The French Revolution A History
Part 5 out of 16
offer him stipends and emoluments, to a handsome extent; all which stipends
and emoluments he, covetous of far other blessedness than mere money, does,
in his chivalrous way, without scruple, refuse.
To the Parisian common man, meanwhile, one thing remains inconceivable:
that now when the Bastille is down, and French Liberty restored, grain
should continue so dear. Our Rights of Man are voted, Feudalism and all
Tyranny abolished; yet behold we stand in queue! Is it Aristocrat
forestallers; a Court still bent on intrigues? Something is rotten,
And yet, alas, what to do? Lafayette, with his Patrols prohibits every
thing, even complaint. Saint-Huruge and other heroes of the Veto lie in
durance. People's-Friend Marat was seized; Printers of Patriotic Journals
are fettered and forbidden; the very Hawkers cannot cry, till they get
license, and leaden badges. Blue National Guards ruthlessly dissipate all
groups; scour, with levelled bayonets, the Palais Royal itself. Pass, on
your affairs, along the Rue Taranne, the Patrol, presenting his bayonet,
cries, To the left! Turn into the Rue Saint-Benoit, he cries, To the
right! A judicious Patriot (like Camille Desmoulins, in this instance) is
driven, for quietness's sake, to take the gutter.
O much-suffering People, our glorious Revolution is evaporating in tricolor
ceremonies, and complimentary harangues! Of which latter, as Loustalot
acridly calculates, 'upwards of two thousand have been delivered within the
last month, at the Townhall alone.' (Revolutions de Paris Newspaper (cited
in Histoire Parlementaire, ii. 357).) And our mouths, unfilled with bread,
are to be shut, under penalties? The Caricaturist promulgates his
emblematic Tablature: Le Patrouillotisme chassant le Patriotisme,
Patriotism driven out by Patrollotism. Ruthless Patrols; long superfine
harangues; and scanty ill-baked loaves, more like baked Bath bricks,--which
produce an effect on the intestines! Where will this end? In
O Richard, O my King.
For, alas, neither is the Townhall itself without misgivings. The Nether
Sansculottic world has been suppressed hitherto: but then the Upper Court-
world! Symptoms there are that the Oeil-de-Boeuf is rallying.
More than once in the Townhall Sanhedrim; often enough, from those
outspoken Bakers'-queues, has the wish uttered itself: O that our Restorer
of French Liberty were here; that he could see with his own eyes, not with
the false eyes of Queens and Cabals, and his really good heart be
enlightened! For falsehood still environs him; intriguing Dukes de Guiche,
with Bodyguards; scouts of Bouille; a new flight of intriguers, now that
the old is flown. What else means this advent of the Regiment de Flandre;
entering Versailles, as we hear, on the 23rd of September, with two pieces
of cannon? Did not the Versailles National Guard do duty at the Chateau?
Had they not Swiss; Hundred Swiss; Gardes-du-Corps, Bodyguards so-called?
Nay, it would seem, the number of Bodyguards on duty has, by a manoeuvre,
been doubled: the new relieving Battalion of them arrived at its time; but
the old relieved one does not depart!
Actually, there runs a whisper through the best informed Upper-Circles, or
a nod still more potentous than whispering, of his Majesty's flying to
Metz; of a Bond (to stand by him therein) which has been signed by Noblesse
and Clergy, to the incredible amount of thirty, or even of sixty thousand.
Lafayette coldly whispers it, and coldly asseverates it, to Count d'Estaing
at the Dinner-table; and d'Estaing, one of the bravest men, quakes to the
core lest some lackey overhear it; and tumbles thoughtful, without sleep,
all night. (Brouillon de Lettre de M. d'Estaing a la Reine (in Histoire
Parlementaire, iii. 24.) Regiment Flandre, as we said, is clearly arrived.
His Majesty, they say, hesitates about sanctioning the Fourth of August;
makes observations, of chilling tenor, on the very Rights of Man!
Likewise, may not all persons, the Bakers'-queues themselves discern on the
streets of Paris, the most astonishing number of Officers on furlough,
Crosses of St. Louis, and such like? Some reckon 'from a thousand to
twelve hundred.' Officers of all uniforms; nay one uniform never before
seen by eye: green faced with red! The tricolor cockade is not always
visible: but what, in the name of Heaven, may these black cockades, which
some wear, foreshadow?
Hunger whets everything, especially Suspicion and Indignation. Realities
themselves, in this Paris, have grown unreal: preternatural. Phantasms
once more stalk through the brain of hungry France. O ye laggards and
dastards, cry shrill voices from the Queues, if ye had the hearts of men,
ye would take your pikes and secondhand firelocks, and look into it; not
leave your wives and daughters to be starved, murdered, and worse!--Peace,
women! The heart of man is bitter and heavy; Patriotism, driven out by
Patrollotism, knows not what to resolve on.
The truth is, the Oeil-de-Boeuf has rallied; to a certain unknown extent.
A changed Oeil-de-Boeuf; with Versailles National Guards, in their tricolor
cockades, doing duty there; a Court all flaring with tricolor! Yet even to
a tricolor Court men will rally. Ye loyal hearts, burnt-out Seigneurs,
rally round your Queen! With wishes; which will produce hopes; which will
For indeed self-preservation being such a law of Nature, what can a rallied
Court do, but attempt and endeavour, or call it plot,--with such wisdom and
unwisdom as it has? They will fly, escorted, to Metz, where brave Bouille
commands; they will raise the Royal Standard: the Bond-signatures shall
become armed men. Were not the King so languid! Their Bond, if at all
signed, must be signed without his privity.--Unhappy King, he has but one
resolution: not to have a civil war. For the rest, he still hunts, having
ceased lockmaking; he still dozes, and digests; is clay in the hands of the
potter. Ill will it fare with him, in a world where all is helping itself;
where, as has been written, 'whosoever is not hammer must be stithy;' and
'the very hyssop on the wall grows there, in that chink, because the whole
Universe could not prevent its growing!'
But as for the coming up of this Regiment de Flandre, may it not be urged
that there were Saint-Huruge Petitions, and continual meal-mobs?
Undebauched Soldiers, be there plot, or only dim elements of a plot, are
always good. Did not the Versailles Municipality (an old Monarchic one,
not yet refounded into a Democratic) instantly second the proposal? Nay
the very Versailles National Guard, wearied with continual duty at the
Chateau, did not object; only Draper Lecointre, who is now Major Lecointre,
shook his head.--Yes, Friends, surely it was natural this Regiment de
Flandre should be sent for, since it could be got. It was natural that, at
sight of military bandoleers, the heart of the rallied Oeil-de-Boeuf should
revive; and Maids of Honour, and gentlemen of honour, speak comfortable
words to epauletted defenders, and to one another. Natural also, and mere
common civility, that the Bodyguards, a Regiment of Gentlemen, should
invite their Flandre brethren to a Dinner of welcome!--Such invitation, in
the last days of September, is given and accepted.
Dinners are defined as 'the ultimate act of communion;' men that can have
communion in nothing else, can sympathetically eat together, can still rise
into some glow of brotherhood over food and wine. The dinner is fixed on,
for Thursday the First of October; and ought to have a fine effect.
Further, as such Dinner may be rather extensive, and even the
Noncommissioned and the Common man be introduced, to see and to hear, could
not His Majesty's Opera Apartment, which has lain quite silent ever since
Kaiser Joseph was here, be obtained for the purpose?--The Hall of the Opera
is granted; the Salon d'Hercule shall be drawingroom. Not only the
Officers of Flandre, but of the Swiss, of the Hundred Swiss, nay of the
Versailles National Guard, such of them as have any loyalty, shall feast:
it will be a Repast like few.
And now suppose this Repast, the solid part of it, transacted; and the
first bottle over. Suppose the customary loyal toasts drunk; the King's
health, the Queen's with deafening vivats;--that of the Nation 'omitted,'
or even 'rejected.' Suppose champagne flowing; with pot-valorous speech,
with instrumental music; empty feathered heads growing ever the noisier, in
their own emptiness, in each other's noise! Her Majesty, who looks
unusually sad to-night (his Majesty sitting dulled with the day's hunting),
is told that the sight of it would cheer her. Behold! She enters there,
issuing from her State-rooms, like the Moon from the clouds, this fairest
unhappy Queen of Hearts; royal Husband by her side, young Dauphin in her
arms! She descends from the Boxes, amid splendour and acclaim; walks
queen-like, round the Tables; gracefully escorted, gracefully nodding; her
looks full of sorrow, yet of gratitude and daring, with the hope of France
on her mother-bosom! And now, the band striking up, O Richard, O mon Roi,
l'univers t'abandonne (O Richard, O my King, and world is all forsaking
thee)--could man do other than rise to height of pity, of loyal valour?
Could featherheaded young ensigns do other than, by white Bourbon Cockades,
handed them from fair fingers; by waving of swords, drawn to pledge the
Queen's health; by trampling of National Cockades; by scaling the Boxes,
whence intrusive murmurs may come; by vociferation, tripudiation, sound,
fury and distraction, within doors and without,--testify what tempest-tost
state of vacuity they are in? Till champagne and tripudiation do their
work; and all lie silent, horizontal; passively slumbering, with meed-of-
A natural Repast, in ordinary times, a harmless one: now fatal, as that of
Thyestes; as that of Job's Sons, when a strong wind smote the four corners
of their banquet-house! Poor ill-advised Marie-Antoinette; with a woman's
vehemence, not with a sovereign's foresight! It was so natural, yet so
unwise. Next day, in public speech of ceremony, her Majesty declares
herself 'delighted with the Thursday.'
The heart of the Oeil-de-Boeuf glows into hope; into daring, which is
premature. Rallied Maids of Honour, waited on by Abbes, sew 'white
cockades;' distribute them, with words, with glances, to epauletted youths;
who in return, may kiss, not without fervour, the fair sewing fingers.
Captains of horse and foot go swashing with 'enormous white cockades;' nay
one Versailles National Captain had mounted the like, so witching were the
words and glances; and laid aside his tricolor! Well may Major Lecointre
shake his head with a look of severity; and speak audible resentful words.
But now a swashbuckler, with enormous white cockade, overhearing the Major,
invites him insolently, once and then again elsewhere, to recant; and
failing that, to duel. Which latter feat Major Lecointre declares that he
will not perform, not at least by any known laws of fence; that he
nevertheless will, according to mere law of Nature, by dirk and blade,
'exterminate' any 'vile gladiator,' who may insult him or the Nation;--
whereupon (for the Major is actually drawing his implement) 'they are
parted,' and no weasands slit. (Moniteur (in Histoire Parlementaire, iii.
59); Deux Amis (iii. 128-141); Campan (ii. 70-85), &c. &c.)
But fancy what effect this Thyestes Repast and trampling on the National
Cockade, must have had in the Salle des Menus; in the famishing Bakers'-
queues at Paris! Nay such Thyestes Repasts, it would seem, continue.
Flandre has given its Counter-Dinner to the Swiss and Hundred Swiss; then
on Saturday there has been another.
Yes, here with us is famine; but yonder at Versailles is food; enough and
to spare! Patriotism stands in queue, shivering hungerstruck, insulted by
Patrollotism; while bloodyminded Aristocrats, heated with excess of high
living, trample on the National Cockade. Can the atrocity be true? Nay,
look: green uniforms faced with red; black cockades,--the colour of Night!
Are we to have military onfall; and death also by starvation? For behold
the Corbeil Cornboat, which used to come twice a-day, with its Plaster-of-
Paris meal, now comes only once. And the Townhall is deaf; and the men are
laggard and dastard!--At the Cafe de Foy, this Saturday evening, a new
thing is seen, not the last of its kind: a woman engaged in public
speaking. Her poor man, she says, was put to silence by his District;
their Presidents and Officials would not let him speak. Wherefore she here
with her shrill tongue will speak; denouncing, while her breath endures,
the Corbeil-Boat, the Plaster-of-Paris bread, sacrilegious Opera-dinners,
green uniforms, Pirate Aristocrats, and those black cockades of theirs!--
Truly, it is time for the black cockades at least, to vanish. Them
Patrollotism itself will not protect. Nay, sharp-tempered 'M. Tassin,' at
the Tuileries parade on Sunday morning, forgets all National military rule;
starts from the ranks, wrenches down one black cockade which is swashing
ominous there; and tramples it fiercely into the soil of France.
Patrollotism itself is not without suppressed fury. Also the Districts
begin to stir; the voice of President Danton reverberates in the
Cordeliers: People's-Friend Marat has flown to Versailles and back again;-
-swart bird, not of the halcyon kind! (Camille's Newspaper, Revolutions de
Paris et de Brabant (in Histoire Parlementaire, iii. 108.)
And so Patriot meets promenading Patriot, this Sunday; and sees his own
grim care reflected on the face of another. Groups, in spite of
Patrollotism, which is not so alert as usual, fluctuate deliberative:
groups on the Bridges, on the Quais, at the patriotic Cafes. And ever as
any black cockade may emerge, rises the many-voiced growl and bark: A bas,
Down! All black cockades are ruthlessly plucked off: one individual picks
his up again; kisses it, attempts to refix it; but a 'hundred canes start
into the air,' and he desists. Still worse went it with another
individual; doomed, by extempore Plebiscitum, to the Lanterne; saved, with
difficulty, by some active Corps-de-Garde.--Lafayette sees signs of an
effervescence; which he doubles his Patrols, doubles his diligence, to
prevent. So passes Sunday, the 4th of October 1789.
Sullen is the male heart, repressed by Patrollotism; vehement is the
female, irrepressible. The public-speaking woman at the Palais Royal was
not the only speaking one:--Men know not what the pantry is, when it grows
empty, only house-mothers know. O women, wives of men that will only
calculate and not act! Patrollotism is strong; but Death, by starvation
and military onfall, is stronger. Patrollotism represses male Patriotism:
but female Patriotism? Will Guards named National thrust their bayonets
into the bosoms of women? Such thought, or rather such dim unshaped raw-
material of a thought, ferments universally under the female night-cap;
and, by earliest daybreak, on slight hint, will explode.
