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sixty to be tried at once; and he pro- from their frequency, but their near posed to place at the bar the whole approach to themselves. Their reason prisoners charged with the conspiracy was at length awakened by the revoluin the Luxembourg at one sitting. He tionary fever having exhausted itself; even went so far as to erect a guillotine humanity began to react against the in the court-room, in order to execute ceaseless effusion of human blood, after the prisoners the moment the sentence all their enemies had been destroyed. was pronounced; but Collot d'Herbois It was impossible that pity should not objected to this, as tending “to de- at length be awakened in the breast of moralise punishment.” A guillotine the spectators, for never had such had been prepared, however, with four scenes of woe been exhibited to the
blades placed crosswise, which could public gaze. “ The funeral cars,” says behead four prisoners at once.
the republican historian, Lamartine,
“often held together the husband, wife, 55. But there is a limit to human and all their children. Their implorsuffering-an hour when indignant na ing visages, which mutually regarded ture will no longer submit, and courage each other with the tender expression arises out of despair. That avenging of a last look, the heads of daughters hour was fast approaching. The length- falling on the knees of their mothers, ened files of prisoners daily led to the of wives on the shoulders of their husscaffold had long excited the commi- bands, the pressure of heart against seration of the better classes in Paris ; heart, both of which were so soon to the shops in the Rue St Honoré were cease to beat—now grey hairs and aushut, and its pavement deserted, when burn locks cut by the same scissors, the melancholy procession, moving to now wrinkled heads and charming wards the Place de la Révolution, visages falling under the same axe; the passed along. Alarmed at these signs of slow march of the cortège, the monodissatisfaction, the Committee changed, tonous rolling of the wheels, the hedge as already mentioned, the place of exe- of sabres around the procession, the cution, and fixed it first on the Place stifled sobs of the victims, the hisses St Antoine, and soon after at the Bar of the populace, the cries of the furies rière du Trône, in the Faubourg St of the guillotine -all impressed a Antoine. But even the workmen of mournful character on these assassinathat revolutionary district ere long ma- tions, which seemed to be provided for nifested impatience at the constant re- no other purpose but to serve for the petition of the dismal spectacle. The pastime of the people." middle classes, who constituted the 56. A considerable party in the Constrength of the national guard in Paris, vention eagerly embraced the same senbegan to be alarmed at the rapid pro- timents : their conspicuous situation gress and evident descent of the proscrip- rendered it probable that they would tions. At first the nobles and ecclesi- be among the first victims; and every astics only.were included : by degrees one, in the hope of saving his own life, the whole landed proprietors were ardently prayed for the downfall of the reached; but now the work of destruc- tyrants. It was well known in that tion seemed to be fast approaching Assembly that Robespierre had let fall every class above the lowest. On the some expressions, indicating an intenlists of the Revolutionary Tribunal, in tion to destroy many of its members ; the latter days of the Reign of Terror, and the law of 22d Prairial was regardare to be found tailors, shoemakers, hair- ed as a means of attaining that object. dressers, butchers, farmers, mechanics, The Committee of Public Salvation was and workmen, accused of anti-revolu- not ignorant of these dispositions. But tionary principles. From the 10th these expressions of public feeling only June to the 17th July, that court had inspired the oppressors with greater sentenced twelve hundred and eighty- impatience for human blood. “Let us five persons to death. The people felt put,” said Vadier, “a wall of heads bepity for these proscriptions, not only tween the people and ourselves.” “The
Revolutionary Tribunal,” exclaimed of the immeasurable malice of the Billaud Varennes, "thinks it has made priests, partly of the formidable faction a great effort when it strikes off seventy which the popular axe had destroyed !" heads a-day; but the people are easily It turned the fanatics into derision, habituated to what they always behold: but at the same time denounced them to inspire terror, we must double the as worthy of death ; and they were acnumber.” “How timid you are in the cordingly thrown into prison. The capital !” said Collot d'Herbois ; “ can opponents of Robespierre, in the Comyour ears not stand the sound of artil- mittee and Convention, eagerly seized lery? It is a proof of weakness to exe- hold of this circumstance to connect cute your enemies one after another; his name with the remnants of former you should mow them at once down superstition, and expose it to that most with cannon. The judges of the Re- formidable of all assaults in France, the volutionary Tribunal, many of whom assault of ridicule. Robespierre strove caine from the galleys of Toulon, la- to save these fanatics, but his colleagues boured incessantly at the work of ex- withstood his influence : irritated, he termination, and mingled indecent ri- retired from their meetings, from which baldry and jests with their unrelenting he was absent for the next six weeks, cruelty to the crowds of captives who and confined himself to the club of the were brought before them. An old Jacobins, where his power was still preman, who had lost the use of speech dominant. by a paralytic affection, being placed at 58. Naturally suspicious, the apprethe bar, the president exclaimed, “No hensions of the tyrant now increased matter; it is not his tongue, but his to the highest degree. He had become head, that we want.”
