs dubious in the breast of Twelve
Hundred men.

But now finally the Sun, on Monday the 4th of May, has risen;--unconcerned,
as if it were no special day. And yet, as his first rays could strike
music from the Memnon's Statue on the Nile, what tones were these, so
thrilling, tremulous of preparation and foreboding, which he awoke in every
bosom at Versailles! Huge Paris, in all conceivable and inconceivable
vehicles, is pouring itself forth; from each Town and Village come
subsidiary rills; Versailles is a very sea of men. But above all, from the
Church of St. Louis to the Church of Notre-Dame: one vast suspended-billow
of Life,--with spray scattered even to the chimney-pots! For on chimney-
tops too, as over the roofs, and up thitherwards on every lamp-iron, sign-
post, breakneck coign of vantage, sits patriotic Courage; and every window
bursts with patriotic Beauty: for the Deputies are gathering at St. Louis
Church; to march in procession to Notre-Dame, and hear sermon.

Yes, friends, ye may sit and look: boldly or in thought, all France, and
all Europe, may sit and look; for it is a day like few others. Oh, one
might weep like Xerxes:--So many serried rows sit perched there; like
winged creatures, alighted out of Heaven: all these, and so many more that
follow them, shall have wholly fled aloft again, vanishing into the blue
Deep; and the memory of this day still be fresh. It is the baptism-day of
Democracy; sick Time has given it birth, the numbered months being run.
The extreme-unction day of Feudalism! A superannuated System of Society,
decrepit with toils (for has it not done much; produced you, and what ye
have and know!)--and with thefts and brawls, named glorious-victories; and
with profligacies, sensualities, and on the whole with dotage and
senility,--is now to die: and so, with death-throes and birth-throes, a
new one is to be born. What a work, O Earth and Heavens, what a work!
Battles and bloodshed, September Massacres, Bridges of Lodi, retreats of
Moscow, Waterloos, Peterloos, Tenpound Franchises, Tarbarrels and
Guillotines;--and from this present date, if one might prophesy, some two
centuries of it still to fight! Two centuries; hardly less; before
Democracy go through its due, most baleful, stages of Quackocracy; and a
pestilential World be burnt up, and have begun to grow green and young

Rejoice nevertheless, ye Versailles multitudes; to you, from whom all this
is hid, and glorious end of it is visible. This day, sentence of death is
pronounced on Shams; judgment of resuscitation, were it but far off, is
pronounced on Realities. This day it is declared aloud, as with a Doom-
trumpet, that a Lie is unbelievable. Believe that, stand by that, if more
there be not; and let what thing or things soever will follow it follow.
'Ye can no other; God be your help!' So spake a greater than any of you;
opening his Chapter of World-History.

Behold, however! The doors of St. Louis Church flung wide; and the
Procession of Processions advancing towards Notre-Dame! Shouts rend the
air; one shout, at which Grecian birds might drop dead. It is indeed a
stately, solemn sight. The Elected of France, and then the Court of
France; they are marshalled and march there, all in prescribed place and
costume. Our Commons 'in plain black mantle and white cravat;' Noblesse,
in gold-worked, bright-dyed cloaks of velvet, resplendent, rustling with
laces, waving with plumes; the Clergy in rochet, alb, or other best
pontificalibus: lastly comes the King himself, and King's Household, also
in their brightest blaze of pomp,--their brightest and final one. Some
Fourteen Hundred Men blown together from all winds, on the deepest errand.

Yes, in that silent marching mass there lies Futurity enough. No symbolic
Ark, like the old Hebrews, do these men bear: yet with them too is a
Covenant; they too preside at a new Era in the History of Men. The whole
Future is there, and Destiny dim-brooding over it; in the hearts and
unshaped thoughts of these men, it lies illegible, inevitable. Singular to
think: they have it in them; yet not they, not mortal, only the Eye above
can read it,--as it shall unfold itself, in fire and thunder, of siege, and
field-artillery; in the rustling of battle-banners, the tramp of hosts, in
the glow of burning cities, the shriek of strangled nations! Such things
lie hidden, safe-wrapt in this Fourth day of May;--say rather, had lain in
some other unknown day, of which this latter is the public fruit and
outcome. As indeed what wonders lie in every Day,--had we the sight, as
happily we have not, to decipher it: for is not every meanest Day 'the
conflux of two Eternities!'

Meanwhile, suppose we too, good Reader, should, as now without miracle Muse
Clio enables us--take our station also on some coign of vantage; and glance
momentarily over this Procession, and this Life-sea; with far other eyes
than the rest do, namely with prophetic? We can mount, and stand there,
without fear of falling.

As for the Life-sea, or onlooking unnumbered Multitude, it is unfortunately
all-too dim. Yet as we gaze fixedly, do not nameless Figures not a few,
which shall not always be nameless, disclose themselves; visible or
presumable there! Young Baroness de Stael--she evidently looks from a
window; among older honourable women. (Madame de Stael, Considerations sur
la Revolution Francaise (London, 1818), i. 114-191.) Her father is
Minister, and one of the gala personages; to his own eyes the chief one.
Young spiritual Amazon, thy rest is not there; nor thy loved Father's: 'as
Malebranche saw all things in God, so M. Necker sees all things in
Necker,'--a theorem that will not hold.

But where is the brown-locked, light-behaved, fire-hearted Demoiselle
Theroigne? Brown eloquent Beauty; who, with thy winged words and glances,
shalt thrill rough bosoms, whole steel battalions, and persuade an Austrian
Kaiser,--pike and helm lie provided for thee in due season; and, alas, also
strait-waistcoat and long lodging in the Salpetriere! Better hadst thou
staid in native Luxemburg, and been the mother of some brave man's
children: but it was not thy task, it was not thy lot.

Of the rougher sex how, without tongue, or hundred tongues, of iron,
enumerate the notabilities! Has not Marquis Valadi hastily quitted his
quaker broadbrim; his Pythagorean Greek in Wapping, and the city of
Glasgow? (Founders of the French Republic (London, 1798), para Valadi.)
De Morande from his Courrier de l'Europe; Linguet from his Annales, they
looked eager through the London fog, and became Ex-Editors,--that they
might feed the guillotine, and have their due. Does Louvet (of Faublas)
stand a-tiptoe? And Brissot, hight De Warville, friend of the Blacks? He,
with Marquis Condorcet, and Claviere the Genevese 'have created the
Moniteur Newspaper,' or are about creating it. Able Editors must give
account of such a day.

Or seest thou with any distinctness, low down probably, not in places of
honour, a Stanislas Maillard, riding-tipstaff (huissier a cheval) of the
Chatelet; one of the shiftiest of men? A Captain Hulin of Geneva, Captain
Elie of the Queen's Regiment; both with an air of half-pay? Jourdan, with
tile-coloured whiskers, not yet with tile-beard; an unjust dealer in mules?
He shall be, in a few months, Jourdan the Headsman, and have other work.

Surely also, in some place not of honour, stands or sprawls up querulous,
that he too, though short, may see,--one squalidest bleared mortal,
redolent of soot and horse-drugs: Jean Paul Marat of Neuchatel! O Marat,
Renovator of Human Science, Lecturer on Optics; O thou remarkablest
Horseleech, once in D'Artois' Stables,--as thy bleared soul looks forth,
through thy bleared, dull-acrid, wo-stricken face, what sees it in all
this? Any faintest light of hope; like dayspring after Nova-Zembla night?
Or is it but blue sulphur-light, and spectres; woe, suspicion, revenge
without end?

Of Draper Lecointre, how he shut his cloth-shop hard by, and stepped forth,
one need hardly speak. Nor of Santerre, the sonorous Brewer from the
Faubourg St. Antoine. Two other Figures, and only two, we signalise there.
The huge, brawny, Figure; through whose black brows, and rude flattened
face (figure ecrasee), there looks a waste energy as of Hercules not yet
furibund,--he is an esurient, unprovided Advocate; Danton by name: him
mark. Then that other, his slight-built comrade and craft-brother; he with
the long curling locks; with the face of dingy blackguardism, wondrously
irradiated with genius, as if a naphtha-lamp burnt within it: that Figure
is Camille Desmoulins. A fellow of infinite shrewdness, wit, nay humour;
one of the sprightliest clearest souls in all these millions. Thou poor
Camille, say of thee what they may, it were but falsehood to pretend one
did not almost love thee, thou headlong lightly-sparkling man! But the
brawny, not yet furibund Figure, we say, is Jacques Danton; a name that
shall be 'tolerably known in the Revolution.' He is President of the
electoral Cordeliers District at Paris, or about to be it; and shall open
his lungs of brass.

We dwell no longer on the mixed shouting Multitude: for now, behold, the
Commons Deputies are at hand!

Which of these Six Hundred individuals, in plain white cravat, that have
come up to regenerate France, might one guess would become their king? For
a king or leader they, as all bodies of men, must have: be their work what
it may, there is one man there who, by character, faculty, position, is
fittest of all to do it; that man, as future not yet elected king, walks
there among the rest. He with the thick black locks, will it be? With the
hure, as himself calls it, or black boar's-head, fit to be 'shaken' as a
senatorial portent? Through whose shaggy beetle-brows, and rough-hewn,
seamed, carbuncled face, there look natural ugliness, small-pox,
incontinence, bankruptcy,--and burning fire of genius; like comet-fire
glaring fuliginous through murkiest confusions? It is Gabriel Honore
Riquetti de Mirabeau, the world-compeller; man-ruling Deputy of Aix!
According to the Baroness de Stael, he steps proudly along, though looked
at askance here, and shakes his black chevelure, or lion's-mane; as if
prophetic of great deeds.

Yes, Reader, that is the Type-Frenchman of this epoch; as Voltaire was of
the last. He is French in his aspirations, acquisitions, in his virtues,
in his vices; perhaps more French than any other man;--and intrinsically
such a mass of manhood too. Mark him well. The National Assembly were all
different without that one; nay, he might say with the old Despot: "The
National Assembly? I am that."

Of a southern climate, of wild southern blood: for the Riquettis, or
Arighettis, had to fly from Florence and the Guelfs, long centuries ago,
and settled in Provence; where from generation to generation they have ever
approved themselves a peculiar kindred: irascible, indomitable, sharp-
cutting, true, like the steel they wore; of an intensity and activity that
sometimes verged towards madness, yet did not reach it. One ancient
Riquetti, in mad fulfilment of a mad vow, chains two Mountains together;
and the chain, with its 'iron star of five rays,' is still to be seen. May
not a modern Riquetti unchain so much, and set it drifting,--which also
shall be seen?

