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the feelings of mercy.* The national | By successive purifications, as they were guard was universally devoted to their called, all those who retained any senwill, and proved the ready instrument timents of humanity, any tendency toof the most sanguinary measures. The wards moderation, were expelled, and armies, victorious on every side, warm- none left but men of iron, steeled ly supported their energetic adminis- against every approach to mercy. The tration, and made the frontiers resound Club in this way at length became the with the praise of the government. complete quintessence of cruelty, and Strong in the support of such powerful the focus of the most fearful revolutionbodies, the fanatical leaders of the Re- ary energy. It was its extraordinary volution boldly and universally began energy and extensive influence, and the the work of extermination. The man- absolute direction it had obtained over dates of death issued from the capital, all the affiliated clubs and departments, and a thousand guillotines were instant- which constituted the real secret of ly raised throughout the towns and vil- Robespierre's power. Never had Turklages of France. Amidst the roar of ish sultan so faithful a body of janizaries cannon, the rolling of drums, and the attached to his cause; never Romish sound of the tocsin, the suspected were pontiff so energetic a spiritual militia everywhere arrested, while the young under his orders. It was the magnitude and active were marched off to the de- of their crimes against all classes, the fence of the country. Fifteen hundred certainty of punishment if he were overbastiles, spread through the depart- turned by any, which was the secret of ments, soon groaned with the multitude their fidelity. The influence of this Club of captives; and these being insufficient daily augmented in the latter stages of to contain their numbers, the monaste- the Reign of Terror. As he approached ries, the palaces, the chateaus, were ge- the close of his career, Robespierre, susnerally employed as temporary places picious of the Convention and the of confinement. The abodes of festivity, Mountain, rested almost entirely on the palaces of kings, the temples of re- that chosen band of adherents, whose ligion, were filled with victims; fast as emissaries ruled with absolute sway the the guillotine did its work, it could not municipality and the departments. reap the harvest of death which every- 16. Eight thousand prisoners were where presented itself; and the crowd soon accumulated in the different places ed state of the prisons soon produced of confinement in Paris; the number contagious fevers, which swept off thou- throughout France exceeded two hunsands of their unhappy inmates. dred thousand. The condition of such
15. To support these violent measures, a multitude of captives was necessarily the utmost care was taken to preserve in miserable in the extreme; the prisons full vigour the democratic spirit in the of the Conciergerie, of the Force, and Clubof the Jacobins, the centre of the re- the Mairie, were more horrible than any volutionary action throughout France. in Europe. All the comforts which,
during the first months of the Reign of * "The tribunals ought to go direct to the Terror, were allowed to the captives of point, and strike without pity all the comfortune, had of late been withdrawn. tribunals; they ought to remember that the Such luxuries, it was said, were an inmen who were not in favour of the Revolu- supportable indulgence to the rich aristion were against it, and did nothing for tocrats, while, without the prison walls, dividual feeling ought to cease ; it should ex: the poor were starving for want. In pand so as to embrace the Republic. Every consequence they established refectoman who escapes from the national justice is ries, where the whole prisoners, of a miscreant who will one day cause the death whatever rank or sex, were allowed of republicans whom you ought to watch over. You have a great mission to fulfil; forget that only the coarsest and most unwholenature made you a man with feeling. In the some fare. None were permitted to exercise of popular commissions, individual purchase better provisions for themtice, is a crime.”—PAYAN, juré révol. de Paris. selves; and, to prevent the possibility Papiers trouvés chez Robespierre, ii. 370. of their doing so, a rigorous search was made for money of every description, The day before his execution, the poet which was all taken from the captives. Ducorneau composed a beautiful ode, Some were even denied the sad conso- which was sung in chorus by the whole lation of bearing their misfortunes to- prisoners, and repeated, with a slight gether; and to the terrors of solitary variation, after his execution. + At confinement were added those of death, other times the scene changed; in the which daily became more urgent and midst of their ravings the prisoners inevitable. The prodigious numbers first destined for the scaffold were transwho were thrust into the prisons, far ported by the Phedon of Plato and the exceeding all possible accommodation, death of Socrates; infidelity in its last produced the most frightful filth in moments betook itself with delight to some places, the most insupportable the sublime belief of the immortality crowding in all : and, as the ineffable of the soul. The prisoners whose hearts result of these, joined to the scanty fare were overflowing with domestic sorrow, and deep depression of these gloomy were in a peculiar manner open to the abodes, contagion made rapid progress, generous emotions ; friendships were and mercifully relieved many from their formed in a few hours; common dansufferings. But this only aggravated gers excited a universal and mutual the sufferings of the survivors; the bo- sympathy; even the passion of love was dies were overlooked or forgotten, and often felt on the verge of the tomb. often not removed for days together. The universal uncertainty of life, comNot content with the real terrors which bined with the multitude exposed to they presented, the ingenuity of the similar chances, induced both a warm jailers was exerted to produce imagin- sympathy in hearts which in other ary anxiety; the long nights were fre- circumstances might have remained quently interrupted by visits from the strangers to it, and a strange indifferexecutioners, solely intended to excite ence to individual fate. Religion penealarm; the few hours of sleep allowed trated those gloomy abodes, and often to the victims were broken by the rat- lent its never-failing support to suftling of chains and unbarring of doors, fering humanity : and nothing astoto induce the belief that their fellow-nished the few who escaped from conprisoners were about to be led to the finement so much as the want of scaffold; and the warrants for death sympathy for the sufferings of managainst eighty persons in one place of kind which generally prevailed in the confinement, were made the means of world. keeping six hundred in agony.
