Page images
PDF
EPUB

to

even gone so far as to frame a ministry, | days before the fall of Robespierre, the to be formed after he had destroyed his Committee of Public Salvation, enemies in the committees. Hermann judge more quickly the enemies of the was to be intrusted with the home ad- people, in detention over the whole Reministration ; Payan and Julien with public,” had agreed to a decree appointpublic instruction; Buchot or Fourcède ing four popular commissions, to try with foreign affairs ; d'Albarade with without juries the whole prisoners in the marine; and Henriot was to be the different jails in the departments. * mayor of Paris.

The name of Robespierre is not affixed 63. During Robespierre's secession to this resolution; but it was entirely from the Committee of Public Salvation, in conformity with a plan which Payan, however, that terrible body had lost his intimate friend, proposed to him, in none of its fearful and bloodthirsty order to dispose of nine thousand prienergy. The daily executions in the soners at Orange, who were summarily capital had doubled, and now sometimes judged by a commission sent down from rose as high as seventy or eighty in a Paris, which destroyed them with unday; and on the 6th Thermidor, three heard-of rapidity.t And from a manu

neither talent, nor force, nor system; that having misunderstood Robespierre, and taken
he was the true emissary of the Revolution, who a citizen for a tyrant.”—LEVASSEUR, iv. 110,
was sacrificed the moment that he strove to 111. If this be true, it only augments the
arrest it in its course the fate of all those weight of the moral lesson to be derived from
who before himself had engaged in the at their history—that, even by such men, a re-
tempt; but that he was by no means the mon- turn to order and justice was found to be in-
ster that was commonly believed." “Robes dispensable, but that even to them the at-
pierre,” said he, “was at last desirous to stop tempt at such a return was fatal.—LAMAR-
the public executions. He had not been at the TINE, Hist. des Girondins, viii. 241.
committees for six weeks before his fall; and * “The Committees of Public Safety and of
in his letters to his brother, who was attach- General Security decree-
ed to the army at Nice-letters which I my- 1. In three days citizens shall be appoint-
self saw-he deplored the atrocities which were ed to fulfil the duties of the four popular com-
going forward, as ruining the Revolution by missions created by the decree of the 13th
the pity which they excited. Cambacérès, Ventose.
who is to be regarded as an authority for that “2. They shall sit in judgment upon all those
epoch, said to me, in relation to the condem- arrested in the prisons of the departments.
nation of Robespierre, ‘Sire, that was a case “3. Their sittings shall be at Paris.
in which judgment was pronounced without 4. The judgments of these commissions
hearing the accused.' (“Un procès jugé, mais shall be revised by the Committees of Public
non plaidé.') You may add to that, that his Safety and General Security.
intentions were different from what is gene- “5. A district comprising several depart-
rally supposed. He had a plan, after having ments shall be assigned to each commission.
overturned the furious factions whom he (Signed) B. Barère, Dubarran, C. A. Prieur,
required to combat, to have returned to a Louis du Bas Rhin, Lavicomterie, Collot
system of order and moderation." “Some d'Herbois, Carnot, Couthon, R. Lindet, Saint
time before his fall,” said Cambacérès, “he Just, Billaud Varennes, Vouland, Vadier,
pronounced a discourse on that subject, full Amar, M. Bayle.” Histoire Parlementaire,
of the greatest beauties: it was not permitted xxxiii. 395.
to be inserted in the Moniteur, and all traces + From nine to ten thousand persons to be
of it have, in consequence, been lost.”—LAS tried at Orange ; the impossibility of convey-
Cases, i. 366. This is the one already referred | ing them to Paris. It is proposed, 1. To
to, pronounced at the Jacobins, 23 Messidor appoint a Revolutionary Tribunal to sit at
(11th July) 1794, Journal de la Montagne, v. Orange, for the purpose of judging the anti-
25, No. 77. Levasseur de la Sarthe also stren- revolutionists of the departments of Vancluse
uously supports the same opinion, main- and the Months of the Rhone. 2. To com-
taining that Robespierre was cut off just at pose this tribunal of a public accuser and six
the moment when he was preparing to return judges. 3. Its power shall be divided into
to a system of humanity and beneficence. two sections. 4. It shall judge upon revolu-
“What think you of Robespierre?” said some tionary principles, without written instructions,
one to Levasseur at Brussels, in his old age. and without the intervention of a jury." This
“Robespierre!" answered he, do not men- Tribunal accordingly was instituted, and the
tion his name; it is all I regret: the Moun- president in a few days wrote to Payan—“In
tain was under a cloud when it sacrificed the first six days of our operation we have
him.”