Destiny has work for that swart burly-headed Mirabeau; Destiny has watched
over him, prepared him from afar. Did not his Grandfather, stout Col.
d'Argent (Silver-Stock, so they named him), shattered and slashed by seven-
and-twenty wounds in one fell day lie sunk together on the Bridge at
Casano; while Prince Eugene's cavalry galloped and regalloped over him,--
only the flying sergeant had thrown a camp-kettle over that loved head; and
Vendome, dropping his spyglass, moaned out, 'Mirabeau is dead, then!'
Nevertheless he was not dead: he awoke to breathe, and miraculous
surgery;--for Gabriel was yet to be. With his silver stock he kept his
scarred head erect, through long years; and wedded; and produced tough
Marquis Victor, the Friend of Men. Whereby at last in the appointed year
1749, this long-expected rough-hewn Gabriel Honore did likewise see the
light: roughest lion's-whelp ever littered of that rough breed. How the
old lion (for our old Marquis too was lion-like, most unconquerable,
kingly-genial, most perverse) gazed wonderingly on his offspring; and
determined to train him as no lion had yet been! It is in vain, O Marquis!
This cub, though thou slay him and flay him, will not learn to draw in
dogcart of Political Economy, and be a Friend of Men; he will not be Thou,
must and will be Himself, another than Thou. Divorce lawsuits, 'whole
family save one in prison, and three-score Lettres-de-Cachet' for thy own
sole use, do but astonish the world.

Our Luckless Gabriel, sinned against and sinning, has been in the Isle of
Rhe, and heard the Atlantic from his tower; in the Castle of If, and heard
the Mediterranean at Marseilles. He has been in the Fortress of Joux; and
forty-two months, with hardly clothing to his back, in the Dungeon of
Vincennes;--all by Lettre-de-Cachet, from his lion father. He has been in
Pontarlier Jails (self-constituted prisoner); was noticed fording estuaries
of the sea (at low water), in flight from the face of men. He has pleaded
before Aix Parlements (to get back his wife); the public gathering on
roofs, to see since they could not hear: "the clatter-teeth (claque-
dents)!" snarles singular old Mirabeau; discerning in such admired forensic
eloquence nothing but two clattering jaw-bones, and a head vacant,
sonorous, of the drum species.

But as for Gabriel Honore, in these strange wayfarings, what has he not
seen and tried! From drill-sergeants, to prime-ministers, to foreign and
domestic booksellers, all manner of men he has seen. All manner of men he
has gained; for at bottom it is a social, loving heart, that wild
unconquerable one:--more especially all manner of women. From the Archer's
Daughter at Saintes to that fair young Sophie Madame Monnier, whom he could
not but 'steal,' and be beheaded for--in effigy! For indeed hardly since
the Arabian Prophet lay dead to Ali's admiration, was there seen such a
Love-hero, with the strength of thirty men. In War, again, he has helped
to conquer Corsica; fought duels, irregular brawls; horsewhipped calumnious
barons. In Literature, he has written on Despotism, on Lettres-de-Cachet;
Erotics Sapphic-Werterean, Obscenities, Profanities; Books on the Prussian
Monarchy, on Cagliostro, on Calonne, on the Water Companies of Paris:--each
book comparable, we will say, to a bituminous alarum-fire; huge, smoky,
sudden! The firepan, the kindling, the bitumen were his own; but the
lumber, of rags, old wood and nameless combustible rubbish (for all is fuel
to him), was gathered from huckster, and ass-panniers, of every description
under heaven. Whereby, indeed, hucksters enough have been heard to
exclaim: Out upon it, the fire is mine!

Nay, consider it more generally, seldom had man such a talent for
borrowing. The idea, the faculty of another man he can make his; the man
himself he can make his. "All reflex and echo (tout de reflet et de
reverbere)!" snarls old Mirabeau, who can see, but will not. Crabbed old
Friend of Men! it is his sociality, his aggregative nature; and will now be
the quality of all for him. In that forty-years 'struggle against
despotism,' he has gained the glorious faculty of self-help, and yet not
lost the glorious natural gift of fellowship, of being helped. Rare union!
This man can live self-sufficing--yet lives also in the life of other men;
can make men love him, work with him: a born king of men!

But consider further how, as the old Marquis still snarls, he has "made
away with (hume, swallowed) all Formulas;"--a fact which, if we meditate
it, will in these days mean much. This is no man of system, then; he is
only a man of instincts and insights. A man nevertheless who will glare
fiercely on any object; and see through it, and conquer it: for he has
intellect, he has will, force beyond other men. A man not with logic-
spectacles; but with an eye! Unhappily without Decalogue, moral Code or
Theorem of any fixed sort; yet not without a strong living Soul in him, and
Sincerity there: a Reality, not an Artificiality, not a Sham! And so he,
having struggled 'forty years against despotism,' and 'made away with all
formulas,' shall now become the spokesman of a Nation bent to do the same.
For is it not precisely the struggle of France also to cast off despotism;
to make away with her old formulas,--having found them naught, worn out,
far from the reality? She will make away with such formulas;--and even go
bare, if need be, till she have found new ones.

Towards such work, in such manner, marches he, this singular Riquetti
Mirabeau. In fiery rough figure, with black Samson-locks under the slouch-
hat, he steps along there. A fiery fuliginous mass, which could not be
choked and smothered, but would fill all France with smoke. And now it has
got air; it will burn its whole substance, its whole smoke-atmosphere too,
and fill all France with flame. Strange lot! Forty years of that
smouldering, with foul fire-damp and vapour enough, then victory over
that;--and like a burning mountain he blazes heaven-high; and, for twenty-
three resplendent months, pours out, in flame and molten fire-torrents, all
that is in him, the Pharos and Wonder-sign of an amazed Europe;--and then
lies hollow, cold forever! Pass on, thou questionable Gabriel Honore, the
greatest of them all: in the whole National Deputies, in the whole Nation,
there is none like and none second to thee.

But now if Mirabeau is the greatest, who of these Six Hundred may be the
meanest? Shall we say, that anxious, slight, ineffectual-looking man,
under thirty, in spectacles; his eyes (were the glasses off) troubled,
careful; with upturned face, snuffing dimly the uncertain future-time;
complexion of a multiplex atrabiliar colour, the final shade of which may
be the pale sea-green. (See De Stael, Considerations (ii. 142); Barbaroux,
Memoires, &c.) That greenish-coloured (verdatre) individual is an Advocate
of Arras; his name is Maximilien Robespierre. The son of an Advocate; his
father founded mason-lodges under Charles Edward, the English Prince or
Pretender. Maximilien the first-born was thriftily educated; he had brisk
Camille Desmoulins for schoolmate in the College of Louis le Grand, at
Paris. But he begged our famed Necklace-Cardinal, Rohan, the patron, to
let him depart thence, and resign in favour of a younger brother. The
strict-minded Max departed; home to paternal Arras; and even had a Law-case
there and pleaded, not unsuccessfully, 'in favour of the first Franklin
thunder-rod.' With a strict painful mind, an understanding small but clear
and ready, he grew in favour with official persons, who could foresee in
him an excellent man of business, happily quite free from genius. The
Bishop, therefore, taking counsel, appoints him Judge of his diocese; and
he faithfully does justice to the people: till behold, one day, a culprit
comes whose crime merits hanging; and the strict-minded Max must abdicate,
for his conscience will not permit the dooming of any son of Adam to die.
A strict-minded, strait-laced man! A man unfit for Revolutions? Whose
small soul, transparent wholesome-looking as small ale, could by no chance
ferment into virulent alegar,--the mother of ever new alegar; till all
France were grown acetous virulent? We shall see.

Between which two extremes of grandest and meanest, so many grand and mean
roll on, towards their several destinies, in that Procession! There is
Cazales, the learned young soldier; who shall become the eloquent orator of
Royalism, and earn the shadow of a name. Experienced Mounier, experienced
Malouet; whose Presidential Parlementary experience the stream of things
shall soon leave stranded. A Petion has left his gown and briefs at
Chartres for a stormier sort of pleading; has not forgotten his violin,
being fond of music. His hair is grizzled, though he is still young:
convictions, beliefs, placid-unalterable are in that man; not hindmost of
them, belief in himself. A Protestant-clerical Rabaut-St.-Etienne, a
slender young eloquent and vehement Barnave, will help to regenerate
France. There are so many of them young. Till thirty the Spartans did not
suffer a man to marry: but how many men here under thirty; coming to
produce not one sufficient citizen, but a nation and a world of such! The
old to heal up rents; the young to remove rubbish:--which latter, is it
not, indeed, the task here?

Dim, formless from this distance, yet authentically there, thou noticest
the Deputies from Nantes? To us mere clothes-screens, with slouch-hat and
cloak, but bearing in their pocket a Cahier of doleances with this singular
clause, and more such in it: 'That the master wigmakers of Nantes be not
troubled with new gild-brethren, the actually existing number of ninety-two
being more than sufficient!' (Histoire Parlementaire, i. 335.) The Rennes
people have elected Farmer Gerard, 'a man of natural sense and rectitude,
without any learning.' He walks there, with solid step; unique, 'in his
rustic farmer-clothes;' which he will wear always; careless of short-cloaks
and costumes. The name Gerard, or 'Pere Gerard, Father Gerard,' as they
please to call him, will fly far; borne about in endless banter; in
Royalist satires, in Republican didactic Almanacks. (Actes des Apotres (by
Peltier and others); Almanach du Pere Gerard (by Collot d'Herbois) &c. &c.)
As for the man Gerard, being asked once, what he did, after trial of it,
candidly think of this Parlementary work,--"I think," answered he, "that
there are a good many scoundrels among us." so walks Father Gerard; solid
in his thick shoes, whithersoever bound.

