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Epochs of Modern History 







Epochs of Modem History 











xvi Contents. 




Reactionary Movement in Paris and in the Departments . . 221 

Parties in the Convention 222 

Readmission of the expelled Girondist Deputies to the 

Convention 223 

Repeal of Maximum Laws, and suffering in Paris . 225 

Insurrection of Germinal 12 226 

Reaction in Paris, and in the Departments .... 227 
The public exercise of all forms of worship permitted by the 

Convention . . 228 

The White Terror . 229 

Insurrection of Prairial 1 . . . . ... 230 

Proscription of Montagnards 231 



Conquest of Holland by Pichegru 232 

Foreign policy of the Convention 233 

Foreign policy of Thugut 235 

Foreign policy of Catherine II. ; Alliances between Russia 

and Austria 236 

English foreign policy ; Successes at Sea, and conquest of 

French Colonies .... ^ ... . 237 
Prussian foreign policy ; Peace made at Basel between 

Prussia and prance 238 

Position of Spanish Government ; Treaty of Peace between 

France and Spain 240 

War in the West ; Hoche appointed Commander-in-Chief . 242 

Expedition of Emigrants to Quiberon 243 

Position of the Convention ; its unpopularity . . . 245 

Death of the Dauphin 245 

The Convention sanctions the use of Churches for Catholic 

worship . . . 246 

Position of the Clergy ; Parties amongst them ... 247 

The Convention frames the Constitution of 1795 . . 248 

Contents. xv 




Condition of the Army 188 

Carnot's military reforms ' 189 

Campaign in Belgium and the Rhine ; Victories of Hond- 

schoote and Wattignies 191 

The Allies expelled from Alsace by Hoche and Pichegru 192 

Legislation of the Convention 193 

Cambon's financial measures 195 

Growing feeling against the Commune 196 

Robespierre attacks the H£bertists 197 

The Old Cordelier 199 

The Hetartists attack the Dantonists 200 

Robespierre's influence over the Jacobins 201 

Robespierre abandons the Dantonists ... 202 

Execution of the He*bertists and Dantonists . . . 20.1 



Despotism of the Committee of Public Safety . 204 

Aims of Robespierre 205 

Aims of St. Just 206 

Financial object of the continuation of the Terror . . . 207 

The Terror systematised 208 

Renewal of the War in La Vendee 209 

Treaty of the Hague between England and Prussia . 209 

Insurrection in Poland 210 

Differences between England and Prussia . .211 

The Allied Forces driven from Belgium 212 

Worship of the Supreme Being instituted by Robespierre . 214 

Increased activity of the Revolutionary Court . ... 215 

Position of Robespierre 216 

Discords break out within the Committee of Public Safety . 217 

Insurrection of Thermidor 219 

Execution of the Robespierrisis 22c 


In writing this handbook on the French Revolution, it 
has been my endeavour to give a correct and impartial 
account of the most important events of the revolutionary 
period, and of the motives by which the leading charac- 
ters were actuated. Much has necessarily been omitted 
which finds a place in larger works. Those who wish to 
pursue the subject further, and have time at their disposal, 
would do well to study, besides general histories, some of 
the many books lately published which deal with special 
branches of the subject, and often enable the reader to 
form a more independent judgment both of men and 
events than is possible from the perusal of works of 
the former class alone. Amongst general histories those 
rf Michelet and Louis Blanc will probably be found 
most serviceable. No satisfactory account of the rela- 
tions of France with other countries is to be found in the 
French tongue, partly because French historians still 
write with bias, partly, also, because they hitherto either 
have been unacquainted with, or have ignored the results 
uf German research. Professor Von Sybel's well-know- 

vi Preface. 

book, * Geschichte der Revolutionszeit,' contains the 
fullest and best account of the relations which existed 
between the different States of Europe, but it is not an 
impartial one. Hermann HiifFer's books are valuable 
contributions to our knowledge of diplomatic relations, 
and, being written from an opposite point of view, should 
6e studied by all readers of Von Sybel. The history of 
the foreign policy of England during this period has stil 
to be written. M. Sorel has lately published in the pages 
of the ' ReVue Historique' a full account of the foreign 
policy pursued by the Committee of Public Safety after 
Robespierre's fall, and of the negotiations leading to the 
treaties of peace signed in 1795 between France and 
Prussia and France and Spain. Much fresh inform- 
ation regarding the internal condition of France during 
the revolutionary period is to be found scattered in local 
and special histories of various kinds. Amongst such 
may be specially mentioned Mortimer Ternaux's ' Histoire 
de la Terreur,' and 'La Justice Revolutionnaire,' by 
Berriat St Prix. M. Taine in his great work has collected 
a large number of extracts from documents lying in the 
archives of the departments, but entire absence of classi- 
fication, and the strong political bias of the writer, makes 
this work of less value to the student than others of less 
pretensions. Amongst the best of local histories are the 
works of M. Francisque Mege, which reveal the course 
taken by the Revolution in the province of Auvergne. 
Biographical works are numerous. Mirabeau's character 
will best be learnt from his correspondence with the 
Count de la Marck. M. D'Hericault's 'Revolution de 

Preface. vii 

Thermidor' contains a detailed account of the policy 
pursued by Robespierre after the expulsion of the 
Girondists. Danton's life and character can best be 
studied in the works of M. Robinet Schmidt's ' Pariser 
Zustande wahrend der Revolutionszeit' contains the best 
existing account of the economic condition of Paris 
between 1789 and 1800. As it is improbable that those 
for whom this book is in the first place intended will 
have any idea of the amount represented by so many 
thousand or million livres, I have invariably given the 
English equivalent of the French money, following the 
table inserted by Arthur Young in his 'Travels in 
France.' After the introduction of the revolutionary 
calendar, I have in giving dates followed the table in 
'UArt de verifier les Dates.' In consequence of the 
different system of intercalation pursued in the two 
calendars, the correspondence of dates varies from year 
to year, and in consequence of leaving this fact un- 
noticed even French historians sometimes give the 
date in the old style wrongly. I have only further to 
add that the purple lines upon the map of France in 
provinces represent the frontiers where customs duties 
were levied under the old Monarchy. They are copied 
from a map published with Necker's works. It will 
be seen that Alsace and Lorraine, as well as Bayonne 
and Dunkirk (the name of the last town has by some 
inadvertence not been inserted in the map), were allowed 
to trade freely with the foreigner, Marseilles enjoyed 
the same privilege. 





The Monarchy in France i 

Social condition of France .3 

Feudal rights 4 

Condition of the Church . 6 

Government and administration 7 

The privileged classes 8 

Taxation ... ...... 9 

Condition of the People 11 

Interference with trade .... ... 13 

Public opinion in France ... .... 13 

Voltaire and his followers 13 

The Encyclopaedists . . 14 

The Church and Christian Theology attacked . 15 

The Economists 16 

Rousseau 16 



Ministry of Turgot 18 

Opposition raised to his reforms 19 

Character of Louis XVI. ... . ... 19 


Character of Marie Antoinette 90 

1776. Dismissal of Turgot ... . . az 

Movement of Reform extends over Europe az 

Condition of England .... ... 33 

Pitt in Office 24 

Reaction after Turgot's dismissal . . ... 25 

Ministry of Necker . ... .... 25 

Necker opposed by the Parliaments . .... 25 

1781. He resign*; office . . .... 26 

Desire for political liberty 26 

1776. American Declaration of Independence ... 26 

1783. Ministry of Calonne 27 

1787. The Assembly of Notables 27 

Ministry of Brienne 27 

General disaffection 28 

1788. Second Ministry of Necker, and calling of the States 
General 29 

Pamphlets and Cahiers 29 

Sieyes' Pamphlet— What is the Third Estate? . . . . 30 

Double Representation of the Third Estate .... 31 



May 5, 1789. Meeting of the States General . . . . 33 

Relation of the King to the Revolution 33 

Question whether the States were to sit as one or as three 

chambers left undecided 33 

Evil consequences of the Royal policy 34 

Character and policy of Mirabeau 35 

Title of National Assembly adopted by the Third Estate 37 

Excitement and disorder in Paris 38 

Louis takes part with the Upper Orders 39 

June 2a Tennis Court Oath ....... 40 

Royal Sitting of June 23 4° 

The States constituted as one Chamber 41 

July 14. The fall of the Bastille 

Contents, xi 


Establishment of a Municipality and of a National Guard in 

Paris 46 

Visit of Louis to the Capital . 47 

Risings in the Provinces . 48 

Decrees of August 4 . ... 49 

Composition of the Assembly 51 

The Reactionary Right 51 

The Right Centre 52 

rhe Centre and Left 5a 

The Extreme Left 53 

Causes giving ascendency to the Left 54 

Policy of Mirabeau 56 

Declaration of the Rights of Man 58 

New Constitution ; Legislature to be formed of one House ; 

Veto given to the King 58 

Scarcity of Bread 59 

Character of the National Guard of Paris 60 

October 6. The King and Queen brought to Paris . . 6b 



Results of tne Movement of October 6 63 

The Jacobins 64 

The Constitution ; Administrative Changes ; Establishment 

of 44,000 Municipalities 65 

Judicial Reforms ... 66 

Increase of the State debt 67 

Church Property appropriated by the State .... 67 

Creation of Assignats 68 

Civil Constitution of the Clergy 69 

Feast of the Federation 69 

Emigration of the nobles 70 

Embitterment of the Relations between nobles and peasants . 71 

Weakness of the Central Government 72 

Mutinies in the Army 73 

Imposition of an Oath on the Clergy ; Schism in the Church 74 { 

xii Contents. 


The Constitution decried by the Ultra-Democrats . . 76 ] 

Brissot 76 

Desmoulins .... 77 

Marat < 78 

Sources of influence exercised by the Ultra-Democrats . . 79 1 

Influence exercised by Jacobin Clubs 80 

September 179a Resignation of Necker 81 

The Commune of Paris ; Composition of its Municipality 81 

Mirabeau's policy ; his Death, April 2, 1791 . . . . 84 

Position of the Constitutionalists 85 



Unpopularity of Marie Antoinette 87 

June 20, 1791. Flight of the Royal Family .... 88 

Ultra-Democrats seek the Establishment of a Republic . 91 

July 17. Massacre of the Champ de Mars .... 91 

Attempt to revise the Constitution 93 

The work of the National Assembly ; legal and financial 

reforms 93 

, Creation of Assignats of small value 94 

Plans of the Queen 94 

Policy of territorial aggrandisement pursued by the Great 

Powers 96 

Austria and Russia at war with Turkey .... 97 

Death of Joseph II 97 

Treaty of Reichenbach ... ... 97 

Declaration of Pilnitz ... .... 98 

Designs of Catherine II. on Poland . . . . 98 > 

Leopold II. unwilling to engage in war with Franae . . 98 I 

The new Legislative Assembly ; its composition ... 99 

Policy of the Girondists zoo 

Ecclesiastical policy of the Legislature xoi 

Emigrants encouraged by Princes of the Empire . . . 101 

Growth of a warlike spirit in the Assembly .... 102 

The French Revolution is more than a National movement . 104 





Contents. xiii ° 



Commencement of war with Austria and Prussia . 105 

The Jacobins embody a spirit of suspicion . . • 106 

Robespierre's character 107 

Administrative anarchy 109 

Troubles at Avignon no 

The Girondists hope for the best in 

Lafayette denounces the Jacobins 112 

The mob invades the Tuileries on June 90 . ... 113 
The Country declared in danger ; Manifesto of the Duke of 

Brunswick 114 

Preparations made for an insurrection 115 

Insurrection of August 10 ; Suspension of the King . 117 


Formation of the new Commune of Paris 119 / 

The September massacres iai / 

' The defence of the Argonnes 123 / ' 

The meeting of the Convention, and the abolition of * ' 

Monarchy 124 

The Girondists and the Mountain 135 

Weakness of the Centre ia8 

Re-election of the Commune 129 

Conquest of Savoy, Mainz, and Belgium .... 130 

Question of the annexation of Belgium 131 

The Opening of the Scheldt, and the order to the Generals 

to proclaim the Sovereignty of the People . . . 134 

Objects of the Allies ' . . . . 135 

Pitt's ministry in England 136 

Views taken of the French Revolution in England . . . 137 

Trial and Execution of Louis XVI 139 

War with England ; the French expelled from Belgium . . 141 
Establishment of the Revolutionary Court ; Defeat of 

Neerwinden . / 143 

Party strife in the Convention . . . . • • ( 144 

Establishment of the Committee of Public Safety . • • 14S 

xiv Contents. 


Deputies in mission . , 146 

Laws against Emigrants and Nonjurors .... 147 

Policy of the Mountain 148 

The economical situation 149 

Popular remedies opposed by the Girondists . . 151 

The Commune leads a movement against the Girondists 153 

Expulsion of the leading Girondists 155 



State of public feeling 156 

Girondist and Royalist movements ; Resistance in Lyons 

and Toulon 157 

General submission to the Convention 158 

War in La Vendee 159 

Successes of the Vendeans 160 

Successes of the Allies 161 

Coolness between Austria and Prussia 160 

Assassination of Marat . 163 

Sanguinary tendencies of the Government .... 165 

Growing strength of the Committee of Public Safety . . 166 

Power of the Commune 167 

Views of Hubert and Chaumette 168 

Introduction of the conscription 170 

Maximum laws 171 

Laws against speculation 172 

Depression of trade and agriculture 173 

Law of * Suspected Persons ' 175 

Increased activity of the Revolutionary Court . . . 176 

Execution of the Queen and the Girondists . 177 

Worship of Reason 178 

Introduction of the Revolutionary calendar . . 180 

Surrender of Lyons 181 

Destruction of the Vendean army 182 

The Terror in the Departments . . . . 183 

The Terrorists a small minority 186 

Contents. xvii 


Special Laws passed to maintain the Republican Party in 

Power 249 

Insurrection of Vendemiaire 13 suppressed by Napoleon 

Bonaparte 250 

Law of Brumaire 3, excluding relations of Emigrants from 

Office 250 

The Five Directors ; Position of the New Government . . 251 

INDEX. 255 


Europe in 1789 ...... To face title pagt 

Map of France in Provinces .... ,, page 9 

I* evolutionary Paris .... ,, ,, 43 

Map of France in Departments . ... ,, »• 65 

Map of Belgium on page 132 

Map of the Rhine ,,190 

Map of Quiberon „ 247 






. Oct. 



. Nov. 



. Dec. 



. Jan. 


. . Feb. 




. April 


Prairial ' 




. . June 


Thermidor . 

. July 



. . Aug. 




Dates relating to military or foreign affairs are given in italics, 
in order that the attention of the reader may be drawn to the 
relation between them and the domestic occurrences. 

Accession of Louis XVI. — Ministry ofTurgot. 


Dismissal ofTurgot — Ministry of Necker — American Declaration 
of Independence. 

France allies itself with America, 


Resignation of Necker. 

Calonne's Ministry. 


The Assembly of Notables — Brienne's Ministry. 

Necker's Second Ministry. 


May 5. Meeting of the States General. 

June 17. Adoption of the title of National Assembly. 

June 20. The Tennis Court Oath. 

June 23. The King comes to the Assembly to command the 
separation of the Orders. 

July 14. Capture of the Bastille. \ 

Aug. 4. Abolition of feudal rights. 

Oct 6. The King brought to Paris. <^ 


Leading Dates. xix 


July 14. Feast of the Federation, 
Nov. 27. Oath imposed on the Ciergv. 


April 2. Death of Mirabeau. 

June 20. The Flight to Varennes. 

July 17. The Massacre of the Champ de Mars 

Aug. 27. Declaration of Pilnitz. 

Sept. 30. End of the Constituent Assembly. 

Oct. x. Meeting of the Legislative Assembly. . 


April 2a Declaration of War against the King of Hungary and 

Bohemia, entailing also a War with Prussia. . 
Time 13. Dismissal of the Girondist Ministers. 
June 20. The King mobbed in the Tuileries. 
July 26. The Duke of Brunswick's Manifesto. 
Aug. 10. Overthrow of the Monarchy^ 
Aug. 24. Surrender ofLongwy. 
Sept. 2-7. The September Massacres. 
Sept. 20. The Cannonade of Valmy. 
Sept 2z. Meeting of the Conventioxu^W 
Sept 22. Proclamation of the Republic. 
Nov. 6. Victory of Jcmmapes, followed by the occupation of 

Belgium, Savoy, Nice, and Mains. 
Nov. 19. The Convention offers assistance to all Peoples desirous 

of freedom. 
Dec 2. The French driven out of Frankfort. 
Dec. 15. The Convention orders its Generals to revolutionise 
the Foreign Countries in which they are. 


Jan. 21. Execution of the King. 

Feb. z. Declaration of War against England and Holland. 

Mar. 3. Miranda driven from Maestricht. 

Mar. 9. Establishment of the Revolutionary Court 

Mar. 18. Defeat of Neerwinden, followed by the loss of Belgium 

April 6. Constitution of the Committee of Public Safety. 

xx Leading Dates. 

June 2. Expulsion of the Girondists. 

July 3. Assassination of Marat. 

July 8. Surrender of Mainz, Condi, and Valenciennes, 

Aug-. 23. The Levy of all ra?n capable of bearing arms decreed. 

Sept. 8. Victory of Hondscnoote. 

Sept 17. The great Maximum Law and the Law against Sus- 
pected Persons. 

Oct. 7. Capture of Lyons, 

Oct. 16. Execution of the Queen. 

Oct. 16. Victory of Wattignies. 

Oct. 31. Execution of the Girondists. 

Nov. 10. Worship of Reason at Notre Dame. 

Dec. 19. Capture of Toulon. 

Dec. 12. Destruction of the Vendean Army at 24 Mant 

Mar. 24. Execution of the Hdbertists. 
April 5. Execution of the Dantonists. 
April. Insurrection in Poland. 
April 18. Victory of Turcoing. 
June z. Battle of June 1. 
June 8. Feast in honour of the Supreme Being. 
June 26. Victory of Fleurus, followed by the evacuatum of 

Belgium by the Allies. 
July 28. Execution of the Robespierrists. 
Nov. 12. Jacobin Club closed. 
D*c. 8. Seventy-three Deputies of the Right readmitted into 

the Convention. 
Dec. 24, Repeal of Maximum Laws. 

Jan. Invasion of Holland. / 
Mar. 8. Readmission to the Convention \>f survivors of Girondist 

Deputies proscribed on June 4, 1793. 
April z. (Germinal 12) Insurrection of Lower Classes against the 

Feb. 22. Public exercise, ot all forms of Worship permitted by 

the Convention. ) 

May 20. (Prairial z) Second insurrection by Lower Classes 

against the Convention. 

Leading Dates. xxl 

Apni5. Treaty of Peace made at Basel between France and 

June 8. Death of the Dauphin, 

July 12. Treaty of Peace between France and Spain. 
July 2i. Defeat of Emigrants at Quibtnm. 
Sept 23. Proclamation of the Constitution of the Year I II. (1795). 
Oct 5. (Vende^niaire 13) Insurrection of the Middle Classes 

against the Convention. 
Oct. ao. (brumaite 4) Meeting of the New Legislature. 


Epochs of Ancient History. 


Rev. Sir GEORGE WILLIAM COX, Bart. M.A. late 
Scholar of Trinity College, Oxford ; 


CHARLES SANKEY, M.A. late Scholar of Queen's Coll. 


10 Volumes. Price 2s. 6d. each. 


Bkbsly, M.A Assistant-Master, Marlborough College. With 2 Maps. 

The EARLY ROMAN EMPIRE. From the Assassina- 
tion of Julius Cesar to the Assassination of Domitian. By the Rev. 
W. Wolfe Capes, M.A. With 2 Coloured Maps. 


or the AGE of the ANTONINES. By the Rev. W. Wolfe Cafes, 
M.A. With 2 Coloured Maps. 


XERXES to the FALL of ATHENS. By the Rev. Sir G. W. Cox, 
Bart. M.A. Joint-Editor of the Series. With 5 Maps. 

The GREEKS and the PERSIANS. By the Rev. Sii 

G. W. Cox, Bart. M.A. Joint-Editor of the Series. With 4 Coloured 


Arthur M. Curteis, M.A. formerly Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford. 
With 8 Maps. 

ROME to its CAPTURE by the GAULS. By Wilhelm 

Ihne, Author of ' History of Rome.' With a Coloured Map. 


Charles Merivalb, D.D. Dean of Ely. With a Coloured Map. 


Charles Sankey, M.A. Joint-Editor of the Series, Assistant-Master, 
in Marlborough College. With 5 Maps. 


R. Bosworth Smith, M.A. Assistant-Master, Harrow School. With 
9 Maps and Plans. 

London : LONGMANS, GREEN, & CO. 


Edited by C. COLBECK. M.A. 
19 Volumes. Fcp. 8vo, price as. 6d. each. 

Rev. Richard William Church, M.A., &c, late Dean of St. Paul'*. 
With 3 Maps. 

THE NORMANS IN EUROPE. By the Rev. A. H. Johnsok, M.A 
With 3 Maps. 