If Voltaire once, in splenetic humour, asked his countrymen: "But you,
Gualches, what have you invented?" they can now answer: The Art of
Insurrection. It was an art needed in these last singular times: an art,
for which the French nature, so full of vehemence, so free from depth, was
perhaps of all others the fittest.
Accordingly, to what a height, one may well say of perfection, has this
branch of human industry been carried by France, within the last half-
century! Insurrection, which, Lafayette thought, might be 'the most sacred
of duties,' ranks now, for the French people, among the duties which they
can perform. Other mobs are dull masses; which roll onwards with a dull
fierce tenacity, a dull fierce heat, but emit no light-flashes of genius as
they go. The French mob, again, is among the liveliest phenomena of our
world. So rapid, audacious; so clear-sighted, inventive, prompt to seize
the moment; instinct with life to its finger-ends! That talent, were there
no other, of spontaneously standing in queue, distinguishes, as we said,
the French People from all Peoples, ancient and modern.
Let the Reader confess too that, taking one thing with another, perhaps few
terrestrial Appearances are better worth considering than mobs. Your mob
is a genuine outburst of Nature; issuing from, or communicating with, the
deepest deep of Nature. When so much goes grinning and grimacing as a
lifeless Formality, and under the stiff buckram no heart can be felt
beating, here once more, if nowhere else, is a Sincerity and Reality.
Shudder at it; or even shriek over it, if thou must; nevertheless consider
it. Such a Complex of human Forces and Individualities hurled forth, in
their transcendental mood, to act and react, on circumstances and on one
another; to work out what it is in them to work. The thing they will do is
known to no man; least of all to themselves. It is the inflammablest
immeasurable Fire-work, generating, consuming itself. With what phases, to
what extent, with what results it will burn off, Philosophy and
Perspicacity conjecture in vain.
'Man,' as has been written, 'is for ever interesting to man; nay properly
there is nothing else interesting.' In which light also, may we not
discern why most Battles have become so wearisome? Battles, in these ages,
are transacted by mechanism; with the slightest possible developement of
human individuality or spontaneity: men now even die, and kill one
another, in an artificial manner. Battles ever since Homer's time, when
they were Fighting Mobs, have mostly ceased to be worth looking at, worth
reading of, or remembering. How many wearisome bloody Battles does History
strive to represent; or even, in a husky way, to sing:--and she would omit
or carelessly slur-over this one Insurrection of Women?
A thought, or dim raw-material of a thought, was fermenting all night,
universally in the female head, and might explode. In squalid garret, on
Monday morning, Maternity awakes, to hear children weeping for bread.
Maternity must forth to the streets, to the herb-markets and Bakers'--
queues; meets there with hunger-stricken Maternity, sympathetic,
exasperative. O we unhappy women! But, instead of Bakers'-queues, why not
to Aristocrats' palaces, the root of the matter? Allons! Let us assemble.
To the Hotel-de-Ville; to Versailles; to the Lanterne!
In one of the Guardhouses of the Quartier Saint-Eustache, 'a young woman'
seizes a drum,--for how shall National Guards give fire on women, on a
young woman? The young woman seizes the drum; sets forth, beating it,
'uttering cries relative to the dearth of grains.' Descend, O mothers;
descend, ye Judiths, to food and revenge!--All women gather and go; crowds
storm all stairs, force out all women: the female Insurrectionary Force,
according to Camille, resembles the English Naval one; there is a universal
'Press of women.' Robust Dames of the Halle, slim Mantua-makers,
assiduous, risen with the dawn; ancient Virginity tripping to matins; the
Housemaid, with early broom; all must go. Rouse ye, O women; the laggard
men will not act; they say, we ourselves may act!
And so, like snowbreak from the mountains, for every staircase is a melted
brook, it storms; tumultuous, wild-shrilling, towards the Hotel-de-Ville.
Tumultuous, with or without drum-music: for the Faubourg Saint-Antoine
also has tucked up its gown; and, with besom-staves, fire-irons, and even
rusty pistols (void of ammunition), is flowing on. Sound of it flies, with
a velocity of sound, to the outmost Barriers. By seven o'clock, on this
raw October morning, fifth of the month, the Townhall will see wonders.
Nay, as chance would have it, a male party are already there; clustering
tumultuously round some National Patrol, and a Baker who has been seized
with short weights. They are there; and have even lowered the rope of the
Lanterne. So that the official persons have to smuggle forth the short-
weighing Baker by back doors, and even send 'to all the Districts' for more
Grand it was, says Camille, to see so many Judiths, from eight to ten
thousand of them in all, rushing out to search into the root of the matter!
Not unfrightful it must have been; ludicro-terrific, and most unmanageable.
At such hour the overwatched Three Hundred are not yet stirring: none but
some Clerks, a company of National Guards; and M. de Gouvion, the Major-
general. Gouvion has fought in America for the cause of civil Liberty; a
man of no inconsiderable heart, but deficient in head. He is, for the
moment, in his back apartment; assuaging Usher Maillard, the Bastille-
serjeant, who has come, as too many do, with 'representations.' The
assuagement is still incomplete when our Judiths arrive.
The National Guards form on the outer stairs, with levelled bayonets; the
ten thousand Judiths press up, resistless; with obtestations, with
outspread hands,--merely to speak to the Mayor. The rear forces them; nay,
from male hands in the rear, stones already fly: the National Guards must
do one of two things; sweep the Place de Greve with cannon, or else open to
right and left. They open; the living deluge rushes in. Through all rooms
and cabinets, upwards to the topmost belfry: ravenous; seeking arms,
seeking Mayors, seeking justice;--while, again, the better-cressed
(dressed?) speak kindly to the Clerks; point out the misery of these poor
women; also their ailments, some even of an interesting sort. (Deux Amis,
Poor M. de Gouvion is shiftless in this extremity;--a man shiftless,
perturbed; who will one day commit suicide. How happy for him that Usher
Maillard, the shifty, was there, at the moment, though making
representations! Fly back, thou shifty Maillard; seek the Bastille
Company; and O return fast with it; above all, with thy own shifty head!
For, behold, the Judiths can find no Mayor or Municipal; scarcely, in the
topmost belfry, can they find poor Abbe Lefevre the Powder-distributor.
Him, for want of a better, they suspend there; in the pale morning light;
over the top of all Paris, which swims in one's failing eyes:--a horrible
end? Nay, the rope broke, as French ropes often did; or else an Amazon cut
it. Abbe Lefevre falls, some twenty feet, rattling among the leads; and
lives long years after, though always with 'a tremblement in the limbs.'
(Dusaulx, Prise de la Bastille (note, p. 281.).)
And now doors fly under hatchets; the Judiths have broken the Armoury; have
seized guns and cannons, three money-bags, paper-heaps; torches flare: in
few minutes, our brave Hotel-de-Ville which dates from the Fourth Henry,
will, with all that it holds, be in flames!
In flames, truly,--were it not that Usher Maillard, swift of foot, shifty
of head, has returned!
Maillard, of his own motion, for Gouvion or the rest would not even
sanction him,--snatches a drum; descends the Porch-stairs, ran-tan, beating
sharp, with loud rolls, his Rogues'-march: To Versailles! Allons; a
Versailles! As men beat on kettle or warmingpan, when angry she-bees, or
say, flying desperate wasps, are to be hived; and the desperate insects
hear it, and cluster round it,--simply as round a guidance, where there was
none: so now these Menads round shifty Maillard, Riding-Usher of the
Chatelet. The axe pauses uplifted; Abbe Lefevre is left half-hanged; from
the belfry downwards all vomits itself. What rub-a-dub is that? Stanislas
Maillard, Bastille-hero, will lead us to Versailles? Joy to thee,
Maillard; blessed art thou above Riding-Ushers! Away then, away!
The seized cannon are yoked with seized cart-horses: brown-locked
Demoiselle Theroigne, with pike and helmet, sits there as gunneress, 'with
haughty eye and serene fair countenance;' comparable, some think, to the
Maid of Orleans, or even recalling 'the idea of Pallas Athene.' (Deux
Amis, iii. 157.) Maillard (for his drum still rolls) is, by heaven-rending
acclamation, admitted General. Maillard hastens the languid march.
Maillard, beating rhythmic, with sharp ran-tan, all along the Quais, leads
forward, with difficulty his Menadic host. Such a host--marched not in
silence! The bargeman pauses on the River; all wagoners and coachdrivers
fly; men peer from windows,--not women, lest they be pressed. Sight of
sights: Bacchantes, in these ultimate Formalized Ages! Bronze Henri looks
on, from his Pont-Neuf; the Monarchic Louvre, Medicean Tuileries see a day
not theretofore seen.
And now Maillard has his Menads in the Champs Elysees (Fields Tartarean
rather); and the Hotel-de-Ville has suffered comparatively nothing. Broken
doors; an Abbe Lefevre, who shall never more distribute powder; three sacks
of money, most part of which (for Sansculottism, though famishing, is not
without honour) shall be returned: (Hist. Parl. iii. 310.) this is all the
damage. Great Maillard! A small nucleus of Order is round his drum; but
his outskirts fluctuate like the mad Ocean: for Rascality male and female
is flowing in on him, from the four winds; guidance there is none but in
his single head and two drumsticks.
O Maillard, when, since War first was, had General of Force such a task
before him, as thou this day? Walter the Penniless still touches the
feeling heart: but then Walter had sanction; had space to turn in; and
also his Crusaders were of the male sex. Thou, this day, disowned of
Heaven and Earth, art General of Menads. Their inarticulate frenzy thou
must on the spur of the instant, render into articulate words, into actions
that are not frantic. Fail in it, this way or that! Pragmatical
Officiality, with its penalties and law-books, waits before thee; Menads
storm behind. If such hewed off the melodious head of Orpheus, and hurled
it into the Peneus waters, what may they not make of thee,--thee rhythmic
merely, with no music but a sheepskin drum!--Maillard did not fail.
Remarkable Maillard, if fame were not an accident, and History a
distillation of Rumour, how remarkable wert thou!
On the Elysian Fields, there is pause and fluctuation; but, for Maillard,
no return. He persuades his Menads, clamorous for arms and the Arsenal,
that no arms are in the Arsenal; that an unarmed attitude, and petition to
a National Assembly, will be the best: he hastily nominates or sanctions
generalesses, captains of tens and fifties;--and so, in loosest-flowing
order, to the rhythm of some 'eight drums' (having laid aside his own),
with the Bastille Volunteers bringing up his rear, once more takes the
Chaillot, which will promptly yield baked loaves, is not plundered; nor are
the Sevres Potteries broken. The old arches of Sevres Bridge echo under
Menadic feet; Seine River gushes on with his perpetual murmur; and Paris
flings after us the boom of tocsin and alarm-drum,--inaudible, for the
present, amid shrill-sounding hosts, and the splash of rainy weather. To
Meudon, to Saint Cloud, on both hands, the report of them is gone abroad;
and hearths, this evening, will have a topic. The press of women still
continues, for it is the cause of all Eve's Daughters, mothers that are, or
that hope to be. No carriage-lady, were it with never such hysterics, but
must dismount, in the mud roads, in her silk shoes, and walk. (Deux Amis,
iii. 159.) In this manner, amid wild October weather, they a wild unwinged
stork-flight, through the astonished country, wend their way. Travellers
of all sorts they stop; especially travellers or couriers from Paris.
Deputy Lechapelier, in his elegant vesture, from his elegant vehicle, looks
forth amazed through his spectacles; apprehensive for life;--states eagerly
that he is Patriot-Deputy Lechapelier, and even Old-President Lechapelier,
who presided on the Night of Pentecost, and is original member of the
Breton Club. Thereupon 'rises huge shout of Vive Lechapelier, and several
armed persons spring up behind and before to escort him.' (Ibid. iii. 177;
Dictionnaire des Hommes Marquans, ii. 379.)
Nevertheless, news, despatches from Lafayette, or vague noise of rumour,
have pierced through, by side roads. In the National Assembly, while all
is busy discussing the order of the day; regretting that there should be
Anti-national Repasts in Opera-Halls; that his Majesty should still
hesitate about accepting the Rights of Man, and hang conditions and
peradventures on them,--Mirabeau steps up to the President, experienced
Mounier as it chanced to be; and articulates, in bass under-tone:
"Mounier, Paris marche sur nous (Paris is marching on us)."--"May be (Je
n'en sais rien)!"--"Believe it or disbelieve it, that is not my concern;
but Paris, I say, is marching on us. Fall suddenly unwell; go over to the
Chateau; tell them this. There is not a moment to lose.'--"Paris marching
on us?" responds Mounier, with an atrabiliar accent" "Well, so much the
better! We shall the sooner be a Republic." Mirabeau quits him, as one
quits an experienced President getting blindfold into deep waters; and the
order of the day continues as before.
Yes, Paris is marching on us; and more than the women of Paris! Scarcely
was Maillard gone, when M. de Gouvion's message to all the Districts, and
such tocsin and drumming of the generale, began to take effect. Armed
National Guards from every District; especially the Grenadiers of the
Centre, who are our old Gardes Francaises, arrive, in quick sequence, on
the Place de Greve. An 'immense people' is there; Saint-Antoine, with pike
and rusty firelock, is all crowding thither, be it welcome or unwelcome.
The Centre Grenadiers are received with cheering: "it is not cheers that
we want," answer they gloomily; "the nation has been insulted; to arms, and
come with us for orders!" Ha, sits the wind so? Patriotism and
Patrollotism are now one!
The Three Hundred have assembled; 'all the Committees are in activity;'
Lafayette is dictating despatches for Versailles, when a Deputation of the
Centre Grenadiers introduces itself to him. The Deputation makes military
obeisance; and thus speaks, not without a kind of thought in it: "Mon
General, we are deputed by the Six Companies of Grenadiers. We do not
think you a traitor, but we think the Government betrays you; it is time
that this end. We cannot turn our bayonets against women crying to us for
bread. The people are miserable, the source of the mischief is at
Versailles: we must go seek the King, and bring him to Paris. We must
exterminate (exterminer) the Regiment de Flandre and the Gardes-du-Corps,
who have dared to trample on the National Cockade. If the King be too weak
to wear his crown, let him lay it down. You will crown his Son, you will
name a Council of Regency; and all will go better." (Deux Amis, iii. 161.)
