« VorigeDoorgaan »
interest as far as Philippe-Egalité. The | haps, of that hope in Baron de Batz of greater part of these Conventionnels which I spoke just now - had been were honest bourgeois, but freshly ar- refused by a majority of seventy. Carrived in Paris from their provinces, lyle, writing of this, remarks: “Garat, and as yet imbued with their beliefs the minister of justice, has to go to the and prejudices sucked in with the Temple with this stern message. He mother's milk, but they gradually be-ejaculates repeatedly, 'Quelle commiscame used to bloodshed; the daily sion affreuse!' Louis begs for a consight of it had blunted their humanity. fessor, for yet three days of life to A Lord Raglan who faints at the first prepare himself to die. The confessor sight of blood is not phenomenal, but is granted; the three days, and all I will tell you what would have hap- respite, are refused." pened in a little while, even to a Lord Unless I am vastly mistaken, the Raglan. I am not drawing upon my author means a good deal more there imagination, nor quoting from hearsay. than he says. "The confessor is. I am relating a personal experience. granted" is a very brief, nevertheless, During my long stay in Paris I have double-edged, sentence. It implies a witnessed three executions that of reluctant consent on the part of the De la Pommeraye, who poisoned his Convention to afford the king the sumistress; that of Troppmann, who preme administrations of the Church. murdered the Kinck family (of eight);|I am the more confirmed in this view, and of Michael Campi, who killed a poor rhymester in the Rue du Regard. After Pommeraye's execution I was ill for a week; after Troppmann's the effect of the scene wore off in three days; after Campi's I ceased to think about it in four-and-twenty hours. Then I considered that my education in that direction had gone far enough, and made a vow that no power on earth should draw me to the Place de la Roquette again. At the same time I have an idea that only few men know where to stop that they regard their growing imperviousness as a sign of mental force, and are apt to pride themselves upon it. This applies to the educated as to the uneducated, and it is an ascertained though not a generally known fact, that during 1792, 1793, and 1794, servants quarrelled with their masters for being obliged to come away from the Places de la Revolution et du TroneRenversé after seeing "only two heads roll into the sawdust.'
seeing that Carlyle preserved a stony silence upon the particulars of Louis XVI.'s funeral, though these revelations would go far to prove that there was no systematic animus against religion in general, or Catholicism in particular.
A few hours after Garat's return from his terrible mission to the Temple the Convention sent for M. Picavez, the vicar of the Madeleine, in order to entrust him with the execution of its orders relative to the burial of his Majesty Louis XVI. M. Picavez, not feeling equal to the painful task, pretended to be ill, and transferred the burden of this task to his curate, François-Sylvain Renard, who, though even more deeply attached to the unhappy monarch than his vicar, dared not decline, lest the small minority should clamor for a purely civil burial. The curate, therefore, accepted, and it is he who attested the devotional and reverential attitude of the mob around the
It is equally certain that the majority of these Conventionnels, though dislik-truth," he says. ing priests, had no wish to undermine religion, to prohibit public worship, and to shut up the churches. Here is a sufficiently signal proof of what I advance.
At three o'clock A.M. on Sunday, the 20th January, the three days' delay asked for by the king-in virtue, per
grave. "I am bound to speak the "This rabble, which but a short while ago made the air hideous with their vociferations, listened to the prayers for the repose of his Majesty's soul with most respectful and religious silence."1