THE CRUSADES. By the Rev. Sir G. W. Cox, Bart, M.A With a 


THE EARLY PLANTAGENETS. By the Right Rev. W. Stubbs, 
D.D., Bishop of Oxford. With a Maps. 

EDWARD THE THIRD. By the Rev. W. Warburton, M.A. With 

3 Maps and 3 Genealogical Tables. 

quest and Loss of France. By Jambs Gairdner. With 5 Maps. 

THE EARLY TUDORS. By the Rev. C E. Mobhrlry, M.A 


Skkbohm. With 4 Maps and xa Diagrams. 

THE AGE OP ELIZABETH. By the Right Rev. Mandbll 
Crbighton, D.D., LL.D., Bishop of Peterborough. With 5 Maps 

and 4 Genealogical Tables. 


REVOLUTION, 1603-1660. By Samubl Rawson Gardiner. With 

4 Maps. 

THE THIRTY YEARS' WAR, 16x8-1648. By Samuel Rawson 
Gardiner. With a Map. 

1678. By Osmund Airy, one of H.M. Inspectors of Schools. 

from 1678 to X697. By the Rev. Edward Hale, M.A. With xx 
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By F. W. Longman. With a Maps. 

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THE EPOCH OP REFORM, 1830-1850. By Justin McCarthy, 





Like the rest of Western Europe, France, in the Middle 
Ages, was ruled by a feudal nobility, holding their lands 
of the king. Nowhere in Western Europe in „, „ 

, 9 \ . The Mod- 

the tenth century was the power of the king archy in 
less, qr the power of the nobles greater. The France - 
weight of their authority, therefore, fell heavily upon the 
peasants on their estates, and upon the inhabitants of 
the little towns scattered over the country. A feudaj 
noble, if he were a seigneur, answering to our lord of the 
manor, ruled all dwellers on his estate. Their claims 
to property were heard in his courts, and they were 
amenable to his jurisdiction for crimes committed, or 
alleged to have been committed, by them. The seigneur 
may not have been a worse tyrant than many kings and 
princes of whom we read in history ; but he was always 
close at hand, whilst Nero or Ivan the Terrible was far 
off from the mass of his subjects. He knew all his sub- 
jects by sight, had his own passions to gratify amongst 
them, and his vengeance to wreak upon those whom he 
personally disliked. To be free from this domination 
must have been the one thought of thousands of miserable 

To shake off the yoke by their own efforts was an 
at. H. B 

2 Feudalism and the Monarchy. 

impossibility. The nearest ally on whom they cuuiu 
count was the king. He too was opposed to the domina- 
tion of the nobles, for as long as they could disregard his 
orders with impunity, he was king in name alone. He 
was, in fact, but one nobleman amongst many, with a 
higher title than the rest. 

Dwellers in towns could more readily coalesce and 
resist the authority of the seigneurs than dwellers in the 
country. By trade they acquired wealth, and with wealth 
influence. In the twelfth century they formed themselves 
into municipal communities, and, bidding defiance to 
their seigneurs, called upon their king to aid them in 
achieving independence. From that time to the end of 
the seventeenth century the power of the Monarchy grew 
stronger with every ' ceeding generation. The king 
was the dispenser of law and order, while the enemies of 
law and order were the feudal nobles. When Louis XIV. 
took the government into his own hands, in 1661, his will 
was law. Justice was administered by parliaments or 
law courts acting in the name of the king. The affairs of 
the provinces were administered by intendants, acting by 
his commission. No nobleman, however wealthy or 
highly placed, dared to resist his authority. With the 
frank gaiety of their nation the nobles themselves ac- 
cepted the position, and crowded to his court or con- 
fronted death in his armies. He was able to say, without 
fear of contradiction, * I am the State.' 

Unhappily for his people, he could not say * I am the 
Nation.' In him the Monarchy had been victorious over 
its enemies, but it had not accomplished its task. The 
nation wanted more work from its kings, wanted simply 
that they should go on in the path which had been 
trodden by their ancestors. The national wish was too 
feebly expressed to reach the ears of Louis. He was 
thinking of military glory and courtly display, not of the 

Feudalism and the Monarchy. 3 

grievances of his people. He had overthrown the power 
of the nobility so far as it threatened his own. He did 
not care to inquire whether there was enough left to 
produce cruel wrong far off from the splendid palace 
of Versailles. His great-grandson, the vile, profligate 
Louis XV., had even less thought for the exercise of the 
duties of a king, as father of his people. The Monarchy 
was in its decline, not because it was intentionally tyran- 
nical, but because it had ceased to do its duty. The 
French people w^re not Republican. They needed a 
government, and government in any true sense there was 

In consequence of the king thus deserting the path 
trodden by his ancestors, a state of things arose in 
France such as was found in &£ *her country. Nowhere 
did the nobility as a class do sb little for the service of 
their countrymen, yet nowhere were they in possession of 
more social influence or greater privileges. Nowhere 
were the mercantile and trading classes com- . 
paratively more wealthy and intellectual, yet duionof 
nowhere was the distinction between the noble Francc - 
and the plebeian or bourgeois more rigorously maintained. 
Finally, in no other country where, as was the case in 
Frarfce, the mass of peasants were free men, did the 
owners of fiefs retain so many rights over the dwellers on 
their estates, and yet live «n such complete separation 
from them. 

After the nobles had lost political power they were 
cut off from all healthy communication with their fellow 
subjects. In France all sons and daughters of noble- 
men were noble, and their families did not blend with 
those of other classes like the family of an English 
peer. Nobles contemned the service of the administra- 
tion as beneath their birth ; on the contrary, no one who 
was not of noble birth could hold the rank of an officer 

■ a 

4 Feudalism and the Monarchy. 

*n the army. The .great lords flocked to Paris and 
Versailles, where they wasted their substance in extra- 
vagant living ; the lesser nobles, men who in England 
would have occupied the position of country gentlemen, 
were often through poverty compelled to reside in their 
chateaux, where they lived in isolation, having no common 
interests with their neighbours, while clinging tenaciously 
to the possession of their rights as proprietors and feudal 
Feudal lords. These feudal right? varied in every 
rights. province, but were of three general kinds, (i) 

Rights which had their origin when the seigneur was also 
ruler — as, for instance, the right of administering justice,, 
though this he now almost invariably farmed to the 
highest bidder ; the right of levying tolls at fairs and 
bridges ; and the exclusive right of fishing and hunting. 

(2) Peasants in the position of serfs were only to be found 
in Alsace and Lorraine; but rights still existed all. over 
the country which betrayed a servile origin. Thus, the 
farmer might not grind his corn but at the seigneur'smill, 
nor the vine-grower press his grapes but at the seigneur's 
press ; and every man living pn the fief must labour for 
the seigneur without return so many days in the year. 

(3) Finally, the courts ruled that ,wherever land was held 
by a peasant from the owner of a fief, there was .a pro- 
sumption that the owner retained a claim to enforce culti- 
vation and the payment of annual dues. Land $0 held 
was termed a censive— resembling an English copyhold. 
The granting of land on these terms never stopped from 
the close pf the Middle Ages down to the Revolution. 
The dues retained were often petty. One tenant might 
pay a small measure pf oats ; another a couple of chickens. 
Yet the payments were often sufficiently numerous to 
form the chief maintenance of many of the nobles. The 
holders of these censives possessed however, all the rights 
of proprietors. They could not be dispossessed so long 

Feudalism and tfte Monarchy. 5 

as they paid" the dues to which they were liable, and they 
could sell atld devise the land without the consent of 
the owners of the fief. Properties held on these terms 
abounded in all parts of France, and though the extent 
of each censive was often no more than' a couple of acres, 
it is probable that before the Revolution at least a fifth of 
the soil had by these- means passed into the possession 
of the peasantry. 

The existence of feudal rights produced three results 
exceedingly' detrimental to the national prosperity. It 
impeded a good cultivation 6f the soil ; it prevented the 
Country from being inhabited by men of the middle class, 
who preferred! to resider in towns rather than recognise 
the social superiority claimed by the seigneur ; and, 
finally, it was an incessant source of irritation to the 
tfhole rural population. By the rights due to a seigneur 
is ruler, and by those of servile origin, all dwellers upon 
the* fief were affected, whether occupiers of land or not, 
the cultivator suffered at every turn-^in the prohibition 
to plant what crops he pleased ; in the prohibition to 
destroy the seigneur's deer and rabbits that roamed at 
will over his fields aftd devoured his green corn ; in the 
toll he paid for leave' to guard his crops while growing, 
ffnd to sell them after they were gathered in ; and in 
many other ways. Such a system had become hn the 
course of centuries both excessively complicated and 
wholly unsuited to existing social conditions. Some- 
times half-a-dozen different persons claimed dues from 
the same piece of land. The proprietorship of fiefs and 
the ownership of feudal rights, or the greater part of 
them, were constantly separated. Poverty induced the 
resident seigneur to sell his rights, which, bought by a 
townsman, passed from hand to hand in the market, like 
any other property, and were the more sought after 
because their possession was held a sign of social supe- 

6 Feudalism and the Monarchy. 

riority. Non-resident owners farmed them, and middle- 
men were harsh and exacting in their collection. The 
peasant, ignorant and poor, but thrifty and cunning, and 
fondly attached to his plot of ground, disputed claims 
made upon him to pay dues now to this man, now to 
that, in virtue of concessions of which, in a vast number 
, of cases, the origin was completely lost. Innumerable 
lawsuits resulted, which left stored up in the peasants 
mind bitter feelings of resentment against both judge 
and seigneur, one of whom he accused of partiality, the 
other of rapacity and extortion. 

The maintenance of feudal relations between classes, 
when neither government nor society rested on the same 
bases as in feudal times, could only be produc- 
tive of harm. In right of birth privileges and 
advantages were claimed by nobles without regard to 
principles of justice or of public utility. On every side, in 
the army, the navy, the profession of the law, distinction 
between the nobleman and the bourgeois still prevailed. 
But no institution suffered in consequence of the privi- 
leges of the nobility so great moral detriment as the 
Church. The Church was a rich, self-governed corpora- 
tion, in possession of an annual revenue of more than 
8,750,000/., providing for about 130,000 persons, including 
monks and nuns. This great wealth was unfairly dis- 
tributed, and to a large extent misapplied. As a rule, all 
higher posts were reserved for portionless daughters and 
younger sons of noble families. Bishops and abbots, 
who revelled in wealth, were nobles ; parish priests, who 
had barely enough for subsistence, were bourgeois and 
peasants. Thus the Church teemed with abuses, and 
exerted little moral influence. Her wealth excited the 
jealousy of the middle classes, whilst the luxurious and 
profligate lives led by many prelates and holders of 
sinecures brought disgrace on the ecclesiastical profes- 


Feudalism and the Monarchy'. / 

sion. Of reform there was no hope, since the lower 
clergy, who had interest in effecting it, were excluded 
from all part in Church government. 

Such abuses called aloud for the hand of a reformer. 
The material result of social disorder was impoverish- 
ment and decay. * Whenever you stumble on „ 
a grand seigneur,' wrote an English traveller, and admin- 
•you are sure to find his property a desert • . . lsaratlon ' 
Go to his residence, wherever it may be, and you will 
probably find it in the midst of a forest very well peopled 
with deer, wild boars, and wolves. Oh ! if I were the 
iegislator of France for a day, I would make such great 
lords skip.' The king had acquired power in right of 
the services he rendered the nation. When he ceased to 
do good, as had been the case since Louis XIV. plunged 
the nation into a series of wars of ambition, it was 
inevitable that he should do harm. The welfare of the 
masses was dependent on the action of the central 
government, and the central government sacrificed thei* 
welfare for the sake of obtaining favour with the upper 
classes. Hence administration was in a chaos, and the 
government, in appearance all powerful, was in reality 
strong only when it had to deal with the crushed and 
helpless peasant and artisan. The States-General, which 
in some sort answered to our English Parliament, had 
last met in 1614. For the past two centuries the royal 
council had been engaged in undermining local liberties, 
and establishing a centralised system of administration. 
The work in all essentials was so thoroughly done, that 
no parish business, down to the raising of a rate or the 
repairing of a church-steeple, could be effected without 
authorisation from Paris. Absolute and centralised, the 
government was also excessively arbitrary. On plea of 
State necessity it repudiated debts, broke contracts, over- 
ruled laws, and set aside proprietary rights without 




==^; Feudalism and the Monarchy. 9 

if office and royal creation, which, although looked down 
^T\J tpoti by the old nobility of the sword, enjoyed the same 
i pecuniary immunities. Those left on the other side of 
s * he Kne deeply resented the social superiority claimed by 
he nobility in right of its privileges. The upper section 
f the bourgeoisie was, however, itself privileged to no 
considerable extent. By living in towns, merchants, 
ihopkeepers, and professional men were able to avoid 
rving in the militia and collecting the Jaille, from 
hich in the country nobles alone were exempt. They 
Mso purchased of the government petty offices, created 
in order that they might be sold, to which no serious 
duties were attached, but the possession of which con- 
ferred on the holders partial exemption from payment of 
the tcdlfe and of excise duties, and other privileges of 
^Mlike character. 

Oppressive as taxation was, owing to its weight alone, 
p 'and to its unjust distribution between classes, it was 

rendered yet more so by want of administrative 

t unity, by the nature of some of the taxes and 

— -■ the method of their assessment and collection. Internal 

1 custom-houses and tolls impeded trade, gave rise to 

smuggling, and raised the price of all articles- of food and 

clothing. It took three and a half months to carry goods 

' from Provence to Normandy, which, but for delays caused 

by the imposition of duties, might have travelled in three 

weeks. Customs duties were levied with such strictness 

that artisans who crossed the Rhdne on their way w 

i their work had to pay on the victuals which they carrreu 

j- in their pockets. Excise duties were laid on articles of 

't. commonest use and consumption, such as candles, fuel, 

.' « T ine, and even on grain and flour. Some provinces and 

j towns were privileged in relation to certain taxes, and as 

a rule it was the poorest provinces on which the heaviest 

burdens lay. One of the most iniquitous of the taxe 


10 Feudalism and the Monarchy. 

was the gabelle, or tax on salt Of this tax, which was 
farmed, two-thirds of the whole were levied on a third of 
the kingdom. The price varied so much that the same>*^> 
measure which cost a few shillings in one province cost * * 
two or three pounds in another. The farmers of the tax ^ 
had behind them a small army of officials for the suppres- *» 
sion of smuggling, as well as special courts for the - 
punishment of those who disobeyed fiscal regulations 
These regulations were minute and vexatious in the 
extreme. Throughout the north and centre of France, the 
gabelle was in reality a poll tax ; the sale of salt was a 
monopoly in the hands of the farmers ; no one might use 
other salt than that sold by them, and it was obligatory 
on every person aged above seven years to purchase 
seven pounds 4 , ^arly. This salt, however, of which the 
purchase was obligatory, might only be used for purely 
cooking purposes. If the farmer wished to salt his pig* 
or the fisherman his fish, they must buy additional salt 
and obtain a certificate that such purchase had been 
made. Thousands of persons, either for inability to pay 
the tax, or for attempting to evade the laws of the farm, 
were yearly fined, imprisoned, sent to the galleys, or 
hanged. The chief of the property taxes, the laille, 
inflicted as much suffering as the gabelle, and was also 
ruinous to agriculture. Over two-thirds of France the 
taille was a tax on land, houses, and industry, reassessed 
every year not according to any fixed rate, but according 
to the presumed capacity of the province, the parish, and 
the individual taxpayers. The consequence was that, 
on the smallest indication of prosperity, the amount of 
the tax was raised, and thus parish after parish, and 
farmer after farmer, were reduced to the same dead level 
of indigence. 

Under the state of things here described, France haoV^ 
retrograded in wealth and population. Intense misery. * 

Feudalism and the Monarchy. 1 1 

prevailed amongst the working classes. Artisans were 
unable to live on their wages ; farmers and small pro- 
prietors were constantly being reduced to beggary ; igno- 
rance grew more dense. The government, by its own 
frequent setting aside of laws, and by its in- „ , . 

i i « « i i i i Condition 

tolerance and cruelty, helped to render the of the 
people lawless, superstitious, and ferocious, v* * 1 *- 
Protestants were subjected to persecuting laws. Thou- 
sands of them had been driven from the country, or shot 
down by troops. The penal code was barbarous, and the 
brutal breaking on the wheel was an ordinary mode of 
putting criminals to death. It was only by very rough 
usage that fiscal regulations were maintained, and the 
taxes gathered in. If the taille and the gabelle were not 
paid, the defaulter's goods were sold ovei his head, and 
his house dismantled of roof and door. In all cases in 
which the administration was concerned, whatever 
justice peasant and artisan received was meted to them 
by administrative officials who were themselves parties 
in the cause. Famine was like -a disease which counted 
its victims by hundreds. As a rule, the farmer was a 
poor and ignorant peasant, living from hand to mouth, 
miserably housed, clothed, and fed. 

An Englishman, Arthur Young, travelling in France 
in the years 1 788-1 789, reports how he passed over 
miles and miles of country once cultivated, but then 
covered with ling and broom ; and how within a short 
distance of large towns no signs of wealth or comfort 
were visible. * There are no gentle transitions from ease 
to comfort, from comfort to wealth ; you pass at once 
from beggary to profusion. The country deserted, or if 
a gentleman in it, you find him in some wretched hole, 
to save that money which is lavished with profusion in 
the luxuries of a capital' The same traveller tells us 
how, as he was walking up a hill in Champagne, he w?" 

1 2 Feudalism and the Monarchy. 

joined by a poor woman who complained of the hardness 
of the times. ' She said her husband had but a morsel 
of land, one cow and a poor little horse, yet he had a 
franchar (42 lbs.) of wheat and three chickens to pay as 
a quit rent to one seigneur, and four franchars of oats, 
one chicken, and one shilling to pay another, besides very 
heavy failles and other taxes. She had seven children, 
and the cow's milk helped to make the soup. It was said, 
at present, that something was to be done by some great 
folks for such poor ones, but she did not know who nor 
how, but God send us better, " car les tallies et les droits 
nous ecrasent." This woman, at no great distance, might 
have been taken for sixty or seventy, her figure was so 
bent and her face so furrowed and hardened by labour, 
but she said she was only twenty-eight.' 

Since, owing to the weight of taxation, no profits- were 
to be made by farming, it was impossible that there 
should be a good cultivation of the soil. The amount of 
capital employed on land in England was at least double 
that employed in France. Hence, while in England 
famine was unknown, in France production barely 
equalled consumption, and scarcities were of incessant 
occurrence. A single bad season would force the farmer 
to desert his land, and with his family beg or steal. 
Whenever bread rose above three^ halfpence the pound 
men starved. Bread riots constantly took place in one 
or another province, annthe country swarmed with 
beggars, brigands, poadKf rs, and smugglers. Thousands 
of these outcasts werei imprisoned, sent to the galleys, or 
hanged ; but no severity could lessen their number,. while 
the causes producing them remained unremoved. Ade- 
quate means of providing for the destitute there were 
none. A few hospitals and other charitable institutions 
existed. Bishops, great seigneurs, and monasteries often 
kept alive hundreds in seasons of scarcity. Hospitals, 


Feudalism and t/ie Monarchy. j 3 

however, were little better than plague houses, where the 
sick and infirm were taken in to die, whilst private charity 
was partial and insufficient. There was no general system 
of poor relief. With the object of keeping bread at a price 
within the people's reach, the corn trade was subject to a 
variety of regulations and restrictions. Occasionally the 
government made purchases of foreign corn, which was 
resold.under price. Sometimes the prices of corn and other 
articles of food were hxed. In towns the price of bread 
was ordinarily regulated according to the price of corn 
by police officers, a not unnecessary precaution when the 
baking trade was in the hands of a close corporation. A 
more vicious mode of relief could hardly have been devised, 
but to abandon it was no easy matter. The arbitrary means 
taken to reduce the price of corn often had the effect of 
raising it, and, when successful, only tended to lessen 
production and lead to greater scarcities, since cutting 
down the profit of the already overweighted corn growei 
was, in reality, casting an additional tax upon him. On 
the other hand, it was no less true that so long as the 
existing order continued, a slight rise in the price of the 
pound of bread meant sheer starvation for the mass a 
artisans, and for thousands of agricultural labourers ana 
small proprietors who were not corn growers. Accus- 
•tomed to look to the government to provide them with 
cheap bread, in every season of scarcity these clamoured 
for a reduction in price, and unless authorities were 
complaisant, resorted to riot and pillage. 