Reproachful astonishment paints itself on the face of Lafayette; speaks
itself from his eloquent chivalrous lips: in vain. "My General, we would
shed the last drop of our blood for you; but the root of the mischief is at
Versailles; we must go and bring the King to Paris; all the people wish it,
tout le peuple le veut."
My General descends to the outer staircase; and harangues: once more in
vain. "To Versailles! To Versailles!" Mayor Bailly, sent for through
floods of Sansculottism, attempts academic oratory from his gilt state-
coach; realizes nothing but infinite hoarse cries of: "Bread! To
Versailles!"--and gladly shrinks within doors. Lafayette mounts the white
charger; and again harangues and reharangues: with eloquence, with
firmness, indignant demonstration; with all things but persuasion. "To
Versailles! To Versailles!" So lasts it, hour after hour; for the space
of half a day.
The great Scipio Americanus can do nothing; not so much as escape.
"Morbleu, mon General," cry the Grenadiers serrying their ranks as the
white charger makes a motion that way, "You will not leave us, you will
abide with us!" A perilous juncture: Mayor Bailly and the Municipals sit
quaking within doors; My General is prisoner without: the Place de Greve,
with its thirty thousand Regulars, its whole irregular Saint-Antoine and
Saint-Marceau, is one minatory mass of clear or rusty steel; all hearts
set, with a moody fixedness, on one object. Moody, fixed are all hearts:
tranquil is no heart,--if it be not that of the white charger, who paws
there, with arched neck, composedly champing his bit; as if no world, with
its Dynasties and Eras, were now rushing down. The drizzly day tends
westward; the cry is still: "To Versailles!"
Nay now, borne from afar, come quite sinister cries; hoarse, reverberating
in longdrawn hollow murmurs, with syllables too like those of Lanterne! Or
else, irregular Sansculottism may be marching off, of itself; with pikes,
nay with cannon. The inflexible Scipio does at length, by aide-de-camp,
ask of the Municipals: Whether or not he may go? A Letter is handed out
to him, over armed heads; sixty thousand faces flash fixedly on his, there
is stillness and no bosom breathes, till he have read. By Heaven, he grows
suddenly pale! Do the Municipals permit? 'Permit and even order,'--since
he can no other. Clangour of approval rends the welkin. To your ranks,
then; let us march!
It is, as we compute, towards three in the afternoon. Indignant National
Guards may dine for once from their haversack: dined or undined, they
march with one heart. Paris flings up her windows, claps hands, as the
Avengers, with their shrilling drums and shalms tramp by; she will then sit
pensive, apprehensive, and pass rather a sleepless night. (Deux Amis, iii.
165.) On the white charger, Lafayette, in the slowest possible manner,
going and coming, and eloquently haranguing among the ranks, rolls onward
with his thirty thousand. Saint-Antoine, with pike and cannon, has
preceded him; a mixed multitude, of all and of no arms, hovers on his
flanks and skirts; the country once more pauses agape: Paris marche sur
For, indeed, about this same moment, Maillard has halted his draggled
Menads on the last hill-top; and now Versailles, and the Chateau of
Versailles, and far and wide the inheritance of Royalty opens to the
wondering eye. From far on the right, over Marly and Saint-Germains-en-
Laye; round towards Rambouillet, on the left: beautiful all; softly
embosomed; as if in sadness, in the dim moist weather! And near before us
is Versailles, New and Old; with that broad frondent Avenue de Versailles
between,--stately-frondent, broad, three hundred feet as men reckon, with
four Rows of Elms; and then the Chateau de Versailles, ending in royal
Parks and Pleasances, gleaming lakelets, arbours, Labyrinths, the
Menagerie, and Great and Little Trianon. High-towered dwellings, leafy
pleasant places; where the gods of this lower world abide: whence,
nevertheless, black Care cannot be excluded; whither Menadic Hunger is even
now advancing, armed with pike-thyrsi!
Yes, yonder, Mesdames, where our straight frondent Avenue, joined, as you
note, by Two frondent brother Avenues from this hand and from that, spreads
out into Place Royale and Palace Forecourt; yonder is the Salle des Menus.
Yonder an august Assembly sits regenerating France. Forecourt, Grand
Court, Court of Marble, Court narrowing into Court you may discern next, or
fancy: on the extreme verge of which that glass-dome, visibly glittering
like a star of hope, is the--Oeil-de-Boeuf! Yonder, or nowhere in the
world, is bread baked for us. But, O Mesdames, were not one thing good:
That our cannons, with Demoiselle Theroigne and all show of war, be put to
the rear? Submission beseems petitioners of a National Assembly; we are
strangers in Versailles,--whence, too audibly, there comes even now sound
as of tocsin and generale! Also to put on, if possible, a cheerful
countenance, hiding our sorrows; and even to sing? Sorrow, pitied of the
Heavens, is hateful, suspicious to the Earth.--So counsels shifty Maillard;
haranguing his Menads, on the heights near Versailles. (See Hist. Parl.
iii. 70-117; Deux Amis, iii. 166-177, &c.)
Cunning Maillard's dispositions are obeyed. The draggled Insurrectionists
advance up the Avenue, 'in three columns, among the four Elm-rows; 'singing
Henri Quatre,' with what melody they can; and shouting Vive le Roi.
Versailles, though the Elm-rows are dripping wet, crowds from both sides,
with: "Vivent nos Parisiennes, Our Paris ones for ever!"
Prickers, scouts have been out towards Paris, as the rumour deepened:
whereby his Majesty, gone to shoot in the Woods of Meudon, has been happily
discovered, and got home; and the generale and tocsin set a-sounding. The
Bodyguards are already drawn up in front of the Palace Grates; and look
down the Avenue de Versailles; sulky, in wet buckskins. Flandre too is
there, repentant of the Opera-Repast. Also Dragoons dismounted are there.
Finally Major Lecointre, and what he can gather of the Versailles National
Guard; though, it is to be observed, our Colonel, that same sleepless Count
d'Estaing, giving neither order nor ammunition, has vanished most
improperly; one supposes, into the Oeil-de-Boeuf. Red-coated Swiss stand
within the Grates, under arms. There likewise, in their inner room, 'all
the Ministers,' Saint-Priest, Lamentation Pompignan and the rest, are
assembled with M. Necker: they sit with him there; blank, expecting what
the hour will bring.
President Mounier, though he answered Mirabeau with a tant mieux, and
affected to slight the matter, had his own forebodings. Surely, for these
four weary hours, he has reclined not on roses! The order of the day is
getting forward: a Deputation to his Majesty seems proper, that it might
please him to grant 'Acceptance pure and simple' to those Constitution-
Articles of ours; the 'mixed qualified Acceptance,' with its peradventures,
is satisfactory to neither gods nor men.
So much is clear. And yet there is more, which no man speaks, which all
men now vaguely understand. Disquietude, absence of mind is on every face;
Members whisper, uneasily come and go: the order of the day is evidently
not the day's want. Till at length, from the outer gates, is heard a
rustling and justling, shrill uproar and squabbling, muffled by walls;
which testifies that the hour is come! Rushing and crushing one hears now;
then enter Usher Maillard, with a Deputation of Fifteen muddy dripping
Women,--having by incredible industry, and aid of all the macers, persuaded
the rest to wait out of doors. National Assembly shall now, therefore,
look its august task directly in the face: regenerative Constitutionalism
has an unregenerate Sansculottism bodily in front of it; crying, "Bread!
Shifty Maillard, translating frenzy into articulation; repressive with the
one hand, expostulative with the other, does his best; and really, though
not bred to public speaking, manages rather well:--In the present dreadful
rarity of grains, a Deputation of Female Citizens has, as the august
Assembly can discern, come out from Paris to petition. Plots of
Aristocrats are too evident in the matter; for example, one miller has been
bribed 'by a banknote of 200 livres' not to grind,--name unknown to the
Usher, but fact provable, at least indubitable. Further, it seems, the
National Cockade has been trampled on; also there are Black Cockades, or
were. All which things will not an august National Assembly, the hope of
France, take into its wise immediate consideration?
And Menadic Hunger, impressible, crying "Black Cockades," crying Bread,
Bread," adds, after such fashion: Will it not?--Yes, Messieurs, if a
Deputation to his Majesty, for the 'Acceptance pure and simple,' seemed
proper,--how much more now, for 'the afflicting situation of Paris;' for
the calming of this effervescence! President Mounier, with a speedy
Deputation, among whom we notice the respectable figure of Doctor
Guillotin, gets himself forthwith on march. Vice-President shall continue
the order of the day; Usher Maillard shall stay by him to repress the
women. It is four o'clock, of the miserablest afternoon, when Mounier
O experienced Mounier, what an afternoon; the last of thy political
existence! Better had it been to 'fall suddenly unwell,' while it was yet
time. For, behold, the Esplanade, over all its spacious expanse, is
covered with groups of squalid dripping Women; of lankhaired male
Rascality, armed with axes, rusty pikes, old muskets, ironshod clubs (baton
ferres, which end in knives or sword-blades, a kind of extempore
billhook);--looking nothing but hungry revolt. The rain pours: Gardes-du-
Corps go caracoling through the groups 'amid hisses;' irritating and
agitating what is but dispersed here to reunite there.
Innumerable squalid women beleaguer the President and Deputation; insist on
going with him: has not his Majesty himself, looking from the window, sent
out to ask, What we wanted? "Bread and speech with the King (Du pain, et
parler au Roi)," that was the answer. Twelve women are clamorously added
to the Deputation; and march with it, across the Esplanade; through
dissipated groups, caracoling Bodyguards, and the pouring rain.
President Mounier, unexpectedly augmented by Twelve Women, copiously
escorted by Hunger and Rascality, is himself mistaken for a group: himself
and his Women are dispersed by caracolers; rally again with difficulty,
among the mud. (Mounier, Expose Justificatif (cited in Deux Amis, iii.
185).) Finally the Grates are opened: the Deputation gets access, with
the Twelve Women too in it; of which latter, Five shall even see the face
of his Majesty. Let wet Menadism, in the best spirits it can expect their
But already Pallas Athene (in the shape of Demoiselle Theroigne) is busy
with Flandre and the dismounted Dragoons. She, and such women as are
fittest, go through the ranks; speak with an earnest jocosity; clasp rough
troopers to their patriot bosom, crush down spontoons and musketoons with
soft arms: can a man, that were worthy of the name of man, attack
famishing patriot women?
One reads that Theroigne had bags of money, which she distributed over
Flandre:--furnished by whom? Alas, with money-bags one seldom sits on
insurrectionary cannon. Calumnious Royalism! Theroigne had only the
limited earnings of her profession of unfortunate-female; money she had
not, but brown locks, the figure of a heathen Goddess, and an eloquent
tongue and heart.
Meanwhile, Saint-Antoine, in groups and troops, is continually arriving;
wetted, sulky; with pikes and impromptu billhooks: driven thus far by
popular fixed-idea. So many hirsute figures driven hither, in that manner:
figures that have come to do they know not what; figures that have come to
see it done! Distinguished among all figures, who is this, of gaunt
stature, with leaden breastplate, though a small one; (See Weber, ii. 185-
231.) bushy in red grizzled locks; nay, with long tile-beard? It is
Jourdan, unjust dealer in mules; a dealer no longer, but a Painter's
Layfigure, playing truant this day. From the necessities of Art comes his
long tile-beard; whence his leaden breastplate (unless indeed he were some
Hawker licensed by leaden badge) may have come,--will perhaps remain for
ever a Historical Problem. Another Saul among the people we discern:
'Pere Adam, Father Adam,' as the groups name him; to us better known as
bull-voiced Marquis Saint-Huruge; hero of the Veto; a man that has had
losses, and deserved them. The tall Marquis, emitted some days ago from
limbo, looks peripatetically on this scene, from under his umbrella, not
without interest. All which persons and things, hurled together as we see;
Pallas Athene, busy with Flandre; patriotic Versailles National Guards,
short of ammunition, and deserted by d'Estaing their Colonel, and commanded
by Lecointre their Major; then caracoling Bodyguards, sour, dispirited,
with their buckskins wet; and finally this flowing sea of indignant
Squalor,--may they not give rise to occurrences?
Behold, however, the Twelve She-deputies return from the Chateau. Without
President Mounier, indeed; but radiant with joy, shouting "Life to the King
and his House." Apparently the news are good, Mesdames? News of the best!
Five of us were admitted to the internal splendours, to the Royal Presence.
This slim damsel, 'Louison Chabray, worker in sculpture, aged only
seventeen,' as being of the best looks and address, her we appointed
speaker. On whom, and indeed on all of us, his Majesty looked nothing but
graciousness. Nay, when Louison, addressing him, was like to faint, he
took her in his royal arms; and said gallantly, "It was well worth while
(Elle en valut bien la peine)." Consider, O women, what a King! His words
were of comfort, and that only: there shall be provision sent to Paris, if
provision is in the world; grains shall circulate free as air; millers
shall grind, or do worse, while their millstones endure; and nothing be
left wrong which a Restorer of French Liberty can right.
Good news these; but, to wet Menads, all too incredible! There seems no
proof, then? Words of comfort are words only; which will feed nothing. O
miserable people, betrayed by Aristocrats, who corrupt thy very messengers!
In his royal arms, Mademoiselle Louison? In his arms? Thou shameless
minx, worthy of a name--that shall be nameless! Yes, thy skin is soft:
ours is rough with hardship; and well wetted, waiting here in the rain. No
children hast thou hungry at home; only alabaster dolls, that weep not!
