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put a stop to civil disorders. I ought to believe that every Frenchman would second my efforts. It is at this very moment, however, that emigration increases. Some depart on account of disorders that threaten their lives and property. Should we pardon nothing to the circumstances under which we are placed? Have I not also had my griefs? And when I forget them can any one recall his own dangers? How can order be established, if those interested in its preservation abandon the effort in despair?" Tom. i., pp. 101, 102.
The Girondins, who desired to collect into a focus all the scattered rays of discontent against the monarchy, used the decree against the emigrants to embarrass the king in his 'decision against his exiled subjects, as had been done in his religious faith, on the question of the clergy. Vergniaud, who was the orator, and who was soon destined to become the leader of the Girondins, attempted, on this occasion, the influence of his impassioned eloquence. He is a favorite with our author. and we will not apologize for devoting a small space to the highly drawn character given him in the work before us.
"Vergniaud, an advocate of Bordeaux, was born at Limoges, and was then but about thirty-three years of age. The popular movement had taken possession of him and carried him along with it in his youth. His features, calm and majestic, exhibited in him the consciousness of his powers, No tension contracted them. Facility, the grace of genius, made every thing in him to bend to it—his altitude, his talents, his character. A certain carelessness of manner indicated that he easily forgot himself, but he soon recovered his self-possession whenever there was need His brow was calm, his look confident, the expression of his mouth grave, and a little sad; the stern thoughts of antiquity united, in the expression of his face, with the smiles and carelessness of youth. He was familiarly caressed at the foot of the tribune; every one was struck with respect and admiration as soon as he ascended it . His first look, his first word, placed an immense distance between the man and the orator. He was an instrument of enthusiasm, who only took his true position under the influence of inspiration. That inspiration, with the aid of an impressive voice and an inexhaustible eloquence, was fed by the purest recollections of the ancient tribune. His language was crowded with images, and had all the harmony of the most beautiful verse. If he had not been the orator of the democracy, he would have been the philosopher of it and the poet. His talents, though popular, prevented him from descending to the language of the people, even while flattering them. His passions were generous, like his language. He adored the revolution as a sublime philosophy, which was to ennoble the whole nation, without any other victims than prejudices and tyranny. He had his maxims, but without hatred—a thirst for glory, but without ambition. Power seemed to him a thing too real, too vulgar, to seek after. He disdained it for himself, and only courted it for the development of his ideas. Glory and posterity were the only objects of his care. He never mounted the tribune but to see them from a higher position; at a later period, he saw but those objects from the top of the scaffold, jnd he rushed into eternity, young, virtuous, immortal in the memory of France, with all his enthusiasm, and some stains, already washed away in his generous blood. Such was the man whom nature had given to the Girondins for their chief. He was unwilling to be the leader, though he possessed the soul and the views of a statesman. Too careless to be the chief of a party, too great to assume a subordinate situation, he was Vergniaud. More glorious than useful to his friends, he would not lead—he immortalized them." Tome i., pp. 103 104.
The Girondins obtained the passage of the decree against the emigrants, by which all Frenchmen who were found assembled beyond the frontiers of their country were declared conspirators, if they did not return by the 1st of January, 1792; and, as such, punished with death. Their revenues were at once sequestered, and the officers of the army and navy, who abandoned their posts without leave, were put upon the same footing as deserted soldiers, and punished with death. Having obtained this victory, they took up the question of war. This they managed with considerable tact. On the other questions they had plain sailing, for they were aided by the continually increasing unpopularity of the king and the excitement of the popular feeling against the clergy and nobility; but, in the declaration of war, they were compelled to use other influences to counteract the policy of M. De Lessart, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and to counterbalance the powerful opposition of Robespierre in the club of the Jacobins. The Girondins procured the appointment of the Count De Narbonne as Minister of War, who threw all the weight of his influence, aided by an ardent temperament, in favor of the measure. They were also aided by the constitutional party in the Assembly, who desired war, in the hope of crushing the factions which agitated the State within, by directing its effervescence to objects without, and thus protecting the monarchy. As Robespierre feared war, probably for that reason, and because he foresaw that it would place his republican rivals at the head of affairs, whom he regarded as visionary enthusiasts and utterly unfit to manage the political vessel in the. approaching storm; so the Girondins desired it as a means to overthrow the throne and to place themselves at the head of the government.
A declaration of the Emperor Leopold, which referred to a "union of sovereigns to maintain the public tranquility and the honor and safety of crowns" was construed into an act concerted between the cabinets of Austria and France, in opposition to the principles and doctrines of the revolution. This, with certain expressions that occurred in a diplomatic correspondence between the cabinets of Vienna and the Tuilleries,—which gave great offence to the leaders in the Assembly, by attributing the disorders of France to "the inexperience of her representatives, and to a small number of declaimers and periodical writers,"—led to the imprisonment of M. De Lessart. the dissolution of the cabinet and the appointment of a new one, composed of men who were at the same time creatures of the Girondins and enemies of the king. That party had thus accomplished all their objects. War was declared, the clergy was stripped, the nobility, with the officers of the higher grades in the army and navy, were expatriated, and the king was left a puppet in their hands, shortly to be their prisoner and soon after their victim.