The misery of the working classes presented in itself 
reason enough for revolution \ but revolution only comes 
when there are men of ideas to lead the un- . 
lettered masses. In France the educated 
classes entertained revolutionary ideas, and the men ot 
letters who promulgated those ideas became the leaders 
of opinion, and exerted enormous influence over then 

14 Feudalism and the Monarchy. 

own and the following generations. First came the Vol- 
tairians, led by Voltaire (1694- 1788). During the century 
rapid advance was being made in all branches of study — 
in history, jurisprudence, mathematical and physical 
science. The idea of progress was definitely conceived, 
and knowledge upheld as the chief factor in producing 
virtue and happiness. For the increase and diffusion of 
knowledge the recognition of two principles was indis- 
pensable — religious toleration and the freedom of the 
press. Both these principles were, however, in direct 
antagonism to the principles on which the authority of 
the Roman Catholic Church was based — unity of faith 
and worship, the subordination of philosophy and science 
to theology, the submission of reason to the teaching of 
tradition. Protestant clergymen were put to death as 
late as 1762 ; while in 1765 a lad convicted of sacrilege 
was hanged, and his body afterwards burned. Such acts 
of intolerance and cruelty were, however, condemned by 
public opinion, and, between the Church and the expo- 
nents of the new ideas, violent collision inevitably ensued. 
Voltaire made it the work of his life to destroy belief in 
revealed religion. In verse and in prose, in historical 
works, in letters and pamphlets by the dozen, with rude 
licence or sham respect, he held up the Church to de- 
rision, indignation, and contempt, as the great enemy of 
enlightenment and humanity. ' The most absurd of em- 
pires,' he wrote, ' the most humiliating for human nature, 
is that of priests ; and of all sacerdotal empires, the. 
most criminal is that of priests of the Christian religion.' 
Voltaire himself was a sceptic Behind him followed 
men who denied belief in a personal God and the im- 
Encyclopa- mortality of the soul. Diderot (1713-1784) 
I dists. and D'Alembert (17 17-1783), with indefatig- 

I able energy published the ' Encyclopaedia,' or dictionary 
of universal knowledge, inculcating, at least indirectly, 


Feudalism and the Monarchy. 15 

atheistical opinions, and designed, by the destruction of 
ignorance and superstition, to undermine the whole 
fabric of Christian theology. Before the end of his long 
life, in 1778, Voltaire was the most eminent man in 
France, and sceptical and atheistical opinions were com- 
monly held and openly professed by men and women of 
the upper and middle classes. The triumph of the new 
philosophy was not, indeed, due merely to the powers 
of irony or the reasoning of its advocates. The scan- 
dalous abuses within the Church had prepared the way 
for its reception. The attacked had no efficient weapon 
with which to repel their assailants. The Church was 
without reforming energy or proselytising zeal On the 
arm of the State she could not rely for support with 
the same confidence as in former times. The govern- 
ment was incapable of stamping out the new movement, 
nor was it prepared seriously to make the attempt. The 
official class, which came out of the middle class, was, 
like all others, permeated with the new ideas. The occa- 
sional arrest of authors and printers, and seizure of types 
and presses, did but increase the virulence of the attack, 
and made the forbidden books more eagerly sought after. 
The clergy were the more open to attack because they 
were interested in the maintenance of privileges and 
abuses which inflicted cruel wrongs on the working 
classes, while the new philosophy aimed at destroying 
whatever stood in the way of material progress and the 
happiness of the masses. In opposition to the Church's 
doctrine of the natural depravity of human nature, its 
adherents taught that man is born good, and that wrong- 
doing is the result of ignorance; inculcated the mv 
portance of educating all classes, and refused to recognise 
limits to the improvement of which both individuals and 
the race are capable. Often accompanied by a sensual 
view of life, which accorded with the profligacy commoo 



i5 Feudalism and Yhe Monarchy. ^ 

amongst the upper classes at the time, this high opinion 
of human nature developed a respect for man as man, 
regardless of social position, race, or creed, and a pas- 
sionate hatred of inequalities founded on such 

Economists. «•.•.• « * % r i«.« » • , 

distinctions. A school of political economists, 
■ starting from the theory that all men originally had equal 
rights, and every man liberty to employ his time, his 
hands, and his brains according to his own advantage, 
demonstrated the principles of free trade, and declared 
entire liberty of agriculture, entire liberty of commerce 
and industry, entire liberty of the press to be the true 
foundations of national prosperity. Appealing to ab- 
stract principles of justice, humanity and right, Vol- 
tairians and Economists joined in opening a fire of 
scathing criticism on existing laws, customs,' and insti- 
tutions. They exposed the abuses and sufferings inci- 
( dent to the use of torture, serfdom, and the slave trade, 
to excessive centralisation and interference with trade 
and agriculture, to close guilds, feudal duties, internal 
custom-houses, to the tattle and the gabeUe^ -and de- 
manded the carrying out of reforms which should set 
trade and industry free, destroy class and provincial 
privileges, introduce unity in the administration, and 
equality of rights between man and man. 

The Voltairians were specially characterised by their 
attack upon the Church and Christianity ; the Econo- 
mists by the importance which they attached to individual 
liberty. Neither regarded the ignorant and op- 
pressed masses as able to act for themselves, 
\and both looked to the royal power, enlightened by a 
Ifree press, as the instrument through which reform. must 
be effected. Rousseau was a writer of a -different stamp, 
instead of idolising knowledge he declared the untaugm 
peasant and artisan the superiors of the philosopher ana 
man of culture. They alone, he said, had retained thai 

France under Louis X VI. 1 7 

natural goodness of heart which men had in times long 
since gone by, when social inequalities along with idle- 
ness and luxury were unknown. Rousseau opposed also 
the atheistic tendencies of the day, declaring belief in a 
personal God and the immortality of the soul requisite to 
make life endurable to the oppressed. His indifference 
to knowledge and culture caused him to regard the 
masses themselves as alone able to regenerate France, it 
indeed regeneration were still possible. Society, arcord- 
\ ing to him, was originally based on a contract by which 
every citizen in return for protection of person and pro- 
perty placed himself under the general will. Laws, there- 
fore, were the expression of the general will ; kings were 
merely the servants of the people, and not they but the 
people sovereign. Whatever was amiss in France, or in 
other countries, the fault lay purely with society and 
government, and should ever idleness and luxury dis- 
appear and the people recover their lost sovereignty, then 
and then only, as in primitive times, would men be happy 
and virtuous. * Man is born free,' were the opening woras 
of the ' Social Contract/ the book in which these theories 
were maintained, ' and everywhere he is in chains.' 


v FRANCE UNDER LOUIS XVI. (1774-1789). 

When the necessity of reform had been demonstrated 
by a band of powerful and brilliant writers, whose works 
were the popular reading of the day, it was inevitable that 
desire for change should grow, a3 the new ideas spread 
over wider circles, and sufferers frori abuses became 
more and more alive to their wrongs. Undermined, by 
m.h. c 



1 8 France under Louis XVI. 

public opinion,- the existing order could not endure for 
long, and the vital question before France was, by what 
Turgors means change should be accomplished. The 
Ministry. Voltairians called on the King to take the 
work in hand, and on the death of Louis XV. in 1774, 
it appeared possible that the young Louis XVI. would 
endeavour to regain the path that his predecessors had 
abandoned, and, by relieving the people from their 
burdens, seek the welfare of the entire nation. Turgot, 
the new Controller- General, who exercised the functions 
both of Minister of Finance and Minister of the Interior, 
represented the party of reform, and was in all his actions 
inspired by a strong love of knowledge and by a pas- 
sionate desire to benefit his feHow-men. He was not, 
like the writers of his time, a mere theorist, but also a .. 
practised and successful administrator, who for thirteen 
years had been Intendant of the poor province oi 
Limousin. Now that he was invested with higher au- 
thority, it was Turffof s aim to ameliorate the condition r 
of the people throughout France, by the injr^jjction of I 
refornjs based on those principles of e quality and indi-T^ 
viduaX^Jiberty which Voltairians and Economists pro- ) 
claimed. His chief reforms were the abolition of re- ' 
jtrictions on t the jnternal .trade in corn and wine ; the 
abolition of the corvie^ or forced unpaid labour jrfjbe 
peasants for repair of roads^ for which he substituted a 
land-tax payable by all proprietors whether privileged or 
not ; a^_fin^Jy^the..abolitipn of guilds,, giving liberty, to ( 
every one, however poor, to exercise what trade he| 
pleased arid tc raise his .condition according to his capa- 1 
city. "Besides these, bh most important measures, Turgot 
carried out many lesser reforms tending to set labour and 
industry free, to cheapen food andjclothing, and to lessen 
the burdens of the r)oor by the equalisation of taxation, 
and by the abolition of the fiscal abuses and sinecure 



France under Louis XVI. 19 

offices which enriched the monied aristocracy of Paris 
and the court nobility. The reforms, however, which 
Turgot accomplished were but a small portion of those 
which he had in contemplation. He aimed at the re- 
modelling of the whole system of taxation, the removal 
of all custom-houses to the frontier, the abolition of the 
gabelle, and the substitution for the tailte of a new tax 
to be imposed on the land of all proprietors without 
exception, the gradual abolition of feudal dues, the 
grant of civil rights to Protestants, and, finally, the de- 
centralisation of administration by the establishment of 
provincial assemblies, to be elected by all landed pro- 
\ prietors without distinction of rank. His work was no 
sooner begun than it was prematurely cut short. A 
violent opposition party was at once formed, which com- 
prised the court nobility, the upper clergy, the nobility of 
office, farmers of the gabelU and other indirect taxes, 
judges in Parliament, masters of guilds and state officials 
1 — in a word, all those who made profit out of existing 
1 abuses, and whose special privileges were assailed. 
' Everybody fears,' a friend of Turgot wrote to him, 
• either for himself, or for his brother, or for his friend. , 

Whether Turgot was to stand or fall depended entirely 
on the resolution of the King. Louis XVI. was well- 
intentioned, conscientious, and sincerely de- . 
sifottS of ruling for the good of his subjects, 
but he lacked the qualities which are requisite to a 
prince called on to govern at a great national crisis 
He was without self-confidence, irresolute in action, 
and incapable of judging the real value of men, or of 
grasping the real bearing of events and measures. He 
could not even rule his own court. Simple in his tastes, 
and shy and reserved by disposition, his happiest hours 
were spent in the hunting field, or in the company of a 
blacksmith, mastering the art of making locks. It wa r 

c * 

20 France under Louis XVI. 

no wonder that such a King should be driven to and fro 
between conflicting opinions, when those who surrounded 
his throne, and with whom he came in daily contact, 
accused his Minister of violence and injustice, and of 
entertaining projects destructive to monarchical govern- 
ment. 'The King,' said Turgot, 'is above all, for the 
good of alL , Louis could never rise to this conception of 
his position. Turgot would have made him ruier of men 
equal before the law, and in possession of equa^frights 
as citizens. Desirous as Louis was to ease the lower 
classes of their burdens, he^was never able to conceive 
of the noble as being on the same footing as the common 
man. The only person in whom he reposed confidence 
was his wife, Marie Antoinette^ a daughter of the Empress 
Maria Theresa, and with fatal weakness he often yielded 
to her desires in opposition to his own better judgment. 
She had been married to him while still a child, and left 
to grow up uninstructed and without guides in the corrupt 

e-ie atmosphere of the court of Versailles. At the 

oinettcj a g e f nineteen, when she became Queen, she 
was a bright and vivacious, but ignorant and thoughtless 
woman, whose days were spent in a never ceasing round 
of formalities and dissipation. She employed her influ- 
ence over her husband to obtain for her friends pensions 
and offices, without any sense of what was due to her 
position as Queen in the midst of a frivolous and intriguing 
court, or of what she owed to the starving and suffering 
masses who were deprived of their hard-won earnings for 
the enrichment of an idle and spendthrift nobility. When 
ministers sought to put a check on her extravagance, or 
in any way thwarted her inclinations, they provoked her 
resentment, dangerous in proportion to the power that 
she was able to exercise over the King. Her aversion to 
Turgot was the cause which finally produced his dismissal 
from office. The Austrian ambassador, Mercy, informing 

France under Louis X VL 2 t 

Maria Theresa of the event, used words of more pregnant 
meaning than he was himself aware. 'The Controller- 
GeneraV he said, * is of high repute for integrity, and is 
loved by the people ; and it is therefore a misfortune that 
his dismissal should be in part the Queen's work. Such 
use of her influence may one day bring upon her the just 
reproaches both of her husband and of the entire nation.' 

Turgot was the greatest statesman that France had 
seen since Richelieu. He had a clear comprehension of 
the economical and social evils under which the country 
suffered, and of the remedies to be applied to them. The 
best ideas of the age found room in his capacious mind, 
and all that he attempted to do had ultimately to be 
accomplished, though by other means than those which 
he contemplated. Louis had shown his incapacity to see 
that it was his first duty to make himself the repairer of 
wrong and injustice, and truly a representative king, who 
could say, * I am the nation.' After Turgot's failure, 
revolution, that is to say change accompanied by violence 
and convulsion, became inevitable. 

The reforming movement, of which in France Turcot 
w as the representative, was not confined to that country, 
but was, in fact, an European movement, of Reforming 
which the influence was felt, however faintly, eSoSSi * 
even in the most backward States. Kings and one. 
statesmen, under the influence of Voltairian ideas, held 
sceptical opinions, and took interest in the material 
condition of their subjects. It was perceived that if 
monopolies enriched individuals they prevented the de- 
velopment of commerce and industry ; that if duties were 
levied between the provinces of the same kingdom, ex- 
change of commodities could only with difficulty be 
effected ; that if nobles did not pay their fair share of 
taxation, the revenue of the State suffered, and the work- 
ing classes were overburdened. Jealous eyes were ca<- 

22 France under Louis X VI. 

upon the territorial wealth of the Catholic Church, and 
protests were raised against the multiplication of monas- 
teries, and the idle lives led by their inmates. In many 
States efforts were made to increase the authority pf th e 
king by the dest ruction of provincial_aji^lass^nyUeges. 
The idea that the sovereign reigned for the good of the 
nation was accepted, at least in theory, by the most 
autocratic of European princes. In Russia Catherine II.. 
in Prussia Frederick I J., invited to their courts and 
patronised French philosophers. In Spain Aranda, in 
Tuscany Manfredini, in Portugal Pombal endeavoured to 
lessen the privileges of nobles and clergy, and to loosen 
the bonds in which industry and commerce were held. 
In Savoy feudal charges were abolished, compensation 
being given to the proprietors. In Parma, in Brunswick, 
and in other Italian and German states, similar tendencies 
were manifested. But although the reforming movement, 
on the lines laid down by Voltaire and the Economists, 
was not confined to France, nowhere else was there to be 
found amongst the people any strong desire for reform. 
In Germany, in Spain, in Italy, the new views were con- 
fined to a few theorists and statesmen, and did not pene- 
trate beneath the surface of society. The cause lay in the 
difference of social conditions. Outside France, nobles, 
as a rule, lived at home on their estates, still administering 
justice to peasants and serfs. The middle class took nu 
interest in matters of government, but devoted its energies 
to scientific and literary pursuits. The lower classes, 
being still in dependence on the upper, entertained up 
lively resentment of their privileges. Hence reforming 
princes could never accomplish more than a few isolated 
changes without danger of rousing rebellion. Nobles and 
clergy, the moment their privileges were threatened, 
offered opposition ; the middle class did not care to render 
support ; the lower classes were more ready to follow the 

France under Louis X VI. 23 

lead of nobles and clergy than the lead of the govern* 
ment Of all the princes of his time the Emperor 
Joseph II. was the boldest innovator, in his hereditary 
dominions he offended the nobles by the abolition of 
provincial states, the clergy by closing monasteries and 
upholding principles of toleration, the people by altera- 
tions in their religious services. An insurrection broke 
out in Belgium under the leadership of nobles and clergy 
(1769). Both in Galicia and Hungary the nobles threat- 
ened to take up arms, and for a time it seemed as if the 
Austrian dominion would fall to pieces. 

In England the same ideas prevailed as on the Con- 
tinent, but the social and political condition of the country 
was 6uch as to enable reforms to be accom- 
plished more gradually and with far less violent 
change than was possible either in France or Austria. 
The English people . had Jor^eerituries formed an united 
nation. No sharp lines of division divided one class 
from another. The laws were tjie s ame for all : younger 
sons of noblemen ranked as commoners, and country 
gentlemen sat in Parliament by the side of merchants 
and traders. A free press prepared the way for change 
by allowing the discussion of questions of general 
interest, and free in stitutions gave political experience, 
and taught the governing classes the necessity of yielding 
in time to public opinion. Parliament, which represented 
only the landed and commercial interests, legislated self- 
ishly, and was slow to admit or redress wrong done tr 
the unrepresented classes ; but gross oppression of the 
lower orders, such as existed in France, was unknown in 
England. Country gentlemen looked after the affairs oi 
parish and county. The body of the rural population con- 
sisted of agricultural labourers maintained by poor-rates 
when wages fell short. Charges on land due to the lord 
of the manor, though far from being extinct, existed 

24 France under Louis XVI X 

mainly in the form of money payments, affecting only 
a comparatively small number of persons. Although the 
same protective principles which prevailed on the Conti- 
nent prevailed also in England, whatever restraints were 
laid either on persons in the selection of their calling, or 
on industry, commerce and agriculture, there was to be 
found far more liberty than elsewhere. The country 
was the most^ flourishing in Europe, and wealth was 
being rapidly accumulate! Special advance was made 
inthe system of farming by the introduction ofjjjg. rota- 
tion of cropi~"and "artificial manures. Wages rose, and 
bread was cheap, and all classes for a time shared in the 
general prosperity. 

In England a large body of eminent men, philo- 
sophers, statesmen, and philanthropists, entertained the 
new ideas and sought to bring them into practice. In 
1776, Adam Smith published the 4 Wealth of Nations,' in 
which the principles of free trade were promulgated. 
The younger Pitt, who took office in 1783, was his 
disciple. He proposed to abolish restrictions on the 
trade of Ireland with England, and intended to lessen 
the power of the aristocracy by a reform of the electoral 
system. In 1787 a Treaty of Commerce was concluded 
between England and France, designed to increase trade 
between the two countries. The most important measures 
brought forward by Pitt were not, however, carried 
through Parliament. This was in part owing to the 
factious opposition of the Whigs, in part to the strong 
Conservative instincts of the governing classes, but in 
part also because little discontent or desire for change 
existed among the people at large. 

If, however, England was slow to move, reforms once 
made rested on a sure foundation. Such was not the 
case with those made in the name of absolute princes 
on the Continent After Turgot's dismissal, fifty out of 

France under Louis XVI 2$ 

*eventy of the guilds which he had abolished were re- 
vived, and the peasants were compelled by blows tc 
resume their labours on the roads. Necker ? Ministry 
a Genevese banker, was Turgors successor ofNecker. 
(October 1776). He was n ot a St?t p ^ maT1 7 like Turgot; 
with definite aims in view, bu t he was an able financier 
and a humane man, holding the philanthropic sentiments 
of the day, and eager to relieve the condition of the 
masses. A war with England increased the difficulties 
of the government. In 1778 Louis, reluctantly following 
public opinion, assisted the English colonies in America 
in their struggle for independence. There were only 
three means of meeting the expenses of the war 
increased taxation, economy, and loans. The first was 
impossible ; the second only possible to a limited extent^ 
and Necker, therefore, wa s compelled to borrow. Ther 
loans that he opened were quickly filled up, because men 
of the middle class, who were the chief lenders, believed 
that their interests were safe while he directed the 
finances. But the public debt was greatly increased, anfc 
the prospect of the future, with reforms uneffected in th^ 
system of taxation, rendered the more dark. Although 
Necker did not attempt to introduce radical measures! 
such as had excited opposition against Turgot, his abo- 1 
lition of sinecures and other administrative changes gave 
offence to the same classes. The Parliament of ParisTj 
whose lead was followed by the twelve provincial ParO 
liaments, formed the chief organ of resistance. These 1 
Parliaments or law-courts were, in fact, powerful legal cor- * 
^orations to which many hundred persons were attached. 
The judges belonged to the nobility of office, and were 
independent of the government, since they held their 
offices in right of purchase, and might not be dispossessed 
without proof of misconduct They exercised, besides 
judicial, a certain political function, since edicts of the 

26 France under Louis XVI* 

King's council did not have the force of law until they 
had been registered by the Parliaments. This right oi 
registration in the time of Louis XIV. had been a mere 
form. If the Parliament of Paris hesitated to carry out 
his wishes, he held a so-called bed of justice when he 
came to the court in person, and on his command 
registration was compulsory. But now that the royal 

*» * « -i, .1 ii i -i-r-n i ii >.~^— ~-. , ■* 

authority had fallen into contempt^ the Parliaments 
offered prolonged resistance, and before the Government! 
could obtain regTsTratibn of its edicts, intimidation and 
even tht use of military force were resorted to. Nedser, 
when he sought to effect reform, necessarily becamt 
involved in quarrels with the Parliaments, and, finding 
that the King gave but a half-hearted support, he re- 
signed office ( 1 78 1 ). 