Vadier, an exile, and ninety years of done more than the Revolutionary Tribunal age, was of the same opinion. “I am ninety- of Nimes in a month; we have given a huntwo," said he in his old age; "the force of dred and ninety-seven judgments in eighteen my opinion is daily increasing. There is but days.”Deux Amis, xii. 344, 345, and Papiers onc act of my life which I regret, and that is | Inédits trouvés chez Robespierre, i. 77, 372.

[ocr errors]

scriptnote in his own handwriting, found fend myself. You will not be taken by among Robespierre's papers after his surprise, for you have nothing in comdeath, there is one which openly an mon with the tyrants who attack me. nounces the intention of cutting off the The cries of oppressed innocence will whole middle classes, and for that pur- not offend your ears; their cause cannot pose arming against them the lower. be alien to you. Tyrants seek to deVadier, Amar, Vouland, and the other stroy the cause of freedom by giving members of the Committee of General it the name of tyranny ; patriots reply Safety, vied with Collot d'Herbois and only by the force of truth. Think not Billaud Varennes in that of Public Sal. I am here to prefer accusations ; I am vation, in measures of extermination. coming to discharge duty-to unfold So familiar had the work of destruction the hideous plots which threaten the become, that it had grown into a subject ruin of the Republic. We have not been of merriment. “This is well; the crop too severe. I call to witness the Reis large; the baskets will be filled,” said public, which yet breathes--the Conone, when signing a long list “for exe- vention, surrounded by the respect of cution." “I could not help laughing the people—the patriots, who groan in at the figure these wretches cut on the the dungeons which wretches have scaffold,” exclaimed another. “I often opened for them. It is not we who go to see the executions,” said a third; have plunged the patriots into prisons; "come to-morrow, there will be a grand it is the monsters whom we have acdisplay.” In effect, the members of the cused. It is not we who, forgetting the committees sometimes went to contem- crimes of the aristocracy, and protecting plate the last moments of their victims the traitors, have declared war against from some of the neighbouring win. peaceable citizens, and erected into dows.

crimes things indifferent, to find guilty 64. At length, on the 8th Thermidor persons everywhere, and render the (26th July), the contest began in the Revolution terrible even to the people; National Convention. The discourse of it is the monsters whom we have to Robespierre, which he had composed accuse. the day before in the solitudes of the They call me a tyrant. If I were forest of Montmorency, under the in- so, they would fall at my feet: I should spiration of the genius of Rousseau, was have gorged them with gold, assured dark and enigmatical, but earnest and them of impunity to their crimes, and eloquent. He wore the dress in which they would have worshipped me. Had he had appeared at the fête of the Su- I been so, the kings whom we have conpreme Being on the 7th June. “ Citi- quered would have been my most corzens,” said he, “let others lay before dial supporters. It is by the aid of you flattering pictures ; I will unveil the scoundrels you arrive at tyranny. Whireal truth. I come not to increase ter-ther tend those who combat them? To rors spread abroad by perfidy; I come the tomb and immortality! Who is the to defend your outraged authority, and tyrant that protects me ? What is the violated independence: I will also de- faction to which I belong? It is your