And worthy Doctor Guillotin, whom we hoped to behold one other time? If
not here, the Doctor should be here, and we see him with the eye of
prophecy: for indeed the Parisian Deputies are all a little late.
Singular Guillotin, respectable practitioner: doomed by a satiric destiny
to the strangest immortal glory that ever kept obscure mortal from his
resting-place, the bosom of oblivion! Guillotin can improve the
ventilation of the Hall; in all cases of medical police and hygiene be a
present aid: but, greater far, he can produce his 'Report on the Penal
Code;' and reveal therein a cunningly devised Beheading Machine, which
shall become famous and world-famous. This is the product of Guillotin's
endeavours, gained not without meditation and reading; which product
popular gratitude or levity christens by a feminine derivative name, as if
it were his daughter: La Guillotine! "With my machine, Messieurs, I whisk
off your head (vous fais sauter la tete) in a twinkling, and you have no
pain;"--whereat they all laugh. (Moniteur Newspaper, of December 1st, 1789
(in Histoire Parlementaire).) Unfortunate Doctor! For two-and-twenty
years he, unguillotined, shall near nothing but guillotine, see nothing but
guillotine; then dying, shall through long centuries wander, as it were, a
disconsolate ghost, on the wrong side of Styx and Lethe; his name like to
outlive Caesar's.

See Bailly, likewise of Paris, time-honoured Historian of Astronomy Ancient
and Modern. Poor Bailly, how thy serenely beautiful Philosophising, with
its soft moonshiny clearness and thinness, ends in foul thick confusion--of
Presidency, Mayorship, diplomatic Officiality, rabid Triviality, and the
throat of everlasting Darkness! Far was it to descend from the heavenly
Galaxy to the Drapeau Rouge: beside that fatal dung-heap, on that last
hell-day, thou must 'tremble,' though only with cold, 'de froid.'
Speculation is not practice: to be weak is not so miserable; but to be
weaker than our task. Wo the day when they mounted thee, a peaceable
pedestrian, on that wild Hippogriff of a Democracy; which, spurning the
firm earth, nay lashing at the very stars, no yet known Astolpho could have

In the Commons Deputies there are Merchants, Artists, Men of Letters; three
hundred and seventy-four Lawyers; (Bouille, Memoires sur la Revolution
Francaise (London, 1797), i. 68.) and at least one Clergyman: the Abbe
Sieyes. Him also Paris sends, among its twenty. Behold him, the light
thin man; cold, but elastic, wiry; instinct with the pride of Logic;
passionless, or with but one passion, that of self-conceit. If indeed that
can be called a passion, which, in its independent concentrated greatness,
seems to have soared into transcendentalism; and to sit there with a kind
of godlike indifference, and look down on passion! He is the man, and
wisdom shall die with him. This is the Sieyes who shall be System-builder,
Constitution-builder General; and build Constitutions (as many as wanted)
skyhigh,--which shall all unfortunately fall before he get the scaffolding
away. "La Politique," said he to Dumont, "Polity is a science I think I
have completed (achevee)." (Dumont, Souvenirs sur Mirabeau, p. 64.) What
things, O Sieyes, with thy clear assiduous eyes, art thou to see! But were
it not curious to know how Sieyes, now in these days (for he is said to be
still alive) (A.D. 1834.) looks out on all that Constitution masonry,
through the rheumy soberness of extreme age? Might we hope, still with the
old irrefragable transcendentalism? The victorious cause pleased the gods,
the vanquished one pleased Sieyes (victa Catoni).

Thus, however, amid skyrending vivats, and blessings from every heart, has
the Procession of the Commons Deputies rolled by.

Next follow the Noblesse, and next the Clergy; concerning both of whom it
might be asked, What they specially have come for? Specially, little as
they dream of it, to answer this question, put in a voice of thunder: What
are you doing in God's fair Earth and Task-garden; where whosoever is not
working is begging or stealing? Wo, wo to themselves and to all, if they
can only answer: Collecting tithes, Preserving game!--Remark, meanwhile,
how D'Orleans affects to step before his own Order, and mingle with the
Commons. For him are vivats: few for the rest, though all wave in plumed
'hats of a feudal cut,' and have sword on thigh; though among them is
D'Antraigues, the young Languedocian gentleman,--and indeed many a Peer
more or less noteworthy.

There are Liancourt, and La Rochefoucault; the liberal Anglomaniac Dukes.
There is a filially pious Lally; a couple of liberal Lameths. Above all,
there is a Lafayette; whose name shall be Cromwell-Grandison, and fill the
world. Many a 'formula' has this Lafayette too made away with; yet not all
formulas. He sticks by the Washington-formula; and by that he will stick;-
-and hang by it, as by sure bower-anchor hangs and swings the tight war-
ship, which, after all changes of wildest weather and water, is found still
hanging. Happy for him; be it glorious or not! Alone of all Frenchmen he
has a theory of the world, and right mind to conform thereto; he can become
a hero and perfect character, were it but the hero of one idea. Note
further our old Parlementary friend, Crispin-Catiline d'Espremenil. He is
returned from the Mediterranean Islands, a redhot royalist, repentant to
the finger-ends;--unsettled-looking; whose light, dusky-glowing at best,
now flickers foul in the socket; whom the National Assembly will by and by,
to save time, 'regard as in a state of distraction.' Note lastly that
globular Younger Mirabeau; indignant that his elder Brother is among the
Commons: it is Viscomte Mirabeau; named oftener Mirabeau Tonneau (Barrel
Mirabeau), on account of his rotundity, and the quantities of strong liquor
he contains.

There then walks our French Noblesse. All in the old pomp of chivalry:
and yet, alas, how changed from the old position; drifted far down from
their native latitude, like Arctic icebergs got into the Equatorial sea,
and fast thawing there! Once these Chivalry Duces (Dukes, as they are
still named) did actually lead the world,--were it only towards battle-
spoil, where lay the world's best wages then: moreover, being the ablest
Leaders going, they had their lion's share, those Duces; which none could
grudge them. But now, when so many Looms, improved Ploughshares, Steam-
Engines and Bills of Exchange have been invented; and, for battle-brawling
itself, men hire Drill-Sergeants at eighteen-pence a-day,--what mean these
goldmantled Chivalry Figures, walking there 'in black-velvet cloaks,' in
high-plumed 'hats of a feudal cut'? Reeds shaken in the wind!

The Clergy have got up; with Cahiers for abolishing pluralities, enforcing
residence of bishops, better payment of tithes. (Hist. Parl. i. 322-27.)
The Dignitaries, we can observe, walk stately, apart from the numerous
Undignified,--who indeed are properly little other than Commons disguised
in Curate-frocks. Here, however, though by strange ways, shall the Precept
be fulfilled, and they that are greatest (much to their astonishment)
become least. For one example, out of many, mark that plausible Gregoire:
one day Cure Gregoire shall be a Bishop, when the now stately are wandering
distracted, as Bishops in partibus. With other thought, mark also the Abbe
Maury: his broad bold face; mouth accurately primmed; full eyes, that ray
out intelligence, falsehood,--the sort of sophistry which is astonished you
should find it sophistical. Skilfulest vamper-up of old rotten leather, to
make it look like new; always a rising man; he used to tell Mercier, "You
will see; I shall be in the Academy before you." (Mercier, Nouveau Paris.)
Likely indeed, thou skilfullest Maury; nay thou shalt have a Cardinal's
Hat, and plush and glory; but alas, also, in the longrun--mere oblivion,
like the rest of us; and six feet of earth! What boots it, vamping rotten
leather on these terms? Glorious in comparison is the livelihood thy good
old Father earns, by making shoes,--one may hope, in a sufficient manner.
Maury does not want for audacity. He shall wear pistols, by and by; and at
death-cries of "The Lamp-iron;" answer coolly, "Friends, will you see
better there?"

But yonder, halting lamely along, thou noticest next Bishop Talleyrand-
Perigord, his Reverence of Autun. A sardonic grimness lies in that
irreverent Reverence of Autun. He will do and suffer strange things; and
will become surely one of the strangest things ever seen, or like to be
seen. A man living in falsehood, and on falsehood; yet not what you can
call a false man: there is the specialty! It will be an enigma for future
ages, one may hope: hitherto such a product of Nature and Art was possible
only for this age of ours,--Age of Paper, and of the Burning of Paper.
Consider Bishop Talleyrand and Marquis Lafayette as the topmost of their
two kinds; and say once more, looking at what they did and what they were,
O Tempus ferax rerum!

On the whole, however, has not this unfortunate Clergy also drifted in the
Time-stream, far from its native latitude? An anomalous mass of men; of
whom the whole world has already a dim understanding that it can understand
nothing. They were once a Priesthood, interpreters of Wisdom, revealers of
the Holy that is in Man: a true Clerus (or Inheritance of God on Earth):
but now?--They pass silently, with such Cahiers as they have been able to
redact; and none cries, God bless them.

King Louis with his Court brings up the rear: he cheerful, in this day of
hope, is saluted with plaudits; still more Necker his Minister. Not so the
Queen; on whom hope shines not steadily any more. Ill-fated Queen! Her
hair is already gray with many cares and crosses; her first-born son is
dying in these weeks: black falsehood has ineffaceably soiled her name;
ineffaceably while this generation lasts. Instead of Vive la Reine, voices
insult her with Vive d'Orleans. Of her queenly beauty little remains
except its stateliness; not now gracious, but haughty, rigid, silently
enduring. With a most mixed feeling, wherein joy has no part, she resigns
herself to a day she hoped never to have seen. Poor Marie Antoinette; with
thy quick noble instincts; vehement glancings, vision all-too fitful narrow
for the work thou hast to do! O there are tears in store for thee;
bitterest wailings, soft womanly meltings, though thou hast the heart of an
imperial Theresa's Daughter. Thou doomed one, shut thy eyes on the

And so, in stately Procession, have passed the Elected of France. Some
towards honour and quick fire-consummation; most towards dishonour; not a
few towards massacre, confusion, emigration, desperation: all towards
Eternity!--So many heterogeneities cast together into the fermenting-vat;
there, with incalculable action, counteraction, elective affinities,
explosive developments, to work out healing for a sick moribund System of
Society! Probably the strangest Body of Men, if we consider well, that
ever met together on our Planet on such an errand. So thousandfold complex
a Society, ready to burst-up from its infinite depths; and these men, its
rulers and healers, without life-rule for themselves,--other life-rule than
a Gospel according to Jean Jacques! To the wisest of them, what we must
call the wisest, man is properly an Accident under the sky. Man is without
Duty round him; except it be 'to make the Constitution.' He is without
Heaven above him, or Hell beneath him; he has no God in the world.

