« EelmineJätka »
“I have just come from your house. I have had a letter—a letter from the baron."
“At last !” exclaimed at the same time the two Ravens. Then, observing that Monsieur de Gréoulx looked sad, they inquired with anxiety,“ Does it contain bad news?”
“ You will see,” replied he, giving them the letter. It was thus worded :
“ Château de Gréoulx, April 16, 17—. “Sir,—You shall not marry Mademoiselle Louise de la Varrière. I desire you to return immediately. On this condition alone can I pardon your conduct. I expect that your submission for the future will repair your faults, and therefore, I pray God to protect you.
“ G. BARON DE GRÉOULX."
“Very well, you must go, and at once," said Veronique.
“Things seem to look better. For the first time in his life the baron has given
“ He is much changed,” said Suzanne.
“Well, all is for the best," continued Veronique. “Let us hasten home, we can speak more freely there than here. Well! the baron has yielded, he has given up this marriage! It is like a miracle, and I should not have believed it, had he not written and signed it with his own hand.”
Gabrielle drew her cloak about her, and walked a little aside, without speaking On reaching their door, Monsieur de Gréoulx lingered bebind a moment with her, and said in a low voice, in a tone of sad reproach:
“ Mademoiselle, you alone do not take an interest in what happens to me
She threw back her cloak, and raised towards him her eyes filled with tears.
“ Ah!" cried he, with an expression of tenderness and joy,“ my dear Gabrielle !"
“What's the matter now, child ?” asked Veronique, turning back; “you are as pale as possible. The cool night air has affected you. Go in quickly.”
The evening passed heavily. The Ravens did not feel inclined to play at cards; the parting grieved them. The lovers were absorbed in the bitter happiness of these last minutes. They listened with dread to each stroke of the clock, and when the hour of nine struck at Saint Laurent, both shuddered : the fatal moment for parting had arrived.
The next day Monsieur de Gréoulx set off. The same evening the Ravens were sent for to watch a corpse, and poor Gabrielle remained at home alone. Then she felt that extreme sadness, that deep dejection, which the loss of all which interests and cheers life invariably leaves. The necessity of restraining her grief had supported her during the day; she had acted and spoken like the day before, when she was happy, when she expected to pass the evening with Monsieur de Gréoulx ; but when she was alone she seated herself in the place where he generally sat, and with her head bent down, her arms hanging loosely, sorrowful and in tears, she thus remained until morning.
THE INVASION OF FRANCE IN 1792.*
The massacre of the Swiss Guard in August, 1792, marked the last day of the monarchy. Paris was in a state of utmost terror~no one felt for a moment sure of either property, liberty, or life. The scum of the population was in the ascendancy; thieves and assassins had their own way, and Ternaux strengthens with his authority the declaration already emitted by Michelet (Hist. de la Révolution, tom. iv. p. 219), that Paris had fallen into a savage condition.
The band of malignants—that army for evil which exists in a latent state in all great cities-was now triumphant, and its cohorts increased by the prisoners who had been set at liberty, preyed resistlessly upon the citizens. People were robbed in the open streets, in the squares, and on the boulevards, in the most frequented places, and their watches, rings, and jewellery were taken from them, in order, it was said, that they might be deposited on the “altar of liberty,” and applied to the expenses of national defence. It was not only the well-dressed classes, against whom, according to the Maratist morality, everything was permitted, since they were presumed to hope for the triumph of the enemies of the country, but even the working classes were subjected to the same sumptuary system of taxation, the market-places were ransacked with the same brutality as the boulevards, peasants were assailed at the barriers, and their earrings torn from their ears. The royal wardrobe at the corner of the Rue Saint Florentin and Place Louis XV. was invaded on the night of the 16-17th of September—the square being occupied at the time by pretended national guards--and rifled of its contents. The Girondists upbraided the Montagnards with the robbery, while the latter, with their usual tactics, retorted upon the former, and declared that they were the robbers! In times of revolution, impudence invariably carries the day.
The press was struck down by the same system of terrorism as prostrated all civicism. It applauded the massacres and justified robbery. Even the papers of the coustitutional party succumbed before the violence that mastered it, and dishonoured it. The Legislative Assembly alone felt some degree of shame, and hesitated if it were not its duty to present itself in a mass before the cut-throats, and abjure them to inaugurate, by the murder of the national representatives, the triumph of anarchy and the annihilation of all divine and human laws.