not less fearful of his colleagues than 57. The superstition or vanity of of his enemies. His house was guarded Robespierre furnished the first pretext by a body of Jacobins, armed with for a combination to shake his power. pistols, chiefly composed of jurymen The members of the different commit- from the Revolutionary Tribunal. He tees, alarmed for their own safety, were seldom went out unattended by this secretly endeavouring to undermine his obnoxious band. His table was covered influence, when the fanaticism of an old with letters, in which he was styled the woman, named Catherine Théot, gave “Envoy of God,” the “New Messiah,” them the means of extending their ap- the “New Orpheus.” On every side prehensions to a larger circle. She pro- his likeness was to be seen in marble, claimed herself the mother of God, and announced the approaching arrival of a with thy writings, who strikest terror into
* “Thou who enlightenest the universe regenerating Messiah. An ancient ally tyrants and strengthenest the hearts of the of Robespierre, Dom Gerle, was the people, thou fillest the world with thy renown; associate of her frenzy; they held noc- thy principles are those of nature, thy lanturnal orgies, in which Robespierre was dignity of mankind; a second creator, thou
guage that of humanity; thou restorest the invoked as the Supreme Pontiff. The regeneratist the human race in this world. Committee of Public Salvation, who J. P. BESSOR.”—Papiers trouvés chez Robeswere acquainted with all their proceed- pierre, ii. 116. ings, and from the majority of whom tator of Brutus. All confide in your incor
“Blessed be Robespierre, the worthy imiRobespierre was now almost entirely ruptible zeal. The crown, the triumph, are estranged, beheld, or feigned to behold, applauding citizens bow before the altar we in these extravagances, a design to make shall raise to you, and which posterity will him the head of a new religion, which revere as long as men know the value of might add to the force of political power liberty."-Ibid. ii. 118.
“Your task is written in the book of desthe weight of spiritual fervour. Vadier was intrusted by the Committee with tiny; it will be worthy of your great soul.” the duty of investigating the mysteries : “Nature bas just presented me with a son; his report, which was read amidst loud I have ventured to make him bear the weight
of your name. * laughter in the Convention, represent- Robespierre has ever been, and will by future
I said to myselfed the “conspiracy as the result partly I ages be, regarded as the corner-stone in the
Ibid. ii. 119.
bronze, or canvass, and below each, step in the despair of nations. Founded lines in which the Jacobinical poets ex as a barrier against tyranny, it soon be. tolled him above Cato and Aristides. comes the greatest tyranny itself. It In the bed of Catherine there was saves a day to ruin an age. Rather let found a letter addressed to Robespierre, the day perish, and the future be prein which he was styled “ the Son of the served ; let the people be misled, be Supreme Being,” “the Eternal Word,” injured, even ruined, rather than sub"the Redeemer of the Human Race," jected to that humiliating guardianship "the Messiah designated by the Pro- which, under pretence of saving, in fact phets.” Old women wrote to him in enslaves them. Nations have their the strain of the Song of Simeon, re- childhood, their maturity, their old age joicing they had lived to see the advent -you must watch over the childhood, of the day of salvation. Children over but not bury it. Unity is necessary to the whole Republic were called after the Republic, I admit, but it is unity his name; the admiration with which in institutions, not men; so that, if a he was surrounded approached to idol. man is cut off, the unity may revive in atry. But all his efforts, and all the his successor, on the condition that adulation of his satellites, could not that unity shall not be perpetuated dispel the terrors which had seized his long, and that the first magistrate shall mind. In his desk, after his death, was speedily descend to the rank of a simple found a letter in the following terms: citizen. Many men are useful, none “You yet live ! assassin of your coun- indispensable,—the people alone are try, stained with the purest blood of immortal.” Foiled in this proposal, France. I wait only the time when the Robespierre's friends unceasingly urged people shall strike the hour of your him to the most violent measures. fall. Should my hope prove vain, this Henriot and the mayor of Paris were hand which now writes thy sentence, ready to commencea new massacre, and this hand which thy bewildered eye had a body of three thousand young seeks in vain, this hand which presses assassins ready to aid those of 2d Septhine with horror, shall pierce thee to tember ; St Just and Couthon were to the heart. Every day I am with thee; be relied on in the Committee of Pubevery hour my uplifted arm is ready to lic Salvation; the president Dumas and cut short thy life. Vilest of men ! live the vice-president Coffinhal, were to be yet a few days to be tortured by the depended on in the Revolutionary Trifear of my vengeance; sleep to dream bunal. “Strike soon and strongly," of me; let my image and thy fear be said St Just. “DARE! that is the sole the first prelude of thy punishment. secret of revolutions.” The secret deThis very night, in seeing thee, I shall signs of Robespierre are clearly reenjoy thy terrors : but thy eyes shall vealed in the following letter, written seek in vain my avenging form.” to him at this period by Payan, then
59. His violent partisans strongly mayor of Paris, and entirely devoted urged the immediate adoption of the to his interests : “ The change of all most vigorous measures. They ear- others most essential is, to augment nestly pressed him to assume the dic- the powers of the central government. tatorship, now that the municipality All our authority is useless ; it is alone and the majority of the Convention by augmenting the executive that any were at his feet, and Danton and Hébert good can be done. Would you crush were no more. But he constantly refused, alleging that the unity required * "Le Roi est mort: Vive le Roi." The was in the institutions, not the indivi- same necessity of unity in power, and unduals intrusted with the government. all governments, monarchicai or democratic.
