History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1814
F. A. M. Mignet

Part 5 out of 8

horror of bloodshed, its hatred of crime and anarchy, its love of order,
justice, and liberty; a party unfitly placed between the middle class,
whose revolution it had combated, and the multitude, whose government it
rejected. Condemned to inaction, it could only render illustrious certain
defeat, by a courageous struggle and a glorious death. At this period, its
fate might readily be foreseen; it had been driven from post to post; from
the Jacobins by the invasion of the Mountain; from the commune by the
outbreak of Pétion; from the ministry by the retirement of Roland and his
colleagues; from the army by the defection of Dumouriez. The convention
alone remained to it, there it threw up its intrenchments, there it
fought, and there it fell. Its enemies employed against it, in turn,
insurrection and conspiracy. The conspiracies led to the creation of the
Commission of Twelve, which seemed to give a momentary advantage to the
Gironde, but which only excited its adversaries the more violently against
it. These aroused the people, and took from the Girondists, first, their
authority, by destroying the Twelve; then, their political existence, by
proscribing their leaders.

The consequences of this disastrous event did not answer the expectations
of any one. The Dantonists thought that the dissensions of parties were at
an end: civil war broke out. The moderate members of the committee of
public safety thought that the convention would resume all its power: it
was utterly subdued. The commune thought that the 31st of May would secure
to it domination; domination fell to Robespierre, and to a few men devoted
to his fortune, or to the principle of extreme democracy. Lastly, there
was another party to be added to the parties defeated, and thenceforth
hostile; and as after the 10th of August the republic had been opposed to
the constitutionalists, after the 31st of May the Reign of Terror was
opposed to the moderate party of the republic.



It was to be presumed that the Girondists would not bow to their defeat,
and that the 31st of May would be the signal for the insurrection of the
departments against the Mountain and the commune of Paris. This was the
last trial left them to make, and they attempted it. But, in this decisive
measure, there was seen the same want of union which had caused their
defeat in the assembly. It is doubtful whether the Girondists would have
triumphed, had they been united, and especially whether their triumph
would have saved the revolution. How could they have done with just laws
what the Mountain effected by violent measures? How could they have
conquered foreign foes without fanaticism, restrained parties without the
aid of terror, fed the multitude without a _maximum_, and supplied the
armies without requisition. If the 31st of May had had a different result,
what happened at a much later period would probably have taken place
immediately, namely, a gradual abatement of the revolutionary movement,
increased attacks on the part of Europe, a general resumption of
hostilities by all parties, the days of Prairial, without power to drive
back the multitude; the days of Vendémiaire, without power to repel the
royalists; the invasion of the allies, and, according to the policy of the
times, the partition of France. The republic was not sufficiently powerful
to meet so many attacks as it did after the reaction of Thermidor.

However this may be, the Girondists who ought to have remained quiet or
fought all together, did not do so, and, after the 2nd of June, all the
moderate men of the party remained under the decree of arrest: the others
escaped. Vergniaud, Gensonné, Ducos, Fonfrède, etc., were among the first;
Pétion, Barbaroux, Guadet, Louvet, Buzot, and Lanjuinais, among the
latter. They repaired to Evreux, in the department de l'Eure, where Buzot
had much influence, and thence to Caen, in Calvados. These made this town
the centre of the insurrection. Brittany soon joined them. The insurgents,
under the name of the _assembly of the departments assembled at Caen_,
formed an army, appointed general Wimpfen commander, arrested Romme and
Prieur de la Marne, who were members of the Mountain and commissaries of
the convention, and prepared to march on Paris. From there, a young,
beautiful, and courageous woman, Charlotte Corday, went to punish Marat,
the principal author of the 31st of May, and the 2nd of June. She hoped to
save the republic by sacrificing herself to its cause. But tyranny did not
rest with one man; it belonged to a party, and to the violent situation of
the republic. Charlotte Corday, after executing her generous but vain
design, died with unchanging calmness, modest courage, and the
satisfaction of having done well. [Footnote: The following are a few of
the replies of this heroic girl before the revolutionary tribunal:--"What
were your intentions in killing Marat?"--"To put an end to the troubles of
France."--"Is it long since you conceived this project?"--"Since the
proscription of the deputies of the people on the 31st of May."--"You
learned then by the papers that Marat was a friend of anarchy?"--"Yes, I
knew he was perverting France. I have killed," she added, raising her
voice, "a man to save a thousand; a villain, to save the innocent; a wild
beast, to give tranquility to my country. I was a republican before the
revolution, and I have never been without energy."] But Marat, after his
assassination, became a greater object of enthusiasm with the people than
he had been while living. He was invoked on all the public squares; his
bust was placed in all the popular societies, and the convention was
obliged to grant him the honours of the Panthéon.

At the same time Lyons arose, Marseilles and Bordeaux took arms, and more
than sixty departments joined the insurrection. This attack soon led to a
general rising among all parties, and the royalists for the most part took
advantage of the movement which the Girondists had commenced. They sought,
especially, to direct the insurrection of Lyons, in order to make it the
centre of the movement in the south. This city was strongly attached to
the ancient order of things. Its manufactures of silver and gold and
silken embroidery, and its trade in articles of luxury, made it dependent
on the upper classes. It therefore declared at an early period against a
social change, which destroyed its former connexions, and ruined its
manufactures, by destroying the nobility and clergy. Lyons, accordingly,
in 1790, even under the constituent assembly, when the emigrant princes
were in that neighbourhood, at the court of Turin, had made attempts at a
rising. These attempts, directed by priests and nobles, had been
repressed, but the spirit remained the same. There, as elsewhere, after
the 10th of August, men had wished to bring about the revolution of the
multitude, and to establish its government. Châlier, the fanatical
imitator of Marat, was at the head of the Jacobins, the sans-culottes, and
the municipality of Lyons. His audacity increased after the massacres of
September and the 21st of January. Yet nothing had as yet been decided
between the lower republican class, and the middle royalist class, the one
having its seat of power in the municipality, and the other in the
sections. But the disputes became greater towards the end of May; they
fought, and the sections carried the day. The municipality was besieged,
and taken by assault. Châlier, who had fled, was apprehended and executed.
The sections, not as yet daring to throw off the yoke of the convention,
endeavoured to excuse themselves on the score of the necessity of arming
themselves, because the Jacobins and the members of the corporation had
forced them to do so. The convention, which could only save itself by
means of daring, losing everything if it yielded, would listen to nothing.
Meanwhile the insurrection of Calvados became known, and the people of
Lyons, thus encouraged, no longer feared to raise the standard of revolt.
They put their town in a state of defence; they raised fortifications,
formed an army of twenty thousand men, received emigrants among them,
entrusted the command of their forces to the royalist Précy and the
marquis de Virieux, and concerted their operations with the king of

The revolt of Lyons was so much the more to be feared by the convention,
as its central position gave it the support of the south, which was in
arms, while there was also a rising in the west. At Marseilles, the news
of the 31st of May had aroused the partisans of the Girondists: Rebecqui
repaired thither in haste. The sections were assembled; the members of the
revolutionary tribunal were outlawed; the two representatives, Baux and
Antiboul, were arrested, and an army of ten thousand men raised to advance
on Paris. These measures were the work of the royalists, who, there as
elsewhere, only waiting for an opportunity to revive their party, had at
first assumed a republican appearance, but now acted in their own name.
They had secured the sections; and the movement was no longer effected in
favour of the Girondists, but for the counter-revolutionists. Once in a
state of revolt, the party whose opinions are the most violent, and whose
aim is the clearest, supplants its allies. Rebecqui, perceiving this new
turn of the insurrection, threw himself in despair into the port of
Marseilles. The insurgents took the road to Lyons; their example was
rapidly imitated at Toulon, Nîmes, Montauban, and the principal towns in
the south. In Calvados, the insurrection had had the same royalist
character, since the marquis de Puisaye, at the head of some troops, had
introduced himself into the ranks of the Girondists. The towns of
Bordeaux, Nantes, Brest, and L'Orient, were favourable to the persons
proscribed on the 2nd of June, and a few openly joined them; but they were
of no great service, because they were restrained by the Jacobin party, or
by the necessity of fighting the royalists of the west.

The latter, during this almost general rising of the departments,
continued to extend their enterprises. After their first victories, the
Vendéans seized on Bressuire, Argenton, and Thouars. Entirely masters of
their own country, they proposed getting possession of the frontiers, and
opening a way into revolutionary France, as well as communications with
England. On the 6th of June, the Vendéan army, composed of forty thousand
men, under Cathelineau, Lescure, Stofflet, and La Rochejaquelin, marched
on Saumur, which it took by storm. It then prepared to attack and capture
Nantes, to secure the possession of its own country, and become master of
the course of the Loire. Cathelineau, at the head of the Vendéan troops,
left a garrison in Saumur, took Angers, crossed the Loire, pretended to
advance upon Tours and Le Mans, and then rapidly threw himself upon
Nantes, which he attacked on the right bank, while Charette was to attack
it on the left.

Everything seemed combined for the overthrow of the convention. Its armies
were beaten on the north and on the Pyrenees, while it was threatened by
the people of Lyons in the centre, those of Marseilles in the south, the
Girondists in one part of the west, the Vendéans in the other, and while
twenty thousand Piedmontese were invading France. The military reaction
which, after the brilliant campaigns of Argonne and Belgium, had taken
place, chiefly owing to the disagreement between Dumouriez and the
Jacobins, between the army and the government, had manifested itself in a
most disastrous manner since the defection of the commander-in-chief.
There was no longer unity of operation, enthusiasm in the troops, or
agreement between the convention, occupied with its quarrels, and the
discouraged generals. The remains of Dumouriez's army had assembled at the
camp at Famars, under the command of Dampierre; but they had been obliged
to retire, after a defeat, under the cannon of Bouchain. Dampierre was
killed. The frontier from Dunkirk to Givet was threatened by superior
forces. Custine was promptly called from the Moselle to the army of the
north, but his presence did not restore affairs. Valenciennes, the key to
France, was taken; Condé shared the same fate; the army, driven from
position to position, retired beyond the Scarpe, before Arras, the last
post between the Scarpe and Paris. Mayence, on the other side, sorely
pressed by the enemy and by famine, gave up all hope of being assisted by
the army of the Moselle, reduced to inaction; and despairing of being able
to hold out long, capitulated. Lastly, the English Government, seeing that
Paris and the departments were distressed by famine, after the 31st of May
and the 2nd of June, pronounced all the ports of France in a state of
blockade, and that all neutral ships attempting to bring a supply of
provisions would be confiscated. This measure, new to the annals of
history, and destined to starve an entire people, three months afterwards
originated the law of the _maximum_. The situation of the republic could
not be worse.

The convention was, as it were, taken by surprise. It was disorganized,
because emerging from a struggle, and because the conquerors had not had
time to establish themselves. After the 2nd of June, before the danger
became so pressing both on the frontiers and in the departments, the
Mountain had sent commissioners in every direction, and immediately turned
its attention to the constitution, which had so long been expected, and
from which it entertained great hopes. The Girondists had wished to decree
it before the 21st of January, in order to save Louis XVI., by
substituting legal order for the revolutionary state of things; they
returned to the subject previous to the 31st of May, in order to prevent
their own ruin. But the Mountain, on two occasions, had diverted the
assembly from this discussion by two coups d'état, the trial of Louis
XVI., and the elimination of the Gironde. Masters of the field, they now
endeavoured to secure the republicans by decreeing the constitution.
Hérault de Séchelles was the legislator of the Mountain, as Condorcet had
been of the Gironde. In a few days, this new constitution was adopted in
the convention, and submitted to the approval of the primary assemblies.
It is easy to conceive its nature, with the ideas that then prevailed
respecting democratic government. The constituent assembly was considered
as aristocratical: the law it had established was regarded as a violation
of the rights of the people, because it imposed conditions for the
exercise of political rights; because it did not recognise the most
absolute equality; because it had deputies and magistrates appointed by
electors, and these electors by the people; because, in some cases, it put
limits to the national sovereignty, by excluding a portion of active
citizens from high public functions, and the proletarians from the
functions of acting citizens; finally, because, instead of fixing on
population as the only basis of political rights, it combined it, in all
its operations, with property. The constitutional law of 1793 established
the pure régime of the multitude: it not only recognised the people as the
source of all power, but also delegated the exercise of it to the people;
an unlimited sovereignty; extreme mobility in the magistracy; direct
elections, in which every one could vote; primary assemblies, that could
meet without convocation, at given times, to elect representatives and
control their acts; a national assembly, to be renewed annually, and
which, properly speaking, was only a committee of the primary assemblies;
such was this constitution. As it made the multitude govern, and as it
entirely disorganized authority, it was impracticable at all times; but
especially in a moment of general war. The Mountain, instead of extreme
democracy, needed a stern dictatorship. The constitution was suspended as
soon as made, and the revolutionary government strengthened and maintained
until peace was achieved.