Supported, however, by manifestations from a few municipal sections, as those of Mail, of Marais, and of the Lombards, and dreading the power of the “commune,” the Assembly began to take some steps towards repairing the evils which its incapacity and pusillanimity had tolerated. Roland, among others, denounced the extraordinary commissioners who had been sent to place the provinces under contribution, and whose commissions he himself had signed. It was resolved, amidst such disgraceful tergiversation, to raise additional battalions of national
* Histoire de la Terreur, 1792-1794. D’Aprés les Documents Authentiques et des Pièces Inédites. Par M. Mortimer-Ternaux. Tome quatrième.
guards both in Paris and in the provinces, to provide for the national defence. “Je me charge de tout!”—“I will undertake the thing,” exclaimed Danton ; “ the commune of Paris will supply us with excellent patriots!" And he proceeded at once with the embodiment of the new battalions, and their officering upon his principles.
Emissaries were despatched to the provinces to disseminate the Maratist doctrines. They travelled with confiscated carriages and horses, at the expense of the State. There was no longer any law, they declared; every one was his own master, since the people was the sovereign, and they had a right to seize upon all corn stowed away, and to put the farmers to death who refused to bring their produce to market. One of the chief objects of their mission was, however, to influence the election of deputies to the Convention. Confirmed Jacobins were alone put in nomination, and, to ensure their return, all votes had to be given by word of mouth ; the terrorised” majority being thus made to succumb to the “ terrorist” minority.
The commune of Paris” had, in the mean time, notwithstanding the objurgations of Mazuyer, Kersaint, Vergniaud, and other constitutionalists, who declared that it was time that it should be decided whether the people or the commune was sovereign, dismissed the magistrates elected by the people, and instituted committees of surveillance, which were invested with an authority superior to that of all the administrations and all magistracies.
It was in vain that the National Assembly passed a series of resolutions tending the re-establishment of order and the preservation of individual safety (among these was one to the effect that the home of the citizen is declared to be in violable, even in the name of the law, at night -a tutelary principle which, M. Ternaux says, has been outrageously violated whenever the reign of despotism has supplanted that of the law); the sections of Paris adopted the principle that each portion of the sovereignty of the people should execute or modify the general laws emanating from the Legislative Assembly just as they pleased. They accordingly proceeded, backed by the general council of the commune, to take such steps as should ensure the return of their candidates to the Convention. One of the chief means adopted in Paris, as in the provinces, to bring about this result, was to enact that all votes should be given vivâ vocethat is to say, under the penalty of the violence of the terrorist party,
if not given according to their dictation ; another was, that the elections should take place in the hall of the Jacobin Club; and a third was, “ that a general system of terror, embracing all Paris, should be organised by means of domiciliary visits, arrests, and even murders, if necessary." Robespierre undertook to get the adhesion of the sections, of which there were forty-eight, to these republican plans for influencing the votes of one hundred and sixty thousand electors in Paris, and about thirty thousand in the rural “ cantons."
On the 4th of September, Collot d'Herbois and Robespierre were proclaimed, the one president, the other vice-president of the electoral body; Marat, Santerre, and Carra were elected secretaries. Robespierre was annoyed that “a vile actor" should take precedence of him, and his friends ensured his return the day following as first deputy of Paris, Danton as second, and Collot d'Herbois had to content himself with the third place.
Kersaint was placed in opposition to Camille Desmoulins, and the Englishman Priestly was opposed to Marat by the moderates, but, as may be easily imagined, without a chance of their return. Tallien lost his election from an imprudent word launched against the high priest of demagogyRobespierre. But the unfortunate Duke of Orleans, moving on the incline which was to carry him resistless into the regicidal abyss, was received with open arms by the dictator of the Hôtel de Ville, on one condition, that the descendant of kings should be only known as Egalité. Out of twenty-four deputies for Paris, eight-Egalité, Manuel, Danton, Desmoulins, Fabre d'Eglantine, Osselin, Robespierre the elder and the younger-perished on the scaffold ere the Convention had terminated its sittings; a pinth, Marat, fell under the dagger of Charlotte Corday.
In the departments the conventional elections were for the most part carried out with some show of legality ; some Girondins and even monarchical constitutionalists were elected, but
persons who were put forward by the Jacobins, and who were utter strangers to the country. Among the seven hundred and forty-nine members of the Convention, one of the first acts of which were to send le roi très-chretien to the scaffold, were seventeen bishops, six vicars, twenty-five priests, and seven Protestant ministers. There were also many officers who had belonged to the royal army, even to privileged corps, as the body-guard and the mousquetaires; some were even titled : it was a reason more why, in a reign of terror, they were obliged to give the more ardent proofs of republicanism.