What further or better belief can be said to exist in these Twelve Hundred?
Belief in high-plumed hats of a feudal cut; in heraldic scutcheons; in the
divine right of Kings, in the divine right of Game-destroyers. Belief, or
what is still worse, canting half-belief; or worst of all, mere
Macchiavellic pretence-of-belief,--in consecrated dough-wafers, and the
godhood of a poor old Italian Man! Nevertheless in that immeasurable
Confusion and Corruption, which struggles there so blindly to become less
confused and corrupt, there is, as we said, this one salient point of a New
Life discernible: the deep fixed Determination to have done with Shams. A
determination, which, consciously or unconsciously, is fixed; which waxes
ever more fixed, into very madness and fixed-idea; which in such embodiment
as lies provided there, shall now unfold itself rapidly: monstrous,
stupendous, unspeakable; new for long thousands of years!--How has the
Heaven's light, oftentimes in this Earth, to clothe itself in thunder and
electric murkiness; and descend as molten lightning, blasting, if
purifying! Nay is it not rather the very murkiness, and atmospheric
suffocation, that brings the lightning and the light? The new Evangel, as
the old had been, was it to be born in the Destruction of a World?

But how the Deputies assisted at High Mass, and heard sermon, and applauded
the preacher, church as it was, when he preached politics; how, next day,
with sustained pomp, they are, for the first time, installed in their
Salles des Menus (Hall no longer of Amusements), and become a States-
General,--readers can fancy for themselves. The King from his estrade,
gorgeous as Solomon in all his glory, runs his eye over that majestic Hall;
many-plumed, many-glancing; bright-tinted as rainbow, in the galleries and
near side spaces, where Beauty sits raining bright influence.
Satisfaction, as of one that after long voyaging had got to port, plays
over his broad simple face: the innocent King! He rises and speaks, with
sonorous tone, a conceivable speech. With which, still more with the
succeeding one-hour and two-hour speeches of Garde-des-Sceaux and M.
Necker, full of nothing but patriotism, hope, faith, and deficiency of the
revenue,--no reader of these pages shall be tried.

We remark only that, as his Majesty, on finishing the speech, put on his
plumed hat, and the Noblesse according to custom imitated him, our Tiers-
Etat Deputies did mostly, not without a shade of fierceness, in like manner
clap-on, and even crush on their slouched hats; and stand there awaiting
the issue. (Histoire Parlementaire (i. 356). Mercier, Nouveau Paris, &c.)
Thick buzz among them, between majority and minority of Couvrezvous,
Decrouvrez-vous (Hats off, Hats on)! To which his Majesty puts end, by
taking off his own royal hat again.

The session terminates without further accident or omen than this; with
which, significantly enough, France has opened her States-General.



Chapter 1.5.I.


That exasperated France, in this same National Assembly of hers, has got
something, nay something great, momentous, indispensable, cannot be
doubted; yet still the question were: Specially what? A question hard to
solve, even for calm onlookers at this distance; wholly insoluble to actors
in the middle of it. The States-General, created and conflated by the
passionate effort of the whole nation, is there as a thing high and lifted
up. Hope, jubilating, cries aloud that it will prove a miraculous Brazen
Serpent in the Wilderness; whereon whosoever looks, with faith and
obedience, shall be healed of all woes and serpent-bites.

We may answer, it will at least prove a symbolic Banner; round which the
exasperating complaining Twenty-Five Millions, otherwise isolated and
without power, may rally, and work--what it is in them to work. If battle
must be the work, as one cannot help expecting, then shall it be a battle-
banner (say, an Italian Gonfalon, in its old Republican Carroccio); and
shall tower up, car-borne, shining in the wind: and with iron tongue peal
forth many a signal. A thing of prime necessity; which whether in the van
or in the centre, whether leading or led and driven, must do the fighting
multitude incalculable services. For a season, while it floats in the very
front, nay as it were stands solitary there, waiting whether force will
gather round it, this same National Carroccio, and the signal-peals it
rings, are a main object with us.

The omen of the 'slouch-hats clapt on' shows the Commons Deputies to have
made up their minds on one thing: that neither Noblesse nor Clergy shall
have precedence of them; hardly even Majesty itself. To such length has
the Contrat Social, and force of public opinion, carried us. For what is
Majesty but the Delegate of the Nation; delegated, and bargained with (even
rather tightly),--in some very singular posture of affairs, which Jean
Jacques has not fixed the date of?

Coming therefore into their Hall, on the morrow, an inorganic mass of Six
Hundred individuals, these Commons Deputies perceive, without terror, that
they have it all to themselves. Their Hall is also the Grand or general
Hall for all the Three Orders. But the Noblesse and Clergy, it would seem,
have retired to their two separate Apartments, or Halls; and are there
'verifying their powers,' not in a conjoint but in a separate capacity.
They are to constitute two separate, perhaps separately-voting Orders,
then? It is as if both Noblesse and Clergy had silently taken for granted
that they already were such! Two Orders against one; and so the Third
Order to be left in a perpetual minority?

Much may remain unfixed; but the negative of that is a thing fixed: in the
Slouch-hatted heads, in the French Nation's head. Double representation,
and all else hitherto gained, were otherwise futile, null. Doubtless, the
'powers must be verified;'--doubtless, the Commission, the electoral
Documents of your Deputy must be inspected by his brother Deputies, and
found valid: it is the preliminary of all. Neither is this question, of
doing it separately or doing it conjointly, a vital one: but if it lead to
such? It must be resisted; wise was that maxim, Resist the beginnings!
Nay were resistance unadvisable, even dangerous, yet surely pause is very
natural: pause, with Twenty-five Millions behind you, may become
resistance enough.--The inorganic mass of Commons Deputies will restrict
itself to a 'system of inertia,' and for the present remain inorganic.

Such method, recommendable alike to sagacity and to timidity, do the
Commons Deputies adopt; and, not without adroitness, and with ever more
tenacity, they persist in it, day after day, week after week. For six
weeks their history is of the kind named barren; which indeed, as
Philosophy knows, is often the fruitfulest of all. These were their still
creation-days; wherein they sat incubating! In fact, what they did was to
do nothing, in a judicious manner. Daily the inorganic body reassembles;
regrets that they cannot get organisation, 'verification of powers in
common, and begin regenerating France. Headlong motions may be made, but
let such be repressed; inertia alone is at once unpunishable and

Cunning must be met by cunning; proud pretension by inertia, by a low tone
of patriotic sorrow; low, but incurable, unalterable. Wise as serpents;
harmless as doves: what a spectacle for France! Six Hundred inorganic
individuals, essential for its regeneration and salvation, sit there, on
their elliptic benches, longing passionately towards life; in painful
durance; like souls waiting to be born. Speeches are spoken; eloquent;
audible within doors and without. Mind agitates itself against mind; the
Nation looks on with ever deeper interest. Thus do the Commons Deputies
sit incubating.

There are private conclaves, supper-parties, consultations; Breton Club,
Club of Viroflay; germs of many Clubs. Wholly an element of confused
noise, dimness, angry heat;--wherein, however, the Eros-egg, kept at the
fit temperature, may hover safe, unbroken till it be hatched. In your
Mouniers, Malouets, Lechapeliers in science sufficient for that; fervour in
your Barnaves, Rabauts. At times shall come an inspiration from royal
Mirabeau: he is nowise yet recognised as royal; nay he was 'groaned at,'
when his name was first mentioned: but he is struggling towards

In the course of the week, the Commons having called their Eldest to the
chair, and furnished him with young stronger-lunged assistants,--can speak
articulately; and, in audible lamentable words, declare, as we said, that
they are an inorganic body, longing to become organic. Letters arrive; but
an inorganic body cannot open letters; they lie on the table unopened. The
Eldest may at most procure for himself some kind of List or Muster-roll, to
take the votes by, and wait what will betide. Noblesse and Clergy are all
elsewhere: however, an eager public crowds all galleries and vacancies;
which is some comfort. With effort, it is determined, not that a
Deputation shall be sent,--for how can an inorganic body send deputations?-
-but that certain individual Commons Members shall, in an accidental way,
stroll into the Clergy Chamber, and then into the Noblesse one; and mention
there, as a thing they have happened to observe, that the Commons seem to
be sitting waiting for them, in order to verify their powers. That is the
wiser method!

The Clergy, among whom are such a multitude of Undignified, of mere Commons
in Curates' frocks, depute instant respectful answer that they are, and
will now more than ever be, in deepest study as to that very matter.
Contrariwise the Noblesse, in cavalier attitude, reply, after four days,
that they, for their part, are all verified and constituted; which, they
had trusted, the Commons also were; such separate verification being
clearly the proper constitutional wisdom-of-ancestors method;--as they the
Noblesse will have much pleasure in demonstrating by a Commission of their
number, if the Commons will meet them, Commission against Commission!
Directly in the rear of which comes a deputation of Clergy, reiterating, in
their insidious conciliatory way, the same proposal. Here, then, is a
complexity: what will wise Commons say to this?

Warily, inertly, the wise Commons, considering that they are, if not a
French Third Estate, at least an Aggregate of individuals pretending to
some title of that kind, determine, after talking on it five days, to name
such a Commission,--though, as it were, with proviso not to be convinced:
a sixth day is taken up in naming it; a seventh and an eighth day in
getting the forms of meeting, place, hour and the like, settled: so that
it is not till the evening of the 23rd of May that Noblesse Commission
first meets Commons Commission, Clergy acting as Conciliators; and begins
the impossible task of convincing it. One other meeting, on the 25th, will
suffice: the Commons are inconvincible, the Noblesse and Clergy
irrefragably convincing; the Commissions retire; each Order persisting in
its first pretensions. (Reported Debates, 6th May to 1st June, 1789 (in
Histoire Parlementaire, i. 379-422.)

Thus have three weeks passed. For three weeks, the Third-Estate Carroccio,
with far-seen Gonfalon, has stood stockstill, flouting the wind; waiting
what force would gather round it.

Fancy can conceive the feeling of the Court; and how counsel met counsel,
the loud-sounding inanity whirled in that distracted vortex, where wisdom
could not dwell. Your cunningly devised Taxing-Machine has been got
together; set up with incredible labour; and stands there, its three pieces
in contact; its two fly-wheels of Noblesse and Clergy, its huge working-
wheel of Tiers-Etat. The two fly-wheels whirl in the softest manner; but,
prodigious to look upon, the huge working-wheel hangs motionless, refuses
to stir! The cunningest engineers are at fault. How will it work, when it
does begin? Fearfully, my Friends; and to many purposes; but to gather
taxes, or grind court-meal, one may apprehend, never. Could we but have
continued gathering taxes by hand! Messeigneurs d'Artois, Conti, Conde
(named Court Triumvirate), they of the anti-democratic Memoire au Roi, has
not their foreboding proved true? They may wave reproachfully their high
heads; they may beat their poor brains; but the cunningest engineers can do
nothing. Necker himself, were he even listened to, begins to look blue.
The only thing one sees advisable is to bring up soldiers. New regiments,
two, and a battalion of a third, have already reached Paris; others shall
get in march. Good were it, in all circumstances, to have troops within
reach; good that the command were in sure hands. Let Broglie be appointed;
old Marshal Duke de Broglie; veteran disciplinarian, of a firm drill-
sergeant morality, such as may be depended on.