Both during the discussion of the constitution and its presentation to the
primary assemblies, the Mountain learned the danger which threatened them.
These daring men, having three or four parties to put down in the
interior, several kinds of civil war to terminate, the disasters of the
armies to repair, and all Europe to repel, were not alarmed at their
position. The representatives of the forty-four thousand municipalities
came to accept the constitution. Admitted to the bar of the assembly,
after making known the assent of the people, they required _the arrest of
all suspected persons, and a levy en masse of the people_. "Well,"
exclaimed Danton, "let us respond to their wishes. The deputies of the
primary assemblies have just taken the initiative among us, in the way of
inspiring terror! I demand that the convention, which ought now to be
penetrated with a sense of its dignity, for it has just been invested with
the entire national power, I demand that it do now, by a decree, invest
the primary assemblies with the right of supplying the state with arms,
provisions, and ammunition; of making an appeal to the people, of exciting
the energy of citizens, and of raising four hundred thousand men. It is
with cannon-balls that we must declare the constitution to our foes! Now
is the time to take the last great oath, that we will destroy tyranny, or
perish!" This oath was immediately taken by all the deputies and citizens
present. A few days after, Barrère, in the name of the committee of public
safety, which was composed of revolutionary members, and which became the
centre of operations and the government of the assembly, proposed measures
still more general: "Liberty," said he, "has become the creditor of every
citizen; some owe her their industry; others their fortune; these their
counsel; those their arms; all owe her their blood. Accordingly, all the
French, of every age and of either sex, are summoned by their country to
defend liberty; all faculties, physical or moral; all means, political or
commercial; all metal, all the elements are her tributaries. Let each
maintain his post in the national and military movement about to take
place. The young men will fight; the married men will forge arms,
transport the baggage and artillery, and prepare provisions; the women
will make tents and clothes for the soldiers, and exercise their
hospitable care in the asylums of the wounded; children will make lint
from old linen; and the aged, resuming the mission they discharged among
the ancients, shall cause themselves to be carried to the public places,
where they shall excite the courage of the young warriors, and propagate
the doctrine of hatred to kings, and the unity of the republic. National
buildings shall be converted into barracks, public squares into workshops;
the ground of the cellars will serve for the preparation of saltpetre; all
saddle horses shall be placed in requisition for the cavalry; all draught
horses for the artillery; fowling-pieces, pistols, swords and pikes,
belonging to individuals, shall be employed in the service of the
interior. The republic being but a large city, in a state of necessity,
France must be converted into a vast camp."

The measures proposed by Barrère were at once decreed. All Frenchmen, from
eighteen to five-and-twenty, took arms, the armies were recruited by
levies of men, and supported by levies of provisions. The republic had
very soon fourteen armies, and twelve hundred thousand soldiers. France,
while it became a camp and a workshop for the republicans, became at the
same time a prison for those who did not accept the republic. While
marching against avowed enemies, it was thought necessary to make sure of
secret foes, and the famous law, _des suspects_, was passed. All
foreigners were arrested, on the ground of their hostile machinations, and
the partisans of constitutional monarchy and a limited republic were
imprisoned, to be kept close, until the peace was effected. At the time,
this was so far only a reasonable measure of precaution. The bourgeoisie,
the mercantile people, and the middle classes, furnished prisoners after
the 31st of May, as the nobility and clergy had done after the 10th of
August. A revolutionary army of six thousand soldiers and a thousand
artillerymen was formed for the interior. Every indigent citizen was
allowed forty sous a day, to enable him to be present at the sectionary
meetings. Certificates of citizenship were delivered, in order to make
sure of the opinions of all who co-operated in the revolutionary movement.
The functionaries were placed under the surveillance of the clubs, a
revolutionary committee was formed in each section, and thus they prepared
to face the enemy on all sides, both abroad and at home.

The insurgents in Calvados were easily suppressed; at the very first
skirmish at Vernon, the insurgent troops fled. Wimpfen endeavoured to
rally them in vain. The moderate class, those who had taken up the defence
of the Girondists, displayed little ardour or activity. When the
constitution was accepted by the other departments, it saw the opportunity
for admitting that it had been in error, when it thought it was taking
arms against a mere factious minority. This retractation was made at Caen,
which had been the headquarters of the revolt. The Mountain commissioners
did not sully this first victory with executions. General Carteaux, on the
other hand, marched at the head of some troops against the sectionary army
of the south; he defeated its force, pursued it to Marseilles, entered the
town after it, and Provence would have been brought into subjection like
Calvados, if the royalists, who had taken refuge at Toulon, after their
defeat, had not called in the English to their aid, and placed in their
hands this key to France. Admiral Hood entered the town in the name of
Louis XVII., whom he proclaimed king, disarmed the fleet, sent for eight
thousand Spaniards by sea, occupied the surrounding forts, and forced
Carteaux, who was advancing against Toulon, to fall back on Marseilles.

Notwithstanding this check, the conventionalists succeeded in isolating
the insurrection, and this was a great point. The Mountain commissioners
had made their entry into the rebel capitals; Robert Lindet into Caen;
Tallien into Bordeaux; Barras and Fréron into Marseilles. Only two towns
remained to be taken--Toulon and Lyons.

A simultaneous attack from the south, west, and centre was no longer
apprehended, and in the interior the enemy was only on the defensive.
Lyons was besieged by Kellermann, general of the army of the Alps; three
corps pressed the town on all sides. The veteran soldiers of the Alps, the
revolutionary battalions and the newly-levied troops, reinforced the
besiegers every day. The people of Lyons defended themselves with all the
courage of despair. At first, they relied on the assistance of the
insurgents of the south; but these having been repulsed by Carteaux, the
Lyonnais placed their last hope in the army of Piedmont, which attempted a
diversion in their favour, but was beaten by Kellermann. Pressed still
more energetically, they saw their first positions carried. Famine began
to be felt, and courage forsook them. The royalist leaders, convinced of
the inutility of longer resistance, left the town, and the republican army
entered the walls, where they awaited the orders of the convention. A few
months after, Toulon itself, defended by veteran troops and formidable
fortifications, fell into the power of the republicans. The battalions of
the army of Italy, reinforced by those which the taking of Lyons left
disposable, pressed the place closely. After repeated attacks and
prodigies of skill and valour, they made themselves masters of it, and the
capture of Toulon finished what that of Lyons had begun.

Everywhere the convention was victorious. The Vendéans had failed in their
attempt upon Nantes, after having lost many men, and their general-in-
chief, Cathelineau. This attack put an end to the aggressive and
previously promising movement of the Vendéan insurrection. The royalists
repassed the Loire, abandoned Saumur, and resumed their former
cantonments. They were, however, still formidable; and the republicans,
who pursued them, were again beaten in La Vendée. General Biron, who had
succeeded general Berruyer, unsuccessfully continued the war with small
bodies of troops; his moderation and defective system of attack caused him
to be replaced by Canclaux and Rossignol, who were not more fortunate than
he. There were two leaders, two armies, and two centres of operation--the
one at Nantes, and the other at Saumur, placed under contrary influences.
General Canclaux could not agree with general Rossignol, nor the moderate
Mountain commissioner Philippeaux with Bourbotte, the commissioner of the
committee of public safety; and this attempt at invasion failed like the
preceding attempts, for want of concert in plan and action. The committee
of public safety soon remedied this, by appointing one sole general-in-
chief, Lechelle, and by introducing war on a large scale into La Vendée.
This new method, aided by the garrison of Mayence, consisting of seventeen
thousand veterans, who, relieved from operations against the allied
nations after the capitulation, were employed in the interior, entirely
changed the face of the war. The royalists underwent four consecutive
defeats, two at Châtillon, two at Cholet. Lescure, Bonchamps, and d'Elbée
were mortally wounded, and the insurgents, completely beaten in Upper
Vendée, and fearing that they should be exterminated if they took refuge
in Lower Vendée, determined to leave their country to the number of eighty
thousand persons. This emigration through Brittany, which they hoped to
arouse to insurrection, became fatal to them. Repulsed before Granville,
utterly routed at Mans, they were destroyed at Savenay, and barely a few
thousand men, the wreck of this vast emigration, returned to Vendée. These
disasters, irreparable for the royalist cause, the taking of the island of
Noirmoutiers from Charette, the dispersion of the troops of that leader,
the death of La Rochejaquelin, rendered the republicans masters of the
country. The committee of public safety, thinking, not without reason,
that its enemies were beaten but not subjugated, adopted a terrible system
of extermination to prevent them from rising again. General Thurreau
surrounded Vendée with sixteen entrenched camps; twelve moveable columns,
called the _infernal columns_, overran the country in every direction,
sword and fire in hand, scoured the woods, dispersed the assemblies, and
diffused terror throughout this unhappy country.

The foreign armies had also been driven back from the frontiers they had
invaded. After having taken Valenciennes and Condé, blockaded Maubeuge and
Le Quesnoy, the enemy advanced on Cassel, Hondschoote, and Furnes, under
the command of the duke of York. The committee of public safety,
dissatisfied with Custine, who was further regarded with suspicion as a
Girondist, superseded him by general Houchard. The enemy, hitherto
successful, was defeated at Hondschoote, and compelled to retreat. The
military reaction began with the daring measures of the committee of
public safety. Houchard himself was dismissed. Jourdan took the command of
the army of the north, gained the important victory of Watignies over the
prince of Coburg, raised the siege of Maubeuge, and resumed the offensive
on that frontier. Similar successes took place on all the others. The
immortal campaign of 1793-1794 opened. What Jourdan had done with the army
of the north, Hoche and Pichegru did with the army of the Moselle, and
Kellermann with that of the Alps. The enemy was repulsed, and kept in
check on all sides. Then took place, after the 31st of May, that which had
followed the 10th of August. The want of union between the generals and
the leaders of the assembly was removed; the revolutionary movement, which
had slackened, increased; and victories recommenced. Armies have had their
crises, as well as parties, and these crises have brought about successes
or defeat, always by the same law.

In 1792, at the beginning of the war, the generals were
constitutionalists, and the ministers Girondists. Rochambeau, Lafayette,
and Luckner, did not at all agree with Dumouriez, Servan, Clavière, and
Roland. There was, besides, little enthusiasm in the army; it was beaten.
After the 10th of August, the Girondist generals, Dumouriez, Custine,
Kellermann, and Dillon, replaced the constitutionalist generals. There was
unity of views, confidence, and co-operation, between the army and the
government. The catastrophe of the 10th of August augmented this energy,
by increasing the necessity for victory; and the results were the plan of
the campaign of Argonne, the victories of Valmy and Jemappes, and the
invasion of Belgium. The struggle between the Mountain and the Gironde,
between Dumouriez and the Jacobins, again created discord between the army
and government, and destroyed the confidence of the troops, who
experienced immediate and numerous reverses. There was defection on the
part of Dumouriez, as there had been withdrawal on the part of Lafayette.
After the 31st of May, which overthrew the Gironde party, after the
committee of public safety had become established, and had replaced the
Girondist generals, Dumouriez, Custine, Houchard, and Dillon, by the
Mountain generals, Jourdan, Hoche, Pichegru, and Moreau; after it had
restored the revolutionary movement by the daring measures we have
described, the campaign of Argonne and of Belgium was renewed in that of
1794, and the genius of Carnot equalled that of Dumouriez, if it did not
surpass it.

During this war, the committee of public safety permitted a frightful
number of executions. Armies confine themselves to slaughter in battle; it
is not so with parties, who, under violent circumstances, fearing to see
the combat renewed after the victory, secure themselves from new attacks
by inexorable rigour. The usage of all governments being to make their own
preservation a matter of right, they regard those who attack them as
enemies so long as they fight, as conspirators when they are defeated; and
thus destroy them alike by means of war and of law.

All these views at once guided the policy of the committee of public
safety, a policy of vengeance, of terror, and of self-preservation. This
was the maxim upon which it proceeded in reference to insurgent towns:
"The name of Lyons," said Barrère, "must no longer exist. You will call it
_Ville Affranchie_, and upon the ruins of that famous city there shall be
raised a monument to attest the crime and the punishment of the enemies of
liberty. Its history shall be told in these words: '_Lyons warred against
liberty; Lyons exists no more_.'" To realise this terrible anathema, the
committee sent to this unfortunate city Collot-d'Herbois, Fouché, and
Couthon, who slaughtered the inhabitants with grape shot and demolished
its buildings. The insurgents of Toulon underwent at the hands of the
representatives, Barras and Fréron, a nearly similar fate. At Caen,
Marseilles, and Bordeaux, the executions were less general and less
violent, because they were proportioned to the gravity of the
insurrection, which had not been undertaken in concert with foreign foes.

In the interior, the dictatorial government struck at all the parties with
which it was at war, in the persons of their greatest members. The
condemnation of queen Marie-Antoinette was directed against Europe; that
of the twenty-two against the Girondists; of the wise Bailly against the
old constitutionalists; lastly, that of the duke of Orleans against
certain members of the Mountain who were supposed to have plotted his
elevation. The unfortunate widow of Louis XVI. was first sentenced to
death by this sanguinary revolutionary tribunal. The proscribed of the 2nd
of June soon followed her. She perished on the 16th of October, and the
Girondist deputies on the 31st. They were twenty-one in number: Brissot,
Vergniaud, Gensonné, Fonfrède, Ducos, Valazé, Lasource, Silléry, Gardien,
Carra, Duperret, Duprat, Fauchet, Beauvais, Duchâtel, Mainvielle, Lacaze,
Boileau, Lehardy, Antiboul, and Vigée. Seventy-three of their colleagues,
who had protested against their arrest, were also imprisoned, but the
committee did not venture to inflict death upon them.

During the debates, these illustrious prisoners displayed uniform and
serene courage. Vergniaud raised his eloquent voice for a moment, but in
vain. Valazé stabbed himself with a poignard on hearing the sentence, and
Lasource said to the judges: "I die at a time when the people have lost
their senses; you will die when they recover them." They went to execution
displaying all the stoicism of the times, singing the _Marseillaise_, and
applying it to their own case:

"Allons, enfants de la patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé:
Contre nous de la tyrannie
Le couteau sanglant est levé," etc.