selves! What is the party which, since “One will is requisite-one alone. Our the commencement of the Revolution, internal dangers spring from the bourgeois has crushed all other factions—has anclasswe must summon the people. The sansculottes must be paid and kept in the towns. nihilated so many specious traitors? It They must be provided with arms, and show is yourselves; it is the people; it is the that the insurrection spreads from one to an force of principles ! This is the party to other on the same principle. Writers must which I am devoted, and against which be proscribed as the most dangerous enemies of their country, and, above all, guilty deputies crime is everywhere leagued. I am and administrators must be punished. If ready to lay down my life without rethese deputies are sent, the Republic is lost." -- Note écrite de la main de Robespierre; Deux the future. What lover of his country

gret. I have seen the past; I foresee Amis, xii. 353. Papiers trouvés chez Robespierre, i. 36, ii. 15.

would wish to live when he can no longer VOL. III.

*

succour oppressed innocence? Why (mittee against that of Public Salvation; should he desire to remain in an order even some members of this latter have of things where intrigue eternally tri- been infected; and the coalition thus umphs over truth; where justice is formed seeks to ruin the country. What deemed an imposture; where the vilest is the remedy for the evil ? To punish passions, the most ridiculous fears, fill the traitors; to purge the committees every heart, instead of the sacred in- of their unworthy members; to place terests of humanity? Who can bear the the Committee of General Safety under punishment of seeing that horrible suc- the control of that of Public Salvation; cession of traitors more or less skilful in to establish the unity of government concealing their hideous vices under the under the auspices of the Convention; mask of virtue, and who will leave to and thus to crush faction under the posterity the difficult task of determin- weight of the national representation, ing which was the most atrocious ? In and raise on its ruins the power of juscontemplating the multitude of vices tice and freedom." which the Revolution has let loose pell 65. This speech was received with mell with the civic virtues, I own I breathless attention; not a sound was sometimes fear I shall be sullied in the heard during its delivery; not a whisper eyes of posterity by their calumnies. of applause followed its close. At the But I am consoled by the reflection proposal that it should be printed, the that, if I have seen in history all the first symptoms of resistance began. defenders of liberty overwhelmed by ca- Bourdon de l'Oise opposed its publicalumny, I have seen their oppressors die tion; but, Barère having supportedit, the also. The good and the bad disappear Convention, fearful of committing itself alike from the earth; but in very differ- openly with its enemies, agreed to the ent conditions. No, Chaumette! 'Death proposal. The members of the Commitis not an eternal sleep!'—Citizens, efface tee of General Safety, seeing the majority from the tombs that maxim engraven wavering, deemed it now necessary to by sacrilegious hands, which throws a take decisive steps. “It is no longer funereal pall over nature, which dis- time,” said Cambon, "for dissembling : courages oppressed innocence : write one man paralyses the Assembly, and rather, “Death is the commencement of that man is Robespierre.”.

."_“We must immortality !' I leave to the oppressors pull the mask off any countenance on of the people a terrible legacy, which which it is placed,” said Billaud Vawell becomes the situation in which I rennes; “I would rather that my caram placed: it is the awful truth, 'Thou cass served for a throne to the tyrant, shalt die!'

than render myself by my silence the “We no longer tread on roses; we accomplice of his crimes.” “ It is not are marching on a volcano. For six enough,” said Vadier, “ for him to be a weeks I have been reduced to a state of tyrant; he aims further, like a second impotence in the Committee of Public Mahomet, at being proclaimed the enSalvation; during that time has faction voy of God.” Fréron proposed to throw been better restrained, or the country off the hated yoke of the committees. more happy ? Representatives of the “The moment is at last arrived,” said people, the time has arrived when you he, "to revive the liberty of opinion. should assume the attitude which befits I propose that the Assembly shall reyou; you are not placed here to be go verse the decree which permitted the verned, but to govern the depositaries arrest of the representatives of the peoof your confidence. Let it be spoken ple; who can debate with freedom when out at once: a conspiracy exists against imprisonment is hanging over his head?” the public freedom; it springs from a Some applause followed this proposal ; criminal intrigue in the bosom of the but Robespierre was felt to be too Convention; that intrigue is conducted powerful to be overthrown by the Conby the members of the Committee of vention, unaided by the committees : General Safety; the enemies of the Re- this extreme measure therefore was republic have contrived to array that Com- Ijected, and the Assembly contenteditself