18. From the farthest extremities of 17. Despair of life, recklessness of the France crowds of prisoners daily arrived future, produced their usual effects on at the gates of the Conciergerie, which the unhappy crowd of captives. Some successively sent forth its bands of vicsank into sullen indifference; others in tims to the scaffold. Grey hairs and dulged in immoderate gaiety, and sought youthful forms; countenances blooming to amuse life even at the foot of the scaf- with health, and faces worn with suffer. fold. The greater part walked about, un- ing; beauty and talent, rank and virtue, able to bear the torture of thought when were indiscriminately rolled together to sitting still; few remained at rest,— the fatal doors. With truth might have “Supin giaceva in terra alcuna gente; been written over the portals what Alcuna si sedea tutta raccolta,
Dante placed over the entrance of his Ed altra andava continuamente.
# In the transport of the moment another
exclaimed in extempore verse* “On the earth some lay supine,
“ Amis ! combien il a d'attraits Some crouching close were seated, others pac'd L'instant où s'unissent nos âmes ! Incessantly around; the latter tribe
Le coeur juste est toujours en paix; More numerous; those fewer who beneath
O doux plaisir que n'eut jamais
L'ambitieux avec ses trames !
“Per me si va nella città dolente;
19. The female prisoners, on entering Per me si va nell' eterno dolore; Per me si va tra la perduta gente.
the jails, and frequently during the
course of their detention, were subjectLasciate ogni speranza, voi ch' entrate."* ed to indignities so shocking that they Sixty persons often arrived in a day, were often worse than death itself. and as many were on the following Under the pretence of searching for morning sent out to execution. Night concealed articles, money, or jewels, and day the cars incessantly discharg- they were obliged to undress in presence ed victims into the prisons : weeping of their brutal jailers, who, if they were mothers and trembling orphans, grey- young or handsome, subjected them to haired sires and youthful innocents, searches of the most rigorous and rewere thrust in without mercy with the volting description.g This process was brave and the powerful: the young, the so common that it acquired a name, beautiful, the unfortunate, seemed in a and was called “ Rapiotage.” Many peculiar manner the prey of the assas- monsters made their fortunes by this sins. Nor were the means of emptying infamous robbery. A bed of straw alone the prisons augmented in a less fearful awaited the prisoners when they arprogression. Fifteen only were at first rived in their wretched cells : the heat placed on the chariot, but the number was such, from the multitudes thrust was soon augmented to thirty, and gra- into them, that they were to be seen dually rose to seventy or eighty persons, crowding to the windows, with pale who daily were sent forth to the place and cadaverous countenances, striving of execution; when the fall of Robes- through the bars to inhale the fresh pierre put a stop to the murders, ar- air. Fathers and mothers, surrounded rangements had been made for increas- by their weeping children, long remaining the daily number to one hundred ed locked in each other's arms, in and fifty.t An immense aqueduct, to agonies of grief, when the fatal hour of remove the gore, had been dug from separation arrived. The parents were the Seine as far as the Place St Antoine, in general absorbed in the solemn rewhere latterly the executions took place; flections which the near approach of and four men were daily employed in death seldom fails to awaken ; but the emptying the blood of the victims into children, with frantic grief, clung with that reservoir.
their little hands round their necks,
and loudly implored to be placed, still *"Through me you pass into the city of woe; embraced in each other's arms, under Through me you pass into eternal pain;
the guillotine. Through me among the people lost foraye; All hope abandon, ye who enter here."