For, alas, neither are the Clergy, or the very Noblesse what they should
be; and might be, when so menaced from without: entire, undivided within.
The Noblesse, indeed, have their Catiline or Crispin D'Espremenil, dusky-
glowing, all in renegade heat; their boisterous Barrel-Mirabeau; but also
they have their Lafayettes, Liancourts, Lameths; above all, their
D'Orleans, now cut forever from his Court-moorings, and musing drowsily of
high and highest sea-prizes (for is not he too a son of Henri Quatre, and
partial potential Heir-Apparent?)--on his voyage towards Chaos. From the
Clergy again, so numerous are the Cures, actual deserters have run over:
two small parties; in the second party Cure Gregoire. Nay there is talk of
a whole Hundred and Forty-nine of them about to desert in mass, and only
restrained by an Archbishop of Paris. It seems a losing game.

But judge if France, if Paris sat idle, all this while! Addresses from far
and near flow in: for our Commons have now grown organic enough to open
letters. Or indeed to cavil at them! Thus poor Marquis de Breze, Supreme
Usher, Master of Ceremonies, or whatever his title was, writing about this
time on some ceremonial matter, sees no harm in winding up with a
'Monsieur, yours with sincere attachment.'--"To whom does it address
itself, this sincere attachment?" inquires Mirabeau. "To the Dean of the
Tiers-Etat."--"There is no man in France entitled to write that," rejoins
he; whereat the Galleries and the World will not be kept from applauding.
(Moniteur (in Histoire Parlementaire, i. 405).) Poor De Breze! These
Commons have a still older grudge at him; nor has he yet done with them.

In another way, Mirabeau has had to protest against the quick suppression
of his Newspaper, Journal of the States-General;--and to continue it under
a new name. In which act of valour, the Paris Electors, still busy
redacting their Cahier, could not but support him, by Address to his
Majesty: they claim utmost 'provisory freedom of the press;' they have
spoken even about demolishing the Bastille, and erecting a Bronze Patriot
King on the site!--These are the rich Burghers: but now consider how it
went, for example, with such loose miscellany, now all grown
eleutheromaniac, of Loungers, Prowlers, social Nondescripts (and the
distilled Rascality of our Planet), as whirls forever in the Palais Royal;-
-or what low infinite groan, first changing into a growl, comes from Saint-
Antoine, and the Twenty-five Millions in danger of starvation!

There is the indisputablest scarcity of corn;--be it Aristocrat-plot,
D'Orleans-plot, of this year; or drought and hail of last year: in city
and province, the poor man looks desolately towards a nameless lot. And
this States-General, that could make us an age of gold, is forced to stand
motionless; cannot get its powers verified! All industry necessarily
languishes, if it be not that of making motions.

In the Palais Royal there has been erected, apparently by subscription, a
kind of Wooden Tent (en planches de bois); (Histoire Parlementaire, i.
429.)-- most convenient; where select Patriotism can now redact
resolutions, deliver harangues, with comfort, let the weather but as it
will. Lively is that Satan-at-Home! On his table, on his chair, in every
cafe, stands a patriotic orator; a crowd round him within; a crowd
listening from without, open-mouthed, through open door and window; with
'thunders of applause for every sentiment of more than common hardiness.'
In Monsieur Dessein's Pamphlet-shop, close by, you cannot without strong
elbowing get to the counter: every hour produces its pamphlet, or litter
of pamphlets; 'there were thirteen to-day, sixteen yesterday, nine-two last
week.' (Arthur Young, Travels, i. 104.) Think of Tyranny and Scarcity;
Fervid-eloquence, Rumour, Pamphleteering; Societe Publicole, Breton Club,
Enraged Club;--and whether every tap-room, coffee-room, social reunion,
accidental street-group, over wide France, was not an Enraged Club!

To all which the Commons Deputies can only listen with a sublime inertia of
sorrow; reduced to busy themselves 'with their internal police.' Surer
position no Deputies ever occupied; if they keep it with skill. Let not
the temperature rise too high; break not the Eros-egg till it be hatched,
till it break itself! An eager public crowds all Galleries and vacancies!
'cannot be restrained from applauding.' The two Privileged Orders, the
Noblesse all verified and constituted, may look on with what face they
will; not without a secret tremor of heart. The Clergy, always acting the
part of conciliators, make a clutch at the Galleries, and the popularity
there; and miss it. Deputation of them arrives, with dolorous message
about the 'dearth of grains,' and the necessity there is of casting aside
vain formalities, and deliberating on this. An insidious proposal; which,
however, the Commons (moved thereto by seagreen Robespierre) dexterously
accept as a sort of hint, or even pledge, that the Clergy will forthwith
come over to them, constitute the States-General, and so cheapen grains!
(Bailly, Memoires, i. 114.)--Finally, on the 27th day of May, Mirabeau,
judging the time now nearly come, proposes that 'the inertia cease;' that,
leaving the Noblesse to their own stiff ways, the Clergy be summoned, 'in
the name of the God of Peace,' to join the Commons, and begin. (Histoire
Parlementaire, i. 413.) To which summons if they turn a deaf ear,--we
shall see! Are not one Hundred and Forty-nine of them ready to desert?

O Triumvirate of Princes, new Garde-des-Sceaux Barentin, thou Home-
Secretary Breteuil, Duchess Polignac, and Queen eager to listen,--what is
now to be done? This Third Estate will get in motion, with the force of
all France in it; Clergy-machinery with Noblesse-machinery, which were to
serve as beautiful counter-balances and drags, will be shamefully dragged
after it,--and take fire along with it. What is to be done? The Oeil-de-
Boeuf waxes more confused than ever. Whisper and counter-whisper; a very
tempest of whispers! Leading men from all the Three Orders are nightly
spirited thither; conjurors many of them; but can they conjure this?
Necker himself were now welcome, could he interfere to purpose.

Let Necker interfere, then; and in the King's name! Happily that
incendiary 'God-of-Peace' message is not yet answered. The Three Orders
shall again have conferences; under this Patriot Minister of theirs,
somewhat may be healed, clouted up;--we meanwhile getting forward Swiss
Regiments, and a 'hundred pieces of field-artillery.' This is what the
Oeil-de-Boeuf, for its part, resolves on.

But as for Necker--Alas, poor Necker, thy obstinate Third Estate has one
first-last word, verification in common, as the pledge of voting and
deliberating in common! Half-way proposals, from such a tried friend, they
answer with a stare. The tardy conferences speedily break up; the Third
Estate, now ready and resolute, the whole world backing it, returns to its
Hall of the Three Orders; and Necker to the Oeil-de-Boeuf, with the
character of a disconjured conjuror there--fit only for dismissal.
(Debates, 1st to 17th June 1789 (in Histoire Parlementaire, i. 422-478).)

And so the Commons Deputies are at last on their own strength getting under
way? Instead of Chairman, or Dean, they have now got a President:
Astronomer Bailly. Under way, with a vengeance! With endless vociferous
and temperate eloquence, borne on Newspaper wings to all lands, they have
now, on this 17th day of June, determined that their name is not Third
Estate, but--National Assembly! They, then, are the Nation? Triumvirate
of Princes, Queen, refractory Noblesse and Clergy, what, then, are you? A
most deep question;--scarcely answerable in living political dialects.

All regardless of which, our new National Assembly proceeds to appoint a
'committee of subsistences;' dear to France, though it can find little or
no grain. Next, as if our National Assembly stood quite firm on its legs,-
-to appoint 'four other standing committees;' then to settle the security
of the National Debt; then that of the Annual Taxation: all within eight-
and-forty hours. At such rate of velocity it is going: the conjurors of
the Oeil-de-Boeuf may well ask themselves, Whither?

Chapter 1.5.II.

Mercury de Breze.

Now surely were the time for a 'god from the machine;' there is a nodus
worthy of one. The only question is, Which god? Shall it be Mars de
Broglie, with his hundred pieces of cannon?--Not yet, answers prudence; so
soft, irresolute is King Louis. Let it be Messenger Mercury, our Supreme
Usher de Breze.

On the morrow, which is the 20th of June, these Hundred and Forty-nine
false Curates, no longer restrainable by his Grace of Paris, will desert in
a body: let De Breze intervene, and produce--closed doors! Not only shall
there be Royal Session, in that Salle des Menus; but no meeting, nor
working (except by carpenters), till then. Your Third Estate, self-styled
'National Assembly,' shall suddenly see itself extruded from its Hall, by
carpenters, in this dexterous way; and reduced to do nothing, not even to
meet, or articulately lament,--till Majesty, with Seance Royale and new
miracles, be ready! In this manner shall De Breze, as Mercury ex machina,
intervene; and, if the Oeil-de-Boeuf mistake not, work deliverance from the

Of poor De Breze we can remark that he has yet prospered in none of his
dealings with these Commons. Five weeks ago, when they kissed the hand of
Majesty, the mode he took got nothing but censure; and then his 'sincere
attachment,' how was it scornfully whiffed aside! Before supper, this
night, he writes to President Bailly, a new Letter, to be delivered shortly
after dawn tomorrow, in the King's name. Which Letter, however, Bailly in
the pride of office, will merely crush together into his pocket, like a
bill he does not mean to pay.

Accordingly on Saturday morning the 20th of June, shrill-sounding heralds
proclaim through the streets of Versailles, that there is to be a Seance
Royale next Monday; and no meeting of the States-General till then. And
yet, we observe, President Bailly in sound of this, and with De Breze's
Letter in his pocket, is proceeding, with National Assembly at his heels,
to the accustomed Salles des Menus; as if De Breze and heralds were mere
wind. It is shut, this Salle; occupied by Gardes Francaises. "Where is
your Captain?" The Captain shows his royal order: workmen, he is grieved
to say, are all busy setting up the platform for his Majesty's Seance; most
unfortunately, no admission; admission, at furthest, for President and
Secretaries to bring away papers, which the joiners might destroy!--
President Bailly enters with Secretaries; and returns bearing papers:
alas, within doors, instead of patriotic eloquence, there is now no noise
but hammering, sawing, and operative screeching and rumbling! A
profanation without parallel.

