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The representatives at the Cordeliers were controlled and frequently presided over by Danton; a Hun, of Gothic size, with flat nose, broad nostrils, and pitted face; the like of this man could not easily have been moulded out of the materials of the English revolution ; not even by a combination of Bradshaw, president of the commission which sat in judgment upon Charles I; Ireton, the renowned son-in-law of Cromwell; Axtell, the great destroyer in Ireland ; Scott, who desired that his tomb should bear the inscription,
“ Here lies Thomas Scott, who condemned the late king to death ;” Harrison, who said to his judges—“Several amongst you, my judges, took an active part with me in the events which have occurred in England; that which has been done was so done by order of Parliament, at that time the supreme law."
In the shell of this church, as in the skeleton of ages, Danton organised the attack of the 10th of August, and the massacres of September ; the author of the circular addressed to the commune, he invited all free men to re-enact in the departments the enormities perpetrated at the Carmelites and at the Abbaye. Did not, however, Sixtus V. assimilate, in respect to the salvation of mankind, the self-sacrifice of Jacques Clement to the mystery of the incarnation, just as Marat was compared to the Saviour of the world ? Did not Charles IX. write to the governors of the provinces, directing them to imitate the massacres of St. Bartholomew, as Danton ordered the patriots to copy the massacres of September ? The Jacobins are plagiarists; they were equally so when they immolated Louis XVI. in imitation of Charles I. Crimes having been found mixed up with the social movement of the close of the last century, the impression has incorrectly fixed itself upon some minds that the grandeur of the revolution was the result of those crimes, which were but its frightful and unprofitable excesses; the convulsion alone of a lofty nature in its throes has excited admiration
At the period when the play-things of children were little guillotines for birds; when the dead were removed to the burying-ground by a man in a red cap* ; when the cry was “Hurrah for hell! hurrah for death ;” when the joyous revels of blood, of steel, and of rage were celebrated; when annihilation was toasted; the last banquet, the last witticism of woé, could not fail to come in due turn.
* Resolution of the General Council of the Commune, 27 Brumaire, 93.
Danton was caught in his own trap; brought before the tribunal, his own work, it availed him nothing to throw bread-balls at his judges, to answer with courage and dignity, to create hesitation in the revolutionary court, to intimidate and endanger the Convention, to argue logically respecting atrocities in which the very power of his enemies had originated.
Nothing remained for him but to show himself as insensible to his own death as he had been to that of others; to rear his proud head above the suspended sword. From the theatre of terror, where his feet stuck in the clotted blood of the preceding day, after casting a look of contempt at the crowd, he said to the executioner: “ Thou wilt show my head to the people; it deserves to be seen by them.” Danton's head remained in the executioner's hands, whilst the acephalous shade went to mingle with the decapitated shades of his victims: this was likewise equality.
THE PEOPLE OF BOTH NATIONS AT THE
ROYALIST PEASANTRY OF ENGLAND.
ARRAYED behind the Hampdens and Iretons, the English people possessed not the strength of that people who kept pace with the Mirabeaus and Dantons; a people who so nobly did its duty on the frontier, and drove foreign nations back to their own hearths; at the moment when they indulged the hope of sitting down by our fire-sides, and of quaffing the wine of our trellises, they quenched their own fires with their blood. Collectively taken, the people partakes of a poetic character ; an animated author or actor in the performance in which it, either of its own free will, or reluctantly, plays a part, its very excesses are less the instinct of innate cruelty than the delirium of a crowd intoxicated with sights, especially those of a tragic character. This is so true that, in all scenes of popular horror, something superfluous is always imparted to the picture and to emotion.
England had her civil wars : do they bear any resemblance to those of our western provinces ? On those very occasions when our people were tearing each other to pieces, they were still wonderful in its excesses. But let us first consider the English peasant.
The cause of Charles I. and of his son produced many bold defenders among the rural population. The name of Pendrill, the farmer, and of his five brothers, is honourably recorded in the pages of history.
There is a little book entitled “ Boscobel, or the History of his Sacred Majestie's most miraculous Preservation after the Battle of Worcester," in which is recorded the fidelity of the Pendrills. Charles II. having left Worcester at six in the evening of the 3rd of September, 1651, after the loss of the battle, arrived at four in the morning at White Ladies, a house belonging to Mr. Gifford, a recusant, in whose service the Pendrills lived. This house is distant about 29 miles from Worces. ter, and still retains the ancient name of White Ladies, from its having formerly been a monastery of Cistertian nuns, whose habit was of that colour.
“ His Majesty had been advised to rub his