20. The condition of the prisoners in DANTE, Inferno, iii. 1. these jails of Paris, where above ten + " They had arranged everything, so as to thousand persons were at last confined, be able to send 150 at a time to the place of was dreadful beyond what imagination execution. Already an immense aqueduct, to could conceive. carry off the flow of blood, had been bored in the Place St Antoine. Every day human blood poured into buckets, and at the hour of exe
“ La prisonnière en entrant est fouillée, cution four men were occupied in emptying volée : on ne lui laisse que son mouchoir; them into this aqueduct.” ---RIOUFFE, Sur les couteau, ciseaux, argent, assignats, or et biPrisons, $4; Rér. Mémoires, xxiii. 84.
joux-tout est pris : vous entrez nu et dé
pouillé. Ce brigandage s'appelle rapioter. : « Α, τοι ποτ' ήγαγες με και προς ποιαν στεγην και Les femmes offraient à la brutalité des geoliers
Προς την Ατρειδων" ει συ μη τοδ' εννοεις tout ce qui pouvait éveiller leurs féroces déΜισοθεον μεν ουν, πολλα συνιστορα
sirs et leurs dégoûtants propos : les plus Αυτοφονα κακα τε καρταναι
jeunes étaient déshabillées, fouillées: la cupiΑνδρος σφαγειον και πεδoν ραντηριον.”
dité satisfaite, la lubricité s'éveille; et ces ÆSCHYLUS, Agum. 1050.
infortunées, les yeux baissés, tremblantes, “Whither do you lead me? To what éplorées dévant ces bandits, ne pouvaient bourne? To the house of the Atreides, if you cacher à leurs yeux ce que la pudeur même do not already know it-dwelling abhorred dérobe à l'amour trop heureux. Cet affreux of Heaven-human shainble-house, and fioor brigandage a fait la fortune de ces monstres." blood-bespattered.” Verily, says Bulwer, no - Tableaux des Prisons de Paris pendant la prophet like the poet.
Terreur, 1797, vol. ii. 84, VOL. III.
“No light; but rather darkness visible
disgusting circumstances the only deServed only to discover sights of woe. Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where gradation which awaited the unhappy peace
prisoners. No one could conceive the And rest can never dwell: hope never comes, woeful state to which the human species That comes to all; but torture without end
can be reduced, who had not witnessed Still urges.
the calling of the roll in the evening, The following description is from an when three or four turnkeys, each with eyewitness of these horrors: the fasti- half a dozen fierce dogs held in a leash, diousness of modern manners may re-call the unhappy prisoners to answer volt at some of its details, but the truth to their names, threatening, swearing, of history requires that they should be and insulting, while they are supplirecorded. " From the outer room, cating, weeping, imploring: often they where examinations are conducted, you ordered them to go out and come in enter by two enormous doors into the three or four times over, till they were dungeons-infected and damp abodes, satisfied that the trembling troop was where large rats carry on a continual complete. The cells for the women war against the unhappy wretches who were as horrid as those for the men, are there accumulated together, gnaw- equally dark, humid, filthy, crowded, ing their ears, noses, and clothing, and and suffocating: and it was there that depriving them of a moment's respite all the rank and beauty of Paris was even by sleep. Hardly ever does daylight assembled.” penetrate into these gloomy abodes : 21. It was three in the afternoon the straw which composes the litter of when the melancholy procession set out the prisoners soon becomes rotten from from the Conciergerie; the troop slowly want of air, and from the ordure and passed through the vaulted passages of excrement with which it is covered; the prison, amidst crowds of captives, and such is the stench thence arising, who gazed with insatiable avidity on that a stranger, on entering the door, the aspect of those about to undergo a feels as if he were suffocating. The fate which might so soon become their prisoners are all either in what are called own. The higher orders in general the straw chambers or in the dungeons. behaved with firmness and serenity; Thus poverty is there regarded as a silently they marched to death, with fresh crime, and leads to the most dread their eyes fixed on the firmament, lest ful punishment; for a lengthened abode their looks should betray their indig. in these horrid receptacles is worse nation. Numbers of the lower class than death itself. The dungeons are piteously bewailed their fate, and called never opened but for inspection, to give heaven and earth to witness their innofood to the prisoners, or to empty the cence. The pity of the spectators was vases. The superior class of chambers, in a peculiar manner excited by the called the straw apartments, do not bands of females led out together to differ from the dungeons except in this, execution ; fourteen young women of that their inhabitants are permitted to Verdun, of the most attractive forms, go out at eight in the morning, and to were cut off together. “ The day after remain out till an hour before sunset. their execution,” says Riouffe," the During the intervening period, they court of the prison looked like a garden are allowed to walk in the court, or bereaved of its flowers by a tempest." huddle together in the galleries which On another occasion, twenty women of surround it, where they are suffocated Poitou, chiefly the wives of peasants, by infectious odours. There is the were placed together on the chariot ; same accumulation of horror in their some died on the way, and the wretches sleeping chambers: no air, rotten straw, guillotined their lifeless remains; one and perhaps fifty prisoners thrust into kept her infant in her bosom till she one hole, with their heads lying on their reached the foot of the scaffold; the own filth, surrounded by every species executioners tore the innocent from her of dirt and contagion. Nor were these breast, as she suckled it for the last * Paradise Lost, i. 63.