The Deputies stand grouped on the Paris Road, on this umbrageous Avenue de
Versailles; complaining aloud of the indignity done them. Courtiers, it is
supposed, look from their windows, and giggle. The morning is none of the
comfortablest: raw; it is even drizzling a little. (Bailly, Memoires, i.
185-206.) But all travellers pause; patriot gallery-men, miscellaneous
spectators increase the groups. Wild counsels alternate. Some desperate
Deputies propose to go and hold session on the great outer Staircase at
Marly, under the King's windows; for his Majesty, it seems, has driven over
thither. Others talk of making the Chateau Forecourt, what they call Place
d'Armes, a Runnymede and new Champ de Mai of free Frenchmen: nay of
awakening, to sounds of indignant Patriotism, the echoes of the Oeil-de-
boeuf itself.--Notice is given that President Bailly, aided by judicious
Guillotin and others, has found place in the Tennis-Court of the Rue St.
Francois. Thither, in long-drawn files, hoarse-jingling, like cranes on
wing, the Commons Deputies angrily wend.

Strange sight was this in the Rue St. Francois, Vieux Versailles! A naked
Tennis-Court, as the pictures of that time still give it: four walls;
naked, except aloft some poor wooden penthouse, or roofed spectators'-
gallery, hanging round them:--on the floor not now an idle teeheeing, a
snapping of balls and rackets; but the bellowing din of an indignant
National Representation, scandalously exiled hither! However, a cloud of
witnesses looks down on them, from wooden penthouse, from wall-top, from
adjoining roof and chimney; rolls towards them from all quarters, with
passionate spoken blessings. Some table can be procured to write on; some
chair, if not to sit on, then to stand on. The Secretaries undo their
tapes; Bailly has constituted the Assembly.

Experienced Mounier, not wholly new to such things, in Parlementary
revolts, which he has seen or heard of, thinks that it were well, in these
lamentable threatening circumstances, to unite themselves by an Oath.--
Universal acclamation, as from smouldering bosoms getting vent! The Oath
is redacted; pronounced aloud by President Bailly,--and indeed in such a
sonorous tone, that the cloud of witnesses, even outdoors, hear it, and
bellow response to it. Six hundred right-hands rise with President
Bailly's, to take God above to witness that they will not separate for man
below, but will meet in all places, under all circumstances, wheresoever
two or three can get together, till they have made the Constitution. Made
the Constitution, Friends! That is a long task. Six hundred hands,
meanwhile, will sign as they have sworn: six hundred save one; one
Loyalist Abdiel, still visible by this sole light-point, and nameable, poor
'M. Martin d'Auch, from Castelnaudary, in Languedoc.' Him they permit to
sign or signify refusal; they even save him from the cloud of witnesses, by
declaring 'his head deranged.' At four o'clock, the signatures are all
appended; new meeting is fixed for Monday morning, earlier than the hour of
the Royal Session; that our Hundred and Forty-nine Clerical deserters be
not balked: we shall meet 'at the Recollets Church or elsewhere,' in hope
that our Hundred and Forty-nine will join us;--and now it is time to go to

This, then, is the Session of the Tennis-Court, famed Seance du Jeu de
Paume; the fame of which has gone forth to all lands. This is Mercurius de
Breze's appearance as Deus ex machina; this is the fruit it brings! The
giggle of Courtiers in the Versailles Avenue has already died into gaunt
silence. Did the distracted Court, with Gardes-des-Sceaux Barentin,
Triumvirate and Company, imagine that they could scatter six hundred
National Deputies, big with a National Constitution, like as much barndoor
poultry, big with next to nothing,--by the white or black rod of a Supreme
Usher? Barndoor poultry fly cackling: but National Deputies turn round,
lion-faced; and, with uplifted right-hand, swear an Oath that makes the
four corners of France tremble.

President Bailly has covered himself with honour; which shall become
rewards. The National Assembly is now doubly and trebly the Nation's
Assembly; not militant, martyred only, but triumphant; insulted, and which
could not be insulted. Paris disembogues itself once more, to witness,
'with grim looks,' the Seance Royale: (See Arthur Young (Travels, i. 115-
118); A. Lameth, &c.) which, by a new felicity, is postponed till Tuesday.
The Hundred and Forty-nine, and even with Bishops among them, all in
processional mass, have had free leisure to march off, and solemnly join
the Commons sitting waiting in their Church. The Commons welcomed them
with shouts, with embracings, nay with tears; (Dumont, Souvenirs sur
Mirabeau, c. 4.) for it is growing a life-and-death matter now.

As for the Seance itself, the Carpenters seem to have accomplished their
platform; but all else remains unaccomplished. Futile, we may say fatal,
was the whole matter. King Louis enters, through seas of people, all grim-
silent, angry with many things,--for it is a bitter rain too. Enters, to a
Third Estate, likewise grim-silent; which has been wetted waiting under
mean porches, at back-doors, while Court and Privileged were entering by
the front. King and Garde-des-Sceaux (there is no Necker visible) make
known, not without longwindedness, the determinations of the royal breast.
The Three Orders shall vote separately. On the other hand, France may look
for considerable constitutional blessings; as specified in these Five-and-
thirty Articles, (Histoire Parlementaire, i. 13.) which Garde-des-Sceaux is
waxing hoarse with reading. Which Five-and-Thirty Articles, adds his
Majesty again rising, if the Three Orders most unfortunately cannot agree
together to effect them, I myself will effect: "seul je ferai le bien de
mes peuples,"--which being interpreted may signify, You, contentious
Deputies of the States-General, have probably not long to be here! But, in
fine, all shall now withdraw for this day; and meet again, each Order in
its separate place, to-morrow morning, for despatch of business. This is
the determination of the royal breast: pithy and clear. And herewith
King, retinue, Noblesse, majority of Clergy file out, as if the whole
matter were satisfactorily completed.

These file out; through grim-silent seas of people. Only the Commons
Deputies file not out; but stand there in gloomy silence, uncertain what
they shall do. One man of them is certain; one man of them discerns and
dares! It is now that King Mirabeau starts to the Tribune, and lifts up
his lion-voice. Verily a word in season; for, in such scenes, the moment
is the mother of ages! Had not Gabriel Honore been there,--one can well
fancy, how the Commons Deputies, affrighted at the perils which now yawned
dim all round them, and waxing ever paler in each other's paleness, might
very naturally, one after one, have glided off; and the whole course of
European History have been different!

But he is there. List to the brool of that royal forest-voice; sorrowful,
low; fast swelling to a roar! Eyes kindle at the glance of his eye:--
National Deputies were missioned by a Nation; they have sworn an Oath;
they--but lo! while the lion's voice roars loudest, what Apparition is
this? Apparition of Mercurius de Breze, muttering somewhat!--"Speak out,"
cry several.--"Messieurs," shrills De Breze, repeating himself, "You have
heard the King's orders!"--Mirabeau glares on him with fire-flashing face;
shakes the black lion's mane: "Yes, Monsieur, we have heard what the King
was advised to say: and you who cannot be the interpreter of his orders to
the States-General; you, who have neither place nor right of speech here;
you are not the man to remind us of it. Go, Monsieur, tell these who sent
you that we are here by the will of the People, and that nothing shall send
us hence but the force of bayonets!" (Moniteur (Hist. Parl. ii. 22.).)
And poor De Breze shivers forth from the National Assembly;--and also (if
it be not in one faintest glimmer, months later) finally from the page of

Hapless De Breze; doomed to survive long ages, in men's memory, in this
faint way, with tremulent white rod! He was true to Etiquette, which was
his Faith here below; a martyr to respect of persons. Short woollen cloaks
could not kiss Majesty's hand as long velvet ones did. Nay lately, when
the poor little Dauphin lay dead, and some ceremonial Visitation came, was
he not punctual to announce it even to the Dauphin's dead body:
"Monseigneur, a Deputation of the States-General!" (Montgaillard, ii. 38.)
Sunt lachrymae rerum.

But what does the Oeil-de-Boeuf, now when De Breze shivers back thither?
Despatch that same force of bayonets? Not so: the seas of people still
hang multitudinous, intent on what is passing; nay rush and roll, loud-
billowing, into the Courts of the Chateau itself; for a report has risen
that Necker is to be dismissed. Worst of all, the Gardes Francaises seem
indisposed to act: 'two Companies of them do not fire when ordered!'
(Histoire Parlementaire, ii. 26.) Necker, for not being at the Seance,
shall be shouted for, carried home in triumph; and must not be dismissed.
His Grace of Paris, on the other hand, has to fly with broken coach-panels,
and owe his life to furious driving. The Gardes-du-Corps (Body-Guards),
which you were drawing out, had better be drawn in again. (Bailly, i.
217.) There is no sending of bayonets to be thought of.

Instead of soldiers, the Oeil-de-Boeuf sends--carpenters, to take down the
platform. Ineffectual shift! In few instants, the very carpenters cease
wrenching and knocking at their platform; stand on it, hammer in hand, and
listen open-mouthed. (Histoire Parlementaire, ii. 23.) The Third Estate
is decreeing that it is, was, and will be, nothing but a National Assembly;
and now, moreover, an inviolable one, all members of it inviolable:
'infamous, traitorous, towards the Nation, and guilty of capital crime, is
any person, body-corporate, tribunal, court or commission that now or
henceforth, during the present session or after it, shall dare to pursue,
interrogate, arrest, or cause to be arrested, detain or cause to be
detained, any,' &c. &c. 'on whose part soever the same be commanded.'
(Montgaillard, ii. 47.) Which done, one can wind up with this comfortable
reflection from Abbe Sieyes: "Messieurs, you are today what you were

Courtiers may shriek; but it is, and remains, even so. Their well-charged
explosion has exploded through the touch-hole; covering themselves with
scorches, confusion, and unseemly soot! Poor Triumvirate, poor Queen; and
above all, poor Queen's Husband, who means well, had he any fixed meaning!
Folly is that wisdom which is wise only behindhand. Few months ago these
Thirty-five Concessions had filled France with a rejoicing, which might
have lasted for several years. Now it is unavailing, the very mention of
it slighted; Majesty's express orders set at nought.