1 Appendix to "Louis XVI.," by Vicomte de Falloux.
Nor is this all; four months later, | means equal to those of the latter of on Corpus Christi Day, the Terror, bringing home their doctrines. "Why though as yet not at its height, was can't I make a national god, seeing nevertheless spreading. The rumor that the Abbé Siéyès is making a nahad gone forth that the Girondins were tional religion;" stutters Camille Desto be arrested, the tocsin sounded in moulins at the dinner-table of Maille, every part of Paris, and the chances the perfumer, where he is seated bewere that the authorities, in allowing tween Sebastien Mercier of "Nouveau the religious processions to take place, Paris" fame and Retif de la Bretonne. would risk a terrible butchery in the "Why indeed?" echo Hébert, Chaustreets. That is, if we are to believe mette and others to whom the idea the historians. On the other hand, appeals, not as the death-blow to Casome of these in their search after his- tholicism, but as the germ and means torical mares' nests, have not scrupled of a theocracy likely to benefit the autoto assert that such was the very aim crats of the Revolution. We are living of the partisans and members of the in a less credulous atmosphere than that Mountain. Well, there is not a parti- of the end of the eighteenth century, cle of evidence in support of those and England is reputed to be the last assertions. Not only did the authori- stronghold of Christianity of all shades. ties not oppose the processions, the Well, let the government authorize decorating of the houses on the route, some foremost atheist to hold services the erecting of lighted altars in the in St. Paul's or Westminster, accompastreets, but they, as it were, co-oper-nied by the pomp, music, and adjuncts ated in the whole by issuing minute at the disposal of the clergy of the directions to the police who, in their Church of England, let them place no subsequent reports, testified to the ad-restrictions on the expression of opinmirable conduct of the people, the ions, by means of speech, or song, and excellent order prevailing throughout, the results will be the same as those and the religious sentiments of the witnessed at the festivals of the Godmajority. "I noticed a good many of dess of Reason at Notre-Dame and the working classes taking part in the Saint-Eustache in 1793. Owing to our local processions, and especially the liquor laws and to our less exuberant wives of some sans-culottes," writes one animal spirits there would be no drinkof the inspectors. "In the Rue Saint-ing and very little of choregraphic exMartin the procession started from the hibitions inside the buildings, but a Church of Saint-Leu. Our fellow-great deal more rough horseplay. The townsmen belonging to the markets crowds attending such services would, had clubbed together to decorate the however, no more represent rationalchurch and the surrounding buildings. ism in its widest sense than the smug People flung themselves on their and snug Sunday congregations repreknees; every one approved of the cere- sent true Christianity; than the rufmony, and I have heard no expressions fians of both sexes, who danced the of disapproval.” 1 carmagnole on the tombs in the French fanes, and prepared the Paschal communion on their altars, by means of sausages and hams, represented the craving for emancipation from clerical thraldom, privileges, and exactions of revolutionary France. That, to my mind, is the light in which those scenes should be looked at; and if looked at in that light the year 1793 becomes not a tragedy enacted by heroes and giants or fiends in human guise, but an Aristophanesque comedy
After all, there was no reason, though, why an infidel or a group of infidels, not of genius, but merely of strong will, should not have wielded as great an influence on a certain section of the masses as a number of non-militant priests over another section, especially if they, the former, possessed
The report itself is in the National Archives, and is quoted by M. Maggiolo in the Revue de la Révolution, edited by MM. Ch. d'Héricault and Gustave Bord. July, 1886.
"gabbled through" by a "scratch | the immaculate grandfather of the imcompany" of mere mummers, who as maculate president, in posse, of the often as not mistake the meaning of Third Republic sat by his side. "Our the author. turn has come at last," he repeated. "Sumptuous dwellings, exquisite cheer, delicious wines, silken garments and golden hangings, women who realize in the flesh the visions of one's fairest dreams; all these, and much more, are the reward of the force we have usurped or conquered, it comes to the same thing. They are ours, seeing that we are the stronger. After all, what does the Revolution mean? A battle, and nothing more; and, therefore, the result of it should be that of all other battles namely, the sharing of the spoil by the conquerors.” 1
On another occasion Barrère, with the handsome Hérault de Séchelles, his friend Vilate, and others, was dining in the Crimson Room at Méot's. For an exact description of the various rooms at Méot's and the orgies that took place there the reader had better consult Mercier's "Nouveau Paris." I feel like Alexandre Dumas fils when he was quoting the Bible. After having given sundry excerpts, he suddenly stopped. "And here the Lord said something which I dare not print," he wrote.
