among his papers, and apprehended Billaud Varennes would publish it as his own. Fabre and Camille Desmoulins, are both accused of being concerned in the massacres of September; the accusation rests on suspicious authority, and were it not for the friendship of the latter for Danton, Desmoulins might be at once acquitted of the charge. There is a remarkable discrepancy in the description given of this person by the two biographers. The French writer says his

appearance was vulgar, his complection swarthy, and his looks unprepossessing,—the author of Phillips's Anecdotes speaks of his beauty, adding that an Italian would have called him the Rinaldo of the revolution. He it was who began the practice of collecting groups of people to harangue them in the streets, and who advised the revolutionists to distinguish themselves by a badge, that they might know each other, and know also their own strength; this was the origin of the tricolor cockade. One of the proofs of incivism which were brought against him was, that he did not chuse to be married by a constitutional priest;—the truth was, that he chose to have the ceremony performed by his old tutor, as a mark of respect and gratitude, and the men who brought him to the scaffold upon false pretences, knew this, for Robespierre and St. Just were the two witnesses at his marriage. A most affecting letter written by him to his wife during his imprisonment, was published after the fall of Robespierre. It is such a letter as no man could have written who had been involved in the guilt of the massacres of September.

• They say, said he, that innocence is calm and courageous; ah! my dear Lucile,



innocence is weak, like that of a hus. band, that of a father, that of a son!- If it were Pitt, or Cobourg, who treated me thus cruelly, I should not regard;—but my colleagues! but Robespierre, who signed the order for my imprisonment! but the Republic, after all that I have done for it!-this then is the return for my virtues and my sacrifices! I who have exposed myself to so many perils and dangers for the republic,- I who have preserved my purity in the midst of the revolution - 1 who have need to ask pardon of you alone, my dear Lolotte, and to whom you have granted it, because you know my heart, notwithstanding its frailties, is not unworthy of you;—it is I whom men calling themselves my friends, calling themselves republicans, have thrown into a dungeon as a conspirator! The guilty man would never have been your husband, and you loved me only because I desired to live but for the happiness of my fellow citizens.--I am called, the commissaries of the Revolutionary Tribunal are come to interrogate me. They only put to me one question, whether I had conspired against the republic? how ridiculous! Can they thus insult the purest republicanism? I see the fate which awaits me.-Adieu, Lucile, adieu my dear Lolotte,-my last moments shall never dishonour you. You see in me an example of the barbarity and ingratitude of man. You see


that my fears were well founded, and that our presentiments have been verified. I married a woman celebrated for her virtues; I was a good husband and a good son; 1 carry with me the esteem and regret of all true republicans, -of all the friends of virtue and liberty. But it is surprising that I have escaped, for five years, the storins attending the revolution without falling a victim to thein; and that I still exist and support my head with calmness upon the pillow raised by the fame of my writings, which ever breathe the same philanthropy, the same desire of rendering my fellow citizens happy and free, –and which the axe of tyranny can never destroy. I am well persuaded that power intoxi. rates every man, that every one agrees with Dionysius when he said tyranny is a glorious epitaph. But console yourself, my dear Lucile, the epitaph of thy poor Camille is more glorious,-it is ihat of Brutus and Cato, the enernies of tyranny. Oh my love, I was born to defend the unfortunate, and to render you every comfort and happiness. Death, which snatches me from the sight of so many crimes, is not so great a misfortune. Adieu, my lite, my soul, I leave you with good friends, all that there is praiseworthy and viftuous among mankind ; adieu, Lucile,-my dear Lucile,-my dear Lucile!-adicu, Horace, Annette,--adieu, my father! '

One of the inconsistencies of the French biographer is, that he says Herault of Sechelles, by his gallantry and his verses, had made no slight impression upon the young and beautiful wife of Camille Desmoulius; whereas in another place the true statement is given, that this woman afforded one of those instances of heroic and devoted love, of which so inany are recorded in the dismal history of the revolution. She called upon the tyrant to let her die with her husband, was sent before the same murderous tribunal, like her hus: band told the judges they would feel all the torments of guilt and remorse till an infamous death rewarded them according to their deeds, and ten days after her husband, followed him to the same scaffold, and died with equal fortitude.