All France is in a roar; a sea of persons, estimated at 'ten thousand,'
whirls 'all this day in the Palais Royal.' (Arthur Young, i. 119.) The
remaining Clergy, and likewise some Forty-eight Noblesse, D'Orleans among
them, have now forthwith gone over to the victorious Commons; by whom, as
is natural, they are received 'with acclamation.'

The Third Estate triumphs; Versailles Town shouting round it; ten thousand
whirling all day in the Palais Royal; and all France standing a-tiptoe, not
unlike whirling! Let the Oeil-de-Boeuf look to it. As for King Louis, he
will swallow his injuries; will temporise, keep silence; will at all costs
have present peace. It was Tuesday the 23d of June, when he spoke that
peremptory royal mandate; and the week is not done till he has written to
the remaining obstinate Noblesse, that they also must oblige him, and give
in. D'Espremenil rages his last; Barrel Mirabeau 'breaks his sword,'
making a vow,--which he might as well have kept. The 'Triple Family' is
now therefore complete; the third erring brother, the Noblesse, having
joined it;--erring but pardonable; soothed, so far as possible, by sweet
eloquence from President Bailly.

So triumphs the Third Estate; and States-General are become National
Assembly; and all France may sing Te Deum. By wise inertia, and wise
cessation of inertia, great victory has been gained. It is the last night
of June: all night you meet nothing on the streets of Versailles but 'men
running with torches' with shouts of jubilation. From the 2nd of May when
they kissed the hand of Majesty, to this 30th of June when men run with
torches, we count seven weeks complete. For seven weeks the National
Carroccio has stood far-seen, ringing many a signal; and, so much having
now gathered round it, may hope to stand.

Chapter 1.5.III.

Broglie the War-God.

The Court feels indignant that it is conquered; but what then? Another
time it will do better. Mercury descended in vain; now has the time come
for Mars.--The gods of the Oeil-de-Boeuf have withdrawn into the darkness
of their cloudy Ida; and sit there, shaping and forging what may be
needful, be it 'billets of a new National Bank,' munitions of war, or
things forever inscrutable to men.

Accordingly, what means this 'apparatus of troops'? The National Assembly
can get no furtherance for its Committee of Subsistences; can hear only
that, at Paris, the Bakers' shops are besieged; that, in the Provinces,
people are living on 'meal-husks and boiled grass.' But on all highways
there hover dust-clouds, with the march of regiments, with the trailing of
cannon: foreign Pandours, of fierce aspect; Salis-Samade, Esterhazy,
Royal-Allemand; so many of them foreign, to the number of thirty thousand,-
-which fear can magnify to fifty: all wending towards Paris and
Versailles! Already, on the heights of Montmartre, is a digging and
delving; too like a scarping and trenching. The effluence of Paris is
arrested Versailles-ward by a barrier of cannon at Sevres Bridge. From the
Queen's Mews, cannon stand pointed on the National Assembly Hall itself.
The National Assembly has its very slumbers broken by the tramp of
soldiery, swarming and defiling, endless, or seemingly endless, all round
those spaces, at dead of night, 'without drum-music, without audible word
of command.' (A. Lameth, Assemblee Constituante, i. 41.) What means it?

Shall eight, or even shall twelve Deputies, our Mirabeaus, Barnaves at the
head of them, be whirled suddenly to the Castle of Ham; the rest
ignominiously dispersed to the winds? No National Assembly can make the
Constitution with cannon levelled on it from the Queen's Mews! What means
this reticence of the Oeil-de-Boeuf, broken only by nods and shrugs? In
the mystery of that cloudy Ida, what is it that they forge and shape?--Such
questions must distracted Patriotism keep asking, and receive no answer but
an echo.

Enough of themselves! But now, above all, while the hungry food-year,
which runs from August to August, is getting older; becoming more and more
a famine-year? With 'meal-husks and boiled grass,' Brigands may actually
collect; and, in crowds, at farm and mansion, howl angrily, Food! Food! It
is in vain to send soldiers against them: at sight of soldiers they
disperse, they vanish as under ground; then directly reassemble elsewhere
for new tumult and plunder. Frightful enough to look upon; but what to
hear of, reverberated through Twenty-five Millions of suspicious minds!
Brigands and Broglie, open Conflagration, preternatural Rumour are driving
mad most hearts in France. What will the issue of these things be?

At Marseilles, many weeks ago, the Townsmen have taken arms; for
'suppressing of Brigands,' and other purposes: the military commandant may
make of it what he will. Elsewhere, everywhere, could not the like be
done? Dubious, on the distracted Patriot imagination, wavers, as a last
deliverance, some foreshadow of a National Guard. But conceive, above all,
the Wooden Tent in the Palais Royal! A universal hubbub there, as of
dissolving worlds: their loudest bellows the mad, mad-making voice of
Rumour; their sharpest gazes Suspicion into the pale dim World-Whirlpool;
discerning shapes and phantasms; imminent bloodthirsty Regiments camped on
the Champ-de-Mars; dispersed National Assembly; redhot cannon-balls (to
burn Paris);--the mad War-god and Bellona's sounding thongs. To the
calmest man it is becoming too plain that battle is inevitable.

Inevitable, silently nod Messeigneurs and Broglie: Inevitable and brief!
Your National Assembly, stopped short in its Constitutional labours, may
fatigue the royal ear with addresses and remonstrances: those cannon of
ours stand duly levelled; those troops are here. The King's Declaration,
with its Thirty-five too generous Articles, was spoken, was not listened
to; but remains yet unrevoked: he himself shall effect it, seul il fera!

As for Broglie, he has his headquarters at Versailles, all as in a seat of
war: clerks writing; significant staff-officers, inclined to taciturnity;
plumed aides-de-camp, scouts, orderlies flying or hovering. He himself
looks forth, important, impenetrable; listens to Besenval Commandant of
Paris, and his warning and earnest counsels (for he has come out repeatedly
on purpose), with a silent smile. (Besenval, iii. 398.) The Parisians
resist? scornfully cry Messeigneurs. As a meal-mob may! They have sat
quiet, these five generations, submitting to all. Their Mercier declared,
in these very years, that a Parisian revolt was henceforth 'impossible.'
(Mercier, Tableau de Paris, vi. 22.) Stand by the royal Declaration, of
the Twenty-third of June. The Nobles of France, valorous, chivalrous as of
old, will rally round us with one heart;--and as for this which you call
Third Estate, and which we call canaille of unwashed Sansculottes, of
Patelins, Scribblers, factious Spouters,--brave Broglie, 'with a whiff of
grapeshot (salve de canons), if need be, will give quick account of it.
Thus reason they: on their cloudy Ida; hidden from men,--men also hidden
from them.

Good is grapeshot, Messeigneurs, on one condition: that the shooter also
were made of metal! But unfortunately he is made of flesh; under his buffs
and bandoleers your hired shooter has instincts, feelings, even a kind of
thought. It is his kindred, bone of his bone, this same canaille that
shall be whiffed; he has brothers in it, a father and mother,--living on
meal-husks and boiled grass. His very doxy, not yet 'dead i' the spital,'
drives him into military heterodoxy; declares that if he shed Patriot
blood, he shall be accursed among men. The soldier, who has seen his pay
stolen by rapacious Foulons, his blood wasted by Soubises, Pompadours, and
the gates of promotion shut inexorably on him if he were not born noble,--
is himself not without griefs against you. Your cause is not the soldier's
cause; but, as would seem, your own only, and no other god's nor man's.

For example, the world may have heard how, at Bethune lately, when there
rose some 'riot about grains,' of which sort there are so many, and the
soldiers stood drawn out, and the word 'Fire!; was given,--not a trigger
stirred; only the butts of all muskets rattled angrily against the ground;
and the soldiers stood glooming, with a mixed expression of countenance;--
till clutched 'each under the arm of a patriot householder,' they were all
hurried off, in this manner, to be treated and caressed, and have their pay
increased by subscription! (Histoire Parlementaire.)

Neither have the Gardes Francaises, the best regiment of the line, shown
any promptitude for street-firing lately. They returned grumbling from
Reveillon's; and have not burnt a single cartridge since; nay, as we saw,
not even when bid. A dangerous humour dwells in these Gardes. Notable men
too, in their way! Valadi the Pythagorean was, at one time, an officer of
theirs. Nay, in the ranks, under the three-cornered felt and cockade, what
hard heads may there not be, and reflections going on,--unknown to the
public! One head of the hardest we do now discern there: on the shoulders
of a certain Sergeant Hoche. Lazare Hoche, that is the name of him; he
used to be about the Versailles Royal Stables, nephew of a poor herbwoman;
a handy lad; exceedingly addicted to reading. He is now Sergeant Hoche,
and can rise no farther: he lays out his pay in rushlights, and cheap
editions of books. (Dictionnaire des Hommes Marquans, Londres (Paris),
1800, ii. 198.)

On the whole, the best seems to be: Consign these Gardes Francaises to
their Barracks. So Besenval thinks, and orders. Consigned to their
barracks, the Gardes Francaises do but form a 'Secret Association,' an
Engagement not to act against the National Assembly. Debauched by Valadi
the Pythagorean; debauched by money and women! cry Besenval and innumerable
others. Debauched by what you will, or in need of no debauching, behold
them, long files of them, their consignment broken, arrive, headed by their
Sergeants, on the 26th day of June, at the Palais Royal! Welcomed with
vivats, with presents, and a pledge of patriot liquor; embracing and
embraced; declaring in words that the cause of France is their cause! Next
day and the following days the like. What is singular too, except this
patriot humour, and breaking of their consignment, they behave otherwise
with 'the most rigorous accuracy.' (Besenval, iii. 394-6.)

They are growing questionable, these Gardes! Eleven ring-leaders of them
are put in the Abbaye Prison. It boots not in the least. The imprisoned
Eleven have only, 'by the hand of an individual,' to drop, towards
nightfall, a line in the Cafe de Foy; where Patriotism harangues loudest on
its table. 'Two hundred young persons, soon waxing to four thousand,' with
fit crowbars, roll towards the Abbaye; smite asunder the needful doors; and
bear out their Eleven, with other military victims:--to supper in the
Palais Royal Garden; to board, and lodging 'in campbeds, in the Theatre des
Varietes;' other national Prytaneum as yet not being in readiness. Most
deliberate! Nay so punctual were these young persons, that finding one
military victim to have been imprisoned for real civil crime, they returned
him to his cell, with protest.