Nearly all the other leaders of this party had a violent end. Salles,
Guadet, and Barbaroux, were discovered in the grottos of Saint-Emilion,
near Bordeaux, and died on the scaffold. Pétion and Buzot, after wandering
about some time, committed suicide; they were found, dead in a field, half
devoured by wolves. Rabaud-Saint-Etienne was betrayed by an old friend;
Madame Roland was also condemned to death, and displayed the courage of a
Roman matron. Her husband, on hearing of her death, left his place of
concealment, and killed himself on the high road. Condorcet, outlawed soon
after the 2nd of June, was taken while endeavouring to escape, and saved
himself from the executioner's knife only by poison. Louvet, Kervelegan,
Lanjuinais, Henri La Rivière, Lesage, La Réveillère-Lépeaux, were the only
leading Girondists who, in secure retreat, awaited the end of the furious

The revolutionary government was formed; it was proclaimed by the
convention on the 10th of October. Before the 31st of May, power had been
nowhere, neither in the ministry, nor in the commune, nor in the
convention. It was natural that power should become concentrated in this
extreme situation of affairs, and at a moment when the need for unity and
promptitude of action was deeply felt. The assembly being the most central
and extensive power, the dictatorship would as naturally become placed in
its bosom, be exercised there by the dominant faction, and in that faction
by a few men. The committee of public safety of the convention created on
the 6th of April, in order, as the name indicates, to provide for the
defence of the revolution by extraordinary measures, was in itself a
complete framework of government. Formed during the divisions of the
Mountain and the Gironde, it was composed of neutral members of the
convention till the 31st of May; and at its first renewal, of members of
the extreme Mountain. Barrère remained in it; but Robespierre acceded, and
his party dominated in it by Saint-Just, Couthon, Collot-d'Herbois, and
Billaud-Varennes. He set aside some Dantonists who still remained in it,
such as Hérault de Séchelles and Robert Lindet, gained over Barrère, and
usurped the lead by assuming the direction of the public mind and of
police. His associates divided the various departments among themselves.
Saint-Just undertook the surveillance and denouncing of parties; Couthon,
the violent propositions which required to be softened in form; Billaud-
Varennes and Collot-d'Herbois directed the missions into the departments;
Carnot took the war department; Cambon, the exchequer; Prieur de la Côte-
d'Or, Prieur de la Marne, and several others, the various branches of
internal administration; and Barrère was the daily orator, the panegyrist
ever prepared, of the dictatorial committee. Below these, assisting in the
detail of the revolutionary administration, and of minor measures, was
placed the committee of general safety, composed in the same spirit as the
great committee, having, like it, twelve members, who were re-eligible
every three months, and always renewed in their office.

The whole revolutionary power was lodged in the hands of these men. Saint-
Just, in proposing the establishment of the decemviral power until the
restoration of peace, did not conceal the motives nor the object of this
dictatorship. "You must no longer show any lenity to the enemies of the
new order of things," said he. "Liberty must triumph at any cost. In the
present circumstances of the republic, the constitution cannot be
established; it would guarantee impunity to attacks on our liberty,
because it would be deficient in the violence necessary to restrain them.
The present government is not sufficiently free to act. You are not near
enough to strike in every direction at the authors of these attacks; the
sword of the law must extend everywhere; your arm must be felt
everywhere." Thus was created that terrible power, which first destroyed
the enemies of the Mountain, then the Mountain and the Commune, and,
lastly, itself. The committee did everything in the name of the
convention, which it used as an instrument. It nominated and dismissed
generals, ministers, representatives, commissioners, judges, and juries.
It assailed factions; it took the initiative in all measures. Through its
commissioners, armies and generals were dependent upon it, and it ruled
the departments with sovereign sway. By means of the law touching
suspected persons, it disposed of men's liberties; by the revolutionary
tribunal, of men's lives; by levies and the _maximum_, of property; by
decrees of accusation in the terrified convention, of its own members.
Lastly, its dictatorship was supported by the multitude, who debated in
the clubs, ruled in the revolutionary committees: whose services it paid
by a daily stipend, and whom it fed with the _maximum_. The multitude
adhered to a system which inflamed its passions, exaggerated its
importance, assigned it the first place, and appeared to do everything
for it.

The innovators, separated by war and by their laws from all states and
from all forms of government, determined to widen the separation. By an
unprecedented revolution they established an entirely new era; they
changed the divisions of the year, the names of the months and days; they
substituted a republican for the Christian calendar, the decade for the
week, and fixed the day of rest not on the sabbath, but on the tenth day.
The new era dated from the 22nd of September, 1792, the epoch of the
foundation of the republic. There were twelve equal months of thirty days,
which began on the 22nd of September, in the following order:--
_Vendémiaire, Brumaire, Frimaire_, for the autumn; _Nivôse, Pluviôse,
Ventôse_, for the winter; _Germinal, Floréal, Prairial_, for the spring;
_Messidor, Thermidor, Fructidor_, for the summer. Each month had three
décades, each décade ten days, and each day was named from its order in
the décade:--_Primidi, Duodi, Tridi, Quartidi, Quintidi, Sextidi, Septidi,
Octidi, Nonidi, Decadi_. The surplus five days were placed at the end of
the year; they received the name of _Sans-culottides_, and were
consecrated, the first, to the festival of genius; the second, to that of
labour; the third, to that of actions; the fourth, to that of rewards; the
fifth, to that of opinion. The constitution of 1793 led to the
establishment of the republican calendar, and the republican calendar to
the abolition of Christian worship. We shall soon see the commune and the
committee of public safety each proposing a religion of its own; the
commune, the worship of reason; the committee of public safety, the
worship of the Supreme Being. But we must first mention a new struggle
between the authors of the catastrophe of the 31st of May themselves.

The Commune and the Mountain had effected this revolution against the
Gironde, and the committee alone had benefited by it. During the five
months from June to November, the committee, having taken all the measures
of defence, had naturally become the first power in the republic. The
actual struggle being, as it were, over, the commune sought to sway the
committee, and the Mountain to throw off its yoke. The most intense
manifestation of the revolution was found in the municipal faction. With
an aim opposed to that of the committee of public safety, it desired
instead of the conventional dictatorship, the most extreme local
democracy; and instead of religion, the consecration of materialism.
Political anarchy and religious atheism were the symbols of this party,
and the means by which it aimed at establishing its own rule. A revolution
is the effect of the different systems which have agitated the age which
has originated it. Thus, during the continuance of the crisis in France,
ultra-montane catholicism was represented by the nonjuring clergy;
Jansenism by the constitutionist clergy; philosophical deism by the
worship of the Supreme Being, instituted by the committee of public
safety; and the materialism of Holbach's school by the worship of Reason
and of Nature, decreed by the commune. It was the same with political
opinions, from the royalty of the _Ancien Régime_ to the unlimited
democracy of the municipal faction. The latter had lost, in Marat, its
principal support, its true leader, while the committee of public safety
still retained Robespierre. It had at its head men who enjoyed great
popularity with the lower classes; Chaumette, and his substitute Hébert,
were its political leaders; Ronsin, commandant of the revolutionary army,
its general; the atheist, Anacharsis Clootz, its apostle. In the sections
it relied on the revolutionary committees, in which there were many
obscure foreigners, supposed, and not without probability, to be agents of
England, sent to destroy the republic by driving it into anarchy and
excess. The club of the Cordeliers was composed entirely of its partisans.
The _Vieux Cordeliers_ of Danton, who had contributed so powerfully to the
10th of August, and who constituted the commune of that period, had
entered the government and the convention, and had been replaced in the
club by members whom they contemptuously designated the _patriotes de la
troisième réquisition_.

Hébert's faction, which, in a work entitled _Père Duchêsne_, popularised
obscene language and low and cruel sentiments, and which added derision of
the victims to the executions of party, in a short time made terrible
progress. It compelled the bishop of Paris and his vicars to abjure
Christianity at the bar of the convention, and forced the convention to
decree, that _the worship of Reason should be substituted for the catholic
religion_. The churches were shut up or converted into temples of reason,
and fêtes were established in every town, which became scandalous scenes
of atheism. The committee of public safety grew alarmed at the power of
this ultra-revolutionary faction, and hastened to stop and to destroy it.
Robespierre soon attacked it in the assembly, (15th Frimaire, year II.,
5th Dec., 1793). "Citizens, representatives of the people," said he, "the
kings in alliance against the republic are making war against us with
armies and intrigues; we will oppose their armies by braver ones; their
intrigues, by vigilance and the terror of national justice. Ever intent on
renewing their secret plots, in proportion as they are destroyed by the
hand of patriotism, ever skilful in directing the arms of liberty against
liberty itself, the emissaries of the enemies of France are now labouring
to overthrow the republic by republicanism, and to rekindle civil war by
philosophy." He classed the ultra-revolutionists of the commune with the
external enemies of the republic. "It is your part," said he to the
convention, "to prevent the follies and extravagancies which coincide with
the projects of foreign conspiracy. I require you to prohibit particular
authorities (the commune) from serving our enemies by rash measures, and
that no armed force be allowed to interfere in questions of religious
opinions." And the convention, which had applauded the abjurations at the
demand of the commune, decreed, on Robespierre's motion, that _all
violence and all measures opposed to the liberty of religion are

The committee of public safety was too strong not to triumph over the
commune; but, at the same time, it had to resist the moderate party of the
Mountain, which demanded the cessation of the revolutionary government and
the dictatorship of the committees. The revolutionary government had only
been created to restrain, the dictatorship to conquer; and as Danton and
his party no longer considered restraint and victory essential, they
sought to establish legal order, and the independence of the convention;
they wished to throw down the faction of the commune, to stop the
operation of the revolutionary tribunal, to empty the prisons now filled
with suspected persons, to reduce or destroy the powers of the committees.
This project in favour of clemency, humanity, and legal government, was
conceived by Danton, Philippeaux, Camille Desmoulins, Fabre-d'Eglantine,
Lacroix, general Westermann, and all the friends of Danton. Before all
things they wanted _that the republic should secure the field of battle_;
but after conquest, they wished to conciliate.

This party, become moderate, had renounced power; it had withdrawn from
the government, or suffered itself to be excluded by Robespierre's party.
Moreover, since the 31st of May, zealous patriots had considered Danton's
conduct equivocal. He had acted mildly on that day, and had subsequently
disapproved the condemnation of the twenty-two. They began to reproach him
with his disorderly life, his venal passions, his change of party, and
untimely moderation. To avoid the storm, he had retired to his native
place, Arcis-sur-Aube, and there he seemed to have forgotten all in
retirement. During his absence, the Hébert faction made immense progress;
and the friends of Danton hastily summoned him to their aid. He returned
at the beginning of Frimaire (December). Philippeaux immediately denounced
the manner in which the Vendéan war had been carried on; general
Westermann, who had greatly distinguised himself in that war, and who had
just been dismissed by the committee of public safety, supported
Philippeaux, and Camille Desmoulins published the first numbers of his
_Vieux Cordelier_. This brilliant and fiery young man had followed all the
movements of the revolution, from the 14th of July to the 31st of May,
approving all its exaggerations and all its measures. His heart, however,
was gentle and tender, though his opinions were violent, and his humour
often bitter. He had praised the revolutionary régime because he believed
it indispensable for the establishment of the republic; he had co-operated
in the ruin of the Gironde, because he feared the dissensions of the
republic. For the republic he had sacrificed even his scruples and the
desires of his heart, even justice and humanity; he had given all to his
party, thinking that he gave it to the republic; but now he was able
neither to praise nor to keep silent; his energetic activity, which he had
employed for the republic, he now directed against those who were ruining
it by bloodshed. In his _Vieux Cordelier_ he spoke of liberty with the
depth of Machiavelli, and of men with the wit of Voltaire. But he soon
raised the fanatics and dictators against him, by calling the government
to sentiments of moderation, compassion, and justice.

He drew a striking picture of present tyranny, under the name of a past
tyranny. He selected his examples from Tacitus. "At this period," said he,
"words became state crimes: there wanted but one step more to render mere
glances, sadness, pity, sighs--even silence itself criminal. It soon
became high-treason, or an anti-revolutionary crime, for Cremutius Cordus
to call Brutus and Cassius the last of the Romans; a counter-revolutionary
crime in a descendant of Cassius to possess a portrait of his ancestor; a
counter-revolutionary crime in Mamercus Scaurus to write a tragedy in
which there were lines capable of a double meaning; a counter-
revolutionary crime in Torquatus Silanus to be extravagant; a counter-
revolutionary crime in Pomponius, because a friend of Sejanus had sought
an asylum in one of his country houses; a counter-revolutionary crime to
bewail the misfortunes of the time, for this was accusing the government;
a counter-revolutionary crime for the consul Fusius Geminus to bewail the
sad death of his son.

"If a man would escape death himself, it became necessary to rejoice at
the death of his friend or relative. Under Nero, many went to return
thanks to the gods for their relatives whom he had put to death. At least,
an assumed air of contentment was necessary; for even fear was sufficient
to render one guilty. Everything gave the tyrant umbrage. If a citizen was
popular, he was considered a rival to the prince, and capable of exciting
a civil war, and he was suspected. Did he, on the contrary, shun
popularity, and keep by his fireside; his retired mode of life drew
attention, and he was suspected. Was a man rich; it was feared the people
might be corrupted by his bounty, and he was suspected. Was he poor; it
became necessary to watch him closely, as none are so enterprising as
those who have nothing, and he was suspected. If his disposition chanced
to be sombre and melancholy, and his dress neglected, his distress was
supposed to be occasioned by the state of public affairs, and he was
suspected. If a citizen indulged in good living to the injury of his
digestion, he was said to do so because the prince lived ill, and he was
suspected. If virtuous and austere in his manners, he was thought to
censure the court, and he was suspected. Was he philosopher, orator, or
poet; it was unbecoming to have more celebrity than the government, and he
was suspected. Lastly, if any one had obtained a reputation in war, his
talent only served to make him dangerous; it became necessary to get rid
of the general, or to remove him speedily from the army; he was suspected.