time, and the screams of maternal agony
were only stifted with her life. In re- The tuneful feather'd kind forget their lays, moving the prisoners from the jail of
And shivering tremble on the naked sprays;
Ev'n the rude seas, composed, forget to the Maison Lazare, one of the women declared herself with child, and on the And freezing billows stiffen on the shore." point of delivery : the hard-hearted
LUCAN, Pharsalia, i. 258. jailers compelled her to move on: she Every one assumed the coarsest dress did so, uttering piercing shrieks, and at and the most squalid appearance; an length fell on the ground, and was de- elegant exterior would have been the livered of an infant in presence of her certain forerunner of destruction. At persecutors.*
one hour only were any symptoms of 22. Such accumulated horrors an- animation to be seen; it was when the nihilated all the charities and inter- victims were conveyed to execution. course of life. Before daybreak the The humane fled with horror from the shops of the provision merchants were sight; the infuriated rushed in crowds besieged by crowds of women and chil- to satiate their eyes with the spectacle dren clamouring for the food which the of human agony. Night came, but with law of the maximum in general prevent it no diminution of the anxiety of the ed them from obtaining. The farmers people. Every family early assembled trembled to bring their produce to the its members; with trembling looks they market, the shopkeepers to expose it to gazed round the room, fearful that the sale. The richest quarters of the town very walls might harbour traitors. The were deserted; no equipages orcrowds of sound of a foot, the stroke of a hammer, passengers were to be seen on thestreets; a voice in the streets, froze all hearts the sinister words, Propriété Nationale, with horror. If a knock was heard at imprinted in large characters on the the door, every one, in agonised suswalls, everywhere showed how far the pense, expected his fate. Unable to enwork ofconfiscation had proceeded. Pas- dure such protracted misery, numbers sengers hesitated to address their most committed suicide. I “Had the reign intimate friends on meeting; the ex- of Robespierre," says Fréron, "contitent of calamity had rendered men sus nued longer, multitudes would have picious even of those they loved the thrown themselves under the guillotine; most.
the first of social affections, the love of “In secret murmurs thus they sought relief, life, was already extinguished in almost While no bold voice proclaim'd aloud their
every heart.” grief. O'er all one deep, one horrid silence reigns;
23. In the midst of these unparalleled As when the rigour of the winter's chains,' atrocities, the Convention were occuAll nature, heaven and earth at once con pied with the establishment of the civic strains:
virtues. Robespierre pronounced a dis* "In one of these removals devised for the course on the qualities suited to a repurpose of harassing the miserable prisoners, public. He dedicated a certain number Dumoutier arrived at four in the morning, followed by a large car to carry off the female
"Omai le stragi, prisoners. One of them, who was near her Le violenze, le rapine, l'onte, confinement, having been rudely awoke, felt Son lieve male; il pessimo e dei mali symptoms indicating an immediate seizure.
L'alto tremor, che i cuori tutti ingombra: She implored to be permitted to remain a Non che parlar, neppur osan mirarsi few days: she was accused of imposture; she L'un l'altro in volto i cittadini incerti: was not listened to; her reiterated prayers, her tears, the entreaties of her companions
Tanto è il sospetto e il diffidar, che trema
Del fratello il fratel, del figlio il padre : all were in vain : she had to march with the
Corrotti i vili, intimoriti i buoni, others. This youthful victim dragged herself Negletti i dubbii, trucidati i prodi, along, supported by several men, uttering Ed avviliti tutti: ecco quai sono cries of agony and despair. Scarcely had she
Quei già superbi cittadin di Roma, crossed the garden and reached the threshold
Terror finora, oggi d'Italia scherno. of the door, when her pains returned with redoubled violence: there was barely time to
ALFIERI, Virginia, Act iii. scene 2: get her conveyed to a neighbouring chamber: “Pars animam laqueo claudunt, mortisque she fell upon a bed, and was delivered in the timorem presence of this savage and his myrmidons.” Morte fugant; ultroque vocant venientia -Tableau de la Maison Lazare, p. 226, vol. fata." xxiii.; Rév. Mém.
OVID, Metam. vii. 605.