For the prompter and stage-manager of genius in one, the only man who had an absolutely correct idea of the author's intention, that man was dead; I am alluding to Mirabeau; and he on whom the mantle might have fallen, who would have worn it with decency, if not with éclat, to use the French term -I mean Sylvain Bailly — was already as good as dead, because, like Hamlet, he had told these mummers "not to tear a passion to tatters." The rest were mediocrities; there was not a great man, let alone a transcendent genius, among them. They were the worthy prototypes of the Freycinets, Floquets, Rouviers, Bourgeois, and the rest. The latter are not more corrupt than they were, the difference in their nepotism and collusion lies simply in the difference of their opportunities. The men who inveighed against the luxury and extravagance of the courtiers of Louis XVI., and those who pilloried the excesses of Napoleon III.'s, speak absolutely the same language; the modern adventurer dines at Biguon's, Durand's, or the Lion d'Or; the Dantonists dined at Février's, in the Galerie de Montpensier, matchless brandy which had been at Beauvilliers's, the latter's neighbor in the Palais-Royal, or at Méot's, in the Rue des Bons Enfants, the street in which was situated until a few months ago the unlucky post-office blown up by the dynamite of the so-called anarchist. It was at the first-named of these three traiteurs the word restaurateur is of a later date that Lepelletier de SaintFargeau was killed by Pâris; but Danton himself preferred Beauvilliers's, who had bought the leasehold of the three arcades in the Palais-Royal for the then enormous sum of 157,500 francs, who was not only a past master in, but a professor of, the culinary art, and whose book, "L'Art du Cuisinier," is even at present the chef's gospel. "Our turn to enjoy life has come at last," Danton exclaimed, one evening, at the termination of a repast, at which
Barrère was sipping some of that
brought away during the sacking of Chantilly, and for which Méot charged sixty francs per bottle. Lifting his glass to his lips, he said, "The Contrat Social is summed up by the people in one word-equality." The generous warmth of the liquor had the effect of making him communicative, and in another moment or so he went on. "The right thing would be to burn every library. Posterity will have no need of any literature but the history of the Revolution and its laws. But for the great fires, which, curiously enough, repeat themselves at almost regular intervals, the world would in a short time be nothing but a world of paper.'
1 Histoire de la Révolution, by Louis Blanc. Louis Blanc had the note from Godefroi Cavaignac, who had it from his father, the deputy for the department of the Lot at the Convention.
Is it a wonder, then, that among | vention protested, and the law did not things prescribed and destroyed by the pass; in fact, the contrary of it was unreasoning rabble, books took the passed, a decree forbidding such mutilaforemost place, that Ameilhon presided tion on the severest penalty; but it at the burning of six hundred and fifty- was all in vain — Vandalism continued, two cases of priceless manuscripts be- and the art-furniture of France in poslonging to the Royal Library; is it session of private individuals, which a surprising that Chabot said that he did twelvemonth before the outbreak of not like savants; that a certificate of the Revolution was estimated by an "civism" was withheld from the mak- expert at sixty millions sterling-those ers of books; that Dumas told Lavoi- matchless marbles, bronzes, hangings, sier, "The republic has no need of clocks, etc., for the preservation of professors of chemistry." And but which some nobles, according to Rifor the fact of some one informing the varol, did not hesitate to risk their Paris Commune that books might be lives by remaining in Paris — bade converted into glue, and another one fair to disappear altogether. Cunning telling them that Citoyenne Simon had greed became the prompter and accomfound the means of effacing the print plice of fanatical ignorance, and the while preserving the paper, there would first use the Jews made of their newly not have been a single volume left in recovered civil rights was to strip the Paris. land that had made them free, of its The decrees suppressing the monas-art-treasures. But in the race between teries and religious orders had had the rapacity and destruction, the latter effect of bringing upon the scene the often won by a head, as at Nancy, second-hand booksellers, "who smelt where the "dealers" just arrived in plunder from afar;" and though these time to see the destroyers perform their decrees-promulgated four years be- choregraphic evolutions round a bonfore the period of which we are treating fire made up of £12,000 worth of pic- had forbidden the dispersion of the turcs; as at Verdun, where the flames collections of books, not one, but a of a similar blaze were fed with the score of libraries went to the hammer matchless heirlooms garnered there for at the Hotel Bullion, the names