with reversing the decree which ordered to exist."* Couthon then proposed the the publication of his address, and sent immediate expulsion of all the members it to the committees for examination. of the Convention who had voted against "Had Robespierre,” said Barère, " for the printing of Robespierre'sspeech, and the last four decades attended the com- they were instantly, including Collot mittee, or attended to its operations, d'Herbois and Billaud Varennes, forcihe would have suppressed his address. bly turned out, in the midst of mingled You must banish from your thoughts hisses and menaces. During all the the word accused.In the end Robes- night, Robespierre made arrangements pierre retired, surprised at the resist- for the disposal of his partisans on the ance he had experienced, but still con- following day. Their point of rendezfident of success on the following day, vous were fixed at the Hotel de Ville, from the contemplated insurrection of where they were to be in readiness to the Jacobins and of the municipality, receive his orders from the National and the unbounded influence which he Convention. had long enjoyed with the people. 67. The two committees, on their

66. In the evening he repaired to the side, were not idle. During the whole popular society, where he was received night they sat in deliberation. It was with enthusiasm. Henriot, Dumas, Cof- felt by every one that a combination of finhal, and his other satellites, sur- all parties was required to shake the rounded him, and declared themselves redoubted power of Robespierre. All ready for action. After reading the their efforts, accordingly, were directed speech he had delivered in the Conven- to this object. St Just continued firm tion, Robespierre said, “That speech is to his leader; but, by unremitting exmy last testament. I see how it is: the ertions, the Jacobins of the Mountain league against me is so powerful that I succeeded in forming a coalition with cannot hope to escape it. I die with the leaders of the Plain and of the Right. out regret. I bequeath to you my Tallien, who was the life of the conspimemory. You will defend it."

-"No; racy, was stimulated to exertion by the you shall live, or we shall die toge- danger of Theresa de Fontenay, who ther," exclaimed the people from the was in prison, and threatened with ingalleries. “No,” he replied ; “ I have stant death if the power of Robespierre read to you my testament; my death was not immediately destroyed. She bed testament." Upon these words, pro- had contrived, by bribing the jailers, nounced in a solemn and mournful to send a note written with blood to tone, sobs were heard in all parts of the him, which was secretly put into his hall. Coffinhal, Duplay, Payan, Buona- hand in the street, by a female who inrotti, Lebas, David, rose at once and stantly disappeared, which announced conjured him not to despair, but to save her trial for the succeeding day.+ This them, the country, and himself. “I intelligence stimulated his efforts, and know," said Henriot, “the road to the he was indefatigable in his endeavours Convention, and I am ready to take it to bring about the requisite coalition of again.”—“Go,” said Robespierre, parate the wicked from the weak; de- the 9th Thermidor, he had said this. "Robes

* David, much to his credit, admitted, after liver the Assembly from the wretches pierre called out that it only remained for who enthral it; render it the service him to drink the hemlock. I said to him, 'I which it expects from you, as you did shall drink it with you.'” -- Paroles de David, on the 31st May and the ždJune. March! Séance du 10 Thermidor, 1794 ; Journal de la you may yet save liberty !” After de Montagne, 11; 93, vol. v. p. 779.

† “The officer of police has just left: he scribing the attacks directed against came to announce to me that to-morrow I his person, he added, “I am ready, if ne

should go up to the tribunal ; that is to say,

to the scaffold. This bears little resemblance cessary, to drink the cup of Socrates."

to the dream I had last night-Robespierre “Robespierre,” exclaimed David, “I am was no more, and the prisons were opened. ready to drink it with you: the enemies But, thanks to your cowardice, there will soon of Robespierre are those of the country; be no one in France to realise this dream.”