"The natural death of a celebrated man, or of even a public official, was
so rare, that historians handed it down to posterity as an event worthy to
be remembered in remote ages. The death of so many innocent and worthy
citizens seemed less a calamity than the insolence and disgraceful
opulence of their murderers and denouncers. Every day the sacred and
inviolable informer made his triumphant entry into the palace of the dead,
and received some rich heritage. All these denouncers assumed illustrious
names, and called themselves Cotta, Scipio, Regulus, Saevius, Severus. To
distinguish himself by a brilliant début, the marquis Serenus brought an
accusation of anti-revolutionary practices against his aged father,
already in exile, after which he proudly called himself Brutus. Such were
the accusers, such the judges; the tribunals, the protectors of life and
property, became slaughter-houses, in which theft and murder bore the
names of punishment and confiscation."

Camille Desmoulins did not confine himself to attacking the revolutionary
and dictatorial regime; he required its abolition. He demanded the
establishment of a committee of mercy, as the only way of terminating the
revolution and pacifying parties. His journal produced a great effect upon
public opinion; it inspired some hope and courage: Have you read the
_Vieux Cordelier_? was asked on all sides. At the same time Fabre-
d'Eglantine, Lacroix, and Bourdon de l'Oise, excited the convention to
throw off the yoke of the committee; they sought to unite the Mountain and
the Right, in order to restore the freedom and power of the assembly. As
the committees were all powerful, they tried to ruin them by degrees, the
best course to follow. It was important to change public opinion, and to
encourage the assembly, in order to support themselves by a moral force
against revolutionary force, by the power of the convention against the
power of the committees. The Dantonist in the Mountain endeavoured to
detach Robespierre from the other Decemvirs; Billaud-Varennes, Collot-
d'Herbois and Saint-Just, alone appeared to them invincibly attached to
the Reign of Terror. Barrère adhered to it through weakness--Couthon from
his devotion to Robespierre. They hoped to gain over the latter to the
cause of moderation, through his friendship for Danton, his ideas of
order, his austere habits, his profession of public virtue, and his pride.
He had defended seventy-three imprisoned Girondist deputies against the
committees and the Jacobins; he had dared to attack Clootz and Hébert as
ultra-revolutionists; and he had induced the convention to decree the
existence of the Supreme Being. Robespierre was the most popularly
renowned man of that time; he was, in a measure, the moderator of the
republic and the dictator of opinion: by gaining him, they hoped to
overcome both the committees and the commune, without compromising the
cause of the revolution.

Danton saw him on his return from Arcis-sur-Aube, and they seemed to
understand one another; attacked at the Jacobins, he was defended by him.
Robespierre himself read and corrected the _Vieux Cordelier_, and approved
of it. At the same time he professed some principles of moderation; but
then all those who exercised the revolutionary government, or who thought
it indispensable, became aroused. Billaud-Varennes and Saint-Just openly
maintained the policy of the committees. Desmoulins had said of the
latter: "He so esteems himself, that he carries his head on his shoulders
with as much respect as if it were the holy sacrament." "And I," replied
Saint-Just, "will make him carry his like another Saint Denis." Collot-
d'Herbois, who was on a mission, arrived while matters were in this state.
He protected the faction of the anarchists, who had been intimidated for a
moment, and who derived fresh audacity from his presence. The Jacobins
expelled Camille Desmoulins from their society, and Barrère attacked him
at the convention in the name of the government. Robespierre himself was
not spared; he was accused of _moderatism_, and murmurs began to circulate
against him.

However, his credit being immense, as they could not attack or conquer
without him, he was sought on both sides. Taking advantage of this
superior position, he adopted neither party, and sought to put down the
leaders of each, one after the other.

Under these circumstances, he wished to sacrifice the commune and the
anarchists; the committees wished to sacrifice the Mountain and the
Moderates. They came to an understanding: Robespierre gave up Danton,
Desmoulins, and their friends to the members of the committee; and the
members of the committee gave up Hébert, Clootz, Chaumette, Ronsin, and
their accomplices. By favouring the Moderates at first, he prepared the
ruin of the anarchists, and he attained two objects favourable to his
domination or to his pride--he overturned a formidable faction, and he got
rid of a revolutionary reputation, the rival of his own.

Motives of public safety, it must be admitted, mingled with these
combinations of party. At this period of general fury against the
republic, and of victories not yet definitive on its part, the committees
did not think the moment for peace with Europe and the internal
dissentients had arrived; and they considered it impossible to carry on
the war without a dictatorship. They, moreover, regarded the Hébertists as
an obscene faction, which corrupted the people, and served the foreign foe
by anarchy; and the Dantonists as a party whose political moderation and
private immorality compromised and dishonoured the republic. The
government accordingly proposed to the assembly, through the medium of
Barrère, the continuation of the war, with additional activity in its
pursuit; while Robespierre, a few days afterwards, demanded the
continuance of the revolutionary government. In the Jacobins he had
already expressed himself opposed to the _Vieux Cordelier_, which he had
hitherto supported. He rejected legal government in the following terms:--

"Without," said he, "all the tyrants surround us; within, all the friends
of tyranny conspire against us; they will continue to conspire till crime
is left without hope. We must destroy the infernal and external enemies of
the republic or perish with it. Now, in such a situation, the first maxim
of your policy should be, to lead the people by reason, and the enemies of
the people by terror. If, during peace, virtue be the mainspring of a
popular government, its mainspring in the times of revolution is both
virtue and terror; virtue, without which terror becomes fatal, terror,
without which virtue is powerless. Subdue, then, the enemies of liberty by
terror; and, as the founders of the republic, you will act rightly. The
government of the revolution is the despotism of liberty against tyranny."

In this speech he denounced the _moderates_ and the _ultra-
revolutionists_, as both of them desiring the downfall of the republic.
"They advance," said he, "under different banners and by different roads,
but they advance towards the same goal; that goal is the disorganization
of the popular government, the ruin of the convention, and the triumph of
tyranny. One of these two factions reduces us to weakness, the other
drives us to excesses." He prepared the public mind for their
proscription; and his speech, adopted without discussion, was sent to all
the popular societies, to all the authorities, and to all the armies.

After this beginning of hostilities, Danton, who had not given up his
connexion with Robespierre, asked for an interview with him. It took place
at the residence of Robespierre himself. They were cold and bitter; Danton
complained violently, and Robespierre was reserved. "I know," said Danton,
"all the hatred the committee bear me; but I do not fear it." "You are
wrong," replied Robespierre; "it entertains no ill designs against you;
but you would do well to have an explanation." "An explanation?" rejoined
Danton, "an explanation? That requires good faith!" Seeing that
Robespierre looked grave at these words, he added: "No doubt it is
necessary to put down the royalists, but we ought only to strike blows
which will benefit the republic; we must not confound the innocent with
the guilty." "And who says," exclaimed Robespierre, sharply, "that an
innocent person has been put to death?" Danton turned to one of his
friends who had accompanied him, and said, with a bitter smile: "What do
you say to this? Not one innocent person has perished!" They then
separated, and all friendship ceased between them.

A few days afterwards, Saint-Just ascended the tribune, and threatened
more openly than had yet been done all dissentients, moderates, or
anarchists. "Citizens," said he, "you wished for a republic; if you do not
at the same time desire all that constitutes it, you will overwhelm the
people in its ruins. What constitutes a republic is the destruction of all
that is opposed to it. We are guilty towards the republic because we pity
the prisoners; we are guilty towards the republic because we do not desire
virtue; we are guilty to the republic because we do not desire terror.
What is it you want, those of you who do not wish for virtue, that you may
be happy? (The Anarchists.) What is it you want, those of you who do not
wish to employ terror against the wicked? (The Moderates.) What is it you
want, those of you who haunt public places to be seen, and to have it said
of you: 'Do you see such a one pass?' (Danton.) You will perish, those of
you who seek fortune, who assume haggard looks, and affect the patriot
that the foreigner may buy you up, or the government give you a place; you
of the indulgent faction, who seek to save the guilty; you of the foreign
faction, who direct severity against the defenders of the people. Measures
are already taken to secure the guilty; they are hemmed in on all sides.
Let us return thanks to the genius of the French people, that liberty has
triumphed over one of the most dangerous attacks ever meditated against
it. The development of this vast plot, the panic it will create, and the
measures about to be proposed to you, will free the republic and the world
of all the conspirators."

Saint-Just caused the government to be invested with the most extensive
powers against the conspirators of the commune. He had it decreed that
justice and probity were the order of the day. The anarchists were unable
to adopt any measure of defence; they veiled for a moment the Rights of
Man at the club of the Cordeliers, and they made an attempt at
insurrection, but without vigour or union. The people did not stir, and
the committee caused its commandant, Henriot, to seize the substitute
Hébert, Ronsin, the revolutionary general, Anacharsis Clootz, Monmoro the
orator of the human race, Vincent, etc. They were brought before the
revolutionary tribunal, as _the agents of foreign powers, and, as having
conspired to place a tyrant over the state_. That tyrant was to have been
Pache, under the title of _Grand Juge_. The anarchist leaders lost their
audacity as soon as they were arrested; they defended themselves, and, for
the most part, died, without any display of courage. The committee of
public safety disbanded the revolutionary army, diminished the power of
the sectionary committees, and obliged the commune to appear at the bar of
the convention, and give thanks for the arrest and punishment of the
conspirators, its accomplices.

It was now time for Danton to defend himself; the proscription, after
striking the commune, threatened him. He was advised to be on his guard,
and to take immediate steps; but not having been able to overturn the
dictatorial power, by arousing public opinion and the assembly by the
means of the public journals, and his friends of the Mountain, on what
could he depend for support? The convention, indeed, was inclined to
favour him and his cause; but it was wholly subject to the revolutionary
power of the committee. Danton having to support him, neither the
government, nor the assembly, nor the commune, nor the clubs, awaited
proscription, without making any effort to avoid it.

His friends implored him to defend himself. "I would rather," said he, "be
guillotined, than be a guillotiner; besides, my life is not worth the
trouble; and I am sick of the world." "The members of the committee seek
thy death." "Well," he exclaimed, impatiently, "should Billaud, should
Robespierre kill me, they will be execrated as tyrants; Robespierre's
house will be razed to the ground; salt will be strewn upon it; a gallows
will be erected on it, devoted to the vengeance of crime! But my friends
will say of me, that I was a good father, a good friend, a good citizen;
they will not forget me." "Thou mayst avert..." "I would rather be
guillotined than be a guillotiner." "Well, then, thou shouldst depart."
"Depart!" he repeated, curling his lip disdainfully, "depart! Can we carry
our country away on the sole of our shoe?"

Danton's only resource now was to make trial of his so well known and
potent eloquence, to denounce Robespierre and the committee, and to arouse
the convention against their tyranny. He was earnestly entreated to do
this; but he knew too well how difficult a thing it is to overthrow an
established domination, he knew too well the complete subjection and
terror of the assembly, to rely on the efficacy of such means. He
accordingly waited, thinking, he who had dared so much, that his enemies
would shrink from proscribing him.

On the 10th of Germinal, he was informed that his arrest was being
discussed in the committee of public safety, and he was again entreated to
save himself by flight. After a moment's reflection, he exclaimed, "They
dare not." During the night his house was surrounded, and he was taken to
the Luxembourg with Camille Desmoulins, Philippeaux, Lacroix, and
Westermann. On his arrival, he accosted with cordiality the prisoners who
crowded round him. "Gentlemen," said he, "I had hoped in a short time to
liberate you, but here I am come to join you, and I know not how the
matter may end." In about an hour he was placed in solitary confinement in
the cell in which Hébert had been imprisoned, and which Robespierre was so
soon to occupy. There, giving way to reflection and regret, he exclaimed:
"It was at this time I instituted the revolutionary tribunal. I implore
forgiveness from God and man for having done so; but I designed it not for
the scourge of humanity."

His arrest gave rise to general excitement, to a sombre anxiety. The
following day, at the opening of the sittings in the assembly, men spoke
in whispers; they inquired with alarm, what was the pretext for this new
proceeding against the representatives of the people. "Citizens," at
length exclaimed Legendre, "four members of this assembly have been
arrested during the night. Danton is one, I know not the others. Citizens,
I declare that I believe Danton to be as pure as myself, yet he is in a
dungeon. They feared, no doubt, that his replies would overturn the
accusations brought against him: I move, therefore, that before you listen
to any report, you send for the prisoners, and hear them." This motion was
favourably received, and inspired the assembly with momentary courage: a
few members desired it might be put to the vote, but this state of things
did not last long. Robespierre ascended the tribune. "By the excitement,
such as for a long time has been unknown in this the assembly," said he,
"by the sensation the words of the speaker you have just heard have
produced, it is easy to see that a question of great interest is before
us; a question whether two or three individuals shall be preferred to the
country. We shall see to-day whether the convention can crush to atoms a
mock idol, long since decayed, or whether its fall shall overwhelm both
the convention and the French people." And a few words from him sufficed
to restore silence and subordination to the assembly, to restrain the
friends of Danton, and to make Legendre himself retract. Soon after,
Saint-Just entered the house, followed by other members of the committees.
He read a long report against the members under arrest, in which he
impugned their opinions, their political conduct, their private life,
their projects; making them appear, by improbable and subtle combinations,
accomplices in every conspiracy, and the servants of every party. The
assembly, after listening without a murmur, with a bewildered sanction
unanimously decreed, and with applause even, the impeachment of Danton and
his friends. Every one sought to gain time with tyranny, and gave up
others' heads to save his own.