of such nine centuries. Not even a bust of monasteries having been effaced from inoffensive Linnæus was safe, for a the tomes by means of chemicals. At rapscallion discovered in it a likeness to the Cordeliers, the chapel of which a print of Charles IX.; at Passy the subsequently became the club founded rabble shattered a collection of mythoby Danton and Marat - the forerunner logical bas-reliefs, because they mistook of the Club des Jacobins the price- the heroes of Olympus for Christian less volumes were disposed of by saints; in Paris a clock belonging to weight, several tons at a time. At the Camille Desmoulin's father-in-law was sale of the libraries of those who had mercilessly destroyed, because its hands fled across the frontier, and at the were shaped like fleurs-de-lis; at the booksellers' stalls, the morocco bind- castle of Anet a large bronze stag was ings embossed with the crests and arms nigh meeting with a similar fate, beof the former owners were ruthlessly cause the mob opined that it reprehacked away by the sabre of some sented the noble's "right of the national guard; if the flyleaf or title- chase." The frenzy against ornament, page contained a dedication to a noble decoration, and furniture attained a patron, or an emblem reminding one of degree such that at the sale of les biens the ancient régime, it was torn off with- nationaux (read, the confiscated estates out compunction. And the Vandals, of the nobles) the furniture was thrown not content to wreak their private spite in. in private, clamored for a law that Henceforth it became positively danwould enable them to do so publicly. gerous to pronounce the word royal or Some enlightened members of the Con- king, and especially the name of any 4331
Que puisse faire aux rois la colère funeste ! provoked a perfect storm. The imagination of the patriots took fire, and at the same time suggested instantaneous alteration. The dullest simply proposed the substitution of l'homme for aux rois, others voted for le peuple;
monarch who had reigned in France. | Détestables flatteurs, présent le plus fuThe innocent king of "Twelfth Night" was suppressed, and the nomenclature of "the devil's picture boards " thoroughly revised. For a little while the king of diamonds and of clubs became indiscriminately the "executive power" of diamonds or the "veto" of clubs, but the card manufacturers, Urbain Jaume and Jean-Demosthène the more prudent opined that hélas Dugoure, averred in Le Journal de Paris (March, 1793) that "a staunch Republican, even when playing a game, ought not to use expressions which constantly remind all his hearers of a state of despotism and inequality." Que . . . mais lisez Racine et vous saurez Hence, they inform all and sundry that
would scan as well, and finally the
for the future the products manufac- And the actors repeated the words tured by them will bear entirely new without wincing, for some had come to titles, the tyrants will become genii, the conclusion long ago that their art their consorts "liberties" jacks" equal-could sink no lower than it had sunk, ities," and aces "laws." The term, while others were, before everything; "reine-abeille," the term applied to the patriots. Kotzebue tells us that one unique honey-bee in the hive by French evening in "Le Procès de Socrate," naturalists, was changed into "l'abeille he noticed pipes lying on the mantelpondeuse." Citizens whose name hap- piece of the prison of the philosopened to be Leroi (king) were invited pher. Even Talma, the great Talma, to change it into Laloi (law), and the had in many instances to truckle to the sight of a king, even under adverse cir- scum. Posterity will, however, find cumstances, grated so terribly upon the "extenuating circumstances" patriots' nerves that one day a shop fact that for once 66 good came out of was sacked in the Palais-Egalité be- evil," and that it owes to this truckling cause its window contained an engrav-"the Comédie-Française of to-day." ing of Charles I. on the scaffold.
And those of the old Comédie-Française - of the Odéon of after years
Nowhere did the objection to words quasi-distinctive of the old régime be- who refused thus to truckle were come so tyrannical as in the playhouse. shipped off to prison en masse in the The slightest allusion to the monarchy early evening of the 3rd September, provoked a disturbance, nay, a riot, 1793, for having represented, on the which nine times out of ten had to be night before, a piece of English origin quelled by the intervention of the au- a version of our old friend Richardthorities. Cliton, in Corneille's "Men-son's " Pamela," "in which the Enteur," says:
glish government was held up to praise, the most moral maxims 'placed' on the lips of lords, while the Duke of York was ravaging the territory of the Republic." There were thirty-one actors and actresses in all, only three of whom were released after a few weeks. The rest remained under lock and key for eleven months—in fact, until after the death of Robespierre. One of the lucky trio was another ac
1 Meine Flucht nach Paris im Winter 1790.