Louis could relieve himself from momentary incon- 
venience by abandoning a Minister of whom he was 

. weary, but had no power to stay the course of 

political events. Those who had lent money to the 
liberty. government deeply resented Necker^ fall, be- 
cause they believed him able to secure regular payment 
of the interest on the national debt. Desire for social 
change was accompanied by desire for political change 
also. Rousseau had said that the people was sovereign^ 
and as the incompetency of the crown to carry out 
the national will became with each successive ministry 
more manifest, ideas long since vaguely floating in men's 
minds gathered strength and consistency. The cause oi 
the American colonies was taken up with immense 
enthusiasm. The Declaration of Independence (July 4, 
1776), which, in accordance with the principles laid down 
in the ' Social Contract,' asserted that all men were created 
equal and endowed with the natural right of overthrowing 
an unjust government, was hailed as the enunciation of 
an universal truth, of which Frenchmen as well as th* 


France under Louis X VL 27 

Colonists might reap the benefit Me^mwhile^oyej^ment 
in France grew yearly more utterl y weak and hrtnlpus, J 
The war with England ended in 1783, but financial em- 
barrassments increased. Calonne, who became Controller- 
General the same year, pursued Necke^s sys- 
terci of borrowing with out his justification; and ° nne * 
retained office by abstaTnln^ffom acts calculated to offend 
the privileged classes. The demands of the Queen and 
the Court were complied with, and abuses destroyed by 
Necker again called into existence. ' If it is possible, 
madam,' said the obsequious Minister, on an occasion 
when the Queen pressed him for money, 'it shall be 
done ; if it is impossible, it shall be done.' But such 
squandering of the revenue could not last for ever. 
Calonne's credit broke down, and he was driven as a last 
resource to propose the reform of the entire system of 
administration and taxation. By publicity he hoped to\ 
overcome resistance. He called together an extraordi- 1 
nary council or assembly of notables, nominated by the 
King (February 1787), and laid his propositions before 
them, -thinking that in the existing state of opinion they 
would not venture to refuse support. But this assembly, . 
composed almost entirely of privileged persons, 'proved J 
recalcitrant The majority were against the reforms \ 
proposed, while the few who approved them were deter- 
mined that they should be made by an assembly repre- 
sentative of the nation. 

Calonne gave place (1787) to Brienne, Archbishop of 
Toulouse, the candidate of the Queen ; but the new 
Minister had no choice except to take up the „ . 
plans of his predecessor, and the government Bnenne - 
became involved in incessant strife with the Parliaments. 
The Parliaments concealed their aversion to the principle 
of equality of taxation, by denying the right of the King 
to impose new taxes without the consent of the nation, and 

28 France under Louis XVI 

by demanding the meeting of the States-GeneraL The 
government, on its side, sought popularity by coupling 
edicts for raising loans and taxes with reforming 
measures. But it could obtain no support. The shifting 
policy which it had so long pursued, the attempts at 
reform, made, abandoned, and then made again, had 
destroyed confidence alike in its power and its good-will. 
Hence, although the Parliaments defended the privileges 
of nobles and clergy, their resistance was applauded, 
because it offered the surest means of forcing the King's 
hand, and leaving him no alternative but to summon the 
nation to his aid. Along with equality, the word * liberty 
was on every man's lips. The very nobles, who had so 
long opposed administrative and economical change, had 
themselves become vehement advocates of political 
change* More afraid of the crown than of the classes 
beneath them, and blind to the complete isolation of 
their own order, they looked forward to being at once 
leaders of a political revolution and guardians of their 
own interests. In fact, the privileged orders had no 
choice but either to submit at discretion to the King, or 
to join in the popular cry for the meeting of the States- 
General. Arbitrary attempts made by Brienne to free the 
crown of dependence on the Parliaments failed, in the 
face of resistance offered by all classes, and brought the 
country to the verge of actual insurrection. Disaffection 
was rife in the army. Peasants and artisans, excited by 
expectation of better days, were more ready than before 
to rise in insurrection against local authorities, and were 
less easily quelled. St ate ban kriip^y j m ppnH»rV There 
was a deficit in the revenue of more than 2,000,000/., and 
money was wanting with which to pay the interest of the 
national debt. Under such circumstances Louis reluc- 
tantly yielded to the demand made on every side. He 
A^Seclared his intention of summoning the States-General* 

France under Louis X VI 29 

and in order to regain confidence restored to the head of 
the finances his former and still popular minister, Necker 

IM S- 1733). 

Meeker's return to office was gieeted with a burst of 

applause from one end of France to the other. His 
financial ability was relied on to stave off bank- 
ruptcy," and it was known that he had always recalled to 
opposed the court, and that he now desired office * 
the meeting of the States-General. But his popularity was 
due to those causes alone ; not to any proof that he had 
given or could give of his fitness to direct the royal policy. 
As he failed to comprehend the real causes of the impend- 
ing revolution, he would be unable to moderate its violence. 
The hopes and desires of every class found expression 
first in pamphlets, and subsequently in the cahiers or 
petitions of grievances drawn up by electoral assemblies 
to be laid before the States. The importance Pamphlets 
and necessity of reform was generally ad- andcahiw 
mitted, except where special interests or class prejudices 
made men averse to change. Thus nobles combated 
the conservative tendencies of ecclesiastics, ecclesiastics 
the conservative tendencies of nobles. Induced by 
pressure of public opinion the nobles mostly declared 
their willingness to admit the principle of equality of 
taxation. But agreement went no further. Between the 
two privilegedftrders and the bo dy of the nation a gulf 
was fixedjl gi orideing whiek rf o~hopa7 existed. That 
which the nobles had in view *by tiie meeting of the 
States was the establishment of constitutional monarchy, 
based on aristocratical institutions and insuring political 
and social predominance to their own order. The aim 
of the middle arid working classes was absolutely to 
destroy every distinction which gave to nobles and 
ecclesiastics a position apart in the State.. The members 
of the upper orders were not only to bear their fair 

30 France under Louis X VI. 

share of taxation, but to submit' to the same law, and to 
stand in all respects on exactly the sam4 level as the ^ 
mass of their fellow-citizens A pamphlet written by the 
Abbe* Steyes, which gave clear articulation to the thought 
in men's minds, acquired for its author European cele- 
brity. What, he asked, is the Third Estate? — Every- 
thing. What hitherto has it been in the State ? — Nothing. 
He then proceeded to argue that the Third Estate, in 
other words the people of France with the exception of 
the nobles, formed a complete nation by themselves j that 
by them all useful work was done ; and that the nobility 
was merely an excrescence, preventing the growth and 
development of national life. The Third Estate is, he 
said, a nation fettered and ofjpressed. What would it be 
without the nobility? — A free and flourishing nation. 

Sieyes' nation was a nation of twenty-five millions. 
The first two orders numbered together about I, $00,000 
persons. That they were a minority was in itself no 
ground for crushing them. Reason and justice might as 
well lie on the side of the minority as on that of the 
majority. But Sieyes* arguments were in existing cir- 
cumstances perfectly sound and unanswerable. The *- > 
nobles represented no national interests, and had long^ 
ceased to be the organs through which the nation 
expressed its wants. To the exercise of political powers 
they had no claim whatever. Their privileges and 
prejudices had for years stood in the way of the common 
good. They were without experience in political lift, and 
as a rule without experience even in matters of govern- 
ment and administration. Their position amongst their 
fellow-citizens was that of an isolated caste ; in short, all 
the bonds of connection were wanting which causd ihen 
to place reliance in others, and to accept them as leaders. 

The privileges of the clergy and their claims to 
exercise power as a special order met with as little favom 

France under Louis X VL 3 1 

as those of the nobles. Clergy and laity were to stand 
on exactly the same footing with regard to civil and 
political rights. The combined influence of sceptical and 
liberal ideas made men desire to withdraw from the 
Church all coercive means of maintaining authority. The 
press was to be free, worship was also to be free, and *^ 
nonconformists were to enjoy full civil and political ^ 
rights. Equality was to prevail within the Church as 
well as within the State. The government of the Church 
\ras to be reorganised on a democratic basis, and the 
Popes authority, as head of the Church, to be confuted to*/*^ 
natters purely spiritual. Although the provincial nobles 
were jealous of the great lords, and desired to deprive 
them of whatever advantages they possessed above 
themselves, yet the nobility as a body still formed a 
taste, of which all members, except a small minority, 
were united in asserting rights and claiming privileges 
jji opposition to the rest of the nation. The clergy, on 
the contrary, though held together by common interests 
as ecclesiastics, were torn asunder by the same class 
divisions that prevailed amongst laymen. The upper 
clergy, who were all of noble birth, proposed to maintain 
authority in their own hands and to effect ecclesiastical 
reform from inside ; while the cure's, who came from the 
ranks of the people, demanded State interference, as the 
only means of securing for themselves a full representation 
in Church councils, and a just share in the distribution 
of Church property. 

The question round which for the time discussion 
rcntred was the form to be taken by the States-General, 
as its solution would decide whether political Doable re- 
supremacy should rest with the first two orders Jf^jjJJird 
or with the Third Estate. Nobles and clergy Estate, 
demanded, in the first place, that they should each be 
represented by as many deputies as the Third Estate ; 


32 France undei Louis X VI. 

in the second, that the deputies of each order should sit 
by themselves in a separate chamber, and that each 
chamber should vote apart. The bourgeoisie, backed by 
the people, on their side denied the right of the two first 
orders to a separate representation, and demanded thai 
in any case the deputies of the Third Estate should 
equal in number the deputies of nobles and clergy com- 
bined, and that the three orders should sit together, 
forming a single chamber. The dispute engendered 
strong displays of party feeling, leading to riot and 
bloodshed. The Parliaments, formerly popular for con- 
testing the royal authority, were now hooted and mobbed 
for supporting the demands of nobles and clergy. If at 
the present juncture Louis had taken clearly and unre- 
servedly the side of the nation, it might have been 
possible for the crown to gain immense popularity and 
influence. The bourgeoisie, however democratic its 
theories of government, was warmly attached to the 
monarchy, and thoroughly loyal to the person of the t 
King. But Louis, who had rejected Turgot, was again I 
incapable of making himself the leader of the nation. A 
In summoning the States he had acted, not through \ 
policy, but under stress of circumstances which he was 
unable to control. He expected the deputies of the Third 
Estate to aid him in subjecting the nobles to taxation, 
and in carrying out administrative reforms ; but he could 
not understand that they expected him to join with them 
in destroying every vestige of the old feudal system, and 
in establishing a completely democratic rule. In rela- 
tion to the point immediately at issue, the King went so 
far as it seemed to suit his own purpose, and no further. \ 
Accepting Necker^ advice, he consented that the deputies 
of the Third Estate should equal in number the deputies 
of both clergy and nobles. Whether after meeting the ^ 
deputies were to sit as three chambers or as one was , 
left undfeciHei^ 

T - 





Thk States-General were opened by the King at Vei« 
I sailles amid a vast concourse on May 5, 1789. There* 
were about 1,200 deputies, of whom about 300 repre- / 
sented the clergy, 300 the nobility, and the other 600 the»r 
Third Estate. If the King wished to retain 
the direction of affairs, it was imperative for an d the"* 
him at once to declare for a single chamber. Revolution - 
The privileged orders could but involve the crown in 
their own ruin, whilst behind the deputies of the Third 
Estate was the nation. Louis, however, was not prepared 
to accept the change which the formation of a single 
chamber implied — the abolition of all class distinctions, 
and the swamping of the nobles in the Third Estate. 
Necker, though more alive to the necessity of seeking 
popular support, had as little comprehension of the real 
situation in which the government stood. He wanted 
ultimately to establish a constitution with two houses, 
and regarded as the most pressing work of the moment 
the restoration of the finances. He did not perceive 
that civil and political equality was what the deputies of 
the Third Estate had set their heart upon effecting ; and 
that until they were convinced that the government would 
be on their side, they would pay no attention to mere 
financial or administrative reforms. At the opening of 
the States, after speaking at length on the subject of the / 
finances, Necker advised the deputies to appoint com- ' 
missioners to settle what questions they would discuss 
in common session, and what as three separate bodies. 

The intention of the Minister probably was that the 
deputies of the three orders should sit and vote together 
at. H. D 

34 The Assembly at Versailles. 1789 

only when financial and administrative questions were 
under discussion. All other subjects were to be debated 
by the three estates sitting apart ; and in cases in which 
they failed to come to an agreement, the final decision 
was to be left to the King. 

Experience, indeed, has been in favour of the belief 
that, in ordinary times, it is expedient that legislative 
assemblies should be divided into two chambers. But in 
1789 the work before the States- General was not ofle of or- 
dinary legislation. No good could be accomplished until 
the abolition of the privileged existence of nobles and 
clergy had been effected ; and as an upper chamber could 
at that time only be composed of nobles and clergy, such 
a chamber was certain to thwart the Third Estate in doing 
that which the nation expected them to do. It was, 
therefore, the vainest hope that Necker's policy should 
give satisfaction to the country and enable the King to 
retain authority. He could only obtain the leadership of 
the Assembly by declaring unreservedly for a single 
chamber. But to adopt this course Louis must have been 
other than he was. Though he wanted to overcome the 
opposition of the privileged orders to the crown, hf 
regarded their existence as inseparable from the mon- 
archy. He was unable to conceive a monarchy founded 
on democratic institutions, and strong in proportion to 
the trust reposed xn it. Education, surroundings, habits, 
his sense of duty itself forbade him to break loose from 
his past and accept the position of the People's King. 
Yet all vestiges of the old feudal order were doomed to 
perish, whatever attitude Louis assumed ; anyl it would 
have been well, both for him and France, could he at 
once have resigned power or been deposed. For if he 
refused to lead the attack upon the privileged orders, it 
would be made with all the greater violence, and govern- 
ment, in the true sense of the word, there would be none. 

1789 The Assembly at Versailles. 35 

Already disorder an£ not were rife in many parts of the S 
country.^ Peasants refused to pay taxes and feudal dues. 
Educated men cast suspicion on the intentions of the' 
government. Officials' were powerless to act with rigour 1 y 
in opposition to the current of public opinion. Intense }/ 
excitement everywhere prevailed. In every town and 
hamlet men waited with eagerness for the speedy 
accomplishment of the desires which had found expres- 
sion in the cahiers drawn up to be laid before the States. - 

If Louis was unable to forecast the future, so too was 
the great mass of his subjects. Amongst the throng of 
deputies who met together at Versailles, there 
was but one, the Marquis of Mirabeau, who ^U - ^ 
comprehended the real meaning of tHe revolution, and 
foresaw with accuracy the course which events would 
take. This remarkable man was endowed by nature with*/ 
enormous energy, mental and physical While still a 
youth, he had left his mark for good or for ill wherever ^ 
he went. He had incurred debts, fought duels, kept* 
order amongst hungry peasants, eating, drinking, and) 
working with them, obtained the goodwill of men preju- 1 
diced against him, and won the hearts of women. His 
lather, according to the fashion of the time, supported 
paternal authority by obtaining lettres de cachet from the / 
government, ordering the imprisonment of his son.*/ 
Mirabeau was imprisoned, now in one fortress, now in* 
another, for months at a time. In early manhood, at the 
age of twenty-eight, he entered the donjon of Vincennes, 
a state fortress, where he inhabited a dark, barely- 
furnished room, and had converse with none but his 
gaoler. His offences against social order had not been 
light, for he had deserted his own wife for the wife of 
another man. But in his vices Mirabeau was but a type 
of the generation to which he belonged, and the real 
ground of his imprisonment lay elsewhere. Books and 

36 The Assembly at Versailles. 1789 

paper were as a favour allowed him. ' Without books, 1 
he wrote, ( I should be dead or mad.' He read and wrote 
for fifteen hours out of the twenty-four. After a confine- 
y ment of more than three^ysars, the quarrel between him 
and his father was patched up. In 1780 he was released, 
broken in health, harassed by debts, and blackened in 
fame, but possessed of a large store of knowledge, a 
ready pen, a fluent tongue, and a genius for statesman- 
ship which no man in France could rival. Genius was, 
however, no ground for advancement. A man who had 
sufficiently powerful interest at court might rise to the 
highest dignities in Church or State, whatever his incapa- 
city, or whatever the stains on his past life. Mirabeau 
had no interest at court, while by Louis and his coun- 
cillors talent was distrusted, and the one statesman that 
France possessed occupied the position of an unscrupu- 
lous adventurer, seeking by whatever means came first to 
hand to force his way into the ministry. It was no matter 
of surprise that so signal a victim of arbitrary govern- 
ment should prove an inveterate enemy to the existing 
order. But Mirabeau did not, through resentment for 
personal injuries, desire to weaken or degrade the royal 
authority. He possessed too strong a capacity for the 
U^xercise of power. He saw, moreover, too directly into 
,- the heart of the situation. He comprehended what no 
( man but himself comprehended at that time, that the 
I real aim of the French people was the sweeping away of 
\ all class distinctions, and that the monarchy might be 
[ immensely strong if only the King could be brought to 
adopt new principles of government, in accordance with 
b >ne democratic spirit of the age. Had he been at the head 
of affairs he would at once have summoned the States- 
General and led the way in opening the attack upon the 
privileged orders. Excluded from all share in the 
government, he revenged himself by attacking it on every 


1789 The Assembly at Versailles. 37 

side. The proposition was made to him that he should 
employ his pen to destroy the popularity of the Parlia- 
ments. ( I will never,' was his reply, ' make war upon 
the Parliaments except in presence of the nation.' The 
hesitating and shuffling policy of the ministers; their 
vain attempts to effect reform through the royal power 
alone ; their efforts to avoid or defer the meeting of the 
States ; and, finally, their refusal, after being driven to 
call the nation to their aid, to declare for a single chamber, 
excited his scorn and indignation. He had not only the 
clear perception that in order to maintain the monarchy 
the first thing to be done was to crush the privileged 
orders ; he had also the clear perception that the second 
thing, if indeed it was not of equal importance, was the 
organisation of government, and that this was imprac- 
ticable so long as distrust existed between the crown 
and the nation. When the elections were held, rejected 
by his own order, he took his seat as representative of the 
ThircNSstate of Aix. At Versailles he was the mark of 
all observers. The wildness of his youth, his long im- 
prisonment, his quarrels with his father, his lawsuits 
with his wife, his writings, and his eloquence, had given 
him notoriety throughout France. With the meeting 
of the States Mirabeau knew that the opportunity had 
come of making his power felt ( At last, 1 he said, ( we 
shall have men judged by the value of their brains.' 

