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“The Assembly shuddered for a moment at the sight of this blood, and then hastily turned away their eyes from it. In their impatience to reign alone they had no time for pity. Besides, between the Girondins and the Jacobins there was an emulation of passion and a rivalry to seize upon the head of the revolution, which made each of the two parties fear to let the other get the upper hand of them. Even the bodies of the dead did not make them pause, and tears too prolonged would have passed for feebleness.” Tome i., pp. 138, 139.
But the king was still on his throne. The Girondins, in order to give him no respite, resolved to press upon him the decree against the priests who had not taken the constitutitutional oath. Louis not only refused with the most obstinate firmness to sanction that decree, which he regarded as an attack upon his conscience, in making him the instrument of persecution against the church, but he determined to remove such of his ministers, Roland, Claviere and Servan, as he regarded the willing instruments of his political enemies. This step of the king brought upon him the vengeance of the Girondins. Roland was the creature of that party. It was in the saloons of his wife that Vergniaud, Brissot, Gensonné, Guadet, Condorcet, Péthion, Grangeneuve and Louvet, the leaders of the Girondins, formed their plots for the destruction of the monarchy, and concerted their plans, if plans they had any, for the government of France. Attracted to her evening parties by the influence of her beauty and the extraordinary fascination of her manners, that vain and ambitious wo. man gave a direction to the counsels of the Girondins, and, through them, became, for a brief season, the ruler of France. Participating in her vindictive feelings towards the throne, for the disgrace of her husband, the Girondins, if they did not instigate, did nothing to repress the disordered passions of the populace, ever ready for the overthrow of the monarchy.
The monarchy then existed but in name. By the connivance or culpable indifference of the Girondins, the king was exposed to the grossest insult, his life put in jeopardy, and the monarchy trampled under foot. Any decided action on the part of the Legislative Assembly could have suppressed the meeting at Charenton, which led to the insurrection of the 20th of June; but Péthion, at the head of the commune of Paris, openly justified the lawfulness of the projected Assemblies of the people and the propriety of their carrying in mass their petitions to the Legislative Assembly. Vergniaud repelled at the tribune the fears of the constitutional party, as a calumny against the innocence of the people. Condorcet laughed at the demand of the ministers of the crown for forces to resist the projected insurrection.
The destruction of the Bastile was a sudden demonstration of popular fury—the march to Versailles was prompted by a mixed feeling of aversion to the throne, and an apprehension that the monarch might escape from their hands; but the insurrection of the 20th of June was the first popular exhibition of hostility to the king and of a thirst for his blood. We cannot forbear extracting our author's description of the muster of the Parisian populace on that occasion, and the striking character he has drawn of Théroigne de Méricourt, the leader of the Menads—a picture decidedly French, for probably nowhere but in France could such a scene have occurred, and under such a heI'Olne.
“The number of men that left the square of the Bastile was estimated at twenty thousand. They were divided into three bodies : the first, commanded by Santerre, was composed of the battalions of the suburbs, and was armed with, bayonets and sabres; the second, formed of men of the lower orders of the people, without arms or armed only with pikes and clubs, marched under the orders of the demagogue, Saint-Hururge ; the third horde, a confused mixture of men in rags, of women and children, followed in disorder a young and handsome woman, clothed like a man, with a sabre in her hand and a musket on her shoulder, and seated upon a cannon, which was dragged by workmen with naked arms. That woman was Théroigne de Méricourt.
“Théroigne or Lambertine de Méricourt, who commanded the third body of the army of the suburbs, was known to the people by the name of the fair Liégeoise. The French revolution had attracted her to Paris, as the whirlwind attracts light objects. She was the impure Joan of Arc of the public square. Outraged love had thrown her into disordes; vice, for which she blushed, had given her a thirst for revenge. In striking down the aristocrats she hoped to restore her honor, and she washed her shame in blood. Born in the village of Méricourt, in the environs of Liège, of a family of rich farmers, she had received the education of the higher classes. At seventeen her dazzling beauty attracted the attention of a young lord on the banks of the Rhine, whose castle was situated near the residence of the young girl. Loved, ruined, and then abandoned, she left her father's house and took refuge in England. After remaining a few months in London she went to France. There she became acquainted, through Mirabeau, to whom she had been recommended, with Sièyes, Joseph Chénier, Danton, Ronsin, Brissot and Camille Desmoulins. Romme, a mystical republican, lighted up in her the fire of German illuminism. Youth, love, revenge and the contact with the focus of a revolution heated her brain. She lived in the intoxication of passions, of ideas and of pleasures. Attached, at first, to the great innovators of '89, she glided from their embraces into the arms of the rich and voluptuous, who paid dearly for her charms. The courtesan of the rich, she became the voluntary prostitute of the people. Like the celebrated prostitutes of Egypt and Rome, she squandered in the cause of liberty the gold which she had gained from vice. “With the first insurrections she descended into the streets. She dedicated her beauty to serve as an ensign to the multitude. Clothed as an Amazon, in garments the color of blood, with a plume waving from her hat, a sabre at her side and a brace of pistols in her girdle, she rushed into every insurrection of the populace. In the front rank, she forced the Hotel of the Invalides in order to carry off the cannon. The first in the assault, she mounted the tower of the Bastile. The victors presented her a sword of honor upon the breach. On “the days of October" she guided the women of Paris to Versailles. On horseback, by the side of the ferocious Jourdan, she brought the king to Paris. She followed, without shrinking, the severed heads of the body-guards, serving as trophies, at the end of pikes. Such was her ascendant in the insurrections of the populace that her gesture condemned or absolved the victims. The royalists trembled at her approach. By one of those chances which resemble the premeditated vengeance of destiny, she recognized in Paris the young Belgian gentleman who had ruined and abandoned her. Her look apprized her seducer of his danger. He tried to avert it, and came to implore her pardon. But Théroigne had not the generosity to pardon him. He perished in the massacre of September. As the revolution became more bloody she plunged further into it.” Tome i, pp. 207,208, 209.
