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struggle between the Girondists and Jacobins commenced. It was a life and death struggle, and all the mental powers of these two bodies were brought to the task. The Girondists embraced in their number some of the finest orators France has ever produced. They were the philosophers of the Revolution, ever talking of Greece and Rome, and fondly dreaming that the glorious days of those ancient republics could be recalled. Their eloquence had given immense popularity to the Revolution and hastened it on. Grand and generous in their plans, they filled the imaginations of the people with beautiful but unreal forms. But while they were thus speaking of Catiline and Cicero, and Brutus and Cæsar, and the heroes of Greece, the Jacobins were talking of aristocrats in Paris, and arousing the passions rather than exciting the imaginations of men.

There could be no combination of circumstances better adapted to call forth the spirit and power of the nation, than that in which France now found herself. The fall of the throne, and sudden rising of a republic in its place; the removal of all those restraints which had for ages fettered thought; the terrific events that had just passed, and the still more terrible ones at the door; the vast field opened at once to the untried powers; the dark and troubled sea rolling around this phantom republic, blazing with artificial light; nay, the excited soul itself,called on man trumpet-tongued to give his greatest utterance. Into this new freedom the emancipated spirit stepped with a bewildered look, and stretching forth its arms, giant-like, made everything hitherto stable and steady, rock and shake on its ancient foundations. Never before was the human mind roused to such intense action, and never did it work with such fearful rapidity and awful power. The hall of the National Convention became the theatre of the most exciting scenes ever witnessed in a legislative body. The terrible struggle between ancient despotism and young and fierce democracy had closed, and the throne gone down in the tumult. The elements which had been gathering into strength for ages; the swell which had not been born of a sudden gust of passion, but came sweeping from the realms of antiquity had burst, and there lay the fragments of a strong monarchy,― the splendid wreck of a system hoary with age and rich with the fruits of oppression. Into this chaos the soul of France was cast, and began to work out its own ends. In the meantime, Europe, affrighted at the apparition of a new republic rising in its midst, based on fallen kingship, moved to arms, and trusted, with one fell blow, to overthrow it. All the great interests of life, everything that kindles feeling and passion, awakens thought and stimulates to action, were here gathered together; and no wonder the genius of France burst forth with astonishing splendor! Grecian art and learning were the offspring of the struggle between the young republic of Greece and Persian despotism; and out of the desperate resistance of early Rome to the efforts put forth for her overthrow, sprung that power which finally overshadowed the earth; while from our own Revolution emerged the spirit of enterprise of which the history of the race furnishes no parallel, and those principles destined to make the tour of the world.

But if the French Revolution gave birth to grand displays of genius and intellect, it also furnished exhibitions of human depravity and ferocity never before equaled.

The chief leaders that entered this great arena were Robespierre, Danton, Marat, Camille Desmoulins, Varennes, St. Just, and Collot d'Herbois, on the side of the Radicals, or Mountain; Vergniaud, Guadet, Gensonne, Lanjuinais, Roland, Barbaroux, Louvet and others, on that of the Girondists. The collision between these noble and eloquent men on the one side, and those dark, intriguing, desperate characters on the other, produced the finest specimens of oratory ever witnessed in

France. Vergniaud, generous and noble,- too good to believe in the irredeemable depravity of his adversaries, was the most eloquent speaker that ever mounted the tribune of the French Assembly. Carried away by no passion,- not torrent-like, broken and fragmentary, as Mirabeau,- but like a deep and majestic stream he moved steadily onward, pouring forth his rich and harmonious sentences in strains of impassioned eloquence. At the trial of Louis his speech thrilled both Jacobins and Conservatives with electric power. On the occasion of the failure of the first conspiracy of the Jacobins against the Girondists he addressed the Convention, and in his speech occurred the following remarkable words: "We march from crimes to amnesties and from amnesties to crimes. The great body of citizens are so blinded by their frequent occurrence that they confound these seditious disturbances with the grand national movement in favor of freedom; regard the violence of brigands as the efforts of energetic minds, and consider robbery itself as indispensable to public safety. You are free, say they; but unless you think like us we will denounce you as victims to the vengeance of the people. You are free; but unless you join us in persecuting those whose probity or talents we dread, we will abandon you to their fury. Citizens, there is too much room to dread that the Revolution, like Saturn, will necessarily devour all its progeny, and finally leave only despotism, with all the calamities which it produces." A prophecy which soon proved true, and he was among the first of those children which the Revolution, Saturn-like, devoured. Thrown into prison with his compatriots, he finally underwent the farce of a trial and was sentenced to the guillotine. His friends had secretly provided him with poison, by which he could escape the ignominy of the scaffold and die a sudden and easy death. But he nobly refused to take it, preferring to suffer with his friends. On the last night of his life he addressed his fellow-prisoners on the sad fate of the French republic. He spoke of its expiring liberty, of the bright hopes soon to be extinguished in blood, of the terrible scenes before their beloved country, in terms that made the doomed victims forget their approaching fate. Never before did those gloomy walls ring to such thrilling words. Carried away by the enthusiasm of his feelings and the picture that rose before his excited imagination, he poured forth such strains of impassioned eloquence that they all fell in tears in each others arms.