The traitress! To the Lanterne!--And so poor Louison Chabray, no
asseveration or shrieks availing her, fair slim damsel, late in the arms of
Royalty, has a garter round her neck, and furibund Amazons at each end; is
about to perish so,--when two Bodyguards gallop up, indignantly
dissipating; and rescue her. The miscredited Twelve hasten back to the
Chateau, for an 'answer in writing.'
Nay, behold, a new flight of Menads, with 'M. Brunout Bastille Volunteer,'
as impressed-commandant, at the head of it. These also will advance to the
Grate of the Grand Court, and see what is toward. Human patience, in wet
buckskins, has its limits. Bodyguard Lieutenant, M. de Savonnieres, for
one moment, lets his temper, long provoked, long pent, give way. He not
only dissipates these latter Menads; but caracoles and cuts, or indignantly
flourishes, at M. Brunout, the impressed-commandant; and, finding great
relief in it, even chases him; Brunout flying nimbly, though in a pirouette
manner, and now with sword also drawn. At which sight of wrath and victory
two other Bodyguards (for wrath is contagious, and to pent Bodyguards is so
solacing) do likewise give way; give chase, with brandished sabre, and in
the air make horrid circles. So that poor Brunout has nothing for it but
to retreat with accelerated nimbleness, through rank after rank; Parthian-
like, fencing as he flies; above all, shouting lustily, "On nous laisse
assassiner, They are getting us assassinated?"
Shameful! Three against one! Growls come from the Lecointrian ranks;
bellowings,--lastly shots. Savonnieres' arm is raised to strike: the
bullet of a Lecointrian musket shatters it; the brandished sabre jingles
down harmless. Brunout has escaped, this duel well ended: but the wild
howl of war is everywhere beginning to pipe!
The Amazons recoil; Saint-Antoine has its cannon pointed (full of
grapeshot); thrice applies the lit flambeau; which thrice refuses to
catch,--the touchholes are so wetted; and voices cry: "Arretez, il n'est
pas temps encore, Stop, it is not yet time!" (Deux Amis, iii. 192-201.)
Messieurs of the Garde-du-Corps, ye had orders not to fire; nevertheless
two of you limp dismounted, and one war-horse lies slain. Were it not well
to draw back out of shot-range; finally to file off,--into the interior?
If in so filing off, there did a musketoon or two discharge itself, at
these armed shopkeepers, hooting and crowing, could man wonder? Draggled
are your white cockades of an enormous size; would to Heaven they were got
exchanged for tricolor ones! Your buckskins are wet, your hearts heavy.
Go, and return not!
The Bodyguards file off, as we hint; giving and receiving shots; drawing no
life-blood; leaving boundless indignation. Some three times in the
thickening dusk, a glimpse of them is seen, at this or the other Portal:
saluted always with execrations, with the whew of lead. Let but a
Bodyguard shew face, he is hunted by Rascality;--for instance, poor 'M. de
Moucheton of the Scotch Company,' owner of the slain war-horse; and has to
be smuggled off by Versailles Captains. Or rusty firelocks belch after
him, shivering asunder his--hat. In the end, by superior Order, the
Bodyguards, all but the few on immediate duty, disappear; or as it were
abscond; and march, under cloud of night, to Rambouillet. (Weber, ubi
We remark also that the Versaillese have now got ammunition: all
afternoon, the official Person could find none; till, in these so critical
moments, a patriotic Sublieutenant set a pistol to his ear, and would thank
him to find some,--which he thereupon succeeded in doing. Likewise that
Flandre, disarmed by Pallas Athene, says openly, it will not fight with
citizens; and for token of peace, has exchanged cartridges with the
Sansculottism is now among mere friends; and can 'circulate freely;'
indignant at Bodyguards;--complaining also considerably of hunger.
The Equal Diet.
But why lingers Mounier; returns not with his Deputation? It is six, it is
seven o'clock; and still no Mounier, no Acceptance pure and simple.
And, behold, the dripping Menads, not now in deputation but in mass, have
penetrated into the Assembly: to the shamefullest interruption of public
speaking and order of the day. Neither Maillard nor Vice-President can
restrain them, except within wide limits; not even, except for minutes, can
the lion-voice of Mirabeau, though they applaud it: but ever and anon they
break in upon the regeneration of France with cries of: "Bread; not so
much discoursing! Du pain; pas tant de longs discours!"--So insensible
were these poor creatures to bursts of Parliamentary eloquence!
One learns also that the royal Carriages are getting yoked, as if for Metz.
Carriages, royal or not, have verily showed themselves at the back Gates.
They even produced, or quoted, a written order from our Versailles
Municipality,--which is a Monarchic not a Democratic one. However,
Versailles Patroles drove them in again; as the vigilant Lecointre had
strictly charged them to do.
A busy man, truly, is Major Lecointre, in these hours. For Colonel
d'Estaing loiters invisible in the Oeil-de-Boeuf; invisible, or still more
questionably visible, for instants: then also a too loyal Municipality
requires supervision: no order, civil or military, taken about any of these
thousand things! Lecointre is at the Versailles Townhall: he is at the
Grate of the Grand Court; communing with Swiss and Bodyguards. He is in
the ranks of Flandre; he is here, he is there: studious to prevent
bloodshed; to prevent the Royal Family from flying to Metz; the Menads from
At the fall of night, we behold him advance to those armed groups of Saint-
Antoine, hovering all-too grim near the Salle des Menus. They receive him
in a half-circle; twelve speakers behind cannons, with lighted torches in
hand, the cannon-mouths towards Lecointre: a picture for Salvator! He
asks, in temperate but courageous language: What they, by this their
journey to Versailles, do specially want? The twelve speakers reply, in
few words inclusive of much: "Bread, and the end of these brabbles, Du
pain, et la fin des affaires." When the affairs will end, no Major
Lecointre, nor no mortal, can say; but as to bread, he inquires, How many
are you?--learns that they are six hundred, that a loaf each will suffice;
and rides off to the Municipality to get six hundred loaves.
Which loaves, however, a Municipality of Monarchic temper will not give.
It will give two tons of rice rather,--could you but know whether it should
be boiled or raw. Nay when this too is accepted, the Municipals have
disappeared;--ducked under, as the Six-and-Twenty Long-gowned of Paris did;
and, leaving not the smallest vestage of rice, in the boiled or raw state,
they there vanish from History!
Rice comes not; one's hope of food is baulked; even one's hope of
vengeance: is not M. de Moucheton of the Scotch Company, as we said,
deceitfully smuggled off? Failing all which, behold only M. de Moucheton's
slain warhorse, lying on the Esplanade there! Saint-Antoine, baulked,
esurient, pounces on the slain warhorse; flays it; roasts it, with such
fuel, of paling, gates, portable timber as can be come at,--not without
shouting: and, after the manner of ancient Greek Heroes, they lifted their
hands to the daintily readied repast; such as it might be. (Weber, Deux
Amis, &c.) Other Rascality prowls discursive; seeking what it may devour.
Flandre will retire to its barracks; Lecointre also with his Versaillese,--
all but the vigilant Patrols, charged to be doubly vigilant.
So sink the shadows of Night, blustering, rainy; and all paths grow dark.
Strangest Night ever seen in these regions,--perhaps since the Bartholomew
Night, when Versailles, as Bassompierre writes of it, was a chetif chateau.
O for the Lyre of some Orpheus, to constrain, with touch of melodious
strings, these mad masses into Order! For here all seems fallen asunder,
in wide-yawning dislocation. The highest, as in down-rushing of a World,
is come in contact with the lowest: the Rascality of France beleaguering
the Royalty of France; 'ironshod batons' lifted round the diadem, not to
guard it! With denunciations of bloodthirsty Anti-national Bodyguards, are
heard dark growlings against a Queenly Name.
The Court sits tremulous, powerless; varies with the varying temper of the
Esplanade, with the varying colour of the rumours from Paris. Thick-coming
rumours; now of peace, now of war. Necker and all the Ministers consult;
with a blank issue. The Oeil-de-Boeuf is one tempest of whispers:--We will
fly to Metz; we will not fly. The royal Carriages again attempt egress;--
though for trial merely; they are again driven in by Lecointre's Patrols.
In six hours, nothing has been resolved on; not even the Acceptance pure
In six hours? Alas, he who, in such circumstances, cannot resolve in six
minutes, may give up the enterprise: him Fate has already resolved for.
And Menadism, meanwhile, and Sansculottism takes counsel with the National
Assembly; grows more and more tumultuous there. Mounier returns not;
Authority nowhere shews itself: the Authority of France lies, for the
present, with Lecointre and Usher Maillard.--This then is the abomination
of desolation; come suddenly, though long foreshadowed as inevitable! For,
to the blind, all things are sudden. Misery which, through long ages, had
no spokesman, no helper, will now be its own helper and speak for itself.
The dialect, one of the rudest, is, what it could be, this.
At eight o'clock there returns to our Assembly not the Deputation; but
Doctor Guillotin announcing that it will return; also that there is hope of
the Acceptance pure and simple. He himself has brought a Royal Letter,
authorising and commanding the freest 'circulation of grains.' Which Royal
Letter Menadism with its whole heart applauds. Conformably to which the
Assembly forthwith passes a Decree; also received with rapturous Menadic
plaudits:--Only could not an august Assembly contrive further to "fix the
price of bread at eight sous the half-quartern; butchers'-meat at six sous
the pound;" which seem fair rates? Such motion do 'a multitude of men and
women,' irrepressible by Usher Maillard, now make; does an august Assembly
hear made. Usher Maillard himself is not always perfectly measured in
speech; but if rebuked, he can justly excuse himself by the peculiarity of
the circumstances. (Moniteur (in Hist. Parl. ii. 105).)
But finally, this Decree well passed, and the disorder continuing; and
Members melting away, and no President Mounier returning,--what can the
Vice-President do but also melt away? The Assembly melts, under such
pressure, into deliquium; or, as it is officially called, adjourns.
Maillard is despatched to Paris, with the 'Decree concerning Grains' in his
pocket; he and some women, in carriages belonging to the King. Thitherward
slim Louison Chabray has already set forth, with that 'written answer,'
which the Twelve She-deputies returned in to seek. Slim sylph, she has set
forth, through the black muddy country: she has much to tell, her poor
nerves so flurried; and travels, as indeed to-day on this road all persons
do, with extreme slowness. President Mounier has not come, nor the
Acceptance pure and simple; though six hours with their events have come;
though courier on courier reports that Lafayette is coming. Coming, with
war or with peace? It is time that the Chateau also should determine on
one thing or another; that the Chateau also should show itself alive, if it
would continue living!
Victorious, joyful after such delay, Mounier does arrive at last, and the
hard-earned Acceptance with him; which now, alas, is of small value. Fancy
Mounier's surprise to find his Senate, whom he hoped to charm by the
Acceptance pure and simple,--all gone; and in its stead a Senate of Menads!
For as Erasmus's Ape mimicked, say with wooden splint, Erasmus shaving, so
do these Amazons hold, in mock majesty, some confused parody of National
Assembly. They make motions; deliver speeches; pass enactments; productive
at least of loud laughter. All galleries and benches are filled; a strong
Dame of the Market is in Mounier's Chair. Not without difficulty, Mounier,
by aid of macers, and persuasive speaking, makes his way to the Female-
President: the Strong Dame before abdicating signifies that, for one
thing, she and indeed her whole senate male and female (for what was one
roasted warhorse among so many?) are suffering very considerably from
Experienced Mounier, in these circumstances, takes a twofold resolution:
To reconvoke his Assembly Members by sound of drum; also to procure a
supply of food. Swift messengers fly, to all bakers, cooks, pastrycooks,
vintners, restorers; drums beat, accompanied with shrill vocal
proclamation, through all streets. They come: the Assembly Members come;
what is still better, the provisions come. On tray and barrow come these
latter; loaves, wine, great store of sausages. The nourishing baskets
circulate harmoniously along the benches; nor, according to the Father of
Epics, did any soul lack a fair share of victual ((Greek), an equal diet);
highly desirable, at the moment. (Deux Amis, iii. 208.)
Gradually some hundred or so of Assembly members get edged in, Menadism
making way a little, round Mounier's Chair; listen to the Acceptance pure
and simple; and begin, what is the order of the night, 'discussion of the
Penal Code.' All benches are crowded; in the dusky galleries, duskier with
unwashed heads, is a strange 'coruscation,'--of impromptu billhooks.
(Courier de Provence (Mirabeau's Newspaper), No. 50, p. 19.) It is exactly
five months this day since these same galleries were filled with high-
plumed jewelled Beauty, raining bright influences; and now? To such length
have we got in regenerating France. Methinks the travail-throes are of the
sharpest!--Menadism will not be restrained from occasional remarks; asks,
"What is use of the Penal Code? The thing we want is Bread." Mirabeau
turns round with lion-voiced rebuke; Menadism applauds him; but
Thus they, chewing tough sausages, discussing the Penal Code, make night
hideous. What the issue will be? Lafayette with his thirty thousand must
arrive first: him, who cannot now be distant, all men expect, as the
messenger of Destiny.
Towards midnight lights flare on the hill; Lafayette's lights! The roll of
his drums comes up the Avenue de Versailles. With peace, or with war?
Patience, friends! With neither. Lafayette is come, but not yet the
He has halted and harangued so often, on the march; spent nine hours on
four leagues of road. At Montreuil, close on Versailles, the whole Host
had to pause; and, with uplifted right hand, in the murk of Night, to these
pouring skies, swear solemnly to respect the King's Dwelling; to be
faithful to King and National Assembly. Rage is driven down out of sight,
by the laggard march; the thirst of vengeance slaked in weariness and
soaking clothes. Flandre is again drawn out under arms: but Flandre,
grown so patriotic, now needs no 'exterminating.' The wayworn Batallions
halt in the Avenue: they have, for the present, no wish so pressing as
that of shelter and rest.
Anxious sits President Mounier; anxious the Chateau. There is a message
coming from the Chateau, that M. Mounier would please return thither with a
fresh Deputation, swiftly; and so at least unite our two anxieties.