The Girondins then became the rulers of France. The ministers of the crown, Roland, La Coste, Duranton, Claviere, who was shortly afterwards succeeded by Servan, and De Grave by Dumouriez, belonged to their party and were selected by them. Pethion, with a popularity superior to Lafayette's, who succeeded Bailly, as Mayor of Paris, was also one of their party. Their actions had always the sanction of a large majority in the Assembly, yet we have looked in vain for any indication that the Girondins saw the difficulties which lay before them, or for any measures dictated by wisdom, foresight or common statesmanship. It is true, the brilliant military talents of Dumouriez were brought out under their administration; but he owed little to them, and those talents wore developed in spite of them. It is true, that, under their government France obtained those splendid successes which stopped the allies at her frontiers; but it may safely be contended thai enthusiasm brought forth those immense resources which first covered the French arms with victory and afterwards conquered Europe.
The Girondins had no force to resist the fearful tide of disorder which was spreading over the kingdom. Occupied with their efforts to destroy the throne and establish a republic, disseminating vague notions about political liberty and the perfectibility of man, they made no attempt to suppress insurrection or to punish crime. They were appalled at the shedding of blood, but they did nothing to prevent it. "For many months," says Lamartine, "the state of the kingdom was similar to that of Paris. Every where was tumult, trouble, denunciation and insurrection in the departments. Every Courier brought its scandals, its seditious petitions, its insurrections and its assassinations. The clubs formed as many foci of resistance to the constitution as there were communes in the empire. Civil war, brooding over La Vendee, broke out in massacres at Avignon." We cannot probably furnish a more striking picture of the disorders of that period of the revolution, or a more forcible proof of the impotency of the Girondins in suppressing them, than by presenting the very graphic account of the massacre of Avignon, and the character of Jourdan, the chief actor in that scene of blood, which we find in the work before us.
"One of those wicked men, who seemed to scent blood and to portend crime, arrived at Avignon from Versailles. He should not be confounded with another revolutionist of the same name, of the town of Avignon. Born in the arid and calcined mountains of the South, "where even the brutes are more ferocious, successively a butcher, a farrier, a smuggler in the gorges of the mountains which separate Saxony from France, a soldier, a renegade, a groom, and at length a wine-merchant in one of the suburbs of Paris, he had contracted from all these abject professions the vices of the populace. The first murders committed by the people in the streets of Paris awakened his real passion. It was not for combat—it was for murder. He came forth after the slaughter to despatch the victims and degrade assassination still further. He even boasted of it. It was he who thrust his hands in the opened breasts and drew out the hearts of Foulon and Berthier. It was he who cut off the heads of the two body-guards, MM. de Varincourt and des Huttes, the 6th of October, at Versailles. It was he who entered Paris, and, bearing the two severed heads at the end of a pike, reproached the people for contenting themselves with so few victims, and for calling on him to cut off but two heads. He hoped better things of Avignon, and he repaired there.
"There was at Avignon a body of volunteers called the army of Vaucluse, formed of the dregs of the surrounding country and commanded by a man named Patrix. This Patrix having been assassinated by his company, whose excesses he attempted to restrain, Jourdan was elevated to the command, by right of sedition and wickedness. The soldiers, when reproached for their robberies and murders, like the gueux of Belgium and the sans culottes of Paris, proclaimed the insult as a glory, and entitled themselves the brave brigands of Avignon. Jourdan, at the head of this band, ravaged and burned the Constat, besieged Carpentras, was repelled, lost Ave hundred men, and fell back upon Avignon, still reeking with the blood of Lescuyer. He came to offer his arm at.d his company to the vengeance of the French party. During the day of the 30th of August, Jourdan and his assassins shut the gates of the town, dispersed themselves through the streets, surrounded the houses pointed out as containing the enemies of the revolution, and dragged out the inmates. men and women, the old and the young, without distinction of age, sex or innocence, and shut them up in the palace. At night, the assassins broke open the doors and slaughtered their disarmed and suppliant victims with bars of iron, who called in vain for succor from the national guard. The town witnessed the massacre without daring to give a sign of humanity. The tumult of this tragedy chilled and paralyzed all the citizens. The assassins preluded the death of the women by insult and pollution, which added shame to horror and the punishment of chastity to the punishment of assassination. Laughter and tears, wine and blood, lust am) death were mingled together. When they had no longer any one to slay they mutilated the dead bodies. They swept the blood into the gutters of the palace They dragged the mutilated remains into the ice-house. They walled up, they sealed up there, the vengeance of the people. Jourdan and his satellites, offered the homage. of this night to the French mediators and the National Assembly. The Parisian ruffians applauded them; the Assembly shuddered with horror and received the report of this crime as an outrage. The president swooned upon reading the recital of the right of Avignon. The Assembly ordered the arrest of Jourdan and his accomplices. Jourdan fled from Avignon. Pursued by the French, he jumped his horse into the river of la Sorgue. Shot at in the middle of the river by a soldier, he returned the fire of his assailant and missed him. He was arrested and put in irons to await his punishment . But the Jacobins imposed an amnesty upon the Girondins for the crimes of Avignon. Jourdan, sure of impunity and boasting of his crimes, repaired to Paris to immolate his accusers.