broken succession in that power, is felt by “A dictatorship,” said he, “is the last The only difference is, that the former admits
hereditary succession, the latter contends for structure of our constitution. May it please rotation of office. God that you confide to none other than + “Warn the citizens of France that an inyourself the carrying out of your plans.” famous death awaits all who oppose thc RePapiers trouvés chez Robespierre, ii. 125, 126. volutionary Government. Let those drawing
the refractory deputies, obtain great 60. In a meeting of the Jacobins, held victories in the interior-bring forward on the 3d Thermidor (21st July), he a report which may strike at once prepared the minds of the audience for against all the disaffected. Pass salu-a revolt against the Convention. "The tary decrees to restrain the journals; Assembly," said he, “labouring under render all the public functionaries re- the gangrene of corruption, and unable sponsible to you alone ; let them be in to throw off its impurities, is incapable cessantly occupied in centralising pub- of saving the Republic: both will perish; lic opinion : hitherto your efforts have the proscription of the riots is the been confined to the centralising of order of the day. For myself, I have the physical government. I repeat it: one foot in the grave; in a few days I you require a vast report, which may shall place the other in it: the result embrace at once all the conspirators. is in the hands of Providence. You see Blend them altogether--the Danton between what shoals we are compelled ists, the Royalists, the Orléanists, the to steer; but we shall avoid shipwreck, Hébertists, the Lafayettists, the Bour- Generally speaking, the Convention is donists. Commence the great work.” pure : it is above fear as above crime. They had already marked out Tallien, It has nothing in common with a knot Bourdon de l'Oise, Thuriot, Rovère, of conspirators. For my own part, hapLécointre, Panis, Monestier, Légendre, pen what may, I declare to the counterFréron, Barras, and Cambon, as the revolutionists, who seek theirown safety first victims. But the conspirators had in the ruin of their country, that, deno armed force at their command : the spite all intrigues directed against me, club of the Jacobins, which they wield- I will continue to unmask the traitors, ed at pleasure, was only powerful from and to succour the oppressed." The its weight on public opinion ; the com- Jacobins were by these and similar admittees of government were all arrayed dresses prepared for a revolutionary on the other side. Robespierre, there- movement ; but the secret of the insurfore, was compelled to commence the rection, which was fixed for the 9th attack in the Convention : he expected Thermidor, was confided only to Hen.
sway them by the terror of his voice; riot and the mayor of Paris. or if, contrary to all former precedent, 61. The leaders of the Convention and they held out, his reliance was on the of the committees, on their side, were municipality, and an insurrection of not idle. The immediate pressure of the people, similar to that which had danger had united all parties against been so successful on the 31st May. Robespierre. He made no secret, in the By their aid he hoped to effect the pro popular society, of his resolution to scription of his opponents in the Com- decimate the Convention. At leaving mittee of Public Salvation, and their one of the meetings where his designs associates in the Mountain, as he had had been openly expressed, Barère exformerly done that of the Girondists, claimed, “That Robespierre is insatiand of the Commission of Twelve ; and able ; because we won't do everything measures were in preparation at the he wishes, he threatens to break with Hotel de Ville, for carrying these in- us. If he speaks of Thuriot, Guffroi, tentions into effect. *
Rovère, and all the party of Danton, we up reports make salutary suggestions; and lien, Panis, Carnot, Dubois Crancé, Vadier, let the Committee of Public Safety acquire Javoignes, Fouché, Granet, and Moïse Bayle, more confidence, more importance, and more shall be arrested, that the Convention may authority. Augment, augment the weight be freed from the oppression under which of the central power, to enable it to crush they hold it. A civic crown is offered to the with ease all the conspirators. You could noble citizens who shall arrest these enemies not select a more opportune moment for de- of the people. The same men who overthrew stroying all conspirators."-PAYAN to ROBES- the tyrant, and the faction of Brissot, will PIERRE, 9 Messidor, Ann. 2. Papiers trouvés destroy all these scoundrels, who, by imchez Robespierre, ii. 359, 364.