Louvet was bold and energetic, hurling his accusations against Marat and Robespierre with equal daring and power. When the latter, wincing under the implied charges conveyed by Roland in a speech before the Convention, mounted the tribune, and exclaimed: "No one will dare accuse me to my face," Louvet rose to his feet, and, fixing on him a steady eye, said, in a firm voice : "I am he who accuses you; yes, Robespierre, I accuse you.” He then went on in a strain of fervid eloquence, following Robespierre, as Cicero did Catiline, in all his devious ways, to the Jacobin club, to the municipal authorities and the Assembly, ever vaunting of his services, exciting the people to massacre, and spreading terror and death on every side, and closed up with "the glory of the revolt of the tenth of August is common to all, but the glory of the massacres of September belongs to you; on you and your associates may they rest forever."

After the revolution which overthrew the Girondists he fled to the mountains of Jura, and wandered for months amid their solitudes and caverns, pondering over the strange scenes through which he had passed.

Guadet was full of spirit,-seizing with the intuition of genius the changes of the stormy Convention and molding it to his purpose. He died with the firmness of an old Roman on the scaffold.

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Barbaroux was fiery, prompt, and penetrating. Foreseeing clearly the course of the Jacobins, he strove manfully to crush them, and would have succeeded had

he been sustained by his friends. On that last terrible day to the Girondists, when eighty thousand armed men stood arrayed in dark columns around the hall of the Convention, and a hundred and sixty pieces of artillery were slowly advancing with lighted matches trembling above them, and the tocsin was sounding and generale beating, and cannon thundering in the distance, and the Convention tossing like a shattered vessel in a storm, he rose, and sending his fearless voice over the tempest, exclaimed: "I have sworn to die at my post; I will keep my oath. Bend, if you please, before the municipality,-you who refused to arrest their wickedness; or else imitate us whom their fury immediately demands,— wait and brave their fury. You may compel me to sink under their daggers; you shall not make me fall at their feet.»

Roland, clear and truthful; Gensonne, firm, resolute, and decided; Lanjuinais, intrepid, and fearless, lifting his voice, even when dragged by violence from the tribune; Brissot and Buzot helped to complete this galaxy of noble and eloquent


On the other hand, Robespierre combated these bursts of eloquence by his daring plans, insinuating, yet energetic discourse, his terse, vigorous sentences, and his character as a patriot. Danton was like a roused lion, and his voice of thunder fell with startling power on the Convention. Once, when he heard the tocsin sounding and cannon roaring, he said all that is required is "boldness, boldness, boldness!" and this, with his relentless severity, was the secret of his strength. Marat, with the face of a monster and the heart of a fiend, had that art, or rather ferocity, which appeals to hate, murder, and revenge. With such energetic, powerful minds locked in mortal combat, no wonder there were bursts of unsurpassed eloquence, thrilling appeals, noble devotion, such as never before shook a parliament. The fact that the Legislative Assembly constituted one body, thus keeping the exciting topics of this most exciting time ever revolving in its midst, conspired to give greater intensity to the feelings, and preserve that close and fierce collision from which fire is always struck. In halls of legislation the eloquence of feeling, the spontaneous outbursts of passion, constituting the highest kind of impassioned oratory, are seldom witnessed. But here the impulses were not restrained; each uttered what he felt, and that lofty daring which will of itself create genius, characterized the leaders.

But when the Jacobins through their appeals to the passions, triumphed, and the Girondists were dispersed or executed, the eloquence or the Convention departed forever. In the Reign of Terror, Danton was the chief orator, but action, action was wanted more than speeches. To awe, to terrify, to crush, was now the task of the Convention, and it went on destroying with a blind fury until at last it began to destroy itself. At length it turned fiercely on Danton, its head, and that voice, after uttering its last challenge, hurling its scorn and last curse, was hushed by the guillotine. Robespierre soon followed, and the yell of terror he gave on the scaffold, as the bandage was torn from his maimed jaw, letting it fall on his breast, was the last time his tongue froze the hearts of the people with fear.