Camille Desinoulins said he suffered solely because he had had too much compassion for others; meaning, probably, that as soon as he discovered the character of Robespierre and St. Just, he ought without hesitation to have eserted himself, and brought about their destruction. Phelippeaux certainly perished because he was a just and humane man: having been sent as commissioner into La Vendée, he remonstrated forcibly against the execrable cruelties which were committed there by Rousin, Rossignol, and other wretches, who seem to have taken every method of exasperating the people, and prolonging the troubles, because so long as the war continued there, they had a free field for pillage. Phelippeaux had a spirit worthy of the best ages of Rome or Greece. Choudieu, the chief agent in bringing this noble spirit to the scaffold, was one of the few Robespierrians who escaped in this world VOL. VII. NO, XIV.



the punishment due to their offences. He is said to have settled in Holland as a bookseller: for the sake of history it is much to be wished that his proposal for printing the papers which were found in Robespierre's apartments had been adopted: it was rejected by means of the numerous members of the Convention, wlmy dreaded lest the proofs of their own servility should be brought to light.

The Robespierrians did not long enjoy their triumph over Dan.tou: his execution took place on the 5th of April, that of his successful enemies on the 28th of July following ; but what horrors were crowded into the few months which intervened! Upon the trial of the king, St. Just asserted that no man could reign innocently — on ne peut point regner innocemment:' he himself soon afforded a memorable example of the manner in which power beWilders the understanding and hardens the heart. Unbridled authority indeed seems to operate like a specific moral poison, and to produce a madness of its own, manifesting itself by the most mon

strous vices and the most frantic cruelty. The history of the Ro· Inan emperors and of the various despots of the east, exemplifies this, and the tyranny which has often been exercised by governors of remote settlements, and the barbarities committed by slave-captains, 'and by such planters as Hodge and Huggins, are manifestations of the same disease. Wlfen the elevation has been sudden and pre'carious, we do not hesitate to ascribe the effect to its true cause ; John of Leyden is one instance; Massaniello, who was as evidently made mad by the sway which he possessed, as ever drunkenness was produced by wine, is another; Lope de Aguirre, a third. But never did this frenzy display itself so extensively as during the French revolution. The lion is said to become ravenous for human flesh after he has once tasted it; in like manner tyrants seem to acquire au insatjable lust for blood; Sylla and Augustus are perhaps the only persons upon record in whom the appetite became palled. The tyranny of the Terrorists resembled the horrors of a Roman proscription in the license which it proclaimed for enmity, aud malice, and rapine. At its commencement Robespierre meditated nothing more than the removal of those persons who stood in his way, or were likely to become his rivals; in the prosecution of this nefarious design he was compelled to employ the most atrocious of mankind, and indiscriminate murder speedily became their occupation and their sport. In the short space of two years, nearly 3000 persons perished by the guillotine in Paris, according to the `authentic lists published after the overthrow of these monsters. Even the revolutionary forms were thought too dilatory ; the permanent jury, a set of wretches paid for the purpose of condemning those who were ght before them, were called upon to say


whenever they were satisfied of the guilt of the prisoner, and persons were condermed without being permitted to speak in their own defence, even without any evidence being adduced against them. One tribunal was not sufficient; the guillotine was too slow; a new one, it is said, was to have been erected which would strike off eight heads at once; and it is affirmed in the Tableau des Prisons that a renewal of the massacre of September was intended, in order to clear the prisons, and that men were at work in digging trenches to receive the destined victims, when the revolution of the 9th of Thermidor took place.