The inevitable consequence of the King's refusal to 
declare himself against the privileged orders at once 
ensued. Disputes arose between the deputies 
as to the form that the legislature should take. National 
There was a small minority of nobles for union, jJjJJSedly 
And a large minority of clergy, composed almost the ThW 
entirely of parish priests, who had to choose a * 
between alliance with the Third Estate and dependence on 
their ecclesiastical superiors. The questions at stake were 

38 The Assembly at Versailles. 1789 

too vital for compromise to be possible, and thus, while 
the people impatiently awaited redress of grievances, the 
. Third Estate refused to proceed to business until they 
were joined by the other two. Political excitement grew 
^-greater amongst the middle classes, irritation and dis- 
content amongst the lower. The winter had been one of 
^4he coldest and longest on record. The price of bread 
was rising, and misery, which sufferers expected to vanish 
on the first meeting of the Estates, was on the increase. 
r It had always been a difficult matter to prevent rioting at 
y Paris in times of political excitement or of scarcity, and 
\ now both causes combined to create disorder. In the 
\ Faubourg St. Antoine and other poor quarters of the city 
existed a population including great numbers of ruffians, 
beggars, and destitute workmen, of whom many were 
strangers from the country, largely brought to Paris by 
hope of rinding bread or labour, and whose passions 
might readily be worked on with dangerous effect ; while 
pamphleteers and street orators, without sense of responsi- 
bility, and full of passionate desire to assure the triumph 
of the Third Estate, did not measure their words in 
seeking to rouse popular indignation against the upper 
orders. Deputies distinguished as opponents of ]union 
were mobbed and hustled at Versailles, and their names 
held up to execration in Paris. The attitude of the 
capital gave strength to the deputies of the Third 
Estate, who finally cut the knot by adopting the title 
l/6f National Assembly, inviting nobles and clergy to 

1 r join them, and declaring their purpose of proceeding to 
[business without those who refused to do so (June 17). 
The assumption of this title was held an act of 
usurpation by the opponents of union. Court nobles and 
,. ecclesiastics appealed to the King to maintain the au- 
thority of his crown by interfering in support of their 
rights. The deputies of the Third Estate had, it was 

1789 Tlu Assembly at Versailles. 39 

said, grasped at sovereign power to which they had no 
claim. As yet there had been no direct collision be- 
tween the Crown and the deputies of the Third Roya | 
Estate. The long inefficiency of the King had, sitting of 
indeed, destroyed belief in the royal power Junea3 * 
as an instrument of government Men believed in 
themselves, and they believed in the nation. They 
demanded liberty for individuals, and they demanded 
that the nation should govern itself. Yet, however 
democratic were the theories that prevailed, the great 
body of the French people was deeply attached to 
monarchy as a form of government, and thoroughly 
loyal to the person of the King. If desire for the estab- 
lishment of a democratic constitution was intensely 
strong, there appeared no other means in the first place 
of destroying the upper orders ; in the second, of pre- 
venting their resurrection. Had Louis taken the side 
of the nation, be might, as Mirabeau foresaw, ha#e 
exercised immense influence over the course of affairs. 
If he refused, nominal sovereignty would be lef\f to fym, 
but men would be careful that he should have no reaJ 
power in his hands. Louis was honestly prepared to 
cede constitutional rights to the country, which should set 
limits to the royal authority, and secure the persons and 
properties of his subjects against arbitrary usage. But 1 
he would not, so far as he could prevent it, suffer the U 
abolition of class distinctions, or allow the real governing I 
power to pass from himself and his council to the repre- ' 
sentatives of the nation. Thus, although the deputies of 
the Third Estate sought to conceal the fact from them- 
selves, they had to contend against the Crown as well as 
against the nobility. Louis, in alarm for his authority, 
now thought to maintain it by openly taking the part 01 
nobles and clergy. Marie Antoinette, less patient than ' 
her husband, witnessed with extreme resentment ana 


40 The Assembly at Versailles. 1789 

indignation the conduct of the Third Estate. To excited 
courtiers it seemed as easy a matter for the King to 
impose his will on the representatives of the nation as it 
had been for his predecessors in times past to impose 
theirs on the Parliament of Paris. It was determined ) 
that the King should hold a royal sitting or sea nce, an^ T 
declare his intentions to the assembled Estates. J Mean- 
while the deputies of the Third Estate were excluded 
from their hall on pretext that preparations had to be 
made for the reception of the King. Fully expecting a ^i 
dissolution, they repaired to a neighbouring tennis cou: 
where wkh one voice and hands raised to the sky the^ 
swore an oath never to separate before they had -estab 
lished constitutional government/^fhere waiTa'dense' 
crowd outside. All approaches to the court were blocked, 
and the one deputy who refused to take the oath was 
with difficulty saved from outrage (June 20). The 
cause of the upper orders was now weakened by de- 
sertions from their ranks. A large number of curds as 
well as a few nobles joined the deputies of the Third 
Estate. This in itself,- had Louis been well advised, 
might have warned him against the course that he pro- 
posed to take. On June 23 he came in state to the hall, 
where the whole body of deputies was by his injunction 
assemblej^L/ There, by the mouths of his ministers, he 
told them_ that they jwere to jneet as three separate ci^ 
orders^^with his consent first obtained, they might 
form one assembly for the discussion of matters of 
common interest ; from which, however, all the burning 
questions of the day, ecclesiastical, social, and consti- 
tutional, were expressly excepted. Necker, who dis 
approved the arbitrary form in which the royal will was 
signified, saved his popularity by refusing to be present 
on the occasion. Before retiring, Louis ordered all to 
disperse and assemble next day in their separate 

1789 TJu Assembly at Versailles. 41 

chambers. In case of disobedience he would undertake 
by hunseJi to secure the happiness of his subjects. 
•SeuV he said, *je ferai le bien de mes peuples.' After 
he had gone, most of the nobility and the upper clergy left 
the hall ; but the deputies of the Third Estate as well as 
many curds kept their seats. The Master of the Cere- 
monies, De Brez6, asked Bailly, the President, whether 
he had heard ihe orders of the King. * Yes, sir, we have 
heard the orders put in the King's mouth,' retorted 
Mirabeau, in words repeated and applauded thoughout 
France, * and let me inform you that if your business is 
to turn us out, you had better ask orders to employ 
force, /or we shall only quit our seats at the bayonet's 
point 9 Before dispersing the recalcitrants declared their 
persons inviolable for all that they said or did as deputies. 
After this defiance of the royal authority, the Queen 
and the court would gladly have obtained the dissolution 
of the States. Difficulties, however, stood in . 
the way. The financial embarrassments of the .the thrw 
Government were still unrelieved. Further, "d"* 
it was clearlv impossible for the King to cause his com- 
mands to be obeyed, unless he was prepared to appeal to 
military force, and the consequences of so doing were 
exceedingly doubtful. Class distinctions prevailed in 
the army as in other institutions of the old system. The 
officers, who were all noble, lived in luxury, largely on 
perquisites made at the men's expense. The men, 
cheated of their pay, badly fed, and subjected to a harsh 
discipline, bitterly resented their wrongs, and despised 
and hated their officers. If an attempt were made to 
use intimidation there was great probability that resist- 
ance would be offered, that Paris would rise, and that 
the troops would refuse to fire on the insurgents. Louis 
was never willing to take decided action, and, for the 
time, the deputies of the Third Estate were left in 


42 The Assembly at Versailles. 17S9 

enjoyment of victory. The King himself requested the 
nobles and ecclesiastics, who still kept aloof, to abandon 
further straggle, and thus after a delay of seven weeks Sy 
the three Estates were finally constituted as one as-|/^ 

The evil consequences of that delay were already but 
too plainly apparent. Since the meeting of the Estates 
Excitement agitation in Paris had spread from day to day. 
in Paris. The Government, unable to use arbitrary and 
violent means of obtaining order, could no longer 
effectively perform its duties, because no trust was re* 
posed in it. Political liberty threatened to degenerate 
rapidly into anarchy. No moral restraints existed 
amongst a people for centuries unaccustomed to self- 
government. There was no political organisation, and*^ 
no standard of political morality. There were no recog- ^ 
nised leaders weighted with a sense of responsibility, nor r 
journals with a character to maintain. Appeals were 
made to the lowest passions, rumours and libels circulated 
without question of their truth or justice* The fiercer 
and more bitter his language, the more sure was the 
orator or journalist to gain a hearing and exert influence. 

In the garden, surrounded by book and coffee shops, 
which was attached to the Palais Royal, a palace be- 
longing to the Duke of Orleans — who, although distantly 
related to the King, had taken the popular side— agi- 
tators, mounted on chairs and tables, discoursed to excited 
throngs on the sovereignty of the people, and denounced 
the opponents of a single chamber to popular wrath. 
Here neither police officers nor supporters of the claims 
of nobles and clergy could enter except at peril of violent 
and brutal usage. This licence was the more dangerous 
because the hard times made the people more ready for 
the commission of criminal actions. Nevertheless, the 
tradesmen, merchants, and other persons in the middle 




le / 















17S9 The Assembly at Versailles. 43 

class of life, who under ordinary circumstances are the 
first to feel the effects oi mob violence, regarded the de- 

r / signs of the court as far more dangerous than the oratory 
of the Palais Royal. For while the court demanded the 1 

^ maintenance of class distinctions, the demagogues of the 
Palais Royal demanded their abolition, guaranteed by the 

j establishment of a free and democratic constitution./ 

The government,, on the pretext of maintaining order, \/ 

£C quartered round and in Paris and Versailles regiments oi>^ 

i\ Swiss and German troops in the service of ^ 

France. The Queen and the Court desired, if the Bastille, 
not immediately to dissolve the Assembly, to J" 1 ? x * 
compel its removal to some provincial town, where the 
deputies might more readily be forced to accept the terms 

'&■ offered by the King on June 23. Necker, supported by a 



minority of his fellow-councillors, was opposed to any 
plans for the intimidation of the Assembly; but he had 
no influence with the King, and was detested by the 
Queen and the King's brothers, the Counts of Provence 
and Artois, of whose projects he was left in ignorance. 
Louis relied on the troops to overawe the capital, but 
was averse to resort to military force unless in self-defence. 
Meanwhile, their neighbourhood increased excitement in 
Paris, and the middle classes found themselves between 
two fires. On the one side they feared an armed occu- 
pation of the town, and the proclamation of martial law ; 
on the other a rising of the populace, which might end in 
the dissolution of all, authority. The elections of depu- 
ties of the Third Estate had been by two degrees. Paris 
had been divided into sixty districts, returning 120 
electors, who had elected twenty deputies to sit in the 
States-General These electors, wishing to induce the 
Government to remove the troops, proposed the establish- 
ment of a civic guard for the maintenance of order. It 
was not, however, an easy matter to obtain the sanction 

44 The Assembly at Versailles. 1789 

of the Government to a measure that wotrfd put an 
armed force at the disposition of the capital The Na- 
tional Assembly, agitated by fear lest violence should be 
exercised against itself, repeatedly besought the King --'" 
to order the withdrawal of the troops. Louis refused, v 
and at the same time dismissed Necker from office, v>' 
ordering him to leave the kingdom immediately (July 11). 
It was on the presence of Necker in the council that the 
popular party relied as security that force would not be 
employed against the Assembly or the capital Accord- 
ingly, the news of his dismissal, reported the next 
morning, set Paris in motion. All believed that troops 
would immediately advance, and the revolution be sup- 
pressed in blood. In the Palais Royal a young man, 
Camille D gsmouli ns, leaping on a table, exclaimed, 
1 Citizens, they have driven Necker from office. They 
are preparing a St. Bartholomew for patriots. To arms ! 
To arms ! For a rallying sign take green cockades, the 
colour of hope.' The leaves were torn from the sur- 
rounding trees to serve as cockades. There was, in fact, 
but one course which Louis could consistently pursue 
after he had dismissed Necker from office. He must uas 
force to suppress opposition, taking whatever risk there 
was. But of decisive action there was no chance, The 
King had dismissed Necker without making up his mind 
what he would do afterwards. There was no plan formed, 
and no understanding between different authorities. A 
regiment of German cavalry charged, first, into a pro- 
cession parading the streets with a bust of Necker, and 
afterwards into the Tuileries gardens, dispersing the 
throngs which excitement and curiosity had brought 
together. After blood had thus been shed, and the alarm 
and rage of the populace had increased, no further attempt 
was made to suppress the insurrection. Officers of the 
army were afraid to act without authorisation, and could 

1789 The Assembly at Versailles. 45 

not trust their men, many of whom deserted their regi- 
ments. The French guards, 3,600 strong, went over uv 
a body to the people. Paving stones were torn up to 
erect barricades. The cry was raised for arms; pikes 
were fabricated by thousands ; gunsmiths' shops were 
ransacked, military storehouses broken open, and muskets 
and powder carried off in triumph. 

During the following night and day (July 13) the ** 
barriers where the excise was levied were set on fire, ^ 
the prisons opened, and bakers and wine shops pillaged v/ 
There were none in authority, and none who obeyed.*' 
The electors, sitting at the Hotel de Ville, usurped what 
authority they could, which they exercised surrounded by 
a raging mob at imminent peril of their lives. At their 
appeal the bourgeoisie began promptly to raise an 
organised mrfitia force in each of the sixty districts. 
Early next morning, July 14, the fury of the people was </ 
directed against the Bastille, the great State fortress and*/ 
prison in the Faubourg St. Antoine, the 'Tower* of 
Paris, where for centuries past prisoners, often without 
charge of crime, had wasted their lives away. Its 
commander, the Marquis de Launay, had long since 
pulled up his drawbridges and made ready for defence as 
he watched the insurrection grow. His garrison was 
small, consisting only of thirty-two Swiss and eighty -two 
old French soldiers or Invalides. But the massive walls 
of the fortress and its double moat would effectually guard 
it against the assault of an undisciplined multitude. 
Summoned to surrender by a deputation from the Hdtel 
de Ville, De Launay replied that he would rather set 
fire to the powder magazine and blow the place to the 
skies. The population streamed by thousands to the 
spot, and the fortress was soon surrounded by a surging 
mob. An old soldier succeeded in cutting the chain which 
held up the drawbridge of the outer moat. A shout oi 

46 The Assembly at Versailles. 1789 

triumph was raised. The assailants rushed over the 
fallen bridge, but only to be confronted by the second 
moat and unscaleable walls of the fortress. The French 
guards, bringing with them cannon, joined the besiegers, 
but all efforts to force the passage of the moat were frus- 
trated. For five hours an incessant fire of musketry had 
been kept up. A hundred of the assailants lay dead, and 
but one of the garrison, when the Bastille unexpectedly 
and suddenly succumbed. The Invalides refused longer _ 
to resist, and compelled De Launay to surrender. Hulin, 
an officer leading the French guards, accepted the / 
terms proposed — pardon and immunity for alL But he |/ 
could not enforce their observance. The mass of human 
beings behind knew nothing of what those in front did. 
Enraged and uncontrollable, the mob broke into the 
fortress, those behind pushing aside those who went 
before, and striking blows at random. Six of the garrison 
were killed. De Launay was sent with an escort of 
French guards to the Hotel de Ville. On the way the 
escort was hustled aside and the old man savagely 
murdered. His head, fixed on a pike, was carried in 
triumph about the streets. Late at night the news 
reached Versailles that the Bastille had fallen. 'But/ 
said Louis, 'that is a revolt.' 'Sire,' replied his in- 
formant, the Duke of Liancourt, ' it is not a revolt, it is a 

A great revolution had indeed been accomplished. 

The fall of the Bastille indicated the fall of the old 

monarchy, in which the King alone represented 

ment of a" the nation. Louis had said to the Assembly 

anS"ofa?NaT t ^ at > un ^ css ne were obeyed, he would secure 
tionai Guard the happiness of his subjects without its aid, 
*"*" and Paris had replied by rising in support 
of the Assembly against himself. The falling away of 
the army had unmistakably revealed his weakness and 

1789 The Assembly at Versailles. 47 

known to be especially hostile to the people's cause, fled 
the country in disgust and alarm. Louis himself had no\s^S 

powerlessness to resist the national will His brother, 
the Count of Artois, and other unpopular courtiers, 

choice but to yield all that was demanded of him. He 
ordered the withdrawal of the troops, and recalled Necker 
to office. The Assembly sent eighty-eight of its members 
to announce the good news to Paris. They were receive I 
with enthusiasm, and escorted by thousands of national 
guards to the H6tel de Ville, where the electors exercised 
the functions of a provisional municipality. Two deputies 
were singled out for special honours. A young and 
popular nobleman, Lafayette, who had fought in Americav' 
against the English, and since the meeting of the As- 
sembly had supported the cause of the Third Estate, 
was by acclamation chosen commander-in-chief of the / 
new militia or national guard. Bailly, a mathematician^ 
who had been president of the Third Estate when the 
oath was taken in the tennis court, was after the same 
fashion chosen mayor of Paris. To the blue and red, 
the colours of Paris first worn by the national guard, 
was subsequently, on Lafayette's suggestion, added, 
white, the colour of France. This new flag would, hel 
inagniloquently said, make the round of the world. 
Thus was instituted the famous tricolour, the emblem 
to France of the revolution. 

It only remained for Louis to recognise these new 
revolutionary authorities, which made the capital of his 
kingdom independent of him and of his government. 
Leaving the Queen weeping at Versailles in alarm for 
his safety, he drove to Paris, attended merely by some 
members of the Assembly and a few national guards. At 
the barrier of Passy, the mayor, Bailly, presented him with 
the keys of the city, the same which, on an occasion 
dissimilar to this had been presented to Henri IV., when 

4$ Trie Assembly at Versailles. 1789 

Paris had surrendered to him, ( He,' said Bailly to Louis, 
• had made conquest of his people. Now the people have 
made conquest of their King.' Arrived at the Hdtel de 
Ville, Louis fixed a tricolour cockade on his hat and 
appeared on a balcony in front of the building. The 
thousands assembled outside applauded him loudly, and 
shouts of 'Vive le Roi* mingled with shouts of 'Vive la 
Nation.' The enthusiasm exhibited in his favour was not 
unreal. Amongst the multitude present, no stronger de- 
sire existed than that of accomplishing the revolution 
in accordance with the crown. 

While political strife was raging at Paris, in the 
provinces the people, impatient for relief, were takings 
upon themselves the work of redressing their wrongs. . 
Since the meeting of the States riots had broken out by 
scores over the face of the country. Taxes were refused,* 
barriers for the collection of custom and excise dutiesi 
burnt, the collectors driven off, markets pil-i 
theF?ro- m ktged, municipal officers forced at peril of theii! 
vmces. |j ves t0 fi x a price for corn and bread. The 

news of the great insurrection of July 14 gave courage 
to agitators, and added fuel to the flame. In Paris, street 
mobs, goaded by hunger, were not easily restrained from 
hanging objects of suspicion on the nearest lamp-post. 
Foulon, an officer of the Government, accused truly or 
falsely of having said that the people if hungry might 
eat grass, was savagely murdered. His son-in-law, 
Berthier, suffered a like fate. Many other persons 
escaped but narrowly with their lives. Nevertheless, 
owing to the exertions of the new municipality and the 
national guard, life and property were more secure in the 
capital than in many provinces. Risings accompanied 
by pillage and murder took place in Strasbourg, Rouen,^ 
Besancon, Lyons, and other provincial towns. In the 
cast, through Alsace, Francht-Comte', Lorraine, Burgundy 

iblv a 


1789 Tfe Assembly at Versailles. 49 

and Dauphiny, the rural population sought to settle the 
question of feudal services by burning together the resi- 
dences and the title-deeds of the seigneurs. In the / 
Maconnais and Beaujolais, bands of peasants sacked and \ 
burned seventy-two country-houses in a fortnight A panic 
spread through the country on the report that brigands, 
instigated by the enemies of the revolution, were on the 
march to destroy the crops. A general cry was raised 
for arms ; the example set by Paris was followed ; the 
middle classes combined to restore order ; provisional 
municipalities were established and national guards in-I 
stituted. The order obtained, however, was still most 
precarious. Municipal officers were in constant danger 
of falling victims to mob violence, while in country 
districts national guards often made common cause with 
the rioters. 

Thus the result of the insurrection of July 14, and of 
the risings in the provinces, was the utter disorganisation 
of all the old machinery of government. Royal officers 
where they remained could not exercise authority. The 
army was in mutiny; the people were armed. New 
popular authorities had, as it were, of themselves sprung 
up over the face of the country, and the National As- 1 
sembly, in place of the royal council, became the centre/ 
of government, so far as any government existed. ( 

The Assembly was far more disquieted by the risings 
in the provinces than by the insurrection of July 1 
The fall of the Bastille assured political power/g^^Tof 
to the middle classes. This burning of country- August 4. 
houses and the refusal to pay taxes and feudal dues 
struck at all alike, and sapped the base on which the 
whole framework of society rested. As yet, in the south- 
west and centre, where feudal dues were less burden- 
some, riots were isolated and bloodshed rare, but there 
was every probability that the movement, if unchecked. 

m.h. £ 

The Assembly at Versailles. 1789 

would spread over the whole country. The injustice 
of the existing order, by which provinces, towns, and in- 
dividuals were privileged without regard to public utility, 
the injury inflicted on agriculture by feudal dues, and the 
oppressive nature of many rights exercised by seigneurs 
had been demonstrated over and over again, and were 
admitted on all sides. In an evening sitting on August 
4, the Assembly laid the axe to the root of the old 
order by adopting decrees based on the principles of 
unity of State institutions, equality before the law, and 
individual liberty. There was no province, town, class,' 
or corporation whose special interests these decrees did 
not touch. They were in part the work of design, in* 
part of the enthusiasm of the moment. No voices were 
raised in opposition. Nobles, bishops, curds, represen- 
tatives of towns and provinces, vied with one another in 
proposing the abolition of privileges and rights which 
stood in the way of the common good. The decrees 
declared the feudal order destroyed, deprived seigneurs 
of the exclusive right of hunting and of keeping rabbits 
and pigeons, and abolished serfdom and servile dues off- 
hand; abolished also all special privileges belonging to. 
provinces, towns, and corporations, and laid open to all 
citizens, without regard to birth, civil, military, and 
ecclesiastical preferment; and, finally, abolished tithes 
paid to the Church, and made promise of ecclesiastical 
reform in the future. 

These decrees were not practical laws, but little more 
than an enunciation of general principles in accordance 
with which reform was afterwards to be effected. Thus 
the mass of feudal dues had still to be rendered until 
compensation had been given to the proprietors ; the old 
taxes were to be paid until a new system of taxation 
based on principles of equality had been introduced 
This hasty legislation could not, therefore, allay discon • 

1789 The Assembly at Versailles. 5 1 

tent, but excited a stronger reluctance on the part of the 
people to endure burdens, the injustice of which the 
National Assembly itself publicly proclaimed. 

The Assembly, on which rested the task of founding 
a new order amid the ruins of the old, was without 
political experience or recognised principles of action. 
It contained about 290 representatives of the nobility, of 
whom 140 were provincial noblemen, 20 
judges in the upper courts, and 125 belonged tionofthe 
to the court aristocracy. The clergy had re- A ^ aAl v-- 
turned 200 cures and only 100 bishops, abbes, and other 
dignitaries. A few more than 600 deputies represented 
the Third Estate, of whom 4 were ecclesiastics and 1 5 
noblemen. The great majority were men independent 
of the Government. The profession by far the most 
largely represented was the law. There were 360 judges, 
barristers, and law officers of various kinds. The 
chamber was fitted up like a theatre, with a semi-circle 
of seats facing the president's chair, beneath which was 
a tribune whence all set speeches were made. 

Four main lines of opinion divided the Assembly 
roughly into four sections. The majority of nobles and 
the upper clergy sat together on the presi- 
dent's right hand, forming the right side of the tionary 
Assembly. Their standpoint was reactionary, Rl « ht - 
in favour of the privileged orders. The fusion of the 
three orders having been accomplished against their 
will and in defiance of the royal authority, they re- 
garded the Assembly's work as resting on no justifiable 
foundation, and looked forward to reversing it on the 
first occasion. Here an officer, Cazales, eloquently and 
loyally defended monarchical principles of government ; 
the Abbe* Maury, with vehemence and ability, the cause 
of the upper clergy ; and D'Espremenil, a judge in the 
Parliament of Paris, the institutions of the old order. 