When the new representatives of the people met at last, Pétion was elected president, and six secretaries, among whom the philosopher Condorcet, were named, all belonging to the moderate party. When the Legislative Assembly vacated its functions, and the Convention took its place in the Salle du Manége, the members who marched under the banners of Brissot, Vergniaud, and other chiefs of the Girondins, took up their position on the right, significative of their adopted policy, which was no longer to destroy, but to reconstruct, their object being to oppose anarchy and violence. But it is easier to rouse the tempest of popular passions than to assuage them. The
very first decree (after an absurd attempt to secure the ex-mayor of Paris — Pétion—a home in the Tuileries, and instructions to the effect that he should, Roman fashion, whenever he walked out, be preceded by the attributes of law and force) was the aboli. tion of royalty in France. A second was to declare every French citizen capable of administering the civil and criminal laws. A great social regeneration was contemplated by the Dantonists by this latter decree.
The struggle between the Jacobins and the more moderate members of the Convention was not long in declaring itself. A commission was appointed to inquire into the actual condition of the republic, and of the city of Paris, and to present a project of a law against those who provoked murders and assassinations. This was aimed at the “commune," and was felt as ich.
The Jacobins declared that the Convention had given the signal for civil war. The moderates of the Convention, on their part, openly denounced the tyranny of the triumvirate. The Convention had not, indeed, been assembled five days before the two parties were at daggers drawn. The Girondins had the majority and the ascendancy, but they had no coherence, no principle of union, no plan of action. The Mountain, few in numbers, were strong in their coherence ; they were all alike implicated in crime, and they had the common bond of fear and apprehension of reprisals. All they cared for was to perpetuate the anarchy which alone could save them.
Thus incessantly combated by the insolent tyranny of the insurgent party, the new Assembly had little or no time to devote to the letters of the generals who were engaged in defending, in the mean time, the invaded territory, or to even attend to the reports of the commissaries who had been despatched at its first meetings to the army. The fact is, that the Frenchman makes a better soldier than statesman, and while honour and courage were wasted in the Convention in civil discords, without any real results being arrived at the representatives of the same principles, with arms in their hands, were serving the republic, to the ruin of the monarchy, with far greater purpose and effect in the field.
The Austro-Prussian army had crossed the frontiers at Longwy on the 22nd of August. Whilst strong detachments invested Montmédy on the right and Thionville on the left, the main body advanced on the 28th upon Longuyon and Etain, and, having got possession of the two banks of the Meuse, occupied, on the 30th of August, the heights that surround Verdun. The Duke of Brunswick, who commanded the allied forces, summoned this stronghold to surrender in the name of his Christian majesty the legitimate King of France, and of his two brothers, who accompanied him with a large body of emigrants. An evasive answer having been returned, the bombardment was commenced on the 31st, and that with so marked an effect, that the citizens sent a deputation on the 1st of September to beg of the duke to carry on the siege after a milder fashion ! The duke replied by a further summons. The place was defended by three thousand five hundred men and thirty guns, under Lieutenant-Colonel Beaurepaire, an old soldier of unquestionable gallantry, and most punctilious on the point of honour. The guns had been either dismounted or rendered useless by the bombardment, several breaches had been made in the walls, the citizens insisted upon a capitulation. Beaurepaire could not refuse, but, withdrawing to his own apartment in the Hôtel de Ville, he there put an end to his life. His soldiers, hearing the report, hastened to his assistance, and found him in his uniform, with his sword by his de, the cross of Saint Louis on his breast, bathed in blood, and a newly-discharged pistol in his hand. The next day the garrison withdrew from the town, taking with them the body of their devoted leader, and they made their way to Sainte-Menehould, where they joined the advance guard of the army with which Dumouriez was about to arrest the progress of the royalists in the defiles of the Argonne. This advance guard was composed of two battalions that had withdrawn from Longwy, two battalions sent to reinforce the garrison of Verdun, but who could not enter the invested fortress, and the three thousand five hundred men from Verdun, all under General Galbaud, and it constituted the nucleus of the little
which defended the passages of the Argonne until Dumouriez could come up. Dumouriez himself admits that this handful of men saved Champagne and France-in other words, left the demagogues of Paris time and liberty to murder their king in cold blood. Sainte Menehould is, it is to be observed, but