Volumes have been filled with anecdotes of the prisons during this dreadful period. The fortitude of the female character was never more strikingly displayed. A few of the men destroyed themselves : more often the levity of the French character came to their aid; and they amused themselves with jests, charades, and bouts rimés. A singular change in the deportment of General Hoche is said by the author of his life to have taken place while he was in continement, daily expecting to be executed because he had offended St. Just: for the first time in his life, he gave way to dissipation, and occupied himself in intriguing with the women, and in writing lampoons. There were very few of the victims of the revolution who met death with fear: many found a better consolation in philosophy; many the best and surest in religion; and they who had neither the one nor the other braved their fate,-pride and the sense of inevitable necessity, which it would be folly to resist, supplying the place of resignation. Under the syslem of terror, there were many persons who sought death when it would not have sought them. The Count de Fleury wrote from his prison a note to Dumas, the President of the Revolutionary Tribunal, “ Man of blood! slaughterer! cannibal! monster! wretch! thou hast murdered my family; thou wilt send to the scaffold those who this day appear at thy tribunal; and thou mayst condemn me to the same fate, for I declare to thee that I participate in their opinions. The public accuser, Fouquier Tinville, was with Dumas when he received this letter, Here,' said Dumas, delivering it to him, here is a billet-doux.' tleman,' replied Fouquier, ' seems in a great lurry; he must be satisfied.' The wretch directly issued orders to bring him from prison ; he was brought to the tribunal that morning, condemned in the course of an hour as the accomplice of persons whom he had never seen before, and immediately sent to the scaffold; covered with a red shirt, as guilty of having conspired with Cecile Renaud and Admiral to murder Robespierre and Collot D'Herbois. Of Cecile Renaud we have already spoken. Admiral was perfectly sane; he thought that the prevailing tyranny would be over

F F 2


This gen

thrown, if the chief tyrants could be destroyed; he chose his victims better than Charlotte Cordé, but using a less certain instrument, inissed his aim; Collot D'Herbois escaped; and fifty-three persous were brought to trial with him as his accomplices! Among them was Sombreuil, whom his daughter's heroic piety had saved from the Septembrizers, but who could not escape from these more osecrable murderers. Upon seeing them ranged at the bar, Admiral exclaimed, 'So many brave citizens suffering by my means! This was the only grief that could have reached me, but it is a poignant one.' Then turning to Fouquier T'inville, · Does the devil inspire you,' said he, to accuse all these people of being my accomplices? I have never either seen them or known them!' But neither this declaration, nor the clear proofs which the prisoners could have adduced of their innocence were of any avail; their murder had been predetermined, and in eight and twenty minutes the whole tifty-four were executed !

Admiral, like Charlotte Cordé, devoted himself with a noble spirit in the hope of delivering his country. Many persons who would have shrunk from suicide courted death, because those wliom "they loved best had been destroyed; but there were others whom the wickedness which they beheld so overcame, that, as if the moral government of the earth were at an end, they seemed to think there could be no rest any where but in the grave: the bewildering horkor of the times made them

weary of the sun, And wish the state of the world were quite undone. In this state of mind, many persons set up a cry of royalism in the streets for the sole and avowed purpose of being takey before the tribunal and put to death for it. The most extraordinary instances of this kind of self-destruction are those of two men, who both procured their own condemnation that they might die in the same manner and by the same instrument as Charlotte Cordé, whom they had never kuown, and only seen on her way to the scaffold.

No person had so remarkable an escape as Thomas Paine. There were some gaolers, who being as brutal as their superiors, used to summon all their prisoners, for the pleasure of beholding their suspense, when the cart, or, as it was too truly called, la grande bierre roulante, arrived to take any of them to the tribunal. In the prison where he was confined, the keeper had some humanity, and it was his custom, when he received the fatal list, to mark the door of the intended victims' apartment with chalk, unkuown to them, and call them out when the cart came. The doors opened into a corridor, and wheu opened went back against the wall.


« VorigeDoorgaan »