Paris were at this moment gorged tones of a divine harmony to be with aristocrats awaiting their trial. heard striking through the hideous The people shouted, Try them! din. Old M. de Sombreuil is The tocsin sounded, the prison-doors dragged out to die. His daughter, were surrounded. Mock courts of a tender girl in the first blush of justice were set up in the court maidenhood, rushes out, fearless yards. Quickly, one by one, the pri- and bold, clinging to him, and apsoners are called out, questions are peals to the tigers about to shed rapidly put and answered; the jury his blood: “O good friends! he decides: " Let the prisoner be en- is my father! He is no aristocrat! larged !" The gendarmes seize him; We hate aristocrats; tell me how I they open the gate and "enlarge can prove it to you?” They fill a him. He falls forward on a mass of bowl full of the hot blood of an glittering pikes and bayonets, and aristocrat just slain, and present it dies, cut to pieces. Soon the num- to her, saying: “Drink this, and we ber of the butchered is so great will believe thee and spare thy fathat the amateur executioners have ther.” to pause and clear the space by She drinks the loathsome draught, piling up the corpses to one side and clasps her father amidst the before they resume their work. Vivats of the mob. Alas! it was Évery prison presents the same only a respite that the brave deed

At La Force a remnant of had gained for the beloved old the Swiss Guard is called out.

He died by those * They clasp each other spasmodi- blood-stained hands before the cally, gray veterans crying, ' Mercy, year was out. At the abbey a picgentlemen, mercy!' But there is ture of rest and calm is to be seen : no mercy! They prepare to die “ Towards seven on Sunday night, like brave men. One of them steps we saw two men enter, their hands forward. He had on a blue frock- bloody, and armed with sabres. coat. He was about thirty. His sta- A turnkey with a torch lighted ture was above the common, his them; he points to the bed of the look noble and martial. I


unfortunate Swiss, Reding. Reding first,' he said, "since it must be was dying. One of the men paused; so. Adieu !' Then, dashing his hat but the other said : Allons dori. behind him, 'Which way?' cried (come along !) and lifted the dying he to the brigands. Show it me.' man, and carried him on his back They open the folding gate. He is out to the street. He was masannounced to the multitude. He sacred there. We looked at one anstands a moment motionless, then other in silence; we clasped each plunges forth among the pikes, and other's hands; we gazed on the pavedies of a thousand wounds." * The ment of our prison, on which lay fair and saintly Princesse de Lam- the moonlight, checkered with shaballe fell, butchered by the same dows. . . . At three in the morning pikes; her head paraded through we heard them breaking in one the streets, her remains profaned of the prison-doors. We thought by the most unheard-of indignities. they were coming to kill us. ... As it always happens in these The Abbé Lensant and the Abbé storms of human souls, there were de Chapt-Rastignac appeared in

the pulpit of the chapel, which was * Félempesi, Lu Vérité toute Entière, p. 173. our prison. They had got in by a

door from the stairs. They said to without exciting in us the kind of us that our end was at hand; that horrified awe inspired by the monwe must compose ourselves and re- strous feats of those Titanic fiends, ceive their last blessing. An elec- the Jacobins. By what fatality is it tric movement, not to be describ- in France that the honest-meaning ed, threw us all on our knees, and party is always the cowardly one that we received it. These two white dares not assert itself, but bows haired old men blessing us from down, cowed by the cynical audatheir place above, death hovering city of the anarchists? The Gironover our heads—the moment is dists might have turned the scales, never to be forgotten."* Half an even at this crisis, if they had had hour later the two priests were the courage of their consciences; dragged out and massacred, those but they were cowards. Their policy whom they had strengthened with was to run with the hare and cry their last words to meet a like fate with the hounds, and it met with the listening to their cries.

fate it deserved. But we must not The massacres began on the ed anticipate. The Mountain, on the and lasted till the 6th, when Robes- other hand, did not lack the courage pierre and Danton were elected to of its creed; it out-heroded Herod that legislative body called the in its fury against the king and all Deputation of Paris, composed of appertaining to the old order which twenty-four members, the first name he represented. Roman history on the list being Robespierre, the was its Bible, and the examples last Philippe Egalité. It was on there recorded were for ever on its this ocasion that the future regicide lips. All citizens were heroes, Cinadopted the surname of Egalité, he cinnatuses, Catos, Ciceros, etc.; all being compelled to choose some sovereigns were Neros and Caiigulas. appellation not obnoxious to the The Girondists turned these fine people.