The Girondins not only did nothing to put a stop to the meetings which concerted the insurrection of the 20th of June, but they had not even the decency to attempt to prevent the mob from passing through the Hall of the Assembly, on its way to the attack of the Tuilleries. In order to humble the King still further, they were willing to subject the national representation to degradation. Besides, it suited well their republican plans, even if the King did not lose his life at the hands of the mob, that his people should degrade him so far that they could obtain all the concessions they then required of him. But the firmness of the King disappointed their expectations. Louis, in the face of an incensed multitude, who had surprised his guard and invaded his palace, courageously refused to give his sanction to the decrees against his emigrant subjects and the non-conforming priests, or to restore the Girondin ministers; and coolly replied to the vociferous demands of a blood-thirsty mob. “I will do what the constitution orders me to do.” The unexpected firmness of Louis saved, for a time, his own life and the lives of his family; and all that could be obtained from his fears, was to make him put on the bonnet rouge and to take a draught from a bottle which was handed to him by a ragged beggar. The Girondins derived but little advantage from the insurrection of the 20th of June, and, but for the further degradation of the monarch, for them it was a failure. They were even alarmed at the recoil of public feeling, for, on the day succeeding the 20th of June, the National Guard, the citizens, and a majority of the Legislative Assembly itself—all of whom had quietly looked upon the preparations and progress of the insurrection, without making any attempt to arrest it—now that it was over, cried out loudly against an outrage offered to the person and liberty of a constitutional sovereign. The Girondins, with the aid of the Jacobins, who united with them in their hatred of royalty, failing in their efforts to destroy the monarchy on the 20th of June, concerted an insurrection for the 10th of August, which succeeded to the fullest extent of their wishes, and the King was thrown into their hands. But the overturn of the Monarchy, the imprisonment of Louis in the Temple, and the call of the Convention, were the last acts of the Girondins, as leaders, in the great drama wherein they had played a part so conspicuous. With the Legislative Assembly, which the Girondin leader, Vergniaud, labored to dissolve, as containing too large an infusion of the elements of the constitutional party, passed away the influence of the Girondins. With the Convention the Jacobins came into power. The Legislative Assembly, through Guadet, one of the Girondin leaders, promulgated the regulations for calling a Convention, and, by means of it, to make a direct appeal to the sovereignty of the people. No restriction was im-. posed upon the eligibility of the members of the new body but the age of majority and the condition of a freeman. Robespierre's self-denying ordinance, which had been applied to the Legislative Assembly, was withdrawn, and the Convention was composed, in great part, of new men, trained up in the Jacobin Club of Paris, and its affiliated societies of the Provinces, who were prepared for regicide— prepared for the Republic, for anarchy and terror. The Girondins hated the King, and were anxious to get rid of him; but all their acts only tended to degrade him and deliver him over to the execration of the people. The Jacobins had no scruples on that score. The insurrection of the 10th of August led to the frightful massacres of “the days of September,” and France, intoxicated with blood, demanded the head of her Sovereign.
The Girondins were elected to the convention, but the prestige of their influence was gone. They were only talkers, but they were succeeded by actors. No portion of this history is more interesting, and at the same time more painful, than the account of the long and cruel imprisonment of the royal family—the separation of the king from his wife and children, the petty discomforts to which he was subjected, the indignities and outrage to which he was constantly exposed, and the patient fortitude which he exhibited under every trial;-but we pass on to that extreme moment when his life depended upon the fluctuating and still uncertain will of the convention, and when that body had proceeded to vote upon the question of the banishment or death of the king.
“The first votes,” says Lamartine, “which were heard by the Assembly, produced uncertainty in the minds of all. Death and banishment, seemed equally balanced in the alternate responses of the voters. The fate of the king depended on the first vote, which one of the Girondin leaders should pronounce. That would declare, without question, the probable vote of the whole party, and the number of men attached to that party, would irrevocably determine the majority. Life and death, were then, in some sort, sealed up in the lips of Vergniaud. All looked on with anxiety, when the alphabetical order in calling the roll of the departments, coming down to the letter G. called the deputies of the Gironde to the tribune. Vergniaud ascended first. Every one remembered his immortal discourse against Robespierre, in opposition to the sentence against the dethroned king. They knew his horror and repugnance against the party who went for execution. They repeated the confidential conversations, in which he had twenty times avowed his compassion for the fate of a prince, whose greatest crime