-THERESA to TALLIEN, 7th Thermidor, 1794; let them be named, and they shall cease LAMARTINE, llistoire des Girondins, viii. 316.

se

parties. “Do not flatter yourselves,” | presage and cause of success. “ Take said Tallien to the Girondists, "that he your place,” said he, entering from the will ever spare you; you have commit lobby, where he had been walking with ted an unpardonable offence in being Durand Maillane ; "I have come to witfreemen. Let us bury our ruinous di- ness the triumph of freedom; this evenvisions in oblivion. You weep for Ver. ing Robespierre is no more.' At noon gniaud-we weep for Danton ; let us St Just mounted the tribune: Robesunite their shades by striking Robes- pierre took his station on the bench pierre. Do you still live ?” said he directly opposite, to intimidate his adto the Jacobins; " has the tyrant spared versaries by his look. But he could not you this night? yet your names are the bear the glance of Tallien, whose counforemost on the list of proscription. In tenance expressed the greatest determia few days he will have your heads, if nation, and whom he with justice reyou do not take his. For two months | garded as his most formidable adveryou have shielded us from his strokes; sary. Already his weakness, on the apyou may now rely on our support as on proach of personal danger, was maniour gratitude.” The Côté Droit long re- fest. His knees trembled, the colour sisted the energetic efforts made by the filed from his lips as he ascended to his Jacobins in the Convention to bring seat; the hostile appearance of the Conthem over to a coalition, but at length vention already gave him an anticipathey acquiesced, unable, as they them. tion of his fate. selves said, to bear any longer the sight 69. St Just commenced the debate of fifty heads falling a-day. The friends with speech from the tribune. “I of Danton were so exasperated at the belong," said he, "to no party; I will death of their leader, that they repelled combat them all. The course of events at first all advances towards a reconci- has possibly determined that this triliation; but at length, moved by the bune should be the Tarpeian rock for entreaties of the Plain and the Right, him who now tells you that the memthey agreed to join the conspiracy. Be- bers of the committees have strayed fore daybreak, all the Convention had from the path of wisdom.” Upon this united for the overthrow of the tyrant. he was violently interrupted by Tallien,

68. At an early hour on the morning who took the lead in the revolt. “Shall of the 9th Thermidor (27th July), the the speaker,” said he, "forever arrogate benches of the Convention were throng- to himself, with the tyrant of whom he ed by its members; those of the Moun- is the satellite, the privilege of denountain were particularly remarkable for cing, accusing, and proscribing thememthe serried ranks and determined looks bers of the Assembly? Shall he for ever of the coalition. The leaders walked go on amusing us with imaginary perils, about the passages, confirming each when real and pressing dangers are beother in their resolution. Bourdon de fore our eyes ? After the enigmatical l'Oise pressed Durand Maillane by the expressions of the tyrant yesterday from hand, Řovère and Tallien followed his that place, can we doubt what St Just example—“Oh, the gentlemen of the is about to propose ? You are about,” Côté Droit are honest men !” said the said he, “ to raise the veil: I will tear latter. Tallien evinced that undoubt it asunder!” Loud applauses on all ing confidence which is so often the sides followed this exclamation. “Yes!" • "Le ciel entre nos mains a mis le sort de exclaimed he, “I will tear it asunder. Rome,

I will exhibit the danger in its full exEt son salut dépend de la perte d'un homme: tent; the tyrant in his true colours ! Si l'on doit le nom d'homme à qui n'a rien It is the whole Convention which he

d'humain A ce tigre altéré de tout le sang Romain ! now proposes to destroy. He knows Combien pour le repandre a-t-il formé de well, since his overthrow yesterday,

that, however much he may mutilate Combien de fois changede partis et de ligues, that great body, he will no longer find Tantot ami d'Antoine, et tantôt ennemi, Et jamais insolent ni cruel à demi."

it the instrument of his tyrannical deCORNEILLE, Cinna, Act 1, scene 3. signs. He is resolved that no sanctu

« PreviousContinue »