The accused were brought before the revolutionary tribunal; their attitude
was haughty, and full of courage. They displayed an audacity of speech,
and a contempt of their judges, wholly unusual: Danton replied to the
president Dumas, who asked him the customary questions as to his name, his
age, his residence: "I am Danton, tolerably well known in the revolution;
I am thirty-five years old. My residence will soon be nothing. My name
will live in the Panthéon of history." His disdainful or indignant
replies, the cold and measured answers of Lacroix, the austere dignity of
Philippeaux, the vigour of Desmoulins, were beginning to move the people.
But the accused were silenced, under the pretext that they were wanting in
respect to justice, and were immediately condemned without a hearing. "We
are immolated," cried Danton, "to the ambition of a few miserable
brigands, but they will not long enjoy the fruit of their criminal
victory. I draw Robespierre after me--Robespierre will follow me." They
were taken to the Conciergerie, and thence to the scaffold.

They went to death with the intrepidity usual at that epoch. There were
many troops under arms, and their escort was numerous. The crowd,
generally loud in its applause, was silent. Camille Desmoulins, when in
the fatal cart, was still full of astonishment at his condemnation, which
he could not comprehend. "This, then," said he, "is the reward reserved
for the first apostle of liberty." Danton stood erect, and looked proudly
and calmly around. At the foot of the scaffold he betrayed a momentary
emotion. "Oh, my best beloved--my wife!" he cried, "I shall not see thee
again." Then suddenly interrupting himself: "No weakness, Danton!" Thus
perished the last defenders of humanity and moderation; the last who
sought to promote peace among the conquerors of the revolution and pity
for the conquered. For a long time after them no voice was raised against
the dictatorship of terror; and from one end of France to the other it
struck silent and redoubled blows. The Girondists had sought to prevent
this violent reign,--the Dantonists to stop it; all perished, and the
conquerors had the more victims to strike the more foes arose around them.
In so sanguinary a career, there is no stopping until the tyrant is
himself slain. The Decemvirs, after the definitive fall of the Girondists,
had made _terror_ the order of the day; after the fall of the Hébertists,
_justice_ and _probity_, because these were _impure men of faction_; after
the fall of the Dantonists, _terror_ and _all virtues_, because these
Dantonists were, according to their phraseology, _indulgents and


(27TH JULY, 1794)

During the four months following the fall of the Danton party, the
committees exercised their authority without opposition or restraint.
Death became the only means of governing, and the republic was given up to
daily and systematic executions. It was then were invented the alleged
conspiracies of the inmates of the prisons, crowded under the law _des
suspects_, or emptied by that of the 22nd Prairial, which might be called
the law _des condamnés;_ then the emissaries of the committee of public
safety entirely replaced in the departments those of the Mountain; and
Carrier, the protégé of Billaud, was seen in the west; Maigret, the
protégé of Couthon, in the south; and Joseph Lebon, the protégé of
Robespierre, in the north. The extermination _en masse_ of the enemies of
the democratic dictatorship, which had already been effected at Lyons and
Toulon by grape-shot, became still more horrible, by the noyades of
Nantes, and the scaffolds of Arras, Paris, and Orange.

May this example teach men a truth, which for their good ought to be
generally known, that in a revolution all depends on a first refusal and a
first struggle. To effect a pacific innovation, it must not be contested;
otherwise war is declared and the revolution spreads, because the whole
nation is aroused to its defence. When society is thus shaken to its
foundations, it is the most daring who triumph, and instead of wise and
temperate reformers, we find only extreme and inflexible innovators.
Engendered by contest, they maintain themselves by it; with one hand they
fight to maintain their sway, with the other they establish their system
with a view to its consolidation; they massacre in the name of their
doctrines: virtue, humanity, the welfare of the people, all that is
holiest on earth, they use to sanction their executions, and to protect
their dictatorship. Until they become exhausted and fall, all perish
indiscriminately, both the enemies and the partisans of reform. The
tempest dashes a whole nation against the rock of revolution. Inquire what
became of the men of 1789 in 1794, and it will be found that they were all
alike swept away in this vast shipwreck. As soon as one party appeared on
the field of battle, it summoned all the others thither, and all like it
were in turn conquered and exterminated; constitutionalists, Girondists,
the Mountain, and the Decemvirs themselves. At each defeat, the effusion
of blood became greater, and the system of tyranny more violent. The
Decemvirs were the most cruel, because they were the last.

The committee of public safety, being at once the object of the attacks of
Europe, and of the hatred of so many conquered parties, thought that any
abatement of violence would occasion its destruction; it wished at the
same time to subdue its foes, and to get rid of them. "The dead alone do
not return," said Barrère. "The more freely the social body perspires, the
more healthy it becomes," added Collot-d'Herbois. But the Decemvirs, not
suspecting their power to be ephemeral, aimed at founding a democracy, and
sought in institutions a security for its permanence in the time when they
should cease to employ executions. They possessed in the highest degree
the fanaticism of certain social theories, as the millenarians of the
English revolution, with whom they may be compared, had the fanaticism of
certain religious ideas. The one originated with the people, as the other
looked to God; these desired the most absolute political equality, as
those sought evangelical equality; these aspired to the reign of virtue,
as those to the reign of the saints. Human nature flies to extremes in all
things, and produces, in a religious epoch, democratic Christians--in a
philosophical epoch, political democrats.

Robespierre and Saint-Just had produced the plan of that democracy, whose
principles they professed in all their speeches; they wished to change the
manners, mind, and customs of France, and to make it a republic after the
manner of the ancients; they sought to establish the dominion of the
people; to have magistrates free from pride; citizens free from vice;
fraternity of intercourse, simplicity of manners, austerity of character,
and the worship of virtue. The symbolical words of the sect may be found
in the speeches of all the reporters of the committee, and especially in
those of Robespierre and Saint-Just. _Liberty and equality_ for the
government of the republic; _indivisibility_ for its form; _public safety_
for its defence and preservation; _virtue_ for its principle; _the Supreme
Being_ for its religion; as for the citizens, _fraternity_ for their daily
intercourse; _probity_ for their conduct; _good sense_ for their mental
qualities; _modesty_ for their public actions, which were to have for
object the welfare of the state, and not their own: such was the symbol of
this democracy. Fanaticism could not go further. The authors of this
system did not inquire into its practicability; they thought it just and
natural; and having power, they tried to establish it by violence. Not one
of these words but served to condemn a party or individuals. The royalists
and aristocrats were hunted down in the name of _liberty and equality_;
the Girondists in the name of _indivisibility_; Philippeaux, Camille
Desmoulins, and the moderate party, in the name of _public safety_;
Chaumette, Anacharsis Clootz, Gobet, Hébert, all the anarchical and
atheistical party, in the name of _virtue and the Supreme Being_; Chabot,
Bazire, Fabre-d'Eglantine, in the name of _probity_; Danton in the name of
_virtue and modesty_. In the eyes of fanatics, these _moral crimes_
necessitated their destruction, as much as the conspiracies which they
were accused of.

Robespierre was the patron of this sect, which had in the committee a more
zealous, disinterested, and fanatic partisan than himself, in the person
of Saint-Just, who was called the Apocalyptic. His features were bold but
regular, and marked by an expression determined, but melancholy. His eye
was steady and piercing; his hair black, straight, and long. His manners
cold, though his character was ardent; simple in his habits, austere and
sententious, he advanced without hesitation towards the completion of his
system. Though scarcely twenty-five years old, he was the boldest of the
Decemvirs, because his convictions were the deepest. Passionately devoted
to the republic, he was indefatigable in the committees, intrepid on his
missions to the armies, where he set an example of courage, sharing the
marches and dangers of the soldiers. His predilection for the multitude
did not make him pay court to their propensities; and far from adopting
their dress and language with Hébert, he wished to confer on them ease,
gravity, and dignity. But his policy made him more terrible than his
popular sentiments. He had much daring, coolness, readiness, and decision.
Rarely susceptible to pity, he reduced to form his measures for the public
safety, and put them into execution immediately. If he considered victory,
proscription, the dictatorship necessary, he at once demanded them. Unlike
Robespierre, he was completely a man of action. The latter, comprehending
all the use he might make of him, early gained him over in the convention.
Saint-Just, on his part, was drawn towards Robespierre by his reputation
for incorruptibility, his austere life, and the conformity of their ideas.

The terrible effects of their association may be conceived when we
consider their popularity, the envious and tyrannical passions of the one,
and the inflexible character and systematic views of the other. Couthon
had joined them; he was personally devoted to Robespierre. Although he had
a mild look and a partially paralysed frame, he was a man of merciless
fanaticism. They formed, in the committee, a triumvirate which soon sought
to engross all power. This ambition alienated the other members of the
committee, and caused their own destruction. In the meantime, the
triumvirate imperiously governed the convention and the committee itself.
When it was necessary to intimidate the assembly, Saint-Just was intrusted
with the task; when they wished to take it by surprise, Couthon was
employed. If the assembly murmured or hesitated, Robespierre rose, and
restored silence and terror by a single word.

During the first two months after the fall of the commune and the Danton
party, the Decemvirs, who were not yet divided, laboured to secure their
domination: their commissioners kept the departments in restraint, and the
armies of the republic were victorious on all the frontiers. The committee
took advantage of this moment of security and union to lay the foundation
of new manners and new institutions. It must never be forgotten, that in a
revolution men are moved by two tendencies, attachment to their ideas, and
a thirst for command. The members of the committee, at the beginning,
agreed in their democratic sentiments; at the end, they contended for

Billaud-Varennes presented the theory of popular government and the means
of rendering the army always subordinate to the nation. Robespierre
delivered a discourse on the moral sentiments and solemnities suited to a
republic: he dedicated festivals _to the Supreme Being, to Truth, Justice,
Modesty, Friendship, Frugality, Fidelity, Immortality, Misfortune, etc._,
in a word, to all the moral and republican virtues. In this way he
prepared the establishment of the new worship _of the Supreme Being_.
Barrère made a report on the extirpation of mendicity, and the assistance
the republic owed to indigent citizens. All these reports passed into
decrees, agreeably to the wishes of the democrats. Barrère, whose habitual
speeches in the convention were calculated to disguise his servitude from
himself, was one of the most supple instruments of the committee; he
belonged to the régime of terror, neither from cruelty nor from
fanaticism. His manners were gentle, his private life blameless, and he
possessed great moderation of mind. But he was timid; and after having
been a constitutional royalist before the 10th of August, a moderate
republican prior to the 31st of May, he became the panegyrist and the co-
operator of the decemviral tyranny. This shows that, in a revolution, no
one should become an actor without decision of character. Intellect alone
is not inflexible enough; it is too accommodating; it finds reasons for
everything, even for what terrifies and disgusts it; it never knows when
to stop, at a time when one ought always to be prepared to die, and to end
one's part or end one's opinions.

Robespierre, who was considered the founder of this moral democracy, now
attained the highest degree of elevation and of power. He became the
object of the general flattery of his party; he was _the great man_ of the
republic. Men spoke of nothing but _of his virtue, of his genius, and of
his eloquence_. Two circumstances contributed to augment his importance
still further. On the 3rd Prairial, an obscure but intrepid man, named
l'Admiral, was determined to deliver France from Robespierre and Collot-
d'Herbois. He waited in vain for Robespierre all day, and at night he
resolved to kill Collot. He fired twice at him with pistols, but missed
him. The following day, a young girl, name Cécile Renaud, called at
Robespierre's house, and earnestly begged to speak with him. As he was
out, and as she still insisted upon being admitted, she was detained. She
carried a small parcel, and two knives were found on her person. "What
motive brought you to Robespierre's?" inquired her examiners. "I wanted to
speak to him." "On what business?" "That depended on how I might find
him." "Do you know citizen Robespierre?" "No, I sought to know him; I went
to his house to see what a tyrant was like." "What did you propose doing
with your two knives?" "Nothing, having no intention to injure any one."
"And your parcel?" "Contains a change of linen for my use in the place I
shall be sent to." "Where is that?" "To prison; and from thence to the
guillotine." The unfortunate girl was ultimately taken there, and her
family shared her fate.