■ a V 

52 The Assembly at Versailles. 1789 

The second section comprised deputies of all three 
orders. They were defenders of individual liberty and 
The Right parliamentary control, but were bitterly op- 
Centre, posed to the establishment of democratic in- 
stitutions. They did not believe in the endurance of 
monarchy without an aristocracy and aristocratical insti- 
tutions, and aimed at replacing the effete nobility by an 
aristocracy of wealth. For the exercise of political rights 
they would have required a high property qualification ; 
and, copying the constitution of the English parliament, 
would have established a legislature composed of two 
houses, in both of which the landed interest was to predo- 
minate. They detested insurrection as a weapon, and were 
thoroughly alive to the danger in which since July 14 all 
authorities stood — of falling beneath the sway of mob 
violence. The restoration of order was, from their point 
of view, the matter of first moment, and they accordingly 
desired that the Assembly, in place of discussing consti- 
tutional questions, should at once turn its attention to the 
reform of the taxes and to other remedial laws, and that 
at the same time ministers should be empowered to use 
coercive measures for the punishment of rioters and the 
maintenance of the public tranquillity. The upholders of 
these views, who sat next the reactionary right, were but 
a small minority. Their most able speakers were two 
deputies of the Third Estate — Mounier and Malouet, 
and two nobles — Clermont-Tonnerre and Lally-Tollendal. 

The third and most numerous section, forming the 
centre and left of the Assembly, consisted of cures and 
Th-s Centre deputies of the Third Estate, with a sprinkling 
and Left. of nobles and upper clergy. Though con- 
siderable differences of opinion prevailed in this body erf 
seven to eight hundred men, two sentiments were com* 
mon to all— passi ftp for equality an d desire for jgejfe-— ~ 
government t __.Hence no schemes calculated to vest 

17.89 The Assembly at Versailles. 53 

power in the hands of large landed proprietors found 
favour with them. They were not, however, pure demo- 
crats, nor by sentiment republicans. J£heii leal aiuj s was 
govej pinrnt by thf mj^illr 1 lii ii 1 To monarchy as a"" 
form of government they wer?TOTt only attached, but 
regarded its maintenance as necessary to give stability to 
the constitution they were about to establish. Amongst 
the most prominent men on this side of the house were 
Thouret, Merlin of Douai, and other eminent lawyers, 
the Marquis of Mirabeau, Lafayette, the Abb6 Sieyes, 
two brothers, the Lameths — both of them nobles and 
officers — and a young and eloquent barrister, Barnave. 

The fourth section, sitting on the extreme left — which 
must be distinguished from the left — was formed of a 
few deputies, some twenty or thirty in all, who The Ex- 
were pure democrats, and whose programme treme Left, 
included manhood suffrage, and the eligibility of all 
citizens to office without property or other qualifications. 
A republic was their ideal form of government, which 
they held alone compatible with free and democratic 
institutions. At the same time they entertained no 
thought of establishing such a government in France. 
The possibility of getting rid of the throne had not yet 
suggested itself to their minds. In the Assembly their 
opinions were regarded as exaggerated, and their in- 
fluence was small. Amongst them sat Pe*tion and Robes- 
pierre, whose names afterwards rose into notoriety. 

None of these four groups, except the last, properly 
speaking formed a party of which the members ordinarily 
voted in a body. There was no concerted action, no 
party discipline, no recognised leaders. The galleries 
were often filled by an excited and noisy audience, which 
interrupted debates and menaced unpopular speakers. 
Each deputy voted independently, and was subject to be 
swayed by whatever influence at the moment predomi 

54 The Assembly at Versailles. 1789 

nated — were it eloquence, enthusiasm, fear, or prejudice. 
The provincial nobility followed but sullenly in the wake 
of the court nobility, and on every opportunity made its 
hostility manifest. Deputies belonging to the centre and 
(eft constantly voted on opposite sides. According to 
the special point at issue, more or less democratic 
opinions were entertained by the same person. Thus 
Lafayette, although as a rule he was found in opposition 
to Malouet, wished like him for the establishment of a 
legislature composed of two houses, having become 
strongly convinced of the advantages of that system 
through his affection to American institutions. The 
most advanced group of the whole centre and left, 
headed by Barnave and the Lameths, sat furthest left, 
next to Buzot and Robespierre, with whom they not 
seldom voted. 

In the chamber thus constituted, a variety of causes 
often gave ascendancy to the group which followed 
Barnave and the Lameths. The events of June 23 (p. 39) 
had destroyed confidence in the King, and though not 
expressed in words fear always prevailed that Louis 
would hereafter use whatever powers were 
SvSnTa* given to him to effect a restoration of the old 
cenAuicyto order. The reactionary right also refused to 
work with the advocates of the system of two 
chambers, such as Malouet and Mounier, thus alienating 
the less democratic- members of the centre and propelling 
them towards the left. Nobles and ecclesiastics, who 
had opposed the union of the three orders, in place of 
seeking to establish a constitution based on monarchical 
principles, made it their policy to vitiate the Assembly's 
work and so increase the elements of disorder as the 
surest and speediest means of producing reaction. 
Sometimes they abstained from voting or attending de- 
bates ; sometimes they interrupted debates ; at others 

1789 Tfie Assembly at Versailles. 55 

they voted with the left against the constitutional right. 
The ministry was too feeble and too divided to exercise 
influence over the Assembly. It was without the first 
requisite for acquiring confidence, a declared and open 
policy. Necker, whose principles and aims coincided 
for the most part with those of Malouet and Mounier, 
always received hearty support from them and their 
friends. But, proud and irritable, accustomed to com- 
mand and not to lead, he did not take advantage of 
the opportunities which he had for forming a minis- 
terial party. While devising expedients for avoiding 
bankruptcy, he failed even to lay before the Assembly 
any complete account of the state of the finances. The 
reactionary right, which never forgave him for recom- 
mending the double representation of the Third Estate, 
and the extreme left, which distrusted him, concurred 
in attacking him on every opportunity. His popularity 
rapidly decreased, and his position in the ministry grew 
weak in proportion as his relations to the Assembly 
became strained. Mirabeau, the most powerful man in 
the house, was his enemy. The mass of deputies, with- 
out trust in the Government and menaced by the right, 
looked to the people for support, and through desire of 
maintaining popularity were the more ready to adopt 
measures urged on iLem by the ultra democratic press. 
Their minds were undisturbed, either by the violent 
language of Parisian demagogues, or by the existence of 
riots and bloodshed in many provinces. The one qbjsct— 

tha^fth«»y lggpt §fMHi1y in vip>w yas .ft* establishment Of 

constitutional government on foundations that should 
^make- Tcarction hopelessly impossible; and compared 
wTfh this the restoration of order was to them a matter of 
secondary importance. They had no fear of the people. 
Following the one-sided philosophy of their day, and 
leaving out of account the dense ignorance of the lowei 

56 The Assembly at Versailles. 1739 

classes, the pride and prejudices of the upper, they 
believed that the establishment of a free constitution, 
followed by remedial legislation, would bring the revolu- 
tion to an end within the course of a few months, and 
render the country law-abiding, prosperous, and con- 

How vain was this dream, entertained by those with 
whom he sat and voted, Mirabeau was well aware. He 
saw the people ignorant and credulous, without con- 
fidence in the middle class, and ready to follow the 
guidance of whoever promised them most ; the middle 
Pohcv of c * ass unaccustomed to take part in government 
Mirabeau. and divided into factions, which were united 
merely by common hatred of aristocratic institutions. 
Under such conditions Mirabeau gave small credit to his 
countrymen for political capacity, and had no faith in 
the endurance of any constitution which cast upon the 
nation the entire work of administration and govern- 
ment. But, on the other hand, he did not seek, like 
Malouet, to found a strong monarchy on aristocratic 
institutions. No real aristocracy existed, and the passion 
for equality was irresistible, for the very reason that it 
was justified by the incapacity of those classes which 
had hitherto claimed to rise above their fellow country, 
men. The government which M irabe au regarded as 
alone suited to the requirements of the time was consti- 
tutional monarchy, bas ed on prin ciples of equality and 
individual liberty, upheld by the confidence of the middle 
class, and exercising influence over the direction of 
public opinion. Local administration was to be under 
the control of the central government; ministers were to 
have seats in the legislative body ; and the king, in case 
of difference between himself and the legislature, was 
to have the right of refusing his consent to bills and 
of appealing by a dissolution to the constituencies 

1789 TJu Assembly at Versailles. 57 

Mirabeau prophesied that unless the distrust which the 
Assembly felt towards Louis were dissipated, the throne 
would be overturned by the Parisian populace. His 
sense of danger quickened his desire to obtain a place in 
the council. He had many qualities fitting him to the 
task to which he aspired of at once domineering over 
Louis, and obtaining a majority in the Assembly to follow 
his guidance. He had insight into character, was master 
of his temper, and able to inspire men with his own 
belief, and to fascinate those who were prejudiced 
against him. As an orator he was unrivalled. The 
effect that he produced on his hearers was so powerful 
that his very opponents applauded him. But there were 
many drawbacks in his way. He came to the Assembly 
with an ill reputation that told heavily against him. His 
life even now was riotous and profligate, and he was 
known to be harassed by debts and unscrupulous in 
action. His fellow deputies, afraid of the crown acquir- 
ing influence over the Assembly by corruption, even whilst 
they were under the spell of his genius, were mistrustful of 
his political integrity. Lafayette refused to have dealings 
with a man whom he contemned as a libertine. Barnave 
and the Lameths were Mirabeaifs rivals for popularity, 
and jealous of the influence that his superior eloquence 
at times allowed him to exercise. On the side of the 
Government, which had no chance of surmounting the 
crisis under any other guidance, he received no encourage- 
ment Necker feared and hated him as a dangerous and 
unprincipled demagogue, and repelled his overtures; 
while the aversion of the Queen to all noblemen who 
took the popular side was intense. ( I trust,' she one day 
said. ' we shall never be reduced to the painful extremity 
of seeking aid of Mirabeau.' 

Thus circumstanced, Mirabeau did his best to weaken 
and degrade the Government, expecting that in the coui se 

53 The Assembly at Versailles. 1739 

of a few months the King would be compelled to re- 
cognise his claims to office. He never missed an oppor- 
tunity of undermining Ne deer's popularity, and while 
defending with vehemence what he held to be the 
essential prerogatives of monarchy, maintained sway over 
the Assembly and the populace by fierce attacks directed 
against the nobles, the clergy, and the court. 

The first legislative work of the Assembly after the 
decrees of August 4 (p. 50), was a Declaration of the 

Declaration ri S hts of man > wnich » in general language, 

1'of the Rights stated the aims which the greater part of the 
an ' Assembly had in view. This manifestoof the 
principles of the revolution declared that men have 
natural and imprescriptible rights to liberty, property, 
and security, and also the right of resisting tyranny ; that 
men are born equal in rights ; that all citizens are equal 
in the eye of the law, and are equally admissible to all 
offices without other distinctions than those of virtue 
and talent ; that the nation is sovereign, and that laws 
are the expression of the general will. In accordance 
with these principles, the Declaration announced the 
abolition of all orders and corporations, and proclaimed 
liberty of the press and liberty of worship. 

Debates on the form to be given to the new legisla 
ture followed the adoption ofjthe Declaration of the 
Veto given rights of man. The proposal that tr^ere should 
to the King. De two houses was negatived by 499 against 89 
votes. The new legislature was to meet every two years. 
The question whether the King was to have power to 
refuse his consent to decrees or exercise a so-called veto 
upon them was the cause of great excitement both at 
Versailles and Paris. Ultra-democratic agitators and 
journalists declared that to allow the King a share in the 
legislative power was to wrong the sovereignty of the 
nation. The relation existing between Louis and the. 

1789 The Assembly at Versailles. 59— 

Assembly was thoroughly false. The deputies of the 
centre and left were eager to avoid coming into collision 
with him, but were aware that he was only following by 
compulsion in their wake. On the ground that the nation 
was entitled to choose its own form of government, they 
took for granted that Louis must sanction without 
question or criticism all constitutional decrees. But they 
dared not trust the King, whom they excluded from any 
share in the formation of the new constitution, with au- 
thority which he might hereafter employ to subvert it. 
On the question of the veto a compromise was adopted, 
and the King empowered to refuse to pass the same 
decree during the sitting of two consecutive legislatures / - 
(September 20). V 

While the Assembly was engaged in discussion on the 
rights of man, all the causes which had been productive 
of crime and riot were still at work. The scarcity of 
price of bread remained high after the harvest brcad * 
This was due in part to deficiency in the crops, but 
much more generally to interference with the corn trade. 
The Assembly, acting in accordance with the free trade 
theories of the Economists, annulled all regulations im- 
peding the free circulation of corn and flour. But the 
people, ignorant, distrustful and fierce, used the power 
that was in their hands to carry out the old system 
more methodically, threatening municipal officers with 
personal violence unless they took measures to insure 
that markets were well supplied. Pillage of corn on 
transit and purchases made by public bodies stopped 
ordinary trade, and produced an appearance of scarcity 
even where corn was plentiful In every large town 
bread was sold under cost, the municipalities making 
good the loss to the bakers. To provision Pans, convoys 
of flour were brought into the town under military escort ; 
Jarge purchases of foreign corn were made, the Govern- 


6o The Assembly at Versailles. 1789 

ment supplying funds ; and by these means bread was 
sold at about three halfpence the pound. But bread, if 
cheap, was scarce. Purchasers stood for hours in long 
ranks or queues at the bakers' doors, and those who came 
last often left empty-handed. On the municipality and 
the national guard devolved the task of maintaining order. 
The national guard formed an organised police force. 
Most of those who served were volunteers, but 6,000, 
with whom had been incorporated the French guards, 
were paid and lodged in barracks. The officers were 
elected by the men. Lafayette, the commander-in-chief, 
was a brave and chivalrous soldier, whose enthusiasm 
for liberty and equality was unmixed with motives of 
personal aggrandisement He was very popular with his 
troops, but his influence over them was confined within 
narrow limits. The guard, composed principally of the 
middle and lower middle classes, retained its character 
of a citizen force, possessing a strong political bias, and 
capable at any time of taking a course of its own. 

During the month of September the idea of going to 
Versailles and bringing the royal family to Paris fer- 
The 6th mented in the minds of the poorer inhabitants 
October. f th e city. There were rumours that the 
King intended flight. The hungry people believed that 
their sufferings were solely due to the intrigues of re- 
actionary nobles and ecclesiastics, and that bread would 
be abundant were the King once securely established 
in their midst Whatever was proposed at Paris was 
known at Versailles. Since the revolution of July, plans 
of retreat to Metz and other towns had been urged on 
Louis. It was impossible to adopt this course without con- 
templating resource to arms. The Queen was willing, but 
Louis preferred to let events drift on sooner than give 
occasion to his subjects to throw on him the reproach cast 
on Charles I., of having roused civil war and caused the 

1789 Ttie Assembly at Versailles. 61 

shedding of blood. Meanwhile the policy pursued was 
of a piece with that which preceded the fall of the Bastille. 
Paris was defied by bringing an additional force of a 
thousand foreign troops, the regiment of Flanders, from 
Arras to Versailles,, but no further measures were taken 
10 repel aggression. The officers of the royal body-guard 
held a banquet in honour of the new comers in the 
palace theatre before a large audience. The occasion 
was taken to make a strongly pronounced display of 
royalist sentiment. Insulting words were spoken against 
the Assembly; national toasts were left undrunk; the 
tricolor replaced by white cockades. The King was in- 
duced to come to the theatre, and the Queen, with the 
Dauphin in her arms, went the round of the table, 
making gracious speeches (October 1). Exaggerated 
reports of what had taken place spread through Paris. 
National guards were eager to avenge the insult offered 
to the tricolour, which, it was said, had been trampled 
under foot Early on the morning of October 5 many 
thousands of hungry women began a march from Paris 
to Versailles, stopping and forcing all of their own sex 
whom they met on the way to accompany them. Bands 
of men soon followed, and the national guards, in place 
of opposing the movement, compelled Lafayette to march 
at their head after the mob. There was heavy rain all 
day, and the women on their arrival at Versailles were 
weary, fasting, and wet. They surrounded the palace, 
and broke into the hall of the Assembly, shouting, in 
reply to the speeches of the deputies, ' Bread, bread, and 
not so many words 1' All through the day new bands 
continued to arrive, composed of both men. and women. 
The royal body-guard, between whom and the mob 
shots were exchanged, were withdrawn within the palace 
gates. A little before midnight Lafayette at last arrived 
at the head of an orderly force of 20,000 men. He set 

62 \ T/ie Assembly at Versailles. 1789 

watches at the palace gates, and afterwards entered to 
take a short rest. But at daybreak some of the mob 
broke into the palace courts, killed two soldiers of the 
body guard who fired on them, wounded others, and 
burst into the ante-room of the Queen's bedchamber. 
Marie Antoinette, roused by her women, fled for her life 
to the King's apartment. The alarm was given, and 
national guards arrived on the spot in time to avert more 
bloodshed, and to drive back the intruders. Louis, who 
had not been able to decide on flight while he still had 
opportunity, yielded to the will of the populace. A 
dense crowd was assembled in front of the palace, 
shouting, * The King to Paris ! ' Louis stepped out on a 
balcony, in sign of assent. The popular instinct rightly 
fixed on the Queen as much more hostile to the revolution 
than the King. As she stepped out after her husband, with 
her girl and boy by her side, voices from below shouted, 
' No children.' Pushing the children back, she bravely 
advanced without hesitation alone, while Lafayette, afraid 
for her safety, sought to make her peace with the people 
by stooping and kissing her hand. All steps were now 
turned towards Paris. First went a disorderly mob, 
rejoicing in their capture of the royal family, and shout- 
ing that bread would be plentiful, for they were bringing 
with them the baker, the baker's wife, and the baker's 
ooy. The heads of the slain body-guards, ghastly 
trophies of their triumph, were carried on pikes. The 
royal carriages, surrounded by national guards, followed 
in the wake of the mob. On their arrival in Paris, the 
King and Queen were conducted to the Tuileries. The 
Assembly, which after a few days followed the King, was 
established in a riding-school in the neighbourhood of 
the palace. 




The movement of October 6 was not, like the rising of 
July 14, unpremeditated. The scarcity of bread had 
been made use of by agitators to suggest to the 
populace the idea of bringing the King to movement of 
Paris. Their object was to place both the ° ctobcr& - 
King and the Assembly immediately under the influence 
of the capital. To the Duke of Orleans at the time was 
ascribed the intention of driving the royal family from 
Versailles, and obtaining for himself, if not the throne, a 
regency. The Duke, unprincipled and of mean capacity, 
was incompetent, if he had the ambition, to play a 
prominent part in the revolution. The possession of 
great wealth assured him hangers-on and partisans, but 
he was generally despised, and no man of any standing 
ever openly espoused his cause. Deputies of the centre 
and left, as well as the municipality and Lafayette, 
regarded the residence of the court at Paris as security 
against attempts to raise civil war by the removal of the 
King and the division of the Assembly. From this time 
the royal family was in fact in the keeping of Lafayette, 
whose troops composed the palace guard. The court 
could see nothing in the event but one more act of popular 
violence, which must before long cause reaction. After 
the fall of the Bastille, the King's brother, the Count of 
Artois, had left France. Many court nobles, including 
deputies of the reactionary right, now took the same 
course, with full expectation of shortly returning and find- 
ing the old order of things restored. Two leaders of the 
right centre, Mounjex and Lally-Tollendal, quitted the 
capital on the plea that their lives were in danger, and 

64 The Constitution. 1789 

that the Assembly was not free. It was true that those 
who took the lead in defending unpopular opinions were 
subject to menace and insult, but it was not true that de- 
puties sitting on the right were precluded from taking 
part in the debates or voting according to their pleasure. 
On the contrary, if the galleries were often noisy aru; 
abusive, bishops and nobles found opportunities not only 
of replying at length to their opponents, but also of ob- 
structing proceedings for hours by mere clamour. The 
ordinary form of voting, which was simply by rising and 
sitting, prevented the frequent publication of division lists. 
Much important work, in which all could take part in 
safety, was done in private committees, and drafts of laws 
prepared in them were often adopted by the Assembly 
with little alteration. The withdrawal of deputies only 
helped to complete the disorganisation of an already 
divided minority. 

While the right sideof the Assembly, in consequence of 
desertions, disorganisation, and intimidation, became con- 
The jaco- stantly less able to exert influence over the cen- 
bins. t rej the left acquired new sources of strength. 