Anxious Mounier does of himself send, meanwhile, to apprise the General
that his Majesty has been so gracious as to grant us the Acceptance pure
and simple. The General, with a small advance column, makes answer in
passing; speaks vaguely some smooth words to the National President,--
glances, only with the eye, at that so mixtiform National Assembly; then
fares forward towards the Chateau. There are with him two Paris
Municipals; they were chosen from the Three Hundred for that errand. He
gets admittance through the locked and padlocked Grates, through sentries
and ushers, to the Royal Halls.
The Court, male and female, crowds on his passage, to read their doom on
his face; which exhibits, say Historians, a mixture 'of sorrow, of fervour
and valour,' singular to behold. (Memoire de M. le Comte de Lally-
Tollendal (Janvier 1790), p. 161-165.) The King, with Monsieur, with
Ministers and Marshals, is waiting to receive him: He "is come," in his
highflown chivalrous way, "to offer his head for the safety of his
Majesty's." The two Municipals state the wish of Paris: four things, of
quite pacific tenor. First, that the honour of Guarding his sacred person
be conferred on patriot National Guards;--say, the Centre Grenadiers, who
as Gardes Francaises were wont to have that privilege. Second, that
provisions be got, if possible. Third, that the Prisons, all crowded with
political delinquents, may have judges sent them. Fourth, that it would
please his Majesty to come and live in Paris. To all which four wishes,
except the fourth, his Majesty answers readily, Yes; or indeed may almost
say that he has already answered it. To the fourth he can answer only, Yes
or No; would so gladly answer, Yes and No!--But, in any case, are not their
dispositions, thank Heaven, so entirely pacific? There is time for
deliberation. The brunt of the danger seems past!
Lafayette and d'Estaing settle the watches; Centre Grenadiers are to take
the Guard-room they of old occupied as Gardes Francaises;--for indeed the
Gardes du Corps, its late ill-advised occupants, are gone mostly to
Rambouillet. That is the order of this night; sufficient for the night is
the evil thereof. Whereupon Lafayette and the two Municipals, with
highflown chivalry, take their leave.
So brief has the interview been, Mounier and his Deputation were not yet
got up. So brief and satisfactory. A stone is rolled from every heart.
The fair Palace Dames publicly declare that this Lafayette, detestable
though he be, is their saviour for once. Even the ancient vinaigrous
Tantes admit it; the King's Aunts, ancient Graille and Sisterhood, known to
us of old. Queen Marie-Antoinette has been heard often say the like. She
alone, among all women and all men, wore a face of courage, of lofty
calmness and resolve, this day. She alone saw clearly what she meant to
do; and Theresa's Daughter dares do what she means, were all France
threatening her: abide where her children are, where her husband is.
Towards three in the morning all things are settled: the watches set, the
Centre Grenadiers put into their old Guard-room, and harangued; the Swiss,
and few remaining Bodyguards harangued. The wayworn Paris Batallions,
consigned to 'the hospitality of Versailles,' lie dormant in spare-beds,
spare-barracks, coffeehouses, empty churches. A troop of them, on their
way to the Church of Saint-Louis, awoke poor Weber, dreaming troublous, in
the Rue Sartory. Weber has had his waistcoat-pocket full of balls all day;
'two hundred balls, and two pears of powder!' For waistcoats were
waistcoats then, and had flaps down to mid-thigh. So many balls he has had
all day; but no opportunity of using them: he turns over now, execrating
disloyal bandits; swears a prayer or two, and straight to sleep again.
Finally, the National Assembly is harangued; which thereupon, on motion of
Mirabeau, discontinues the Penal Code, and dismisses for this night.
Menadism, Sansculottism has cowered into guard-houses, barracks of Flandre,
to the light of cheerful fire; failing that, to churches, office-houses,
sentry-boxes, wheresoever wretchedness can find a lair. The troublous Day
has brawled itself to rest: no lives yet lost but that of one warhorse.
Insurrectionary Chaos lies slumbering round the Palace, like Ocean round a
Diving-bell,--no crevice yet disclosing itself.
Deep sleep has fallen promiscuously on the high and on the low; suspending
most things, even wrath and famine. Darkness covers the Earth. But, far
on the North-east, Paris flings up her great yellow gleam; far into the wet
black Night. For all is illuminated there, as in the old July Nights; the
streets deserted, for alarm of war; the Municipals all wakeful; Patrols
hailing, with their hoarse Who-goes. There, as we discover, our poor slim
Louison Chabray, her poor nerves all fluttered, is arriving about this very
hour. There Usher Maillard will arrive, about an hour hence, 'towards four
in the morning.' They report, successively, to a wakeful Hotel-de-Ville
what comfort they can report; which again, with early dawn, large
comfortable Placards, shall impart to all men.
Lafayette, in the Hotel de Noailles, not far from the Chateau, having now
finished haranguing, sits with his Officers consulting: at five o'clock
the unanimous best counsel is, that a man so tost and toiled for twenty-
four hours and more, fling himself on a bed, and seek some rest.
Thus, then, has ended the First Act of the Insurrection of Women. How it
will turn on the morrow? The morrow, as always, is with the Fates! But
his Majesty, one may hope, will consent to come honourably to Paris; at all
events, he can visit Paris. Anti-national Bodyguards, here and elsewhere,
must take the National Oath; make reparation to the Tricolor; Flandre will
swear. There may be much swearing; much public speaking there will
infallibly be: and so, with harangues and vows, may the matter in some
handsome way, wind itself up.
Or, alas, may it not be all otherwise, unhandsome: the consent not
honourable, but extorted, ignominious? Boundless Chaos of Insurrection
presses slumbering round the Palace, like Ocean round a Diving-bell; and
may penetrate at any crevice. Let but that accumulated insurrectionary
mass find entrance! Like the infinite inburst of water; or say rather, of
inflammable, self-igniting fluid; for example, 'turpentine-and-phosphorus
oil,'--fluid known to Spinola Santerre!
The Grand Entries.
The dull dawn of a new morning, drizzly and chill, had but broken over
Versailles, when it pleased Destiny that a Bodyguard should look out of
window, on the right wing of the Chateau, to see what prospect there was in
Heaven and in Earth. Rascality male and female is prowling in view of him.
His fasting stomach is, with good cause, sour; he perhaps cannot forbear a
passing malison on them; least of all can he forbear answering such.
Ill words breed worse: till the worst word came; and then the ill deed.
Did the maledicent Bodyguard, getting (as was too inevitable) better
malediction than he gave, load his musketoon, and threaten to fire; and
actually fire? Were wise who wist! It stands asserted; to us not
credibly. Be this as it may, menaced Rascality, in whinnying scorn, is
shaking at all Grates: the fastening of one (some write, it was a chain
merely) gives way; Rascality is in the Grand Court, whinnying louder still.
The maledicent Bodyguard, more Bodyguards than he do now give fire; a man's
arm is shattered. Lecointre will depose (Deposition de Lecointre (in Hist.
Parl. iii. 111-115.) that 'the Sieur Cardaine, a National Guard without
arms, was stabbed.' But see, sure enough, poor Jerome l'Heritier, an
unarmed National Guard he too, 'cabinet-maker, a saddler's son, of Paris,'
with the down of youthhood still on his chin,--he reels death-stricken;
rushes to the pavement, scattering it with his blood and brains!--Allelew!
Wilder than Irish wakes, rises the howl: of pity; of infinite revenge. In
few moments, the Grate of the inner and inmost Court, which they name Court
of Marble, this too is forced, or surprised, and burst open: the Court of
Marble too is overflowed: up the Grand Staircase, up all stairs and
entrances rushes the living Deluge! Deshuttes and Varigny, the two sentry
Bodyguards, are trodden down, are massacred with a hundred pikes. Women
snatch their cutlasses, or any weapon, and storm-in Menadic:--other women
lift the corpse of shot Jerome; lay it down on the Marble steps; there
shall the livid face and smashed head, dumb for ever, speak.
Wo now to all Bodyguards, mercy is none for them! Miomandre de Sainte-
Marie pleads with soft words, on the Grand Staircase, 'descending four
steps:'--to the roaring tornado. His comrades snatch him up, by the skirts
and belts; literally, from the jaws of Destruction; and slam-to their Door.
This also will stand few instants; the panels shivering in, like potsherds.
Barricading serves not: fly fast, ye Bodyguards; rabid Insurrection, like
the hellhound Chase, uproaring at your heels!
The terrorstruck Bodyguards fly, bolting and barricading; it follows.
Whitherward? Through hall on hall: wo, now! towards the Queen's Suite of
Rooms, in the furtherest room of which the Queen is now asleep. Five
sentinels rush through that long Suite; they are in the Anteroom knocking
loud: "Save the Queen!" Trembling women fall at their feet with tears;
are answered: "Yes, we will die; save ye the Queen!"
Tremble not, women, but haste: for, lo, another voice shouts far through
the outermost door, "Save the Queen!" and the door shut. It is brave
Miomandre's voice that shouts this second warning. He has stormed across
imminent death to do it; fronts imminent death, having done it. Brave
Tardivet du Repaire, bent on the same desperate service, was borne down
with pikes; his comrades hardly snatched him in again alive. Miomandre and
Tardivet: let the names of these two Bodyguards, as the names of brave men
should, live long.
Trembling Maids of Honour, one of whom from afar caught glimpse of
Miomandre as well as heard him, hastily wrap the Queen; not in robes of
State. She flies for her life, across the Oeil-de-Boeuf; against the main
door of which too Insurrection batters. She is in the King's Apartment, in
the King's arms; she clasps her children amid a faithful few. The
Imperial-hearted bursts into mother's tears: "O my friends, save me and my
children, O mes amis, sauvez moi et mes enfans!" The battering of
Insurrectionary axes clangs audible across the Oeil-de-Boeuf. What an
Yes, Friends: a hideous fearful hour; shameful alike to Governed and
Governor; wherein Governed and Governor ignominiously testify that their
relation is at an end. Rage, which had brewed itself in twenty thousand
hearts, for the last four-and-twenty hours, has taken fire: Jerome's
brained corpse lies there as live-coal. It is, as we said, the infinite
Element bursting in: wild-surging through all corridors and conduits.
Meanwhile, the poor Bodyguards have got hunted mostly into the Oeil-de-
Boeuf. They may die there, at the King's threshhold; they can do little to
defend it. They are heaping tabourets (stools of honour), benches and all
moveables, against the door; at which the axe of Insurrection thunders.--
But did brave Miomandre perish, then, at the Queen's door? No, he was
fractured, slashed, lacerated, left for dead; he has nevertheless crawled
hither; and shall live, honoured of loyal France. Remark also, in flat
contradiction to much which has been said and sung, that Insurrection did
not burst that door he had defended; but hurried elsewhither, seeking new
bodyguards. (Campan, ii. 75-87.)
Poor Bodyguards, with their Thyestes' Opera-Repast! Well for them, that
Insurrection has only pikes and axes; no right sieging tools! It shakes
and thunders. Must they all perish miserably, and Royalty with them?
Deshuttes and Varigny, massacred at the first inbreak, have been beheaded
in the Marble Court: a sacrifice to Jerome's manes: Jourdan with the
tile-beard did that duty willingly; and asked, If there were no more?
Another captive they are leading round the corpse, with howl-chauntings:
may not Jourdan again tuck up his sleeves?
And louder and louder rages Insurrection within, plundering if it cannot
kill; louder and louder it thunders at the Oeil-de-Boeuf: what can now
hinder its bursting in?--On a sudden it ceases; the battering has ceased!
Wild rushing: the cries grow fainter: there is silence, or the tramp of
regular steps; then a friendly knocking: "We are the Centre Grenadiers,
old Gardes Francaises: Open to us, Messieurs of the Garde-du-Corps; we
have not forgotten how you saved us at Fontenoy!" (Toulongeon, i. 144.)
The door is opened; enter Captain Gondran and the Centre Grenadiers: there
are military embracings; there is sudden deliverance from death into life.
Strange Sons of Adam! It was to 'exterminate' these Gardes-du-Corps that
the Centre Grenadiers left home: and now they have rushed to save them
from extermination. The memory of common peril, of old help, melts the
rough heart; bosom is clasped to bosom, not in war. The King shews
himself, one moment, through the door of his Apartment, with: "Do not hurt
my Guards!"--"Soyons freres, Let us be brothers!" cries Captain Gondran;
and again dashes off, with levelled bayonets, to sweep the Palace clear.
Now too Lafayette, suddenly roused, not from sleep (for his eyes had not
yet closed), arrives; with passionate popular eloquence, with prompt
military word of command. National Guards, suddenly roused, by sound of
trumpet and alarm-drum, are all arriving. The death-melly ceases: the
first sky-lambent blaze of Insurrection is got damped down; it burns now,
if unextinguished, yet flameless, as charred coals do, and not
inextinguishable. The King's Apartments are safe. Ministers, Officials,
and even some loyal National deputies are assembling round their Majesties.
The consternation will, with sobs and confusion, settle down gradually,
into plan and counsel, better or worse.
But glance now, for a moment, from the royal windows! A roaring sea of
human heads, inundating both Courts; billowing against all passages:
Menadic women; infuriated men, mad with revenge, with love of mischief,
love of plunder! Rascality has slipped its muzzle; and now bays, three-
throated, like the Dog of Erebus. Fourteen Bodyguards are wounded; two
massacred, and as we saw, beheaded; Jourdan asking, "Was it worth while to
come so far for two?" Hapless Deshuttes and Varigny! Their fate surely
was sad. Whirled down so suddenly to the abyss; as men are, suddenly, by
the wide thunder of the Mountain Avalanche, awakened not by them, awakened
far off by others! When the Chateau Clock last struck, they two were
pacing languid, with poised musketoon; anxious mainly that the next hour
would strike. It has struck; to them inaudible. Their trunks lie mangled:
their heads parade, 'on pikes twelve feet long,' through the streets of
Versailles; and shall, about noon reach the Barriers of Paris,--a too
ghastly contradiction to the large comfortable Placards that have been
The other captive Bodyguard is still circling the corpse of Jerome, amid
Indian war-whooping; bloody Tilebeard, with tucked sleeves, brandishing his
bloody axe; when Gondran and the Grenadiers come in sight. "Comrades, will
you see a man massacred in cold blood?"--"Off, butchers!" answer they; and
the poor Bodyguard is free. Busy runs Gondran, busy run Guards and
Captains; scouring at all corridors; dispersing Rascality and Robbery;
sweeping the Palace clear. The mangled carnage is removed; Jerome's body
to the Townhall, for inquest: the fire of Insurrection gets damped, more
and more, into measurable, manageable heat.