texts against their rivals by accusThe great struggle now began being them of plotting to set up a tween the Jacobins and the Giron- triumvirate, to be composed of dists, or virtually between the lead- Robespierre, Marat, and Danton. ers of the two factions, the old ri- This was only three weeks after the vals, Robespierre and Brissot. All orgy of blood which ushered in the the ultra-republicans, who were reign of Robespierre and of Terrepresented by the Deputation of ror. Danton mounted the tribune, Paris, grouped themselves on the and made an eloquent defence of top benches of the convention to the Robespierre, who never spoke imleft of the president, and were called promptu when he could avoid it. the Mountain-a name henceforth Marat then rose—for the first time identified with its prophet, Robes- in the convention-and was hooted pierre. The question still was, down; but he persisted, and made What was to be done with the king? them listen while he exposed his The Jacobins were for killing him, revolting doctrines of wholesale the Girondists for putting him aside. murder and anarchical rule. The wretched weakness, vacillation, So the days passed, in boisterous and cowardliness of the Girondists invective, idle perorations, and samake them objects of contempt, vage threats of one party against

another. The Girondists, however, Jourgniac, Thirty-eight Hours in the Abbaye were worsted in the fight, and the strength of the position remained the Raiolution, gives us an animated with Robespierre and his more and glowing picture of the court bloody and unscrupulous faction, during the trial: “ The famous who had from the starting traced sitting which decided the fate of out his plan, and adhered to it with: Louis lasted seventy-two hours. out flinching. The king was fore- One would naturally suppose that doomed to the scaffold, but some the Assembly was a scene of medisemblance of legality should ac- tation, silence, and a sort of relicompany the decree. So strong gious terror. Not at all. The end was the Jacobin influence at this of the hall was transformed into crisis that those who did not share a kind of opera-box, where ladies the murderous design were terri- in negligé were eating ices and fied into seeming to do so, and, oranges, drinking liqueurs, and rewhile looking with horror at the ceiving the compliments and saluregicide in preparation, were cowed tations of comers and goers. The into silent acquiescence. M. Thiers, huissiers (bailiffs) on the side of in his History of the Revolution, the Mountain acted the part of the says: “Many of the deputies who openers of the opera-boxes. They had come down with the intention were employed every instant in of voting for the king were fright- turning the key in the doors of the ened at the fury of the people, and, side galleries, and gallantly escortthough much touched by the fate ing the mistresses of the Duke of of Louis XVI., they were terrified Orleans, caparisoned with tri-colat the consequences of an acquittal. colored ribbons. Although every This fear was greatly increased at mark of applause or disapprobation the sight of the Assembly and of was forbidden, nevertheless, on the the

it presented. That side of the Mountain, the Duchess scene, dark and terrible, had sha- Dowager,* the amazon of the Jaco ken the hearts of all, and changed bin bands, made long ha-a-has!' the resolution of Lecointre of Ver- when she heard the word 'death' sailles, whose personal bravery can- strongly twang in her ears. not be doubted, and who had not “The lofty galleries, destined ceased to return to the galleries the for the people during the days menacing gestures with which they which preceded this famous trial

, were intimidating the Assembly. were never empty of strangers and Even he, when it came to the point, people of every class, who there hesitated, and dropped from his drank wine and brandy as if it had mouth the terrible and unexpected been a tavern, Bets were open al word, 'death. Vergniaud, who had all the neighboring coffee-houses

. .'

. appeared most deeply touched by Listlessness, impatience, fatigue. , the fate of the king, and who had were marked on almost every coun. declared that “nothing could ever tenance. Each deputy mounted the induce him to condemn the un- tribune in his turn, and every one happy prince'-Vergniaud, at the

was asking when his turn came. sight of that tumultuous scene, pro- Some deputy came, I know no nounced the sentence of death.” who, sick, and in his morning-govni It must truly have been an appall- and night-cap.