With the object of concerting common action, a few de- 
puties used to meet in a building in the Rue St. Honore*, 
belonging to some Dominican friars, who were commonly 
called Jacobins, because the church of St. Jacques had 
been assigned to them when, in the thirteenth cen- 
tury, they first arrived in Paris. In this building was 
organised a debating club, entitled by its founders the 
Society of the Friends of the Constitution, but which 
acquired celebrity under the name of the Jacobins. All 
deputies of the left joined it, as well as many persons 
who were not members of the Assembly, amongst whom 
were the most radical politicians and journalists of Paris. 
Whatever questions were debated in the Assembly were 
at the same time debated in the club, where democratic 
opinion was more pronounced, and put forward with less 

ij^9 TJie Constitution, 65 

reserve. Barnave was in the club a more popular oratot 
than Mirabeau, and Robespierre, who could hardly obtain 
a hearing in the Assembly, was listened to with attention 
and applause. Thus the existence of the Jacobins gave 
organisation to the moie democratic party at a time 
when organisation was nowhere else to be lound. 

Under the influences above described, fear of reaction, 
belief in theory, and desire for popularity, the Assembly 
completed the constitution and carried reform i^ co^i. 
into every department of the state. Its work tution. ; 
was based on principles of uniformity, decentralisations 
and the sovereignty of the people, and whatever nstijf 
tutions clashed with these were swept away. The old: 
division of the territory by provinces was abandoned, and 
France was divide d into eighty-three department s, all as 
nearly as possible of the same extent, and named after 
geographical features, such as rivers and mountains. 
The eighty-three departments were subdivided into 374 
listricts. In every department was an elected adminis- 
trative body for the management of its affairs ; in every 
district an elected administrative body, subordinate to 
the administration of the department, for the manage- 
ment of affairs special to the district. These bodies 
were composed each of a general council and a permanent 
executive, styled the directory. In every district the 
former divisions, called communes, were left unaltered. 
Of these communes there were no less than 44,000 in 
France, some being large towns, whilst others were mere 
villages. The local affairs of these communes were placed 
under the direction of municipalities. The members of 
these municipalities were elected by all men inhabiting 
the commune twenty-five years old, and paying yearly 
in direct taxes, according to a reformed system of taxa- 
tion, a sum varying from eighteen pence to two shillings, 
the value of three days' labour. Manhood suffrage would 

66 TIu Constitution, 1789 ^ 

have given 6,000,000 voters, while this qualification 
limited their number to about 4,300,000 only. Persons 
qualified to vote were required to serve in the national 
guard, and were called active citizens, whilst those dis- 
qualified were known as passive citizens. For the election 
of the administrative bodies of the district and the de- 
partment, as well as of deputies to the legislature, the 
system adopted was by two degrees. There were many 
primary assemblies, consisting of all active citizens in 
each department, each of which chose a certain number 
of electors, who in turn elected the administrative bodies 
of the districts and of the department, as well as the 
deputies who were to represent the department in the 
legislature. The qualification for being a member of a 
municipality, or of any administrative body, was the 
payment yearly in direct taxes of a sum varying from six 
to eight shillings. A special and higher qualification 
was required for sitting in the legislature — the payment 
in direct taxes of a marc, in value nearly fifty shillings. 
The new administrative divisions served as judicial 
divisions also. The old courts, including the parliaments, 

judicial were one a ft er anotner abolished. Each dis- 
reform. trict was divided into cantons, and the primary 
assemblies in each canton elected judges, called justices 
of the peace {juges de paix), for the trial of petty 
causes. Every district had a civil, every department a 
criminal court, of which the judges were respectively 
elected by the electors of the district and the department 
Persons belonging to any branch of the legal profession 
were eligible as judges, who were elected for six years 
only. Much directly remedial legislation accompanied 
this new framework. Procedure was rendered more 
favourable to the accused. Trial by jury on the English 
system was adopted in criminal cases, every department 
having its grand jury. Securities were taken against 

1789-90 The Constitution. 67 

arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, and the law was made 
the same for all, without distinction of persons. A new 
penal code was drawn up which contrasted most favour- 
ably with the criminal law in force in other countries. 
Heresy and magic were no longer recognised as crimes. 
Torture was abolished, and the punishment of death 
confined to four or five offences. 

Economical and financial reforms were also effected. 
Internal custom houses were removed, monopolies and 
trade restrictions abolished. The Assembly, however, 
trod here with more cautious steps than when effecting 
constitutional and administrative reforms. The tariff of 
export and import duties was modified, but fear of injur- 
ing French industries prevented the adoption 
of free trade principles in regulating the com- ^^JJSl 
mercial relations between France and other pnatedby 
countries. The restoration of the finances in 
the midst of revolution was not a work to be easily 
accomplished. The Assembly delayed to abolish the 
old taxes until a new system of taxation was organised, 
but meanwhile thousands refused to pay them, and the 
revenue proportionately decreased. To meet the ex- 
penses of government Necker was compelled to borrow, 
and in the autumn of 1789 the State debt reached about 
43)7 50,000/. To prevent its increase and to meet the 
claims of creditors, the Assembly had resource to Church 
property. By the abolition of tithes on August 4, a 
revenue of 5,818,750/. passed into the hands of landed 
proprietors and agriculturists. The Church, however, 
remained possessed of property valued at a capital of 
more than 100,000,000/., bringing in a revenue of about 
3,500,000/. All this property was declared to be at the 
service of the State, which undertook henceforth to 
provide for the clergy. Crown lands and Church lands 
to the value of 17,500,000/. were offered for sale, and 

F 2 

68 The Constitution. 1789-90 

state paper money to the same amount issued in the 
form of notes of the value of 44/., bearing a forced cur- 
rency and called assignafcs, which were to be used in 
payment of state creditors, and were to be received back 
by the state from purchasers of the land so offered for 
sale, and thus to be gradually withdrawn from circulation 
and destroyed. 

The upper clergy, supported by the nobles, vehemently 
opposed these measures, which entirely altered the status 
of the clergy. The clergy regarded themselves as ad- 
ministrators of property for Church purposes, and as 
independent of state influence; whereas they would 
henceforth be brought into close dependence on the state 
and lose the social position which wealth and inde- 
pendence gave them. The Abbe* Maury accused the 
Assembly of interfering with the rights of property, and 
of being guilty of an act of spoliation. But the sup- 
porters of the new laws formed an overwhelming majo- 
rity. Sceptics and theists, Jansenists who sought to 
reform the Church in accordance with the primitive 
usages of Christianity, lawyers who were merely follow- 
ing the legal traditions of the old monarchy in arguing 
that the state interest was paramount, informed the 
bishops that the clergy were not proprietors, but merely 
administrators of national property, who were justly de- 
prived of a trust which they had executed ill. By the 
sale of Church lands the Assembly designed not merely 
to restore the finances, but by motives of self-interest 
to bind thousands to the work of revolution by indis- 
soluble ties, since every purchaser of Church lands, every 
holder of assignats, every state creditor, would have a 
direct interest in the maintenance of the new order. 

The laws for the appropriation and sale of Church 
property were followed by laws for the reform of the 
Church. Monasteries and nunneries were suppressed. 

i/9o The Constitution. 6g 

the existing inmates being pensioned and left at liberty 
to return to the world or live in such houses as were 
assigned to them. A special code, entitled 
the c Civil Constitution of the Clergy,' under- tution of the 
took to carry out in the Church what had cler *y. 
been already done for the state. The old diocesan and 
parochial divisions were abandoned. Every department 
was made a bishopric, and the boundaries of the parishes 
were changed according to convenience. Bishops were 
to be elected by all the electors of the department, curds 
by the electors of each district. Bishops were to signify 
their election to the Pope, but not to seek confirmation 
of their appointments at his hands. Chapters and eccle- 
siastical courts were abolished, and in exercising his 
functions each bishop was to be assisted by an eccle- 
siastical council, composed of chaplains selected amongst 
the curds of the diocese. The incomes of bishops were 
lowered, and those of cure's raised. The whole expense 
of the establishment was estimated at nearly 3,000,000/. f 

It was only by degrees that these changes were 
carried out. The municipalities and other administra- 
tive bodies were elected during the spring of,, , 

, . , ... , 7m Federation, 

1790, the new judges not till the autumn, while July 14, 
the Civil Constitution of the Clergy came into I79 °' 
force in the summer of the same year. An enormous 
strain was laid upon the patriotism and intelligence of 
the country. Active citizens were incessantly called upon 
to give time and thought to public affairs, by taking part 
in elections and serving in the national guard ; while- 
there were more than a million of unpaid administrative • 
and municipal officers .charged with important duties and •* 
great responsibility. All the local business of the depart- 
ments devolved on them, the maintenance of roads and 
bridges, the police regulations, the care of hospitals, the 
imposition and collection of taxes, the sale of national 

Jo The Constitution. 1790 

property, and generally the carrying out of the decrees 
of the Assembly. Nevertheless, the country responded 
with admirable energy. Men believed that a new era 
of freedom and prosperity was about to open, and 
numbers came forward who unsparingly devoted time 
and money in discharge of civic duties, arduous and 
often dangerous. During the spring all over France the 
inhabitants of different villages, towns, and provinces 
met together to hold federations, or feasts of union, in 
honour of the new constitution. On July 14, the anni- 
versary of the fall of the Bastille, a federation for the 
whole of France, at which the King presided, was held at 
Paris. Every department sent its deputation of national 
guards, who came to the number of 15,000 men. An 
altar was raised in the middle of the Champ de Mars, 
where Talleyrand, Bishop of Autun, said mass, and blessed 
the banners of the departments. The thousands as- 
sembled swore with one voice to be faithful to the nation, 
the law, and the King. Louis, from his throne, took an 
oath to maintain the constitution, and the air resounded 
with shouts of ' Long live the King.' The Parisians 
entertained the visitors, and the day closed amid general 
lightheartedness and rejoicing. The Bastille was already 
razed to the ground, and crowds came to dance on the 
place where it had stood. 

The joy and enthusiasm exhibited at the festival of 
the federation was a genuine expression of desire for 
union entertained by the main and best part 
and the of the population, but this desire rested on no 
revolution, substantial basis. As the Assembly continued 
its work divisions multiplied, party spirit increased in 
violence, and the country, in place of enjoying order and 
settled government, drifted further in the direction of 
anarchy. The upper nobility did not conceal its detesta- 
tion of the work of the revolution, or its expectation that 

i79o The Constitution. Jl 

the whole would be reversed. Most great nobles left the 
country, and establishing themselves at Coblentz or 
Turin proscribed all who took part in the revolution, 
threatened invasion, and called on foreign powers to 
restore the King to his rights by force. Those who 
remained in France assumed an attitude of scornful de- 
fiance, and by protests and intrigues sought to stir up 
hatred against the Assembly, and to bring it into con- 
tempt with the country. The lower nobles, if in some 
way losers, would have greatly gained by the revolution 
if it had proceeded no further ; but various causes in- 
duced them to declare against it. The Assembly made 
no efforts to conciliate them, and a decree abolishing 
titles and armorial bearings had deeply hurt the pride 
of the whole order (June 9). By many it was held a 
point of honour to remain true to their caste ; and, in 
fact, those who gave support, to the revolutionary laws 
were placed under a social ban. Many nobles quitted 
the country with their families, owing to the insecurity 
of their lives. Those who were arming on the frontiers 
brought on all who belonged to their order the suspicion 
of being their accomplices. The peasantry needed no 
incentive to turn upon the seigneurs. Although the 
Assembly had abolished the feudal rights of a servile 
origin, and those which represented sovereignty, it main- 
tained, until compensation was made to the owners, all 
dues presumed to have had their origin in agreement, 
and to represent the price paid for the possession of land. 
The arrangement was just, and, if it had 1 been feasible, 
would have been of advantage to almost jeveryone inte- 
rested. But to effect it a strong government was required, 
and France was in the midst of revolution. The 
peasants, in whose minds all feudal rights were inex- 
tricably bound up together, refused to' recognise legal 
distinctions between them. The machinery, moreover. 

72 The Constitution, 1790 

provided by the Assembly for effecting enfranchisement, 
in place of being speedy and simple, was complicated 
and in many cases practically inoperative. Hence the 
relations between peasants and seigneurs, as the revolu- 
tion advanced, grew more and more embittered. While 
the owners of the dues threatened suits, their debtors 
resorted to violence. Scenes similar to those witnessed 
in the east in 1789 now occurred over a large portion of 
the country. Again and again, in 1790 and 1791, in the 
centre, in La Marche and Limousin, further south in 
Perigord and Rouergue, in the west in Bretagne, as well 
as in the east in Lyonnais, Alsace, Franche-Comte', and 
Champagne, peasants and vagabonds went about the 
country in bands, burning country-houses and title-deeds, 
and murdering those who attempted resistance. 

The central government, whose duty it was to protect 
life and property, was impotent even to attempt the 
restoration of order. The Assembly, through fear that 
the King would use authority for the undoing of its work, 
had left him without means of enforcing obedience, to the 
laws. His only agents were the administrative 
the Central bodies, and he had no means of compelling 
Government. them t0 per f orm the i r duties. The highest 

authority in reality rested with the administrative bodies 
which were lowest in the hierarchical scale — namely, with 
the municipalities. Of these there were no less than 
44,000, each acting independently of the other, and 
though, according to the constitution, bound to carry out 
the instructions of the directories of districts and depart- 
ments, able to disregard them with impunity. For the 
maintenance of order a Riot Act had been passed, but 
that the King might not take advantage of it for the sup- 
pression of constitutional rights, the municipalities alone 
had been empowered to put it in force. Sometimes muni- 
cipal officers were unable, sometimes unwilling, to caT 

i79o The Constitution. 73 

out the national guard for the forcible dispersion of 
rioters. In towns the bourgeoisie served on the national 
guard, and there was no want of educated men to hold 
office. But in rural districts there were no inhabitants 
except a few nobles and cure's and an unlettered pea- 
santry. In hundreds of instances the mayor and his 
colleagues could neither read nor write, spoke only their 
own patois, and were incapable even of understanding 
the laws that they were required to enforce. National 
guards, in place of protecting the noble and his family 
from harm, took part with their neighbours in destroying 
their dwelling, and in maltreating all whom interest or 
prejudice incited them to regard as conspirators against 
the revolution. 

Though troops of the line could be called out by 
municipalities to aid in the enforcement of the Riot Act, 
their presence was in towns but an additional Mutinies in 
cause of disorder. Class feeling was strongly thc an|| y« 
pronounced in the army, and the men turned upon their 
officers, accusing them of extortion and oppression. All 
over the country, wherever regiments were quartered, 
troops mutinied, demanding milder discipline and higher 
pay, forming councils, seizing military chests, and com- 
pelling officers to render account of the sums that 
passed through their hands. These frequent mutinies 
alarmed men who closed their eyes to outrages committed 
by peasants. Supported by a large majority in the As- 
sembly, the Marquis of Rouille' suppressed with heavy ' 
loss of life a serious mutiny that broke out in a Swiss 
regiment, Chateauvieux, stationed at Nancy (August 31). 
Reforms were afterwards effected both in army and 
navy. The pay of the men was raised, and juries com- 
posed of both men and officers instituted for the trial of 
military offences. 

The upper clergy, like the nobles, were alienated from 

74 The Constitution. 1790 

the revolution by the fusion of the three orders in one 
chamber, and by the appropriation of Church property, 
and the civil constitution of the clergy, were rendered 
irreconcilable enemies. They accused the Assembly of 
seeking to destroy the Catholic religion, and denounced the 
Schism in civil constitution as unlawful interference with 
the Church, matters of Church government and discipline, 
which, as being matters of faith, were beyond the cog- 
nisance of the state. But these attempts to excite 
hostility against the Assembly had little success. The 
great body of the nation had its interests far too closely 
bound up with the revolution to be tempted into a 
crusade against it. The peasantry had no quarrel with 
ecclesiastical changes which affected neither eyes nor 
ears. The civil constitution itself did but reform the 
Church on the basis laid down in the cahiers. It was 
only in the south where the existence of Protestants 
excited religious rivalry, and the population was most 
fanatic and intolerant, that the work of the Assembly 
met with any serious resistance. At Perpignon, Tarn, 
Toulouse, and other towns, the election of administrative 
bodies and the closing of the monasteries gave rise to 
rioting and loss of life ; while at Nimes, where Pro- 
testants formed a third of the inhabitants, the streets for 
three days ran with blood. Amongst the lower clergy 
there was small disposition to follow the lead of their 
ecclesiastical superiors. The state, which had appro- 
priated church property, had improved their material 
condition, and raised their position within the Church. 
Of the monks, two-thirds elected to abandon monastic 
life. Nevertheless, the arguments employed against re- 
cognition of the civil constitution disturbed the minds of 
the cure's, and the enforcement by the Assembly of an 
oath as a condition for holding any benefice or office, 
placed in the hands of the bishops, who had been driven 

I790-9 1 ^* Constitution. 75 

by the loss of their revenues into unappeasable hostility 
to the revolution, an arm of which they were not slow 
to avail themselves, and by which they created a schism 
within the Church (November 27). This oath engaged 
the taker to be faithful to the nation, the law, and the 
King, and to maintain the constitution. The object 
ivhich the Assembly had in view was to replace bishops 
who refused to take part in carrying out the new laws by 
men attached to the revolution. The fact, however, that 
the oath might be interpreted to imply acknowledgment 
of the lawfulness of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, 
the provisions of which were inconsistent with the Papal 
system, was left out of account. The Pope declared that 
those who had taken it were schismatics, and cut of! 
from communion with the Church. Passive acceptance 
of the civil constitution was, therefore, no longer possible 
to the cur£s. Of 138 bishops and archbishops only four 
took the oath, and two-thirds of the secular clergy 
refused it. Many members of the regular orders, how 
ever, took it, so that in the end about 60,000 ecclesiastics, 
or half of the clergy of France, accepted the new arrange- 

By the imposition of this oath discord was aroused 
in every department. The Assembly granted nonjurors 
a pension, and allowed them to officiate in parish 
churches. The result was that in two-thirds of the 
parishes of France there were two ministers, nominally 
of the same persuasion, struggling, the one to gain, the 
other to maintain, influence over the flock. The consti- 
tutional priest represented the nonjuror, or former in- 
cumbent, as a plotter against the laws and the consti- 
tution ; the latter represented the intruder as a schis- 
matic, incapable of administering any sacrament, so that 
persons married or children baptised by him were in 
reality neither married nor baptised. Here nonjurors 

?6 The Constitution. 1790-91 

were regarded as enemies to the State ; there the consti- 
tutional clergy as enemies to religion ; and whichever 
side was the stronger proceeded to acts of violence 
against the other. Generally, in the north of France, 
the nonjurors had comparatively small influence ; and 
it was only in certain provinces, where they had the 
support of the peasantry — in Poitou, Auvergne, Alsace, 
and parts of Artois, Franche-Comte", Champagne, Lan- 
guedoc, and Bretagne — that any large portion of the 
population exhibited zeal in their behalf. 

Bold and radical reformers as the makers of the 
constitution proved themselves, monarchical sentiment 
and distrust of the political capacity of some million and 
a half of their countrymen had caused them at times to 
shrink from carrying out fully Rousseau's theory of the 
sovereignty of the people. Hence, while their work was 
on one side attacked by the party of reaction, on the 
other it was decried by the extreme left, as being in con- 
tradiction to the principles which the Assembly had 
itself proclaimed in the Declaration of Rights. Outside 
the Assembly these views were even more strongly ex- 
pressed. One of the most noted journalists of the time, 
Brissot, combined with ultra-democratic ten- 


dencies a firm belief in the advantages of in- 
dividual liberty, and was a zealous exponent of opinions 
subsequently known as Girondist. His ideal form of 
government, which he aspired to see established in 
France, was a democratic r epublic , where no civil or 
political distinctions existea between man and man ; 
where habits of local government and obedience to the 
law allowed, without detriment to public order, the action 
of the centra] government to be barely visible ; where 
principles of free trade, liberty of the press, and religious 
toleration were carried systematically out ; where edu- 
cation, respect for labour, simple and virtuous habits of 

'790-9 1 The Constitution. J? 

life prevailed amongst all classes. On the ground that 
vice and corruption readily found footing in large towns, 
Brissot was averse to the capital exercising political as- 
cendancy over the country. ' Without private morality/ 
he said, 'no public morality, no public spirit, and no 
liberty.' The goal here pointed out was truly Utopian as 
compared with the actual condition of things in France: 
Nevertheless, Brissot was credulous enough to believe 
that, owing to the beneficial influences of general edu- 
cation and free institutions, its attainment would be pos- 
sible in the course of some twenty or thirty years. 

In Camille Desmoulins the levelling principles of the 
revolution found their ablest advocate. He belonged to 
the lower section of the middle class ; and, 
while speaking in the name of the people, 
gave expression to the intense jealousy with which men 
in his position of life regarded claims of property or of 
birth to political or social distinction. Young, naive, 
and enthusiastic, Desmoulins was incapable of throwing 
dust in his own eyes or in the eyes of others, and from 
the first avowed that even the form of monarchical 
government was incompatible with the principles that 
his party held. Since, however, the Assembly ordained 
that France was to have a king, he expressed his readi- 
ness to take off his hat when Louis passed by, but he 
refused to recognise Marie Antoinette as Queen, and 
only made mention of her as the King's wife. Des- 
moulins was no precisian like Brissot, and did not 
concern himself with the moral disposition of his fellow- 
countrymen. When attacking men whom he designated 
as 'reactionaries ' and ' aristocrats/ without heed of con- 
sequences, he made use of every arm which served his 
end — irony, calumny, and gross exaggeration. The pre- 
vailing state of anarchy he made light of. Rousseau 
bad said that the people were by nature merciful and 

78 The Constitution, 1790-91 

forgiving, and his disciples palliated acts of ferocity 
on the score of ignorance and misery. Was it to be 
expected, Desmoulins asked, that after centuries of 
debasement liberty could be obtained without a little 
blood-letting ? 