Why new military force was not called out? New military force was called
out. New military force did arrive, full gallop, with drawn sabre: but
the people gently 'laid hold of their bridles;' the dragoons sheathed their
swords; lifted their caps by way of salute, and sat like mere statues of
dragoons,--except indeed that a drop of liquor being brought them, they
'drank to the King and Nation with the greatest cordiality.' (Histoire
Parlementaire, ii. 32.)

And now, ask in return, why Messeigneurs and Broglie the great god of war,
on seeing these things, did not pause, and take some other course, any
other course? Unhappily, as we said, they could see nothing. Pride, which
goes before a fall; wrath, if not reasonable, yet pardonable, most natural,
had hardened their hearts and heated their heads; so, with imbecility and
violence (ill-matched pair), they rush to seek their hour. All Regiments
are not Gardes Francaises, or debauched by Valadi the Pythagorean: let
fresh undebauched Regiments come up; let Royal-Allemand, Salais-Samade,
Swiss Chateau-Vieux come up,--which can fight, but can hardly speak except
in German gutturals; let soldiers march, and highways thunder with
artillery-waggons: Majesty has a new Royal Session to hold,--and miracles
to work there! The whiff of grapeshot can, if needful, become a blast and

In which circumstances, before the redhot balls begin raining, may not the
Hundred-and-twenty Paris Electors, though their Cahier is long since
finished, see good to meet again daily, as an 'Electoral Club'? They meet
first 'in a Tavern;'--where 'the largest wedding-party' cheerfully give
place to them. (Dusaulx, Prise de la Bastille (Collection des Memoires,
par Berville et Barriere, Paris, 1821), p. 269.) But latterly they meet in
the Hotel-de-Ville, in the Townhall itself. Flesselles, Provost of
Merchants, with his Four Echevins (Scabins, Assessors), could not prevent
it; such was the force of public opinion. He, with his Echevins, and the
Six-and-Twenty Town-Councillors, all appointed from Above, may well sit
silent there, in their long gowns; and consider, with awed eye, what
prelude this is of convulsion coming from Below, and how themselves shall
fare in that!

Chapter 1.5.IV.

To Arms!

So hangs it, dubious, fateful, in the sultry days of July. It is the
passionate printed advice of M. Marat, to abstain, of all things, from
violence. (Avis au Peuple, ou les Ministres devoiles, 1st July, 1789 (in
Histoire Parlementaire, ii. 37.) Nevertheless the hungry poor are already
burning Town Barriers, where Tribute on eatables is levied; getting
clamorous for food.

The twelfth July morning is Sunday; the streets are all placarded with an
enormous-sized De par le Roi, 'inviting peaceable citizens to remain within
doors,' to feel no alarm, to gather in no crowd. Why so? What mean these
'placards of enormous size'? Above all, what means this clatter of
military; dragoons, hussars, rattling in from all points of the compass
towards the Place Louis Quinze; with a staid gravity of face, though
saluted with mere nicknames, hootings and even missiles? (Besenval, iii.
411.) Besenval is with them. Swiss Guards of his are already in the
Champs Elysees, with four pieces of artillery.

Have the destroyers descended on us, then? From the Bridge of Sevres to
utmost Vincennes, from Saint-Denis to the Champ-de-Mars, we are begirt!
Alarm, of the vague unknown, is in every heart. The Palais Royal has
become a place of awestruck interjections, silent shakings of the head:
one can fancy with what dolorous sound the noon-tide cannon (which the Sun
fires at the crossing of his meridian) went off there; bodeful, like an
inarticulate voice of doom. (Histoire Parlementaire, ii. 81.) Are these
troops verily come out 'against Brigands'? Where are the Brigands? What
mystery is in the wind?--Hark! a human voice reporting articulately the
Job's-news: Necker, People's Minister, Saviour of France, is dismissed.
Impossible; incredible! Treasonous to the public peace! Such a voice
ought to be choked in the water-works; (Ibid.)--had not the news-bringer
quickly fled. Nevertheless, friends, make of it what you will, the news is
true. Necker is gone. Necker hies northward incessantly, in obedient
secrecy, since yesternight. We have a new Ministry: Broglie the War-god;
Aristocrat Breteuil; Foulon who said the people might eat grass!

Rumour, therefore, shall arise; in the Palais Royal, and in broad France.
Paleness sits on every face; confused tremor and fremescence; waxing into
thunder-peals, of Fury stirred on by Fear.

But see Camille Desmoulins, from the Cafe de Foy, rushing out, sibylline in
face; his hair streaming, in each hand a pistol! He springs to a table:
the Police satellites are eyeing him; alive they shall not take him, not
they alive him alive. This time he speaks without stammering:--Friends,
shall we die like hunted hares? Like sheep hounded into their pinfold;
bleating for mercy, where is no mercy, but only a whetted knife? The hour
is come; the supreme hour of Frenchman and Man; when Oppressors are to try
conclusions with Oppressed; and the word is, swift Death, or Deliverance
forever. Let such hour be well-come! Us, meseems, one cry only befits:
To Arms! Let universal Paris, universal France, as with the throat of the
whirlwind, sound only: To arms!--"To arms!" yell responsive the
innumerable voices: like one great voice, as of a Demon yelling from the
air: for all faces wax fire-eyed, all hearts burn up into madness. In
such, or fitter words, (Ibid.) does Camille evoke the Elemental Powers, in
this great moment.--Friends, continues Camille, some rallying sign!
Cockades; green ones;--the colour of hope!--As with the flight of locusts,
these green tree leaves; green ribands from the neighbouring shops; all
green things are snatched, and made cockades of. Camille descends from his
table, 'stifled with embraces, wetted with tears;' has a bit of green
riband handed him; sticks it in his hat. And now to Curtius' Image-shop
there; to the Boulevards; to the four winds; and rest not till France be on
fire! (Vieux Cordelier, par Camille Desmoulins, No. 5 (reprinted in
Collection des Memoires, par Baudouin Freres, Paris, 1825), p. 81.)

France, so long shaken and wind-parched, is probably at the right
inflammable point.--As for poor Curtius, who, one grieves to think, might
be but imperfectly paid,--he cannot make two words about his Images. The
Wax-bust of Necker, the Wax-bust of D'Orleans, helpers of France: these,
covered with crape, as in funeral procession, or after the manner of
suppliants appealing to Heaven, to Earth, and Tartarus itself, a mixed
multitude bears off. For a sign! As indeed man, with his singular
imaginative faculties, can do little or nothing without signs: thus Turks
look to their Prophet's banner; also Osier Mannikins have been burnt, and
Necker's Portrait has erewhile figured, aloft on its perch.

In this manner march they, a mixed, continually increasing multitude; armed
with axes, staves and miscellanea; grim, many-sounding, through the
streets. Be all Theatres shut; let all dancing, on planked floor, or on
the natural greensward, cease! Instead of a Christian Sabbath, and feast
of guinguette tabernacles, it shall be a Sorcerer's Sabbath; and Paris,
gone rabid, dance,--with the Fiend for piper!

However, Besenval, with horse and foot, is in the Place Louis Quinze.
Mortals promenading homewards, in the fall of the day, saunter by, from
Chaillot or Passy, from flirtation and a little thin wine; with sadder step
than usual. Will the Bust-Procession pass that way! Behold it; behold
also Prince Lambesc dash forth on it, with his Royal-Allemands! Shots
fall, and sabre-strokes; Busts are hewn asunder; and, alas, also heads of
men. A sabred Procession has nothing for it but to explode, along what
streets, alleys, Tuileries Avenues it finds; and disappear. One unarmed
man lies hewed down; a Garde Francaise by his uniform: bear him (or bear
even the report of him) dead and gory to his Barracks;--where he has
comrades still alive!

But why not now, victorious Lambesc, charge through that Tuileries Garden
itself, where the fugitives are vanishing? Not show the Sunday promenaders
too, how steel glitters, besprent with blood; that it be told of, and men's
ears tingle?--Tingle, alas, they did; but the wrong way. Victorious
Lambesc, in this his second or Tuileries charge, succeeds but in
overturning (call it not slashing, for he struck with the flat of his
sword) one man, a poor old schoolmaster, most pacifically tottering there;
and is driven out, by barricade of chairs, by flights of 'bottles and
glasses,' by execrations in bass voice and treble. Most delicate is the
mob-queller's vocation; wherein Too-much may be as bad as Not-enough. For
each of these bass voices, and more each treble voice, borne to all points
of the City, rings now nothing but distracted indignation; will ring all
another. The cry, To arms! roars tenfold; steeples with their metal storm-
voice boom out, as the sun sinks; armorer's shops are broken open,
plundered; the streets are a living foam-sea, chafed by all the winds.

Such issue came of Lambesc's charge on the Tuileries Garden: no striking
of salutary terror into Chaillot promenaders; a striking into broad
wakefulness of Frenzy and the three Furies,--which otherwise were not
asleep! For they lie always, those subterranean Eumenides (fabulous and
yet so true), in the dullest existence of man;--and can dance, brandishing
their dusky torches, shaking their serpent-hair. Lambesc with Royal-
Allemand may ride to his barracks, with curses for his marching-music; then
ride back again, like one troubled in mind: vengeful Gardes Francaises,
sacreing, with knit brows, start out on him, from their barracks in the
Chaussee d'Antin; pour a volley into him (killing and wounding); which he
must not answer, but ride on. (Weber, ii. 75-91.)

Counsel dwells not under the plumed hat. If the Eumenides awaken, and
Broglie has given no orders, what can a Besenval do? When the Gardes
Francaises, with Palais-Royal volunteers, roll down, greedy of more
vengeance, to the Place Louis Quinze itself, they find neither Besenval,
Lambesc, Royal-Allemand, nor any soldier now there. Gone is military
order. On the far Eastern Boulevard, of Saint-Antoine, the Chasseurs
Normandie arrive, dusty, thirsty, after a hard day's ride; but can find no
billet-master, see no course in this City of confusions; cannot get to
Besenval, cannot so much as discover where he is: Normandie must even
bivouac there, in its dust and thirst,--unless some patriot will treat it
to a cup of liquor, with advices.

Raging multitudes surround the Hotel-de-Ville, crying: Arms! Orders! The
Six-and-twenty Town-Councillors, with their long gowns, have ducked under
(into the raging chaos);--shall never emerge more. Besenval is painfully
wriggling himself out, to the Champ-de-Mars; he must sit there 'in the
cruelest uncertainty:' courier after courier may dash off for Versailles;

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