Transcendent things of all sorts, as in the general outburst of
multitudinous Passion, are huddled together; the ludicrous, nay the
ridiculous, with the horrible. Far over the billowy sea of heads, may be
seen Rascality, caprioling on horses from the Royal Stud. The Spoilers
these; for Patriotism is always infected so, with a proportion of mere
thieves and scoundrels. Gondran snatched their prey from them in the
Chateau; whereupon they hurried to the Stables, and took horse there. But
the generous Diomedes' steeds, according to Weber, disdained such
scoundrel-burden; and, flinging up their royal heels, did soon project most
of it, in parabolic curves, to a distance, amid peals of laughter: and
were caught. Mounted National Guards secured the rest.
Now too is witnessed the touching last-flicker of Etiquette; which sinks
not here, in the Cimmerian World-wreckage, without a sign, as the house-
cricket might still chirp in the pealing of a Trump of Doom. "Monsieur,"
said some Master of Ceremonies (one hopes it might be de Breze), as
Lafayette, in these fearful moments, was rushing towards the inner Royal
Apartments, "Monsieur, le Roi vous accorde les grandes entrees, Monsieur,
the King grants you the Grand Entries,"--not finding it convenient to
refuse them!" (Toulongeon, 1 App. 120.)
However, the Paris National Guard, wholly under arms, has cleared the
Palace, and even occupies the nearer external spaces; extruding
miscellaneous Patriotism, for most part, into the Grand Court, or even into
The Bodyguards, you can observe, have now of a verity, 'hoisted the
National Cockade:' for they step forward to the windows or balconies, hat
aloft in hand, on each hat a huge tricolor; and fling over their bandoleers
in sign of surrender; and shout Vive la Nation. To which how can the
generous heart respond but with, Vive le Roi; vivent les Gardes-du-Corps?
His Majesty himself has appeared with Lafayette on the balcony, and again
appears: Vive le Roi greets him from all throats; but also from some one
throat is heard "Le Roi a Paris, The King to Paris!"
Her Majesty too, on demand, shows herself, though there is peril in it:
she steps out on the balcony, with her little boy and girl. "No children,
Point d'enfans!" cry the voices. She gently pushes back her children; and
stands alone, her hands serenely crossed on her breast: "should I die,"
she had said, "I will do it." Such serenity of heroism has its effect.
Lafayette, with ready wit, in his highflown chivalrous way, takes that fair
queenly hand; and reverently kneeling, kisses it: thereupon the people do
shout Vive la Reine. Nevertheless, poor Weber 'saw' (or even thought he
saw; for hardly the third part of poor Weber's experiences, in such
hysterical days, will stand scrutiny) 'one of these brigands level his
musket at her Majesty,'--with or without intention to shoot; for another of
the brigands 'angrily struck it down.'
So that all, and the Queen herself, nay the very Captain of the Bodyguards,
have grown National! The very Captain of the Bodyguards steps out now with
Lafayette. On the hat of the repentant man is an enormous tricolor; large
as a soup-platter, or sun-flower; visible to the utmost Forecourt. He
takes the National Oath with a loud voice, elevating his hat; at which
sight all the army raise their bonnets on their bayonets, with shouts.
Sweet is reconcilement to the heart of man. Lafayette has sworn Flandre;
he swears the remaining Bodyguards, down in the Marble Court; the people
clasp them in their arms:--O, my brothers, why would ye force us to slay
you? Behold there is joy over you, as over returning prodigal sons!--The
poor Bodyguards, now National and tricolor, exchange bonnets, exchange
arms; there shall be peace and fraternity. And still "Vive le Roi;" and
also "Le Roi a Paris," not now from one throat, but from all throats as
one, for it is the heart's wish of all mortals.
Yes, The King to Paris: what else? Ministers may consult, and National
Deputies wag their heads: but there is now no other possibility. You have
forced him to go willingly. "At one o'clock!" Lafayette gives audible
assurance to that purpose; and universal Insurrection, with immeasurable
shout, and a discharge of all the firearms, clear and rusty, great and
small, that it has, returns him acceptance. What a sound; heard for
leagues: a doom peal!--That sound too rolls away, into the Silence of
Ages. And the Chateau of Versailles stands ever since vacant, hushed
still; its spacious Courts grassgrown, responsive to the hoe of the weeder.
Times and generations roll on, in their confused Gulf-current; and
buildings like builders have their destiny.
Till one o'clock, then, there will be three parties, National Assembly,
National Rascality, National Royalty, all busy enough. Rascality rejoices;
women trim themselves with tricolor. Nay motherly Paris has sent her
Avengers sufficient 'cartloads of loaves;' which are shouted over, which
are gratefully consumed. The Avengers, in return, are searching for grain-
stores; loading them in fifty waggons; that so a National King, probable
harbinger of all blessings, may be the evident bringer of plenty, for one.
And thus has Sansculottism made prisoner its King; revoking his parole.
The Monarchy has fallen; and not so much as honourably: no, ignominiously;
with struggle, indeed, oft repeated; but then with unwise struggle; wasting
its strength in fits and paroxysms; at every new paroxysm, foiled more
pitifully than before. Thus Broglie's whiff of grapeshot, which might have
been something, has dwindled to the pot-valour of an Opera Repast, and O
Richard, O mon Roi. Which again we shall see dwindle to a Favras'
Conspiracy, a thing to be settled by the hanging of one Chevalier.
Poor Monarchy! But what save foulest defeat can await that man, who wills,
and yet wills not? Apparently the King either has a right, assertible as
such to the death, before God and man; or else he has no right.
Apparently, the one or the other; could he but know which! May Heaven pity
him! Were Louis wise he would this day abdicate.--Is it not strange so few
Kings abdicate; and none yet heard of has been known to commit suicide?
Fritz the First, of Prussia, alone tried it; and they cut the rope.
As for the National Assembly, which decrees this morning that it 'is
inseparable from his Majesty,' and will follow him to Paris, there may one
thing be noted: its extreme want of bodily health. After the Fourteenth
of July there was a certain sickliness observable among honourable Members;
so many demanding passports, on account of infirm health. But now, for
these following days, there is a perfect murrian: President Mounier, Lally
Tollendal, Clermont Tonnere, and all Constitutional Two-Chamber Royalists
needing change of air; as most No-Chamber Royalists had formerly done.
For, in truth, it is the second Emigration this that has now come; most
extensive among Commons Deputies, Noblesse, Clergy: so that 'to
Switzerland alone there go sixty thousand.' They will return in the day of
accounts! Yes, and have hot welcome.--But Emigration on Emigration is the
peculiarity of France. One Emigration follows another; grounded on
reasonable fear, unreasonable hope, largely also on childish pet. The
highflyers have gone first, now the lower flyers; and ever the lower will
go down to the crawlers. Whereby, however, cannot our National Assembly so
much the more commodiously make the Constitution; your Two-Chamber
Anglomaniacs being all safe, distant on foreign shores? Abbe Maury is
seized, and sent back again: he, tough as tanned leather, with eloquent
Captain Cazales and some others, will stand it out for another year.
But here, meanwhile, the question arises: Was Philippe d'Orleans seen,
this day, 'in the Bois de Boulogne, in grey surtout;' waiting under the wet
sere foliage, what the day might bring forth? Alas, yes, the Eidolon of
him was,--in Weber's and other such brains. The Chatelet shall make large
inquisition into the matter, examining a hundred and seventy witnesses, and
Deputy Chabroud publish his Report; but disclose nothing further. (Rapport
de Chabroud (Moniteur, du 31 December, 1789).) What then has caused these
two unparalleled October Days? For surely such dramatic exhibition never
yet enacted itself without Dramatist and Machinist. Wooden Punch emerges
not, with his domestic sorrows, into the light of day, unless the wire be
pulled: how can human mobs? Was it not d'Orleans then, and Laclos,
Marquis Sillery, Mirabeau and the sons of confusion, hoping to drive the
King to Metz, and gather the spoil? Nay was it not, quite contrariwise,
the Oeil-de-Boeuf, Bodyguard Colonel de Guiche, Minister Saint-Priest and
highflying Loyalists; hoping also to drive him to Metz; and try it by the
sword of civil war? Good Marquis Toulongeon, the Historian and Deputy,
feels constrained to admit that it was both. (Toulongeon, i. 150.)
Alas, my Friends, credulous incredulity is a strange matter. But when a
whole Nation is smitten with Suspicion, and sees a dramatic miracle in the
very operation of the gastric juices, what help is there? Such Nation is
already a mere hypochondriac bundle of diseases; as good as changed into
glass; atrabiliar, decadent; and will suffer crises. Is not Suspicion
itself the one thing to be suspected, as Montaigne feared only fear?
Now, however, the short hour has struck. His Majesty is in his carriage,
with his Queen, sister Elizabeth, and two royal children. Not for another
hour can the infinite Procession get marshalled, and under way. The
weather is dim drizzling; the mind confused; and noise great.
Processional marches not a few our world has seen; Roman triumphs and
ovations, Cabiric cymbal-beatings, Royal progresses, Irish funerals: but
this of the French Monarchy marching to its bed remained to be seen. Miles
long, and of breadth losing itself in vagueness, for all the neighbouring
country crowds to see. Slow; stagnating along, like shoreless Lake, yet
with a noise like Niagara, like Babel and Bedlam. A splashing and a
tramping; a hurrahing, uproaring, musket-volleying;--the truest segment of
Chaos seen in these latter Ages! Till slowly it disembogue itself, in the
thickening dusk, into expectant Paris, through a double row of faces all
the way from Passy to the Hotel-de-Ville.
Consider this: Vanguard of National troops; with trains of artillery; of
pikemen and pikewomen, mounted on cannons, on carts, hackney-coaches, or on
foot;--tripudiating, in tricolor ribbons from head to heel; loaves stuck on
the points of bayonets, green boughs stuck in gun barrels. (Mercier,
Nouveau Paris, iii. 21.) Next, as main-march, 'fifty cartloads of corn,'
which have been lent, for peace, from the stores of Versailles. Behind
which follow stragglers of the Garde-du-Corps; all humiliated, in Grenadier
bonnets. Close on these comes the Royal Carriage; come Royal Carriages:
for there are an Hundred National Deputies too, among whom sits Mirabeau,--
his remarks not given. Then finally, pellmell, as rearguard, Flandre,
Swiss, Hundred Swiss, other Bodyguards, Brigands, whosoever cannot get
before. Between and among all which masses, flows without limit Saint-
Antoine, and the Menadic Cohort. Menadic especially about the Royal
Carriage; tripudiating there, covered with tricolor; singing 'allusive
songs;' pointing with one hand to the Royal Carriage, which the illusions
hit, and pointing to the Provision-wagons, with the other hand, and these
words: "Courage, Friends! We shall not want bread now; we are bringing you
the Baker, the Bakeress, and Baker's Boy (le Boulanger, la Boulangere, et
le petit Mitron)." (Toulongeon, i. 134-161; Deux Amis (iii. c. 9); &c.
The wet day draggles the tricolor, but the joy is unextinguishable. Is not
all well now? "Ah, Madame, notre bonne Reine," said some of these Strong-
women some days hence, "Ah Madame, our good Queen, don't be a traitor any
more (ne soyez plus traitre), and we will all love you!" Poor Weber went
splashing along, close by the Royal carriage, with the tear in his eye:
'their Majesties did me the honour,' or I thought they did it, 'to testify,
from time to time, by shrugging of the shoulders, by looks directed to
Heaven, the emotions they felt.' Thus, like frail cockle, floats the Royal
Life-boat, helmless, on black deluges of Rascality.
Mercier, in his loose way, estimates the Procession and assistants at two
hundred thousand. He says it was one boundless inarticulate Haha;--
transcendent World-Laughter; comparable to the Saturnalia of the Ancients.
Why not? Here too, as we said, is Human Nature once more human; shudder at
it whoso is of shuddering humour: yet behold it is human. It has
'swallowed all formulas;' it tripudiates even so. For which reason they
that collect Vases and Antiques, with figures of Dancing Bacchantes 'in
wild and all but impossible positions,' may look with some interest on it.
Thus, however, has the slow-moving Chaos or modern Saturnalia of the
Ancients, reached the Barrier; and must halt, to be harangued by Mayor
Bailly. Thereafter it has to lumber along, between the double row of
faces, in the transcendent heaven-lashing Haha; two hours longer, towards
the Hotel-de-Ville. Then again to be harangued there, by several persons;
by Moreau de Saint-Mery, among others; Moreau of the Three-thousand orders,
now National Deputy for St. Domingo. To all which poor Louis, who seemed
to 'experience a slight emotion' on entering this Townhall, can answer only
that he "comes with pleasure, with confidence among his people." Mayor
Bailly, in reporting it, forgets 'confidence;' and the poor Queen says
eagerly: "Add, with confidence."--"Messieurs," rejoins Bailly, "You are
happier than if I had not forgot."
Finally, the King is shewn on an upper balcony, by torchlight, with a huge
tricolor in his hat: 'And all the "people," says Weber, grasped one
another's hands;--thinking now surely the New Era was born.' Hardly till
eleven at night can Royalty get to its vacant, long-deserted Palace of the
Tuileries: to lodge there, somewhat in strolling-player fashion. It is
Tuesday, the sixth of October, 1789.
Poor Louis has Two other Paris Processions to make: one ludicrous-
ignominious like this; the other not ludicrous nor ignominious, but
serious, nay sublime.
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME.