Robespierre received marks of the most intoxicating adulation. At the
Jacobins and in the convention his preservation was attributed to the
_good genius of the republic_, and to _the Supreme Being_, whose existence
he had decreed on the 18th Floréal. The celebration of the new religion
had been fixed for the 20th Prairial throughout France. On the 16th,
Robespierre was unanimously appointed president of the convention, in
order that he might officiate as the pontiff at the festival. At that
ceremony he appeared at the head of the assembly, his face beaming with
joy and confidence, an unusual expression with him. He advanced alone,
fifteen feet in advance of his colleagues, attired in a magnificent dress,
holding flowers and ears of corn in his hand, the object of general
attention. Expectation was universally raised on this occasion: the
enemies of Robespierre foreboded attempts at usurpation, the persecuted
looked forward to a milder régime. He disappointed every one. He harangued
the people in his capacity of high priest, and concluded his speech, in
which all expected to find a hope of happier prospects, with these
discouraging words:--"_People, let us to-day give ourselves up to the
transports of pure delight! To-morrow we will renew our struggle against
vices and against tyrants._"

Two days after, on the 22nd Prairial, Couthon presented a new law to the
convention. The revolutionary tribunal had dutifully struck all those who
had been pointed out to it: royalists, constitutionalists, Girondists,
anarchists, and Mountain, had been all alike despatched to execution. But
it did not proceed expeditiously enough to satisfy the systematic
exterminators, who wished promptly, and at any cost, to get rid of all
their prisoners. It still observed some forms; these were suppressed. "All
tardiness," said Couthon, "is a crime, all indulgent formality a public
danger; there should be no longer delay in punishing the enemies of the
state than suffices to recognise them." Hitherto the prisoners had
counsel; they had them no longer:--_The law furnishes patriot jurymen for
the defence of calumniated patriots; it grants none to conspirators_. They
tried them, at first, individually; now they tried them _en masse_. There
had been some precision in the crimes, even when revolutionary; now _all
the enemies of the people_ were declared guilty, and all were pronounced
enemies of the people _who sought to destroy liberty by force or
stratagem_. The jury before had the law to guide their determinations,
they _now only had their conscience_. A single tribunal, Fouquier-Tinville
and a few jurymen, were not sufficient for the increase of victims the new
law threatened to bring before it; the tribunal was divided into four
sections, the number of judges and juries was increased, and the public
accuser had four substitutes appointed to assist him. Lastly, the deputies
of the people could not before be brought to trial without a decree of the
convention; but the law was now so drawn up that they could be tried on an
order from the committees. The law respecting suspected persons gave rise
to that of Prairial.

As soon as Couthon had made his report, a murmur of astonishment and alarm
pervaded the assembly. "If this law passes," cried Ruamps, "all we have to
do is to blow our brains out. I demand an adjourment." This motion was
supported; but Robespierre ascended the tribunal. "For a long time," said
he, "the national assembly has been accustomed to discuss and decree at
the same time, because it has long been delivered from the thraldom of
faction. I move that without considering the question of adjournment, the
convention debate, till eight in the evening if necessary, on the proposed
law." The discussion was immediately begun, and in thirty minutes after
the second reading, the decree was carried. But the following day, a few
members, more afraid of the law than of the committee, returned to the
debate of the day before. The Mountain, friends of Danton, fearing, for
their own sakes, the new provisions, which left the representatives at the
mercy of the Decemvirs, proposed to the convention to provide for the
safety of its members. Bourdon de l'Oise was the first to speak on this
subject; he was supported. Merlin, by a skilful amendment, restored the
old safeguard of the conventionalists, and the assembly adopted Merlin's
measure. Gradually, objections were made to the decree; the courage of the
Mountain increased, and the discussion became very animated. Couthon
attacked the Mountain. "Let them know," replied Bourdon de l'Oise--"let
the members of the committee know that if they are patriots, we are
patriots too. Let them know that I shall not reply with bitterness to
their reproaches. I esteem Couthon, I esteem the committee; but I also
esteem the unshaken Mountain which has saved our liberty." Robespierre,
surprised at this unexpected resistance, hurried to the tribune. "The
convention," said he, "the Mountain, and the committee are the same thing!
Every representative of the people who sincerely loves liberty, every
representative of the people who is ready to die for his country, belongs
to the Mountain! We should insult our country, assassinate the people, did
we allow a few intriguing persons, more contemptible than others, because
they are more hypocritical, to draw off a portion of the Mountain, and
make themselves the leaders of a party." "If was never my intention," said
Bourdon, "to make myself leader of a party." "It would be the height of
opprobrium," continued Robespierre, "if a few of our colleagues, led away
by calumny respecting our intentions and the object of our labours...." "I
insist on your proving what you assert," rejoined Bourdon. "I have been
very plainly called a scoundrel." "I did not name Bourdon. Woe to the man
who names himself! Yes, the Mountain is pure, it is sublime; intriguers do
not belong to the Mountain!" "Name them!" "I will name them when it is
necessary." The threats and the imperious tone of Robespierre, the support
of the other Decemvirs, and the feeling of fear which went round caused
profound silence. The amendment of Merlin was revoked as insulting to the
committee of public safety, and the whole law was adopted. From that time
executions took place in batches; and fifty persons were sent to death
daily. This _Terror_ within terror lasted about two months.

But the end of this system drew near. The sittings of Prairial were the
term of union for the member of the committees. From that time, silent
dissensions existed among them. They had advanced together, so long as
they had to contend together; but this ceased to be the case when they
found themselves alone in the arena, with habits of contest and the desire
for dominion. Moreover, their opinions were no longer entirely the same:
the democratic party were divided by the fall of the old commune; Billaud-
Varennes, Collot-d'Herbois, and the principal members of the committee of
general safety, Vadier, Amar, Vouland, clung to this overthrown faction,
and preferred _the worship of Reason_ to that of _the Supreme Being_. They
were also jealous of the fame, and anxious at the power of Robespierre,
who, in his turn, was irritated at their secret disapprobation and the
obstacles they opposed to his will. At this period, the latter conceived
the design of putting down the most enterprising members of the Mountain,
Tallien, Bourdon, Legendre, Fréron, Rovère, etc., and his rivals of the

Robespierre had a prodigious force at his disposal, the common people, who
considered the revolution as depending on him, supported him as the
representative of its doctrines and interests; the armed force of Paris,
commanded by Henriot, was at his command. He had entire sway over the
Jacobins, whom he admitted and ejected at pleasure; all important posts
were occupied by his creatures; he had formed the revolutionary tribunal
and the new committee himself, substituting Payan, the national agent, for
Chaumette, the attorney-general; and Fleuriot for Pache, in the office of
mayor. But what was his design in granting the most influential places to
new men, and in separating himself from the committees? Did he aspire to
the dictatorship? Did he only seek to establish his democracy _of virtue_
by the ruin of the remaining _immoral_ members of the Mountain, and the
_factious_ of the committee? Each party had lost its leaders: the Gironde
had lost the _twenty-two_; the commune, Hébert, Chaumette, and Ronsin; the
Mountain, Danton, Chabot, Lacroix, and Camille Desmoulins. But while thus
proscribing the leaders, Robespierre had carefully protected the sects. He
had defended the _seventy-three prisoners_ against the denunciations of
the Jacobins and the hatred of the committees; he had placed himself at
the head of the new commune; he had no longer reason to fear opposition to
his projects, whatever they might be, except from a few of the Mountain
and the members of the conventional government. It was against this double
obstacle that he directed his efforts during the last moments of his
career. It is probable that he did not separate the republic from his
protectorate, and that he thought to establish both on the overthrow of
the other parties.

The committees opposed Robespierre in their own way. They secretly strove
to bring about his fall by accusing him of tyranny; they caused the
establishment of his religion to be considered as the presage of his
usurpation; they recalled the haughty attitude he assumed on the 20th
Priarial, and the distance at which he kept even the national convention.
Among themselves, they called him _Pisistratus_, and this name already
passed from mouth to mouth. A circumstance, insignificant enough at any
other time, gave them an opportunity of attacking him indirectly. An old
woman, called _Catherine Théot_, played the prophetess in an obscure
habitation, surrounded by a few mystic sectaries: they styled her _the
Mother of God_, and she announced the immediate coming of a _Messiah_.
Among her followers there was on old associate of Robespierre in the
constituent assembly, the Chartreux Dom Gerle, who had a civic certificate
from Robespierre himself. When the committees discovered _the mysteries of
the Mother of God_, and her predictions, they believed or pretended to
believe, that Robespierre made use of her instrumentality to gain over the
fanatics, or to announce his elevation. They altered her name of _Théot_
into that of _Théos_, signifying God; and they craftily insinuated that
Robespierre was the Messiah she announced. The aged Vadier, in the name of
the committee of general safety, was deputed to bring forward a motion
against this new sect. He was vain and subtle; he denounced those who were
initiated into these mysteries, turned the worship into derision,
implicated Robespierre in it without naming him, and had the fanatics sent
to prison. Robespierre wished to save them. The conduct of the committee
of general safety greatly irritated him, and in the Jacobin club he spoke
of the speech of Vadier with contempt and anger. He experienced fresh
opposition from the committee of public safety, which refused to proceed
against the persons he pointed out to them. From that time he ceased to
join his colleagues in the government, and was rarely present at the
sittings of the convention. But he attended the Jacobins regularly; and
from the tribune of that club he hoped to overthrow his enemies as he had
hitherto done.

Naturally sad, suspicious and timid, he became more melancholy and
mistrustful than ever. He never went out without being accompanied by
several Jacobins armed with sticks, who were called his body-guard. He
soon commenced his denunciations in the popular assembly. "_All corrupt
men_," said he, "_must be expelled the convention._" This was designating
the friends of Danton. Robespierre had them watched with the most minute
anxiety. Every day spies followed all their motions, observing their
actions, haunts, and conversation. Robespierre not only attacked the
Dantonists at the Jacobins, he even arose against the committee itself,
and for that purpose he chose a day when Barrère presided in the popular
assembly. At the close of the sitting, the latter returned home
discouraged; "I am disgusted with men," said he to Villate. "What could be
his motive for attacking you?" inquired the other. "Robespierre is
insatiable," rejoined Barrère; "because we will not do all he wishes, he
must break with us. If he talked to us about Thuriot, Guffroi, Rovère
Lecointre, Panis, Cambon, Monestier, and the rest of the Dantonists, we
might agree with him; let him even require Tallien, Bourdon de l'Oise,
Legendre, Fréron, well; but Duval, Audoin, Leonard Bourdon, Vadier,
Vouland--it is impossible to consent." To give up members of the
committee of general safety, was to expose themselves; accordingly, while
fearing, they firmly awaited the attack. Robespierre was very formidable,
with respect to his power, his hatred, and his designs; it was for him to
begin the combat.

But how could he set about it? For the first time he was the author of a
conspiracy; hitherto he had taken advantage of all popular movements.
Danton, the Cordeliers, and the faubourgs had made the insurrection of the
10th of August against the throne; Marat, the Mountain, and the commune
had made that of the 31st of May against the Gironde; Billaud, Saint-Just,
and the committees had effected the ruin of the commune, and weakened the
Mountain. Robespierre remained alone. Unable to procure assistance from
the government, since he had declared against the committees, he had
recourse to the populace and the Jacobins. The principal conspirators were
Saint-Just, and Couthon in the committee; Fleuriot the mayor, and Payan
the national agent in the commune; Dumas the president, and Coffinhal the
vice-president, in the revolutionary tribunal; Henriot, the commander of
the armed force, and the popular society. On the 15th Messidor, three
weeks after the law of Prairial, and twenty-four days before the 9th
Thermidor, the resolution was already taken; at that time, and under that
date, Henriot wrote to the mayor: "You shall be satisfied with me,
comrade, and with the way in which I shall proceed; trust me, men who love
their country, easily agree in directing all their steps to the benefit of
public affairs. I would have wished, and I do wish, that the _secret of
the operation_ rested with us two; the wicked should know nothing of it.
Health and brotherhood."

Saint-Just was on a mission to the army of the north; Robespierre hastily
recalled him. While waiting his return, he prepared the public mind at the
Jacobins. In the sitting of the 3rd Thermidor, he complained of the
conduct of the committees, and of the _persecution of the patriots_, whom
he swore to defend. "There must no longer be traces of crime or faction,"
said he, "in any place whatever. A few scoundrels disgrace the convention;
but it will not allow itself to be swayed by them." He then urged his
colleagues, the Jacobins, to prevent _their reflections_ to the national
assembly. This was the transaction of the 31st of May. On the 4th, he
received a deputation from the department of l'Aisne, who came to complain
to him of the operations of the government, to which, for a month past, he
had been a stranger. "The convention," said Robespierre, in his reply to
the deputation, "in the situation in which it now stands, gangrened by
corruption, and being wholly unable to recover itself, cannot save the
republic-both must perish. The proscription of patriots is the order of
the day. As for me I have one foot in the tomb; in a few days the other
will follow it. The rest is in the hands of Providence." He was then
slightly indisposed, and he purposely exaggerated his discouragement, his
fears, and the dangers of the republic, in order to inflame the patriots,
and again bind the fate of the revolution with his own.

In the meantime. Saint-Just arrived from the army. He ascertained the
state of affairs from Robespierre. He presented himself to the committees,
the members of which received him coldly; every time he entered, they
ceased to deliberate. Saint-Just, who, from their silence, a few chance
words, and the expression of perplexity or hostility on their
countenances, saw there was no time to be lost, pressed Robespierre to
act. His Maxim was to strike at once, and resolutely. "Dare," said he,
"that is the secret of revolutions." But he wished to prevail on
Robespierre to take a measure, which was impossible, by urging him to
strike his foes, without apprising them. The force at his disposal was a
force of revolutionary opinion, and not an organized force. It was
necessary for him to seek the assistance of the convention or of the
commune, the legal authority of government, or the extraordinary authority
of insurrection. Such was the custom, and such must be all coups-d'état.
They could not even have recourse to insurrection, until after they had
received the refusal of the assembly, otherwise a pretext was wanting for
the rising. Robespierre was therefore obliged to commence the attack in
the convention itself. He hoped to obtain everything from it by his
ascendancy, or if, contrary to its custom, it resisted, he reckoned on the
people, urged by the commune, rising on the 9th Thermidor against the
proscribed of the Mountain, and the committee of public safety, as it had
risen on the 31st of May against the proscribed of the Gironde and the
Commission of Twelve. It is almost always by the past that man regulates
his conduct and his hopes.