prisoning some of our best patriots, have * "Decree: Council-General of the com- dared more than Louis XVI.”-Pièce Inédite mune of Paris, 9th Thermidor-Collot d'Her trouvée chez Robespierre; Histoire Parlemenbois, Amar, Leonard Bourdon, Fréron, Tal- | taire, xxxiii, 356.
understand him; even should he de- of public opinion, which daily called mand Tallien, Bourdon de l'Oise, Lé- loudly for a stop to the carnage, Robesgendre, Fréron, we may consent in good pierre began at length to see the necestime; but to ask Duval, Audoin, Leo-sity of arresting the terrible effusion of nard Bourdon, Vadier, Vouland, is out blood, which had doubled in Paris since of the question. To proscribe members he had ceased to attend the Committee of the Committee of General Safety, is of Public Salvation. He meditated the to put the poniard to all our throats." destruction of Collot d'Herbois, Barère, Impressed with these feelings, they re- and Billaud Varennes, as well as nearly solved to stand on their guard; though all the members of the Committee of they did not as yet venture to com- General Safety. He was at length mence an attack on Robespierre, whose awakened to the hopelessness of going name was terrible, and his influence still on destroying till every Royalist, inso much the object of dread. They were triguer, Dantonist, or guilty funetion. indefatigable in their endeavours to dis- ary, was no more ; he became alive to credit him with the public, and held the dreadful nature of the system of meetings every night to concert mea-government when it had ceased to be sures for their common defence. These immediately directed by himself, and meetings were held sometimes at the threatened a dangerous reaction. His house of Barras, sometimes at those of private letters to his brother, during Tallien, Rovère, Bourdon de l'Oise, or the six weeks which preceded his fall, other persons threatened. The extra- deplored the system which was going ordinary, the profound mystery in which forward, and its fatal effect in alienatthe proceedings of Robespierre were ing, by the horror it excited, the supkept, the scaffold ready to cut them off, porters of the Revolution. He was selgave these meetings all the character of dom, between the 15th June and the a dark conspiracy. Robespierre had in- 24th July, to be seen at the Convention; formation that a conspiracy was hatch- but his speeches at the Jacobin club ing against his authority, and the police loudly condemned the cruel measures of furnished him daily with notes on the the committees, professed a disposition proceedings of the conspirators ; but to return at last to a more moderate with such circumspection did they act, system of government, and openly anthat no distinct clue to their designs nounced the necessity of destroying was obtained. Tallien was the leader the tyrants who were oppressing innoof the party-an intrepid man, and an cence throughout France. * He had old supporter of the revolutionary tyranny, but who had been awakened, bate at the Jacobins on 11th July (23 Messi
* This appears more particularly in the deduring his sanguinary mission to Bor- dor) 1794, of which a very imperfect report deaux, to better feelings, by the influ- is preserved. Robespierre then said: "The ence of his beautiful mistress already object of the speaker is to stop the effusion of mentioned, afterwards well known as
human blood shed by crime. The sole desire,
on the contrary, of the authors of these conMadame Tallien, of extraordinary at- spiracies is to slay all patriots, and above all, tractions, and more than masculine to destroy the Convention, since the Comfirmness of character.
mittee has indicated the views from which it
must be cleansed. 62. Meanwhile the leaders of the op- pointed out the errors of crime, and defended
Who have unremittingly posite parties, who now divided equally the betrayed patriots ? Is it not the members the committees and the Convention, of the Committee? Those who demand juswere diverging from each other as much tice can be objects of terror to the chief's of
the factions alone; and those who wish to in the measures which were severally destroy the members of the Committee in advocated, as in the preparations they public opinion can only design to serve the were making for mutual hostility. Al- projects of the tyrants interested in the fall
of a committee which denounces, and will ienated from his colleagues in the com- speedily annihilate them."-Journal de la Monmittees, disgusted with the universal tagne, 24 Messidor, 1794, No. 77, vol. v. p. 25. turpitude and corruption with which Napoleon was of opinion that the character government was surrounded, and seri- of Robespierre had been too severely handled
by subsequent writers. “ He was of opinously alarmed at the growing influence ion,” says Las Cases, that Robespierre had