This phantom ing spectacle, the like of which the civilized world had never before

* Mme. de Montasson, second wife by a morya

atic marriage of the late Duke of Orieans, Egalitas beheld. Mercier, in his Skeiches of father.


caused a great deal of diversion in nothing whatever to do with the the Assembly. The countenances issue—and proceeded to demand of those who wen: io the tribune, his death on the grounds of urgent rendered more funereal from the political expediency. “The death pale gleams of the lights, when in of the king was not a question of a slow and sepulchral voice they law, but of state policy, which, pronounced the word 'death!'-all without quibbling about his guilt these physiognomies which suc- or innocence, required his death ; ceeded one another, their tones, the life of one man, if ever so innotheir different keys; d'Orleans hiss cent, must be sacrificed to preserve ing and groaning when he voted the lives of millions." There was the death of his relative; some calc honesty at any rate in this plain culating if they should have time speaking, and so it was better than to dine before they gave their vote; the odious hypocrisy displayed by women with pins pricking cards to the other actors in the tragic farce. count the votes; deputies who had On Robespierre's descending from fallen asleep and were waked up in the tribune, his brother Augustin, order to vote; Manuel, the secre- rose and demanded in the name of tary, sliding away a few votes, in the people “ that Louis Capet shall order to save the unhappy king, be brought to the bar, to declare and on the point of being put to his original accomplices, to hear death in the corridors for his infi- sentence of death pronounced on delity—these sights can never be him, and to be forthwith conductdescribed as they passed. It is im- ed to execution.” Wild confusion possible to picture what they were, covered this extravagant motion, nor will history be able to reach but no notice was taken of it. The them."

21st of January was near at hand; Amongst the timid Girondists even the Mountain could afford to who dared not vote for acquittal, wait so long. and shrank from decreeing the king On the roth of March, the Revoto death, many hit upon a half-mea- lutionary Tribunal was decreed. sure, which was that of coupling A month later there broke out a heir vote for death with condi- violent altercation between Robestions that practically negatived it. pierre and some of the Girondists This cowardly transaction is said in the Convention; numbers clamorto have given rise to some trickeryed for the "expulsion of the twentyin the counting of the votes, which two "obstreperous Girondists; they enabled the scrutineers to make were arraigned before the bar where the majority of one voice by which the king whom they so basely bethe sentence of death was carried. trayed had lately stood; the trial It was this sham proceeding which lasted four days; even that tribuprompted Sièyes to say when re- nal, used to dispense with all proof cording his vote, “ Death--without of guilt in its victims, could not palaver!"

decide on condemning twenty-two Robespierre's figure stands out men at one fell

swoop without some with vivid and terrible brilliancy shadow of reason, and there was against the background of this none to be found. But Robespierre picture. He dismissed the ques- was not going to lose his opportunition of the king's innocence or ty for a quibble; impatient of the guilt-that had, he knew right well, delay, he drew up a decree that

“whenever any trial should have death !" This abominable docu lasted three days, the tribunal ment was read and inscribed on thi might declare itself satisfied with register of the tribunal the sami the guilt of the prisoners, might evening, the Girondists were a stop the defence, close the discus

once condemned, and sent to the sions, and send the accused to scaffold next morning.



'Tis not the feast that changes with the ever-changing times,

But these that lightly vote away the glories of the past-
The joys that dream-like haunt me with the merry matin chimes

I loved so in my boyhood, and shall doat on to the last.

“ There still is much of laughter, and a measure of old cheer:

The ivy wreaths, if scanty, are as verdant as of yore : And still the same kind greeting for the universal ear:

But, to me, for all their wishing, 'tis a 'merry' feast no more !"

I said : and came an answer from the stars to which I sighed

Those stars that lit the vigil of the favor'd shepherd band. And 'twas as if again the heavens open'd deep and wide,

And the carol of the angel-choir new-flooded all the land

“Good tidings still we bring to all who still have ears to hear;

To all who love His coming—the elect that cannoť cease ; And louder rings our anthem, to these watchers, year by year,

Its earnest of the perfect joy-the everlasting peace.

" Art thou, then, of these watchers, if thou canst not read the sign?

The world was at its darkest when the blessed Day-star * shone. Again 'tis blacker to her beam : and thou must needs repine,

And sicken, so near sunrise, for the moonlight that is gone !"

"Until the day dawn and the day-star arise in your hearts." — S. Peter i. 19.

« VorigeDoorgaan »