On the 8th Thermidor, he entered the convention at an early hour. He
ascended the tribunal and denounced the committee in a most skilful
speech. "I am come," said he, "to defend before you your authority
insulted, and liberty violated. I will also defend myself; you will not be
surprised at this; you do not resemble the tyrants you contend with. The
cries of outraged innocence do not importune your ears, and you know that
this cause is not foreign to your interests." After this opening, he
complained of those who had calumniated him; he attacked those who sought
the ruin of the republic, either by excesses or moderation; those who
persecuted pacific citizens, meaning the committees, and those who
persecuted true patriots, meaning the Mountain. He associated himself with
the intentions, past conduct, and spirit of the convention; he added that
its enemies were his: "What have I done to merit persecution, if it
entered not into the general system of their conspiracy against the
convention? Have you not observed that, to isolate you from the nation,
they have given out that you are dictators, reigning by means of terror,
and disavowed by the silent wishes of all Frenchmen? For myself, what
faction do I belong to? To yourselves. What is that faction that, from the
beginning of the revolution, has overthrown all factions, and got rid of
acknowledged traitors. It is you, it is the people, it is principles. That
is the faction to which I am devoted, and against which all crimes are
leagued. For at least six weeks, my inability to do good and to check evil
has obliged me absolutely to renounce my functions as a member of the
committee of public safety. Has patriotism been better protected? Have
factions been more timid? Or the country more happy? At all times my
influence has been confined to pleading the cause of my country before the
national representation, and at the tribunal of public opinion." After
having attempted to confound his cause with that of the convention, he
tried to excite it against the committees by dwelling on the idea of its
independence. "Representatives of the people," said he, "it is time to
resume the pride and elevation of character which befits you. You are not
made to be ruled, but to rule the depositaries of your confidence."

While he thus endeavoured to tempt the assembly by the return of its power
and the end of its slavery, he addressed the moderate party, by reminding
them that they were indebted to him for the lives of the Seventy-Three,
and by holding forth hopes of returning order, justice, and clemency. He
spoke of changing the devouring and trickster system of finance, of
softening the revolutionary government, of guiding its influence, and
punishing its prevaricating agents. Lastly, he invoked the people, talked
of their necessities, and of their power. And when he had recalled all
that could act upon the interests, hopes, or fears of the convention, he
added: "We say, then, that there exists a conspiracy against public
liberty; that it owes its strength to a criminal coalition which intrigues
in the very heart of the convention; that this coalition has accomplices
in the committee of general safety; that the enemies of the republic have
opposed this committee to the committee of public safety, and have thus
constituted two governments; that members of the committee of public
safety are concerned in this plot; that the coalition thus formed seeks
the ruin both of patriots and of the country; What remedy is there for
this evil? Punish the traitors; compose anew the committee of general
safety; purify this committee, and make it subordinate to the committee of
public safety; purify the latter committee itself; constitute the unity of
the government under the supreme authority of the convention; crush every
faction under the weight of national authority, and establish on their
ruins the power of justice and liberty."

Not a murmur, not a mark of applause welcomed this declaration of war. The
silence with which Robespierre was heard continued long after he had
ceased speaking. Anxious looks were exchanged in all parts of the doubting
assembly. At length Lecointre of Versailles arose and proposed that the
speech should be printed. This motion was the signal for agitation,
discussion, and resistance. Bourdon de l'Oise opposed the motion for
printing the speech, as a dangerous measure. He was applauded. But
Barrère, in his ambiguous manner, having maintained that all speeches
ought to be published, and Couthon having moved that it should be sent to
all the communes of the republic, the convention, intimidated by this
apparent concord of the two opposite factions, decreed both the printing
and circulation of the speech.

The members of the two committees thus attacked, who had hitherto remained
silent, seeing the Mountain thwarted, and the majority undecided, thought
it time to speak. Vadier first opposed Robespierre's speech and
Robespierre himself. Cambon went further. "It is time," he cried, "to
speak the whole truth: one man paralyzed the resolution of the national
assembly; that man is Robespierre." "The mask must be torn off," added
Billaud-Varennes, "whatever face it may cover; I would rather my corpse
should serve an ambitious man for his throne, than by my silence to become
the accomplice of his crimes." Panis, Bentabole, Charlier, Thirion, Amar,
attacked him in turn. Fréron proposed to the convention to throw off the
fatal yoke of the committees. "The time is come," said he, "to revive
liberty of opinion; I move that the assembly revoke the decree which gives
the committee power to arrest the representatives of the people. Who can
speak freely while he fears an arrest?" Some applause was heard; but the
moment for the entire deliverance of the convention was not yet arrived.
It was necessary to contend with Robespierre from behind the committees,
in order subsequently to attack the committees more easily. Fréron's
motion was accordingly rejected. "The man who is prevented by fear from
delivering his opinion," said Billaud-Varennes, looking at him, "is not
worthy the title of a representative of the people." Attention was again
drawn to Robespierre. The decree ordering his speech to be printed was
recalled, and the convention submitted the speech to the examination of
the committees. Robespierre who had been surprised at this fiery
resistance, then said: "What! I had the courage to place before the
assembly truths which I think necessary to the safety of the country, and
you send my discourse for the examination of the members whom I accuse."
He retired, a little discouraged, but hoping to bring back the assembly to
his views, or rather, bring it into subjection with the aid of the
conspirators of the Jacobins and the commune.

In the evening he repaired to the popular society. He was received with
enthusiasm. He read the speech which the assembly had just condemned, and
the Jacobins loaded him with applause. He then recounted to them the
attacks which had been directed against him, and to increase their
excitement he added: "If necessary, I am ready to drink the cup of
Socrates." "Robespierre," cried a deputy, "I will drink it with you." "The
enemies of Robespierre," cried numbers on all sides, "are the enemies of
the country; let them be named, and they shall cease to live." During the
whole night Robespierre prepared his partisans for the following day. It
was agreed that they should assemble at the commune and the Jacobins, in
order to be ready for every event, while he, accompanied by his friends,
repaired to the assembly.

The committees had also spent the night in deliberation. Saint-Just had
appeared among them. His colleagues tried to disunite him from the
triumvirate; they deputed him to draw up a report on the events of the
preceding day, and submit it to them. But, instead of that, he drew up an
act of accusation, which he would not communicate to them, and said, as he
withdrew: "You have withered my heart; I am going to open it to the
convention." The committees placed all their hope in the courage of the
assembly and the union of parties. The Mountain had omitted nothing to
bring about this salutary agreement. They had addressed themselves to the
most influential members of the Right and of the Marais. They had
entreated Boissy d'Anglas and Durand de Maillane, who were at their head,
to join them against Robespierre. They hesitated at first: they were so
alarmed at his power, so full of resentment against the Mountain, that
they dismissed the Dantonists twice without listening to them. At last the
Dantonists returned to the charge a third time, and then the Right and the
Plain engaged to support them. There was thus a conspiracy on both sides.
All the parties of the assembly were united against Robespierre, all the
accomplices of the triumvirs were prepared to act against the convention.
In this state of affairs the sitting of the ninth Thermidor began.

The members of the assembly repaired there earlier than usual. About half-
past eleven they gathered in the passages, encouraging each other. The
Bourdon de l'Oise, one of the Mountain, approached Durand de Maillane, a
moderate, pressed his hand, and said--"The people of the Right are
excellent men." Rovère and Tallien came up and mingled their
congratulations with those of Bourdon. At twelve they saw, from the door
of the hall, Saint-Just ascend the tribune. "_Now is the time_," said
Tallien, and they entered the hall. Robespierre occupied a seat in front
of the tribune, doubtless in order to intimidate his adversaries with his
looks. Saint-Just began: "I belong," he said, "to no faction; I will
oppose them all. The course of things has perhaps made this tribune the
Tarpeian rock for him who shall tell you that the members of the
government have quitted the path of prudence." Tallien then interrupted
Saint-Just, and exclaimed violently: "No good citizen can restrain his
tears at the wretched state of public affairs. We see nothing but
divisions. Yesterday a member of the government separated himself from it
to accuse it. To-day another does the same. Men still seek to attack each
other, to increase the woes of the country, to precipitate it into the
abyss. Let the veil be wholly torn asunder." "It must! it must!" resounded
on every side.

Billaud-Varennes spoke from his seat--"Yesterday," said he, "the society
of Jacobins was filled with hired men, for no one had a card; yesterday
the design of assassinating the members of the national assembly was
developed in that society; yesterday I saw men uttering the most atrocious
insults against those who have never deviated from the revolution. I see
on the Mountain one of those men who threatened the republic; there he
is." "Arrest him! arrest him!" was the general cry. The serjeant seized
him, and took him to the committee of general safety. "The time is come
for speaking the truth," said Billaud. "The assembly would form a wrong
judgment of events and of the position in which it is placed, did it
conceal from itself that it is placed between two massacres. It will
perish, if feeble." "No! no! It will not perish!" exclaimed all the
members, rising from their seats. They swore to save the republic. The
spectators in the gallery applauded, and cried--"Vive la Convention
Rationale!" The impetuous Lebas attempted to speak in defence of the
triumvirs; he was not allowed to do so, and Billaud continued. He warned
the convention of its dangers, attacked Robespierre, pointed out his
accomplices, denounced his conduct and his plans of dictatorship. All eyes
were directed towards him. He faced them firmly for some time; but at
length, unable to contain himself, he rushed to the tribune. The cry of
"Down with the tyrant," instantly became general, and drowned his voice.

"Just now," said Tallien, "I required that the veil should be torn
asunder. It gives me pleasure to see that it is wholly sundered. The
conspirators are unmasked; they will soon be destroyed, and liberty will
triumph. I was present yesterday at the sitting of the Jacobins; I
trembled for my country. I saw the army of this new Cromwell forming, and
I armed myself with a poignard to stab him to the heart, if the national
convention wanted courage to decree his impeachment." He drew out his
poignard, brandished it before the indignant assembly, and moved before
anything else, the arrest of Henriot, the permanent sitting of the
assembly; and both motions were carried, in the midst of cries of--"Vive
la république!" Billaud also moved the arrest of three of Robespierre's
most daring accomplices, Dumas, Boulanger, and Dufrèse. Barrère caused the
convention to be placed under the guard of the armed sections, and drew up
a proclamation to be addressed to the people. Every one proposed a measure
of precaution. Vadier diverted the assembly for a moment, from the danger
which threatened it, to the affair of Catherine Théos. "Let us not be
diverted from the true object of debate," said Tallien. "I will undertake
to bring you back to it," said Robespierre. "Let us turn our attention to
the tyrant," rejoined Tallien, attacking him more warmly than before.

Robespierre, after attempting to speak several times, ascending and
descending the stairs of the tribune, while his voice was drowned by cries
of "Down with the tyrant!" and the bell which the president Thuriot
continued ringing, now made a last effort to be heard. "President of
assassins," he cried, "for the last time, will you let me speak?" But
Thuriot continued to ring his bell. Robespierre, after glancing at the
spectators in the public gallery, who remained motionless, turned towards
the Right. "Pure and virtuous men," said he, "I have recourse to you; give
me the hearing which these assassins refuse." No answer was returned;
profound silence prevailed. Then, wholly dejected, he returned to his
place, and sank on his seat exhausted by fatigue and rage. He foamed at
the mouth, and his utterance was choked. "Wretch!" said one of the
Mountain, "the blood of Danton chokes thee." His arrest was demanded and
supported on all sides. Young Robespierre now arose: "I am as guilty as my
brother," said he. "I share his virtues, and I will share his fate." "I
will not be involved in the opprobrium of this decree," added Lebas; "I
demand my arrest too." The assembly unanimously decreed the arrest of the
two Robespierres, Couthon, Lebas, and Saint-Just. The latter, after
standing for some time at the tribune with unchanged countenance,
descended with composure to his place. He had faced this protracted storm
without any show of agitation. The triumvirs were delivered to the
gendarmerie, who removed them amidst general applause. Robespierre
exclaimed, as he went out--"The republic is lost, the brigands triumph."
It was now half-past five, and the sitting was suspended till seven.

During this stormy contest the accomplices of the triumvirs had assembled
at the Commune and the Jacobins. Fleuriot the mayor, Payan the national
agent, and Henriot the commandant, had been at the Hôtel de Ville since
noon. They had assembled the municipal officers by the sound of the drum,
hoping that Robespierre would be triumphant in the assembly, and that they
should not require the general council to decree the insurrection, or the
sections to sustain it. A few hours after, a serjeant of the convention
arrived to summon the mayor to the bar of the assembly to give a report of
the state of Paris. "Go, and tell your scoundrels," said Henriot, "that we
are discussing how to purge them. Do not forget to tell Robespierre to be
firm, and to fear nothing." About half-past four they learned of the
arrest of the triumvirs, and the decree against their accomplices. The
tocsin was immediately sounded, the barriers closed, the general council
assembled, and the sectionaries called together. The cannoneers were
ordered to bring their pieces to the commune, and the revolutionary
committees to take the oath of insurrection. A message was sent to the
Jacobins, who sat permanently. The municipal deputies were received with
the greatest enthusiasm. "The society watches over the country," they were
told. "It has sworn to die rather than live under crime." At the same time
they concerted together, and established rapid communications between
these two centres of the insurrection. Henriot, on his side, to arouse the
people, ran through the streets, pistol in hand, at the head of his staff,
crying "to arms!" haranguing the multitude, and instigating all he met to
repair to the commune to _save the country_. While on this errand, two
members of the convention perceived him in the Rue Saint Honoré. They
summoned, in the name of the law, a few gendarmes to execute the order for
his arrest; they obeyed, and Henriot was pinioned and conveyed to the
committee of general safety.