The Revolution now began to retrograde, and the French mind, which had been so terribly excited, for awhile stood paralyzed, and the tongue was dumb. Nothing shows the difference between the two nations, France and England, more clearly than the contrast this Revolution presented to that of the English under Cromwell. In both the commons of the people came in collision with the throne, and conquered. In both the king perished on the scaffold, and the parliament seized supreme power. Yet in the one case no atrocity marked the progress of freedom,- even civil law remained in full force amid the tumult and violence before which the royal dynasty disappeared. The minds of the two nations are as

different as the progress and results of the two revolutions. The French, excitable and imaginative, no sooner seize a theory than they push it to the extremest limit. Enthusiasm and hope guide the movement, while reason and conscience control the passions of the English people. One dreams, the other thinks; hence to the former, eloquence which appeals to the imagination and feelings is the truest and the best. The Tiers-État, now assembled in Berlin, will not move on to freedom as did that of France. The Germans are more sober, reflecting, and cautious. This fact should be kept in mind in reading the speeches of French orators. Those things which would be extravagances to an English or Dutch, are not to a French, parliament. Bursts of sentiment which would draw tears from the latter, would provoke a smile of incredulity or derision in the former. The mathematician and the poet are to be moved by different appeals.

Under the Directory there was but little display of eloquence, and scarcely none at all under the Empire. When Bonaparte mounted to supreme power, he wished to be the only speaker, as he was the only actor, in France. He established the strictest censorship both over the press and the tongue, and men dared not speak, except to echo him. If France was amazed at the disappearance of the throne and aristocracy, and sudden rising of a republic, with all its blinding, dazzling light, in their place, she was no less so at the vast empire that sprung up so rapidly at the touch of Napoleon. Men spoke no more of Greece or of Rome, except to hint at Cæsar and his legions. «Rights of the people,» «freedom of the press and speech," and all those spell-words by which the revolutionary leaders had gained power were forgotten, and the "glory of France» absorbed every other thought. To this boundless enthusiasm Napoleon knew how to address himself, and became at once the greatest military orator of the world. In any other time, and to any other army, his speeches would have been mere declamation, but taking both into consideration they are models of oratory. He could speak with power, for his actions were eloquent, and stirred the heart of France to its core.

The Restoration brought a great change over the parliament of France. From a constitutional monarchy she had passed into a free republic, thence into the rudest anarchy that ever shook the world, thence into a vast and glorious empire, and now, fallen, exhausted, and bewildered, sunk back into the arms of a Bourbon. And when the representatives of the people again assembled, there were delegates from all these great epochs; royalist emigrants, filled more than ever with the idea of the divine right of kings; old soldiers from Napoleon's victorious armies, still dreaming of glory, and ardent republicans, who would not, for all that had passed, abandon their liberal principles.

The new Parliament at length settled down into three political parties,— the Legitimists, who reverenced kingship, and prated constantly of the throne and its prerogatives, and the aristocracy and its privileges,-the Constitutionalists, or those who wished to establish the supremacy of the parliament balanced by royal authority and other powers, as in England,-and the Liberals. These discordant elements brought to the surface a group of statesmen and orators as different in their views and opinions as if they had been men of different ages of the world. The Liberalists constituted the opposition, and numbered among its leaders, Manuel, General Foy, Benjamin Constant, Lafitte Bignon, Casimir-Périer, and others. Under Charles X. it was a struggle of reason against blind devotion to old rules and forms. At length the last gave way; Charles X. was compelled to abdicate, and the Revolution of 1830 introduced a new order of things, which still continues.

It is useless to speak of the present Parliament of France. Like the American Congress, or the British Parliament, it is governed by the spirit of the politician, rather than the elevated views of the statesman, or the devotion of the patriot.

Between the different parties it is a struggle of tactics rather than of intellect; votes are carried, and changes wrought, more by the power of machinery than the power of truth or eloquence. The Chamber of Peers is almost a nullity, while over that of the Deputies the politic Louis Philippe holds a strong and steady hand. Guizot and Thiers have occupied the most prominent place in the public eye, under the present dynasty. But the strategy of parliaments is now of more consequence and interest than their speeches, for management is found to secure votes better than they. This is natural; in unexciting times everything assumes a business form and is conducted on business principles, and commerce, and finance, and tariff, and trade, are not calculated to develop the powers of the orator or call forth the highest kind of eloquence.

From the American edition of Cormenin's "Orators of France.»

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