THE FEAST OF PIKES
In the Tuileries.
The victim having once got his stroke-of-grace, the catastrophe can be
considered as almost come. There is small interest now in watching his
long low moans: notable only are his sharper agonies, what convulsive
struggles he may take to cast the torture off from him; and then finally
the last departure of life itself, and how he lies extinct and ended,
either wrapt like Caesar in decorous mantle-folds, or unseemly sunk
together, like one that had not the force even to die.
Was French Royalty, when wrenched forth from its tapestries in that
fashion, on that Sixth of October 1789, such a victim? Universal France,
and Royal Proclamation to all the Provinces, answers anxiously, No;
nevertheless one may fear the worst. Royalty was beforehand so decrepit,
moribund, there is little life in it to heal an injury. How much of its
strength, which was of the imagination merely, has fled; Rascality having
looked plainly in the King's face, and not died! When the assembled crows
can pluck up their scarecrow, and say to it, Here shalt thou stand and not
there; and can treat with it, and make it, from an infinite, a quite finite
Constitutional scarecrow,--what is to be looked for? Not in the finite
Constitutional scarecrow, but in what still unmeasured, infinite-seeming
force may rally round it, is there thenceforth any hope. For it is most
true that all available Authority is mystic in its conditions, and comes
'by the grace of God.'
Cheerfuller than watching the death-struggles of Royalism will it be to
watch the growth and gambollings of Sansculottism; for, in human things,
especially in human society, all death is but a death-birth: thus if the
sceptre is departing from Louis, it is only that, in other forms, other
sceptres, were it even pike-sceptres, may bear sway. In a prurient
element, rich with nutritive influences, we shall find that Sansculottism
grows lustily, and even frisks in not ungraceful sport: as indeed most
young creatures are sportful; nay, may it not be noted further, that as the
grown cat, and cat-species generally, is the cruellest thing known, so the
merriest is precisely the kitten, or growing cat?
But fancy the Royal Family risen from its truckle-beds on the morrow of
that mad day: fancy the Municipal inquiry, "How would your Majesty please
to lodge?"--and then that the King's rough answer, "Each may lodge as he
can, I am well enough," is congeed and bowed away, in expressive grins, by
the Townhall Functionaries, with obsequious upholsterers at their back; and
how the Chateau of the Tuileries is repainted, regarnished into a golden
Royal Residence; and Lafayette with his blue National Guards lies
encompassing it, as blue Neptune (in the language of poets) does an island,
wooingly. Thither may the wrecks of rehabilitated Loyalty gather; if it
will become Constitutional; for Constitutionalism thinks no evil;
Sansculottism itself rejoices in the King's countenance. The rubbish of a
Menadic Insurrection, as in this ever-kindly world all rubbish can and must
be, is swept aside; and so again, on clear arena, under new conditions,
with something even of a new stateliness, we begin a new course of action.
Arthur Young has witnessed the strangest scene: Majesty walking unattended
in the Tuileries Gardens; and miscellaneous tricolor crowds, who cheer it,
and reverently make way for it: the very Queen commands at lowest
respectful silence, regretful avoidance. (Arthur Young's Travels, i. 264-
280.) Simple ducks, in those royal waters, quackle for crumbs from young
royal fingers: the little Dauphin has a little railed garden, where he is
seen delving, with ruddy cheeks and flaxen curled hair; also a little hutch
to put his tools in, and screen himself against showers. What peaceable
simplicity! Is it peace of a Father restored to his children? Or of a
Taskmaster who has lost his whip? Lafayette and the Municipality and
universal Constitutionalism assert the former, and do what is in them to
realise it. Such Patriotism as snarls dangerously, and shows teeth,
Patrollotism shall suppress; or far better, Royalty shall soothe down the
angry hair of it, by gentle pattings; and, most effectual of all, by fuller
diet. Yes, not only shall Paris be fed, but the King's hand be seen in
that work. The household goods of the Poor shall, up to a certain amount,
by royal bounty, be disengaged from pawn, and that insatiable Mont de Piete
disgorge: rides in the city with their vive-le-roi need not fail; and so
by substance and show, shall Royalty, if man's art can popularise it, be
popularised. (Deux Amis, iii. c. 10.)
Or, alas, is it neither restored Father nor diswhipped Taskmaster that
walks there; but an anomalous complex of both these, and of innumerable
other heterogeneities; reducible to no rubric, if not to this newly devised
one: King Louis Restorer of French Liberty? Man indeed, and King Louis
like other men, lives in this world to make rule out of the ruleless; by
his living energy, he shall force the absurd itself to become less absurd.
But then if there be no living energy; living passivity only? King
Serpent, hurled into his unexpected watery dominion, did at least bite, and
assert credibly that he was there: but as for the poor King Log, tumbled
hither and thither as thousandfold chance and other will than his might
direct, how happy for him that he was indeed wooden; and, doing nothing,
could also see and suffer nothing! It is a distracted business.
For his French Majesty, meanwhile, one of the worst things is that he can
get no hunting. Alas, no hunting henceforth; only a fatal being-hunted!
Scarcely, in the next June weeks, shall he taste again the joys of the
game-destroyer; in next June, and never more. He sends for his smith-
tools; gives, in the course of the day, official or ceremonial business
being ended, 'a few strokes of the file, quelques coups de lime. (Le
Chateau des Tuileries, ou recit, &c., par Roussel (in Hist. Parl. iv. 195-
219).) Innocent brother mortal, why wert thou not an obscure substantial
maker of locks; but doomed in that other far-seen craft, to be a maker only
of world-follies, unrealities; things self destructive, which no mortal
hammering could rivet into coherence!
Poor Louis is not without insight, nor even without the elements of will;
some sharpness of temper, spurting at times from a stagnating character.
If harmless inertness could save him, it were well; but he will slumber and
painfully dream, and to do aught is not given him. Royalist Antiquarians
still shew the rooms where Majesty and suite, in these extraordinary
circumstances, had their lodging. Here sat the Queen; reading,--for she
had her library brought hither, though the King refused his; taking
vehement counsel of the vehement uncounselled; sorrowing over altered
times; yet with sure hope of better: in her young rosy Boy, has she not
the living emblem of hope! It is a murky, working sky; yet with golden
gleams--of dawn, or of deeper meteoric night? Here again this chamber, on
the other side of the main entrance, was the King's: here his Majesty
breakfasted, and did official work; here daily after breakfast he received
the Queen; sometimes in pathetic friendliness; sometimes in human
sulkiness, for flesh is weak; and, when questioned about business would
answer: "Madame, your business is with the children." Nay, Sire, were it
not better you, your Majesty's self, took the children? So asks impartial
History; scornful that the thicker vessel was not also the stronger; pity-
struck for the porcelain-clay of humanity rather than for the tile-clay,--
though indeed both were broken!
So, however, in this Medicean Tuileries, shall the French King and Queen
now sit, for one-and-forty months; and see a wild-fermenting France work
out its own destiny, and theirs. Months bleak, ungenial, of rapid
vicissitude; yet with a mild pale splendour, here and there: as of an
April that were leading to leafiest Summer; as of an October that led only
to everlasting Frost. Medicean Tuileries, how changed since it was a
peaceful Tile field! Or is the ground itself fate-stricken, accursed: an
Atreus' Palace; for that Louvre window is still nigh, out of which a Capet,
whipt of the Furies, fired his signal of the Saint Bartholomew! Dark is
the way of the Eternal as mirrored in this world of Time: God's way is in
the sea, and His path in the great deep.
In the Salle de Manege.
To believing Patriots, however, it is now clear, that the Constitution will
march, marcher,--had it once legs to stand on. Quick, then, ye Patriots,
bestir yourselves, and make it; shape legs for it! In the Archeveche, or
Archbishop's Palace, his Grace himself having fled; and afterwards in the
Riding-hall, named Manege, close on the Tuileries: there does a National
Assembly apply itself to the miraculous work. Successfully, had there been
any heaven-scaling Prometheus among them; not successfully since there was
none! There, in noisy debate, for the sessions are occasionally
'scandalous,' and as many as three speakers have been seen in the Tribune
at once,--let us continue to fancy it wearing the slow months.
Tough, dogmatic, long of wind is Abbe Maury; Ciceronian pathetic is
Cazales. Keen-trenchant, on the other side, glitters a young Barnave;
abhorrent of sophistry; sheering, like keen Damascus sabre, all sophistry
asunder,--reckless what else he sheer with it. Simple seemest thou, O
solid Dutch-built Petion; if solid, surely dull. Nor lifegiving in that
tone of thine, livelier polemical Rabaut. With ineffable serenity sniffs
great Sieyes, aloft, alone; his Constitution ye may babble over, ye may
mar, but can by no possibility mend: is not Polity a science he has
exhausted? Cool, slow, two military Lameths are visible, with their
quality sneer, or demi-sneer; they shall gallantly refund their Mother's
Pension, when the Red Book is produced; gallantly be wounded in duels. A
Marquis Toulongeon, whose Pen we yet thank, sits there; in stoical
meditative humour, oftenest silent, accepts what destiny will send.
Thouret and Parlementary Duport produce mountains of Reformed Law; liberal,
Anglomaniac, available and unavailable. Mortals rise and fall. Shall
goose Gobel, for example,--or Go(with an umlaut)bel, for he is of Strasburg
German breed, be a Constitutional Archbishop?
Alone of all men there, Mirabeau may begin to discern clearly whither all
this is tending. Patriotism, accordingly, regrets that his zeal seems to
be getting cool. In that famed Pentecost-Night of the Fourth of August,
when new Faith rose suddenly into miraculous fire, and old Feudality was
burnt up, men remarked that Mirabeau took no hand in it; that, in fact, he
luckily happened to be absent. But did he not defend the Veto, nay Veto
Absolu; and tell vehement Barnave that six hundred irresponsible senators
would make of all tyrannies the insupportablest? Again, how anxious was he
that the King's Ministers should have seat and voice in the National
Assembly;--doubtless with an eye to being Minister himself! Whereupon the
National Assembly decides, what is very momentous, that no Deputy shall be
Minister; he, in his haughty stormful manner, advising us to make it, 'no
Deputy called Mirabeau.' (Moniteur, Nos. 65, 86 (29th September, 7th
November, 1789).) A man of perhaps inveterate Feudalisms; of stratagems;
too often visible leanings towards the Royalist side: a man suspect; whom
Patriotism will unmask! Thus, in these June days, when the question Who
shall have right to declare war? comes on, you hear hoarse Hawkers sound
dolefully through the streets, "Grand Treason of Count Mirabeau, price only
one sou;"--because he pleads that it shall be not the Assembly but the
King! Pleads; nay prevails: for in spite of the hoarse Hawkers, and an
endless Populace raised by them to the pitch even of 'Lanterne,' he mounts
the Tribune next day; grim-resolute; murmuring aside to his friends that
speak of danger: "I know it: I must come hence either in triumph, or else
torn in fragments;" and it was in triumph that he came.
A man of stout heart; whose popularity is not of the populace, 'pas
populaciere;' whom no clamour of unwashed mobs without doors, or of washed
mobs within, can scarce from his way! Dumont remembers hearing him deliver
a Report on Marseilles; 'every word was interrupted on the part of the Cote
Droit by abusive epithets; calumniator, liar, assassin, scoundrel
(scelerat): Mirabeau pauses a moment, and, in a honeyed tone, addressing
the most furious, says: "I wait, Messieurs, till these amenities be
exhausted."' (Dumont, Souvenirs, p. 278.) A man enigmatic, difficult to
unmask! For example, whence comes his money? Can the profit of a
Newspaper, sorely eaten into by Dame Le Jay; can this, and the eighteen
francs a-day your National Deputy has, be supposed equal to this
expenditure? House in the Chaussee d'Antin; Country-house at Argenteuil;
splendours, sumptuosities, orgies;--living as if he had a mint! All
saloons barred against Adventurer Mirabeau, are flung wide open to King
Mirabeau, the cynosure of Europe, whom female France flutters to behold,--
though the Man Mirabeau is one and the same. As for money, one may
conjecture that Royalism furnishes it; which if Royalism do, will not the
same be welcome, as money always is to him?
'Sold,' whatever Patriotism thinks, he cannot readily be: the spiritual
fire which is in that man; which shining through such confusions is
nevertheless Conviction, and makes him strong, and without which he had no
strength,--is not buyable nor saleable; in such transference of barter, it
would vanish and not be. Perhaps 'paid and not sold, paye pas vendu:' as
poor Rivarol, in the unhappier converse way, calls himself 'sold and not
paid!' A man travelling, comet-like, in splendour and nebulosity, his wild
way; whom telescopic Patriotism may long watch, but, without higher
mathematics, will not make out. A questionable most blameable man; yet to
us the far notablest of all. With rich munificence, as we often say, in a
most blinkard, bespectacled, logic-chopping generation, Nature has gifted
this man with an eye. Welcome is his word, there where he speaks and
works; and growing ever welcomer; for it alone goes to the heart of the
business: logical cobwebbery shrinks itself together; and thou seest a
thing, how it is, how is may be worked with.
Unhappily our National Assembly has much to do: a France to regenerate;
and France is short of so many requisites; short even of cash! These same
Finances give trouble enough; no choking of the Deficit; which gapes ever,
Give, give! To appease the Deficit we venture on a hazardous step, sale of
the Clergy's Lands and superfluous Edifices; most hazardous. Nay, given
the sale, who is to buy them, ready-money having fled? Wherefore, on the
19th day of December, a paper-money of 'Assignats,' of Bonds secured, or
assigned, on that Clerico-National Property, and unquestionable at least in
payment of that,--is decreed: the first of a long series of like financial
performances, which shall astonish mankind. So that now, while old rags
last, there shall be no lack of circulating medium; whether of commodities
to circulate thereon is another question. But, after all, does not this
Assignat business speak volumes for modern science? Bankruptcy, we may
say, was come, as the end of all Delusions needs must come: yet how
gently, in softening diffusion, in mild succession, was it hereby made to
fall;--like no all-destroying avalanche; like gentle showers of a powdery
impalpable snow, shower after shower, till all was indeed buried, and yet
little was destroyed that could not be replaced , be dispensed with! To
such length has modern machinery reached. Bankruptcy, we said, was great;
but indeed Money itself is a standing miracle.