Nothing, however, was decided as yet on either side. Each party made use
of its means of power; the convention of its decrees, the commune of the
insurrection; each party knew what would be the consequences of defeat,
and this rendered them both so active, so full of foresight and decision.
Success was long uncertain. From noon till five the convention had the
upper hand; it caused the arrest of the triumvirs, Payan the national
agent, and Henriot the commandant. It was already assembled, and the
commune had not yet collected its forces; but from six to eight the
insurgents regained their position, and the cause of the convention was
nearly lost. During this interval, the national representatives had
separated, and the commune had redoubled its efforts and audacity.

Robespierre had been transferred to the Luxembourg, his brother to Saint-
Lazare, Saint-Just to the Écossais, Couthon to La Bourbe, Lebas to the
Conciergerie. The commune, after having ordered the gaolers not to receive
them, sent municipal officers with detachments to bring them away.
Robespierre was liberated first, and conducted in triumph to the Hôtel de
Ville. On arriving, he was received with the greatest enthusiasm; "Long
live Robespierre! Down with the traitors!" resounded on all sides. A
little before, Coffinhal had departed, at the head of two hundred
cannoneers, to release Henriot, who was detained at the committee of
general safety. It was now seven o'clock, and the convention had resumed
its sitting. Its guard, at the most, was a hundred men. Coffinhal arrived,
made his way through the outer courts, entered the committee chamber, and
delivered Henriot. The latter repaired to the Place du Carrousel,
harangued the cannoneers, and ordered them to point their pieces on the

The assembly was just then discussing the danger to which it was exposed.
It had just heard of the alarming success of the conspirators, of the
insurrectional orders of the commune, the rescue of the triumvirs, their
presence at the Hôtel de Ville, the rage of the Jacobins, the successive
convocation of the revolutionary council and of the sections. It was
dreading a violent invasion every moment, when the terrified members of
the committees rushed in, fleeing from Coffinhal. They learned that the
committees were surrounded, and Henriot released. This news caused great
agitation. The next moment Amar entered precipitately, and announced that
the cannoneers, acted upon by Henriot, had turned their pieces upon the
convention. "Citizens," said the president, putting on his hat, in token
of distress, "the hour is come to die at our posts!" "Yes, yes! we will
die there!" exclaimed all the members. The people in the galleries rushed
out, crying, "To arms! Let us drive back the scoundrels!" And the assembly
courageously outlawed Henriot.

Fortunately for the assembly, Henriot could not prevail upon the
cannoneers to fire. His influence was limited to inducing them to
accompany him, and he turned his steps to the Hôtel de Ville. The refusal
of the cannoneers decided the fate of the day. From that moment the
commune, which had been on the point of triumphing, saw its affairs
decline. Having failed in a surprise by main force, it was reduced to the
slow measures of the insurrection; the point of attack was changed, and
soon it was no longer the commune which besieged the Tuileries, but the
convention which marched upon the Hôtel de Ville. The assembly instantly
outlawed the conspiring deputies and the insurgent commune. It sent
commissioners to the sections, to secure their aid, named the
representative Barras commandant of the armed force, joining with him
Fréron, Rovère, Bourdon de l'Oise, Féraud, Leonard Bourdon, Legendre, all
men of decision: and made the committees the centre of operation.

The sections, on the invitation of the commune, had assembled about nine
o'clock; the greater part of the citizens, in repairing thither, were
anxious, uncertain, and but vaguely informed of the quarrels between the
commune and the convention. The emissaries of the insurgents urged them to
join them and to march their battalions to the Hôtel de Ville. The
sections confined themselves to sending a deputation, but as soon as the
commissioners of the convention arrived among them, had communicated to
them the decrees and invitations of the assembly, and informed them that
there was a leader and a rallying point, they hesitated no longer. Their
battalions presented themselves in succession to the assembly; they swore
to defend it, and they passed in files through the hall, amid shouts of
enthusiasm and sincere applause. "The moments are precious," said Fréron;
"we must act; Barras is gone to take the orders of the committees; we will
march against the rebels; we will summon them in the name of the
convention to deliver up the traitors, and if they refuse, we will reduce
the building in which they are to ashes." "Go," said the president, "and
let not day appear before the heads of the conspirators have fallen." A
few battalions and some pieces of artillery were placed round the
assembly, to guard it from attack, and the sections then marched in two
columns against the commune. It was now nearly midnight.

The conspirators were still assembled. Robespierre, after having been
received with cries of enthusiasm, promises of devotedness and victory,
had been admitted into the general council between Payan and Fleuriot. The
Place de Grève was filled with men, and glittered with bayonets, pikes,
and cannon. They only waited the arrival of the sections to proceed to
action. The presence of their deputies, and the sending of municipal
commissioners in their midst, had inspired reliance on their aid. Henriot
answered for everything. The conspirators looked for certain victory; they
appointed an executive commission, prepared addresses to the armies, and
drew up various lists. Half-past midnight, however, arrived, and no
section had yet appeared, no order had yet been given, the triumvirs were
still sitting, and the crowd on the Place de Grève became discouraged by
this tardiness and indecision. A report spread in whispers that the
sections had declared in favour of the convention, that the commune was
outlawed, and that the troops of the convention were advancing. The
eagerness of the armed multitude had already abated, when a few emissaries
of the assembly glided among them, and raised the cry, "Vive la
convention!" Several voices repeated it. They then read the proclamation
of outlawry against the commune; and after hearing it, the whole crowd
dispersed. The Place de Grève was deserted in a moment. Henriot came down
a few minutes after, sabre in hand, to excite their courage; but finding
no one: "What!" cried he; "is it possible? Those rascals of cannoneers,
who saved my life five hours ago, now forsake me." He went up again. At
that moment, the columns of the convention arrived, surrounded the Hôtel
de Ville, silently took possession of all its outlets, and then shouted,
"Vive la convention nationale!"

The conspirators, finding they were lost, sought to escape the violence of
their enemies. A gendarme named Méda, who first entered the room where the
conspirators were assembled, fired a pistol at Robespierre and shattered
his jaw; Lebas wounded himself fatally; Robespierre the younger jumped
from a window on the third story, and survived his fall; Couthon hid
himself under a table; Saint-Just awaited his fate; Coffinhal, after
reproaching Henriot with cowardice, threw him from a window into a drain
and fled. Meantime, the conventionalists penetrated into the Hôtel de
Ville, traversed the desolate halls, seized the conspirators, and carried
them in triumph to the assembly. Bourdon entered the hall crying "Victory!
victory! the traitors are no more!" "The wretched Robespierre is there,"
said the president; "they are bringing him on a litter. Doubtless you
would not have him brought in." "No! no!" they cried; "carry him to the
Place de la Révolution!" He was deposited for some time at the committee
of general safety before he was transferred to the Conciergerie; and here,
stretched on a table, his face disfigured and bloody, exposed to the
looks, the invectives, the curses of all, he beheld the various parties
exulting in his fall, and charging upon him all the crimes that had been
committed. He displayed much insensibility during his last moments. He was
taken to the Conciergerie, and afterwards appeared before the
revolutionary tribunal, which, after identifying him and his accomplices,
sent them to the scaffold. On the 10th Thermidor, about five in the
evening, he ascended the death cart, placed between Henriot and Couthon,
mutilated like himself. His head was enveloped in linen saturated with
blood; his face was livid, his eyes almost visionless. An immense crowd
thronged around the cart, manifesting the most boisterous and exulting
joy. They congratulated and embraced each other, loading him with
imprecations, and pressed near to view him more closely. The gendarmes
pointed him out with their sabres. As to him, he seemed to regard the
crowd with contemptuous pity; Saint-Just looked calmly at them; the rest,
in number twenty-two, were dejected. Robespierre ascended the scaffold
last; when his head fell, shouts of applause arose in the air, and lasted
for some minutes.

With him ended the reign of terror, although he was not the most zealous
advocate of that system in his party. If he sought for supremacy, after
obtaining it, he would have employed moderation; and the reign of terror,
which ceased at his fall, would also have ceased with his triumph. I
regard his ruin to have been inevitable; he had no organized force; his
partisans, though numerous, were not enrolled; his instrument was the
force of opinion and of terror; accordingly, not being able to surprise
his foes by a strong hand, after the fashion of Cromwell, he sought to
intimidate them. Terror not succeeding, he tried insurrection. But as the
convention with the support of the committees had become courageous, so
the sections, relying on the courage of the convention, would naturally
declare against the insurgents. By attacking the government, he aroused
the assembly; by arousing the assembly, he aroused the people, and this
coalition necessarily ruined him. The convention on the 9th of Thermidor
was no longer, as on the 31st of May, divided, undecided, opposed to a
compact, numerous, and daring faction. All parties were united by defeat,
misfortune, and the proscription ever threatening them, and would
naturally cooperate in the event of a struggle. It did not, therefore,
depend on Robespierre himself to escape defeat; and it was not in his
power to secede from the committees. In the position to which he had
attained, one is consumed by one's passions, deceived by hopes and by
fortune, hitherto good; and when once the scaffolds have been erected,
justice and clemency are as impossible as peace, tranquillity, and the
dispensing of power when war is declared. One must then fall by the means
by which one has arisen; the man of faction must perish by the scaffold,
as conquerors by war.



The 9th of Thermidor was the first day of the revolution in which those
fell who attacked. This indication alone manifested that the ascendant
revolutionary movement had reached its term. From that day the contrary
movement necessarily began. The general rising of all parties against one
man was calculated to put an end to the compression under which they
laboured. In Robespierre the committees subdued each other, and the
decemviral government lost the prestige of terror which had constituted
its strength. The committees liberated the convention, which gradually
liberated the entire republic. Yet they thought they had been working for
themselves, and for the prolongation of the revolutionary government,
while the greater part of those who had supported them had for their
object the overthrow of the dictatorship, the independence of the
assembly, and the establishment of legal order. From the day after the 9th
of Thermidor there were, therefore, two opposite parties among the
conquerors, that of the committees, and that of the Mountain, which was
called the Thermidorian party.

The former was deprived of half its forces; besides the loss of its chief,
it no longer had the commune, whose insurgent members, to the number of
seventy-two, had been sent to the scaffold, and, which, after its double
defeat under Hébert and under Robespierre, was not again re-organized, and
remained without direct influence. But this party retained the direction
of affairs through the committees. All its members were attached to the
revolutionary system; some, such as Billaud-Varennes, Collot-d'Herbois,
Barrère, Vadier, Amar, saw it was their only safety; others, such as
Carnot, Cambon, the two Prieurs, de la Marne, and de la Côte-d'Or, etc.,
feared the counter-revolution, and the punishment of their colleagues. In
the convention it reckoned all the commissioners hitherto sent on
missions, several of the Mountain who had signalized themselves on the 9th
Thermidor, and the remnant of Robespierre's party. Without, the Jacobins
were attached to it; and it still had the support of the faubourgs and of
the lower class.

The Thermidorian party was composed of the greater number of the
conventionalists. All the centre of the assembly, and what remained of the
Right, joined the Mountain, who had abated their former exaggeration of
views. The coalition of the Moderates, Boissy d'Anglas, Sieyès,
Cambacérès, Chénier, Thibeaudeau, with the Dantonists, Tallien, Fréron,
Legendre, Barras, Bourdon de l'Oise, Rovère, Bentabole, Dumont, and the
two Merlins, entirely changed the character of the assembly. After the 9th
of Thermidor, the first step of this party was to secure its empire in the
convention. Soon it found its way into the government, and succeeded in
excluding the previous occupants. Sustained by public opinion, by the
assembly, by the committees, it advanced openly towards its object; it
proceeded against the principal decemvirs, and some of their agents. As
these had many partisans in Paris, it sought the aid of the young men
against the Jacobins, of the sections against the faubourgs. At the same
time, to strengthen it, it recalled to the assembly all the deputies whom
the committee of public safety had proscribed; first, the seventy-three
who had protested against the 31st of May, and then the surviving victims
of that day themselves. The Jacobins exhibited excitement: it closed their
club; the faubourgs raised an insurrection: it disarmed them. After
overthrowing the revolutionary government, it directed its attention to
the establishment of another, and to the introduction, under the
constitution of the year III., of a feasible, liberal, regular, and stable
order of things, in place of the extraordinary and provisional state in
which the convention had been from its commencement until then. But all
this was accomplished gradually.

The two parties were not long before they began to differ, after their
common victory. The revolutionary tribunal was an especial object of
general horror. On the 11th Thermidor it was suspended; but Billaud-
Varennes, in the same sitting, had the decree of suspension rescinded. He
maintained that the accomplices of Robespierre alone were guilty, that the
majority of the judges and jurors being men of integrity, it was desirable
to retain them in their offices. Barrère presented a decree to that
effect: he urged that the triumvirs had done nothing for the revolutionary
government; that they had often even opposed its measures; that their only
care had been to place their creatures in it, and to give it a direction
favourable to their own projects; he insisted, in order to strengthen that
government, upon retaining the law _des suspects_ and the tribunal, with
its existing members, including Fouquier-Tinville. At this name a general


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