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demned to death. Yet before the final catastrophe, one more effort at resistance was made-it was the last!
Roland and the Gironde felt their position becoming more and more intolerable. The reins of government had escaped from their hands; they exercised no influence on the real business of the State, or any of the measures by which the future of the country was to be determined. They looked on at the machinations of the Commune, and the restless activity of Danton; but though they might have some suspicion of what was in preparation, the solution of the enigma was entirely hidden from them. They had the consciousness of being tried patriots — they were quite willing that the Aristocrats should receive a severe lesson, if their own safety could have been guaranteed to them under the absolute rule of the Municipality. Instead of this, their friend Péthion was entirely excluded from the business of the mayoralty, and Marat, moreover, daily loaded him with the bitterest reproaches for his criminal indolence in such dangerous times. Roland was attacked with ever-increasing fury, and at last the Municipality ordered Brissot's collaborateur in the “French Patriot” to be brought before them to answer for a calumnious article. Their patience was then exhausted, and on the 30th August the storm broke loose in the National Assembly. Roland brought a complaint against the Municipality on the ground of the defective provisioning of Paris; Cambon charged them with unauthorised interference with the administration of the public purse; Larivière reported that a town-councillor, and member of the extraordinary tribunal, had been arrested for theft; and Roland again mentioned the attempt of another Communal officer to steal valuables from the crown treasury, the Intendant and the General Inspector of which had, in a very suspicious manner, been arrested by order of the Hôtel de Ville. And when, in the last place, Servan announced that all the officials of the War Ministry had been kept in arrest during the whole morning by order of the Commune, and the du
Cn. II.] FEEBLE RESISTANCE OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY. 75
ties of the War Office thereby completely interrupted, a motion of Guadet was carried, amidst violent excitement, dissolving the Municipality of the 10th of August and summoning the Sections to a new election. 1
Danton's friend, Thuriot, warned them, that a decree of this kind might lead to disastrous consequences, but they were not to be deterred; and they further proceeded to cancel the prosecution of Brissot's journal, and censured the imprisonment of the priests. In this case, however, where the Assembly had nothing but speeches to oppose to pikes, the dénouement was not far off.
In the evening the Ministers, and the chiefs of parties in the Assembly, had a meeting to consult on the war. Servan had little comfort to give, and no further reinforcements in readiness. Guadet and Vergniaud wished to send all the men in Paris into the camp before the city for a final struggle of life and death; but there was no difficulty in demonstrating the futility, from a military point of view, of such a proceeding. Roland and others then proposed a retreat to the South; but it was evident that in deserting the customary seat of government, they would be resigning all its powers. Whereupon Danton rose, censured such pernicious pusillanimity, declared that all retreat would be destruction, that the real peril lay in the cooperation of internal and external enemies, and concluded with these words; “The Royalists are many, the Republicans are few; there is but one expedient, the Royalists must be terrorised!” A significant gesture accompanied these words. The Assembly was silent; who would be counted as a Royalist?
The terror was already awakened. When, on the following morning, a deputation from the Hôtel de Ville appeared at the bar of the Assembly to protest against the decree of
These dates completely refute ceeded against the Commune. Blanc, what Louis Blanc says about the on his side, only mentions the robunreasonable and arbitrary caprice bery of plate, and passes over all with which the Nat. Assembly pro- the rest in silence.
the previous day, in the name of the sovereign people, which had invested the Municipality with unlimited powers and sanctioned all its acts; when Tallien read an address drawn up by Robespierre, which openly declared, that within three days the soil of liberty would be freed from the presence of the detested priests; when a noisy mob surrounded the Hall of Assembly, prepared, as they said, to die, if necessary, with the Town-councillors;-no one ventured to utter a word of censure or protest. The Committee of Twelve were instructed to report once more on the Municipality. The Girondists saw themselves deserted by the cowardly crowd of their adherents; the Hôtel de Ville remained masters of the field, and hurried onward, unopposed, to the execution of their schemes.
THE METROPOLITAN POLICE COMMITTEE.-MARAT, MASSACRES OF THE 2ND AND
7TH SEPTEMBER.- THREATS AGAINST THE GIRONDISTS.-BOOTY OF THE
FOR the execution of their grand plot, the Revolutionists needed, in the first place, a visible presiding central authority. Neither Robespierre nor Danton were willing publicly to lend their names, or to allow the Municipality, or the Ministry of Justice, as such, to direct the general massacre. The first body which presented itself as adapted for their purpose was the Communal Comité de Surveillance, the proper organ of the higher revolutionary police. This body, it is true, existed at the time only in name, for the proceedings of Sergent and Panis were too bad for the majority even of this Committee, which had refused to take charge . of any more money or valuables without formal registration.
Whereupon Panis promptly procured a resolution from the Municipality which removed the conscientious members, as not being au niveau de la Revolution, and empowered the others to fill up their number by a free election. The chiefs of the party thus created a convenient organ of action, which willingly lent its name to the execution of any commands whatever. Round this centre were assembled Danton, Robespierre, Marat, Billaud, Manuel and Tallien, who deliberated on all the particulars of the impending butchery, and decided on the ways and means. Robespierre, impelled by suspicion and party hatred, but not by lust of plunder, was for exterminating only the Noblesse and the Priests; but the others would have been ill satisfied by such half measures, and they therefore adhered to the more comprehensive plan. Danton, on the other hand, opposed Robespierre and Marat, when on the 30th they called on the Comité de Surveillance to arrest Brissot and Roland. Robespierre denounced them as mischievous enemies of the Revolution; but confessed that such a measure might bring danger to its originators. Marat would listen to no considerations, so that Danton cried out that he (Marat) would ruin them all. “If you were all fellows like me," answered Marat “ten thousand traitors would be cut to pieces." For the present, however, the order of arrest was torn up, but the idea was by no means abandoned by its two authors. There was no little strife with regard to the ways and means of effecting the massacre. Marat wished simply to set fire to the prisons; another proposed to drown the prisoners; but Billaud engaged to collect a sufficient number of assassins, and succeeded in negativing the other propositions. 1
The execution of the plot was fixed for the 2nd of September, as being a Sunday, on which day it was easier to
i Prudhomme, Crimes, &c. There plan, but of an universal outbreak are neither external nor internal of despair caused by the dangers of grounds for doubting these statements. war. He abandons, on this occasion, If any body was likely to be well- his usual position, that in the Reinformed it was Prudhomme. Louis volution the People always aimed at Blanc, indeed, ignores these facts, and accomplished what was great although he adopts other parts of and noble, while only individual inthe report into his narrative as per- triguers were guilty of crimes. He fectly trustworthy, in order to prove also forgets a whole series of wellbis proposition that Robespierre no authenticated facts, which he himdoubt, acted very wrongly, but only self subsequently brings forward, and in having listlessly allowed a butch- which Ternaux (Terreur, III. 515) ery which he deplored. According completes, and establishes their corto his view the September massacres rectness beyond all dispute. were not the result of any prepared