On the whole, it is a matter of endless difficulty, that of the Clergy.
Clerical property may be made the Nation's, and the Clergy hired servants
of the State; but if so, is it not an altered Church? Adjustment enough,
of the most confused sort, has become unavoidable. Old landmarks, in any
sense, avail not in a new France. Nay literally, the very Ground is new
divided; your old party-coloured Provinces become new uniform Departments,
Eighty-three in number;--whereby, as in some sudden shifting of the Earth's
axis, no mortal knows his new latitude at once. The Twelve old Parlements
too, what is to be done with them? The old Parlements are declared to be
all 'in permanent vacation,'--till once the new equal-justice, of
Departmental Courts, National Appeal-Court, of elective Justices, Justices
of Peace, and other Thouret-and-Duport apparatus be got ready. They have
to sit there, these old Parlements, uneasily waiting; as it were, with the
rope round their neck; crying as they can, Is there none to deliver us?
But happily the answer being, None, none, they are a manageable class,
these Parlements. They can be bullied, even into silence; the Paris
Parliament, wiser than most, has never whimpered. They will and must sit
there; in such vacation as is fit; their Chamber of Vacation distributes in
the interim what little justice is going. With the rope round their neck,
their destiny may be succinct! On the 13th of November 1790, Mayor Bailly
shall walk to the Palais de Justice, few even heeding him; and with
municipal seal-stamp and a little hot wax, seal up the Parlementary Paper-
rooms,--and the dread Parlement of Paris pass away, into Chaos, gently as
does a Dream! So shall the Parlements perish, succinctly; and innumerable
eyes be dry.
Not so the Clergy. For granting even that Religion were dead; that it had
died, half-centuries ago, with unutterable Dubois; or emigrated lately, to
Alsace, with Necklace-Cardinal Rohan; or that it now walked as goblin
revenant with Bishop Talleyrand of Autun; yet does not the Shadow of
Religion, the Cant of Religion, still linger? The Clergy have means and
material: means, of number, organization, social weight; a material, at
lowest, of public ignorance, known to be the mother of devotion. Nay,
withal, is it incredible that there might, in simple hearts, latent here
and there like gold grains in the mud-beach, still dwell some real Faith in
God, of so singular and tenacious a sort that even a Maury or a Talleyrand,
could still be the symbol for it?--Enough, and Clergy has strength, the
Clergy has craft and indignation. It is a most fatal business this of the
Clergy. A weltering hydra-coil, which the National Assembly has stirred up
about its ears; hissing, stinging; which cannot be appeased, alive; which
cannot be trampled dead! Fatal, from first to last! Scarcely after
fifteen months' debating, can a Civil Constitution of the Clergy be so much
as got to paper; and then for getting it into reality? Alas, such Civil
Constitution is but an agreement to disagree. It divides France from end
to end, with a new split, infinitely complicating all the other splits;--
Catholicism, what of it there is left, with the Cant of Catholicism, raging
on the one side, and sceptic Heathenism on the other; both, by
contradiction , waxing fanatic. What endless jarring, of Refractory hated
Priests, and Constitutional despised ones; of tender consciences, like the
King's, and consciences hot-seared, like certain of his People's: the
whole to end in Feasts of Reason and a War of La Vendee! So deep-seated is
Religion in the heart of man, and holds of all infinite passions. If the
dead echo of it still did so much, what could not the living voice of it
Finance and Constitution, Law and Gospel: this surely were work enough;
yet this is not all. In fact, the Ministry, and Necker himself whom a
brass inscription 'fastened by the people over his door-lintel' testifies
to be the 'Ministre adore,' are dwindling into clearer and clearer nullity.
Execution or legislation, arrangement or detail, from their nerveless
fingers all drops undone; all lights at last on the toiled shoulders of an
august Representative Body. Heavy-laden National Assembly! It has to hear
of innumerable fresh revolts, Brigand expeditions; of Chateaus in the West,
especially of Charter-chests, Chartiers, set on fire; for there too the
overloaded Ass frightfully recalcitrates. Of Cities in the South full of
heats and jealousies; which will end in crossed sabres, Marseilles against
Toulon, and Carpentras beleaguered by Avignon;--such Royalist collision in
a career of Freedom; nay Patriot collision, which a mere difference of
velocity will bring about! Of a Jourdan Coup-tete, who has skulked
thitherward, from the claws of the Chatelet; and will raise whole
Also it has to hear of Royalist Camp of Jales: Jales mountain-girdled
Plain, amid the rocks of the Cevennes; whence Royalism, as is feared and
hoped, may dash down like a mountain deluge, and submerge France! A
singular thing this camp of Jales; existing mostly on paper. For the
Soldiers at Jales, being peasants or National Guards, were in heart sworn
Sansculottes; and all that the Royalist Captains could do was, with false
words, to keep them, or rather keep the report of them, drawn up there,
visible to all imaginations, for a terror and a sign,--if peradventure
France might be reconquered by theatrical machinery, by the picture of a
Royalist Army done to the life! (Dampmartin, Evenemens, i. 208.) Not till
the third summer was this portent, burning out by fits and then fading, got
finally extinguished; was the old Castle of Jales, no Camp being visible to
the bodily eye, got blown asunder by some National Guards.
Also it has to hear not only of Brissot and his Friends of the Blacks, but
by and by of a whole St. Domingo blazing skyward; blazing in literal fire,
and in far worse metaphorical; beaconing the nightly main. Also of the
shipping interest, and the landed-interest, and all manner of interests,
reduced to distress. Of Industry every where manacled, bewildered; and
only Rebellion thriving. Of sub-officers, soldiers and sailors in mutiny
by land and water. Of soldiers, at Nanci, as we shall see, needing to be
cannonaded by a brave Bouille. Of sailors, nay the very galley-slaves, at
Brest, needing also to be cannonaded; but with no Bouille to do it. For
indeed, to say it in a word, in those days there was no King in Israel, and
every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (See Deux Amis, iii.
c. 14; iv. c. 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, 14. Expedition des Volontaires de Brest sur
Lannion; Les Lyonnais Sauveurs des Dauphinois; Massacre au Mans; Troubles
du Maine (Pamphlets and Excerpts, in Hist. Parl. iii. 251; iv. 162-168),
Such things has an august National Assembly to hear of, as it goes on
regenerating France. Sad and stern: but what remedy? Get the
Constitution ready; and all men will swear to it: for do not 'Addresses of
adhesion' arrive by the cartload? In this manner, by Heaven's blessing,
and a Constitution got ready, shall the bottomless fire-gulf be vaulted in,
with rag-paper; and Order will wed Freedom, and live with her there,--till
it grow too hot for them. O Cote Gauche, worthy are ye, as the adhesive
Addresses generally say, to 'fix the regards of the Universe;' the regards
of this one poor Planet, at lowest!--
Nay, it must be owned, the Cote Droit makes a still madder figure. An
irrational generation; irrational, imbecile, and with the vehement
obstinacy characteristic of that; a generation which will not learn.
Falling Bastilles, Insurrections of Women, thousands of smoking
Manorhouses, a country bristling with no crop but that of Sansculottic
steel: these were tolerably didactic lessons; but them they have not
taught. There are still men, of whom it was of old written, Bray them in a
mortar! Or, in milder language, They have wedded their delusions: fire
nor steel, nor any sharpness of Experience, shall sever the bond; till
death do us part! Of such may the Heavens have mercy; for the Earth, with
her rigorous Necessity, will have none.
Admit, at the same time, that it was most natural. Man lives by Hope:
Pandora when her box of gods'-gifts flew all out, and became gods'-curses,
still retained Hope. How shall an irrational mortal, when his high-place
is never so evidently pulled down, and he, being irrational, is left
resourceless,--part with the belief that it will be rebuilt? It would make
all so straight again; it seems so unspeakably desirable; so reasonable,--
would you but look at it aright! For, must not the thing which was
continue to be; or else the solid World dissolve? Yes, persist, O
infatuated Sansculottes of France! Revolt against constituted Authorities;
hunt out your rightful Seigneurs, who at bottom so loved you, and readily
shed their blood for you,--in country's battles as at Rossbach and
elsewhere; and, even in preserving game, were preserving you, could ye but
have understood it: hunt them out, as if they were wild wolves; set fire
to their Chateaus and Chartiers as to wolf-dens; and what then? Why, then
turn every man his hand against his fellow! In confusion, famine,
desolation, regret the days that are gone; rueful recall them, recall us
with them. To repentant prayers we will not be deaf.
So, with dimmer or clearer consciousness, must the Right Side reason and
act. An inevitable position perhaps; but a most false one for them. Evil,
be thou our good: this henceforth must virtually be their prayer. The
fiercer the effervescence grows, the sooner will it pass; for after all it
is but some mad effervescence; the World is solid, and cannot dissolve.
For the rest, if they have any positive industry, it is that of plots, and
backstairs conclaves. Plots which cannot be executed; which are mostly
theoretic on their part;--for which nevertheless this and the other
practical Sieur Augeard, Sieur Maillebois, Sieur Bonne Savardin, gets into
trouble, gets imprisoned, and escapes with difficulty. Nay there is a poor
practical Chevalier Favras who, not without some passing reflex on Monsieur
himself, gets hanged for them, amid loud uproar of the world. Poor Favras,
he keeps dictating his last will at the 'Hotel-de-Ville, through the whole
remainder of the day,' a weary February day; offers to reveal secrets, if
they will save him; handsomely declines since they will not; then dies, in
the flare of torchlight, with politest composure; remarking, rather than
exclaiming, with outspread hands: "People, I die innocent; pray for me."
(See Deux Amis, iv. c. 14, 7; Hist. Parl. vi. 384.) Poor Favras;--type of
so much that has prowled indefatigable over France, in days now ending;
and, in freer field, might have earned instead of prowling,--to thee it is
In the Senate-house again, the attitude of the Right Side is that of calm
unbelief. Let an august National Assembly make a Fourth-of-August
Abolition of Feudality; declare the Clergy State-servants who shall have
wages; vote Suspensive Vetos, new Law-Courts; vote or decree what contested
thing it will; have it responded to from the four corners of France, nay
get King's Sanction, and what other Acceptance were conceivable,--the Right
Side, as we find, persists, with imperturbablest tenacity, in considering,
and ever and anon shews that it still considers, all these so-called
Decrees as mere temporary whims, which indeed stand on paper, but in
practice and fact are not, and cannot be. Figure the brass head of an Abbe
Maury flooding forth Jesuitic eloquence in this strain; dusky d'Espremenil,
Barrel Mirabeau (probably in liquor), and enough of others, cheering him
from the Right; and, for example, with what visage a seagreen Robespierre
eyes him from the Left. And how Sieyes ineffably sniffs on him, or does
not deign to sniff; and how the Galleries groan in spirit, or bark rabid on
him: so that to escape the Lanterne, on stepping forth, he needs presence
of mind, and a pair of pistols in his girdle! For he is one of the
toughest of men.
Here indeed becomes notable one great difference between our two kinds of
civil war; between the modern lingual or Parliamentary-logical kind, and
the ancient, or manual kind, in the steel battle-field;--much to the
disadvantage of the former. In the manual kind, where you front your foe
with drawn weapon, one right stroke is final; for, physically speaking,
when the brains are out the man does honestly die, and trouble you no more.
But how different when it is with arguments you fight! Here no victory yet
definable can be considered as final. Beat him down, with Parliamentary
invective, till sense be fled; cut him in two, hanging one half in this
dilemma-horn, the other on that; blow the brains or thinking-faculty quite
out of him for the time: it skills not; he rallies and revives on the
morrow; to-morrow he repairs his golden fires! The think that will
logically extinguish him is perhaps still a desideratum in Constitutional
civilisation. For how, till a man know, in some measure, at what point he
becomes logically defunct, can Parliamentary Business be carried on, and
Talk cease or slake?
Doubtless it was some feeling of this difficulty; and the clear insight how
little such knowledge yet existed in the French Nation, new in the
Constitutional career, and how defunct Aristocrats would continue to walk
for unlimited periods, as Partridge the Alamanack-maker did,--that had sunk
into the deep mind of People's-friend Marat, an eminently practical mind;
and had grown there, in that richest putrescent soil, into the most
original plan of action ever submitted to a People. Not yet has it grown;
but it has germinated, it is growing; rooting itself into Tartarus,
branching towards Heaven: the second season hence, we shall see it risen
out of the bottomless Darkness, full-grown, into disastrous Twilight,--a
Hemlock-tree, great as the world; on or under whose boughs all the
People's-friends of the world may lodge. 'Two hundred and sixty thousand
Aristocrat heads:' that is the precisest calculation, though one would not
stand on a few hundreds; yet we never rise as high as the round three
hundred thousand. Shudder at it, O People; but it is as true as that ye
yourselves, and your People's-friend, are alive. These prating Senators of
yours hover ineffectual on the barren letter, and will never save the
Revolution. A Cassandra-Marat cannot do it, with his single shrunk arm;
but with a few determined men it were possible. "Give me," said the
People's-friend, in his cold way, when young Barbaroux, once his pupil in a
course of what was called Optics, went to see him, "Give me two hundred
Naples Bravoes, armed each with a good dirk, and a muff on his left arm by
way of shield: with them I will traverse France, and accomplish the
Revolution." (Memoires de Barbaroux (Paris, 1822), p. 57.) Nay, be brave,
young Barbaroux; for thou seest, there is no jesting in those rheumy eyes;
in that soot-bleared figure, most earnest of created things; neither indeed
is there madness, of the strait-waistcoat sort.
Such produce shall the Time ripen in cavernous Marat, the man forbid;
living in Paris cellars, lone as fanatic Anchorite in his Thebaid; say, as
far-seen Simon on his Pillar,--taking peculiar views therefrom. Patriots
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