Marat, a writer of a third type— called, after the title 
of his journal, the ' People's Friend * — had no faith in any 
of the distinctive principles of the time. He did not be- 
lieve in the goodness of human nature, nor in reason as 
the main lever by which to reconstitute society 
and government, nor in the political capacity of 
his countrymen, and was as ready to throw suspicion on 
the people's nominees as Brissot on the integrity of men 
put in office by the King. He did not regard either 
commercial or individual liberty as necessarily calculated 
to increase the happiness and prosperity of the masses. 
The goal to which he pointed was a shadowy one of a 
democratic state, where mediocrit y ruled, and govern- 
ment provided that the working-classes lacked neither 
labour nor bread. His means were the re-establishment 
of absolute power and the use of force. Since officials 
were corrupt, the upper classes seeking power merely 
for selfish ends, the people ignorant and easily deceived, 
Marat proposed to invest a dictator with authority to 
establish genuine equality by crushing under foot the 
possessors of wealth and talent. As, however, there 
appeared no probability of the adoption of this plan, he 
filled the pages of his journal with incentives to murder 
and insurrection, advising the people to secure their 
happiness by rising and killing their enemies in a body. 
Some thousands of heads laid low, the true era of 
freedom and prosperity would open. 

Besides Brissot, Desmoulins, and Marat, there were 
a number of other writers who in words declared their 
loyalty to the constitution, while they excited discontent 

1790-91 ^&* Constitution. 79 

against it, called in question the patriotism and good 
faith of all who did not agree with themselves, and ren- 
dered harder the task of maintaining order. \^ 
They had different aims and different views ^X"ce°tf 
of life, but on certain points they were all uitra-demo- 
agreed, and for the time the points of agree- 
ment alone came into prominence. QVith one voice they 
cast bitter reproaches on the Assembly for dividing 
Frenchmen into active and passive citizens, denying the 
suffrage to the latter, and excluding them from the 
national guard. So, again, they denounced the royal veto 
on decrees, on the ground that it subjected the will of the 
sovereign people to the will of the king. They con- 
demned the Riot Act, and attacked the Assembly when- 
ever sanction was given to the employment of military 
force against rioters. When the mutiny at Nancy was 
suppressed in blood, a loud cry of indignation was raised 
against Lafayette and other deputies who on that occasion 
abandoned the popular side. The ultra-democrats 
formed undoubtedly but a minority of the population 
The majority of Frenchmen were content with the consti 
tution, and had no desire to make more radical changes 
than those already accomplished. Many causes, how- 
ever, enabled the ultra-democrats to exercise influence 
quite out of proportion to their numerical strength. It 
was not merely that the Government was weak, but also 
that there was no cohesion between classes, and that 
there was no class capable of leading the nation by 
obtaining its entire confidence. Suspicion of the nobles 
was so strong that they were already nearly in the posi- 
tion of a proscribed class. The bourgeoisie had not the 
habit even of administering local affairs, and was itself 
regarded with suspicion by the class beneath it. The 
people, both ignorant and discontented, regarded those 
men who were for the time in office as responsible for 

&0 The Constitution, 1790-91 

their misery. If corn and bread were dear, the municipal 
officer who would not lower their price was denounced as 
an aristocrat, and his life was threatened. Men of the 
middle class, engaged in professional and other pursuits, 
withdrew in large numbers from political life. The ultra- 
democrats, active, united, and unscrupulous, were there- 
fore able, although a minority, to put themselves forward 
as representatives of France, and gradually to engross 
the direction of affairs in their own hands, 

In the National Assembly which represented France 

as it was in 1789, the party did not, as has been seen, 

number more than from twenty to thirty, but its weakness 

in the Assembly was fully atoned for by its strength in 

the Jacobins. This society had developed into 

exercised by a P ^^ ^ organ which was none the less 
Jacobin powerful because its authority was not recog- 
nised by the laws. During 1790 and 1791 
Jacobin clubs were established in most provincial towns, 
and even in mere villages. They were generally affiliated 
to the head or mother society at Paris, with which they 
maintained a regular correspondence. Thus, at a time 
when all other bonds of cohesion had been destroyed or 
had fallen away, there was rising into existence over 
France, outside the constitution, a network of authorities, 
directed from a common centre in Paris. The clubs, in 
fact, perpetually interfered with the administrative bodies, 
tendering advice which often assumed the form of dicta- 
tion or intimidation, and were always able, if they pleased, 
to get up demonstrations in favour of their own views. 
They represented that spirit of distrust which was 
everywhere felt and seemed to pervade the very air men 
breathed ; and if more moderate politicians disapproved 
the violent language often used in them, and their as- 
sumptions of administrative authority, they did not desire 
their suppression, for the reason that their fear of 

1790-91 The Constitution. 8i 

danger from this source was less than their fear of the 
triumph of reactionists and the undoing of the work of the 

In September 1790, the ministry had been dissolved 
in consequence of attacks made on it by the Jacobins of 
Paris. Necker, painfully alive to his loss of popularity, 
left the country unregretted (September), and his col- 
leagues, alarmed at the charges brought against them, 
shortly afterwards resigned. Louis after this put men in 
office known to be opposed to the restoration of the old 
order, but they possessed as little influence on the 
Assembly as their predecessors. The right refused them 
support, because they did not belong to the party of 
reaction ; and the left, because their attachment to the 
existing constitution was called in question. 

Besides the Jacobin Club, other machinery existed at 
Paris by aid of which the ultra-democrats were gradually 
paving the way for their own advent to power, commune of 
In September 1790, the commune of Paris Paris - 
was reorganised in accordance with a special law, being 
divided into 48 sections, each of which had its primary 
assembly, composed of active citizens. Out of a popu- 
lation of 800,000, 84,000 were entitled to vote. Each 
of the 48 primary assemblies, commonly known as the 
sections, had a permanent committee, whose business it 
was to execute the orders of the municipality, and to 
carry out police regulations within the section. The 
municipality itself, of which Bailly was re-elected mayor, 
consisted of a general council of 96 and an executive of 
44 members. It did its best to maintain order and 
support the constitution. Its position, however, was a 
difficult one. Work was scarce, crime rife, the prisons 
crowded. Liberty of speech and of the press was on all 
sides abused. There were no laws by which political agi- 
tation, though it took the form of treason to the constitu- 

M. H. G 

82 The Constitution. 1790-91 

tion, could be legally suppressed. In the sections, owing 
to the withdrawal into private life of men of moderate 
views, the ultra-democrats were often able to obtain the 
upper hand. The permanent committees, in place of 
obeying the municipality, sometimes disputed authority 
with it or took an independent course of their own. All 
the 48 primary assemblies were entitled to meet when- 
ever eight of their number made the demand in legal 
form. In the poorer sections agitators, by unceasing 
hostile criticism, undermined amongst the lower classes 
the popularity of the Assembly, of the municipality, of 
Lafayette, and of the national guard. Amongst many 
popular clubs, founded in different parts of Paris, the 
Cordeliers south of the Seine acquired special notoriety. 
Here presided Danton, an orator distinguished among 
his fellows by the zeal and energy which he flung into 
the contest with the municipality. 

As the revolution thus ran its course, and the ultra- 
democratic party, with the populace behind it, threatened 
by its activity and unscrupulousness in time to make 
itself entire master of the political arena, the stronger 
had become Mirabeau's desire to. enter the ministry and 
„. , , direct the counsels of the King. From en- 

Mirabeaus ^ . A - ... , - 

* policy and trance into the council he was, however, for 
death. tne t j me hopelessly debarred. To nip his 

ambition in the bud, Necker and his colleagues, shortly 
after the King's arrival in Paris, had instigated the 
Assembly to decree that no deputy should be a minister* 
In the spring of 1790 the King and Queen were induced 
to enter into secret communication with the great orator. 
He tendered them advice in a written form, and the King 
in return for his services made him monthly payments. 
But Mirabeau soon experienced that except in trivial 
matters his advice was never followed. He demanded a 
far fuller and more generous acceptance of the principles 

i 790-9 1 The Constitution. 83 

of the revolution than it was possible for Louis to give. 
He accepted as absolute gain, both for the King and the 
nation, the fall of the parliaments, the abolition of privi- 
leges, the destruction of the orders of nobles and clergy, 
and the freeing of land and labour. Unceasingly he 
urged and implored Louis to win the confidence of the 
nation by turning his back wholly on the past, and sepa- 
rating the cause of the crown from that of the upper 
orders. * To accomplish a reaction,' he wrote, c you must 
destroy at a blow a whole generation or make blank the 
memories of twenty-five millions of men.' Mirabeau 
accepted also as the noblest fruits of the revolution free- 
dom of worship, freedom of the press, and the freedom 
of the individual from arbitrary treatment in property 
and person. But while detesting government that was 
arbitrary, or which went astray through want of means 
to test public opinion, Mirabeau had little faith in the 
wisdom of collective bodies of men, or in the political 
intelligence of the middle and lower classes, of whom 
he believed that, in the long run, the one would sell 
political liberty for order, the other for bread. He, 
therefore, looked to the King to be the guide and leader 
of the nation. His belief was that if only the existing 
barriers of distrust were broken down, the middle-class, 
relieved from fear of reaction in favour of the nobility 
and the Church, would readily assent to the establish- 
ment of a strong executive and the repeal of the decrees 
making administrative bodies independent of the central 
government, and excluding ministers from the legis- 
lature." He had, moreover, the penetration to see that 
the abolition of aristocratic institutions, and the par- 
celling out of the country into equal divisions, without 
historical traditions, were measures destructive of variety 
and vigour in the national life, and thereby favourable to 
the exercise of power by the crown. Unless the course 

84 The Constitution. 1791 

that he advised were followed he predicted the fall of 
the throne. c The mob/ he repeatedly said of the King 
and Queen, c will trample on their corpses.' In despair 
of getting the existing Assembly to repeal its decrees, 
Mirabeau advised the King to quit Paris, and after 
doing all in his power to win the middle-class to his 
side to make, if necessary, an appeal to arms. While, 
however, he was urging such projects on Louis his natu- 
rally strong constitution, overtaxed by his exertions, 
broke down, and he died at the age of forty-two (April 
2, 1 791). It is wrong to regard Mirabeau as having 
been false to his principles because he entered into a 
pecuniary transaction with the King. He was a mon- 
archist before 1789, and he died one in 1791. But the 
low moral elevation of his character vitiated his judg- 
ment, and increased the difficulties in his path. By 
taking money of the King he was precluded from the 
possibility of obtaining his confidence. Louis and Marie 
Antoinette never regarded him otherwise than as a 
dangerous demagogue bought over. The distrust in 
which his fellow deputies held him was not without 
justification. He was quite unscrupulous as to what 
means he employed to gain his ends, and did not hesitate 
to speak words in direct opposition to his real opinion, 
nor to support measures which he deemed injurious, in 
order to lower the Assembly in the opinion of the 
country, and increase the possibility of bringing about a 
reaction in the royal favour. It is difficult to doubt that 
his intense mortification at being excluded from the 
ministry made him more ready to countenance the idea 
of civil war. 

Although long before his death ultra-democrats had 
accused Mirabeau of playing a double game, they could 
not prove the truth of their words, and to the last 
the great orator retained his popularity amongst the 

1 791 

The Constitution. 85 

people. His remains were interred in the Pantheon a 
large church lately built on the south side of the Seine, 
which the Assembly had reserved for the special burial- 
place of Frenchmen who by their services had won the 
honour and gratitude of their country. A vast crowd 
formed his funeral procession. A lady, annoyed by the 
dust, complained of the municipality for neglecting to 
water the boulevard. ' Madam,' replied a fishwoman, 
c they reckoned on our tears.' Whether true or not, the 
story bears witness to the feelings of the time. 

When Mirabeau died a significant change of temper 
was drawing over the Assembly. As the framers of the 
constitution approached its completion the truth began to 
press home on them that its stability was im- . . 
perilled by the continuance of disorder. They ConstSution- 
saw taxes refused, administrative bodies pur- aHsts - 
suing whatever course was right in their own eyes, 
peasants pillaging corn, street mobs persecuting non- 
jurors, soldiers refusing obedience to officers, their own 
popularity waning, clubs usurping authority, ultra-demo- 
cratic journals discrediting the constitution, and inces- 
santly urging on the people the duty of insurrection. 
Now that a free constitution was established, and reform 
effected in every branch of the public service, justification 
for this state of things from their point of view vanished. 
Lafayette, Barnave, the Lameths, and other deputies of 
the left, who in 1790 had purposely sought to render the 
executive weak, in 1791 began to fear lest they had 
overshot their mark. Yet for them to change their course 
was no easy matter. They still sought for popular 
support, and clung to the principles on which the consti- 
tution of which they had themselves been the authors 
was based. Fear of reaction, moreover, still weighed 
heavily on them. The reactionary press, in coarse and 
violent language condemned the entire work of the 

86 The Fall of the Monarchy. 1791 

Assembly, and threatened with the axe or the gallows all 
who from the opening of the States had at any time given 
support to revolutionary principles. Such threats were 
not without meaning at a time when emigrants were 
collecting in armed bands at Basel and Coblentz, 
threatening invasion ; and the King's brother, the Count 
of Artois, was calling on foreign powers to restore by force 
of arms the authority of the throne. 

The primary assemblies for the election of the consti- 
tutional legislature were already meeting, when an event 
took place which brought into clearer light the relations 
existing between all parties. 



To the King and Queen their position had long since 

become intolerable. They regarded the constitution as a 

„,. t , monstrous work, based on principles sub- 
Flight of . r 11 1 n* 1 1 

the Royal versive of all good government. To the laws 
Family. establishing the Civil Constitution of the I 
Clergy and imposing an oath on beneficed ecclesiastics/ 
Louis had given his official consent with reluctance, but 
as he was unable to obtain the sanction of the Pope to 
what he had done, his peace of conscience was gone. 
The Queen was greatly suspected of using her influence 
to incite her husband against the revolution. She was 
intensely unpopular. Up to the middle of the century 
France had pursued a policy of opposition to Austria. 
In 1756 jealousy of-JEngland, and of England's ally, 
the rising state of Prussia, had brought about an offensive 


1 7Qi The Fall of the Monarchy. 87 

and defensive alliance between France and Austria. 
The national feeling of hostility had, however, not died 
out, and the insignificant part that France took in foreign 
affairs was ascribed not to the decadence of the monarchy, 
but to the Austrian alliance. To make firm the bond, 
the partisans of the new system had accomplished, in 
1770, a marriage between Louis, then Dauphin, and 
Marie Antoinette, daughter of the Empress Queen, Maria 
Theresa. Thus, from her first entrance into the country, 
Marie Antoinette had been regarded with disfavour, as 
the pledge of an unpopular alliance. Courtiers and 
intriguers, opposed to the faction which had brought 
about her marriage, had accused her of sacrificing 
French to Austrian interests, and had bruited false and 
scandalous tales against her name. By the revolutionary 
journalists she was now held up to execration as the 
untrue wife and false Queen, the betrayer of France, who 
was seeking by aid of Austrian troops to put down the 
revolution in blood. Now that trouble had destroyed her 
love of dissipation and brought into relief the strong side 
of her character, Marie Antoinette devoted all the 
energy of which her mind was capable to the task of 
recovering for her husband and bequeathing to her son the 
reins of government She found her chief pleasure in the 
fulfilment of her duties as wife and mother, and by her 
dignified bearing impressed those who came into contact 
with her with a high idea of her daring and intellect. Less 
ready, however, than her husband to make concessions, 
and far more so to practise deceit, she proved an evil 
councillor to Louis. Both desired that the constitution 
should fail, and regarded the increase of disorder with 
indifference, under the idea that suffering would speedily 
recall their penitent subjects to the foot of the throne. 
Meanwhile, Louis made repeated and public avowals of 
his satisfaction with the constitution, intending here- 

88 The Fall of the Monarchy. 1791 

after to withdraw his words on the plea that he was not 
at liberty to express his true opinion. Since the winter 
a plan of flight to the eastern frontier was projected, but 
its execution was delayed owing to want of money and 
troops. The Queen relied on her brother, the Emperor 
Leopold, to place whatever Austrian troops were in 
Luxemburg at her disposal in case of need. She thought 
that if the King were once in safety on the frontier, and 
able to protect his supporters, a large portion of the 
nation would rally round him, and that it would be 
possible to make a settlement which, while leaving to 
the country some form of constitutional government, 
would set the royal authority above the heads of all 
subjects. Rumours that the King intended flight had 
for months been floating about In April, the national 
guard, in spite of Lafayette's remonstrances, detained 
by force the royal carriages when on the point of start- 
ing for the Palace of St Cloud, a short distance outside 
the city. 

It would have been easy for the King and Queen to 
effect their escape had they been content to travel in a 
manner not calculated to excite suspicion. But their 
mode of life had accustomed them to attach importance 
to trifles. The suspicion of servants was aroused by 
preparations which could not be kept entirely concealed ; 
and the day of flight was delayed in order that the Queen 
might, on her arrival on the frontier, have a wardrobe 
ready prepared, and the dressing-case that she was 
accustomed to use. On the night of June 20 the King, 
disguised as a valet, his sister, the Princess Elizabeth, 
the Queen, the two children, and their governess, left the 
Tuileries unobserved, and were driven in a hackney- 
carriage a short distance outside Paris. Here they found 
ready waiting them an enormous new yellow coach, 
built for the occasion, and three soldiers of the body- 

1791 The Fall of the Monarchy. 89 

guard, dressed in yellow liveries, and prepared to act as 
couriers. The destination of the royal party was Mont- 
m&iy, close to the Luxemburg frontier ; and the MarquiC 
of Bouille*, who commanded in that quarter, had under- 
taken to station detachments of troops to guard the way 
at all the chief towns and villages after Chalons. As 
might have been expected, wherever dragoons and 
hussars were stationed, their presence, unexplained and 
disliked, excited the suspicion that something unusual 
was to occur. The cumbersome coach, which crawled 
along through the mud at the rate of three miles an 
hour, arrived ,at each village many hours after the time 
at which it was expected. The travellers, rejoiced at 
leaving Paris behind, acted incautiously, as though all 
danger were passed. The King repeatedly exposed 
himself to view. At St. Menehould, where there was a 
stoppage to change horses, the master of the post, 
Drouet, an ardent Jacobin, thought he saw a likeness 
between the pretended valet and the image of the King 
on the assignats. Directly the travellers had left the 
village, he mounted on horseback and rode in pursuit. 
The next stoppage was at Varennes, a small town divided 
in two by the river Aire. The royal party arrived a little 
after midnight, which was six hours behind time. While 
the body-guards were vainly seeking in the darkness a 
relay of horses, which was waiting on the further side of 
the bridge, Drouet rode into the town, roused the mayor, 
and with whatever waggons and barrels came first to 
hand, blocked the road over the bridge. Bouille^s son, 
who commanded an escort of hussars at Varennes, had 
gone to rest for the night. When at last the royal coach 
reached the bridge it was stopped. The travellers were 
required to step out, and wait where they were till the 
morning. Louis exhibited his ordinary stolid indifference 
to circumstances. He went, as requested, into a grocer's 

go The Fall of the Monarchy. 1791 


shop close by, belonging to the mayor, and asked for 
refreshments. The Queen, nearly on her knees, implored 
the mayor's wife, Madame Sausse, to let them proceed 
on their way. The woman expressed sympathy for her, 
but replied that she too had a husband and children to 
care for. Meanwhile the alarm bells were ringing through 
all the country side, and by the morning thousands of 
national guards were assembled at Varennes. The few 
hussars about the place were easily won over to the 
popular side. Some of Bouille^s officers proposed, with a 
handful of men who stood by them, to force a way across 
the bridge. But the hazard was very great, and the 
King would not give the word. The return journey was 
therefore begun, and five days after their departure the 
fugitives re-entered the Tuileries as prisoners (June 25). 

When Louis's flight was first reported, intense alarm 
prevailed at Paris. It was expected that civil war, already 
Split be- organised, was on the point of breaking out, 
twecnconsti- and that the emigrants were about to cross the 

tutionahsts - . ,_. T ». 

and ultra- frontier. The King's capture brougnt a sense 

democrats. of reliefj but did nQt tend tQ \ essen fte diffi- 
culties of the situation. In justification of his departure, 
Louis had left behind him a document, in which he 
criticised the constitution from an unfavourable point of 
view, and called in question all that had been done since 
October 1789. Thus by act and word he had made 
known, without disguise, his intention not to rule in 
accordance with the constitution, and henceforth it was 
impossible that the country should have confidence in 
him. Ultra-democrats with one voice wisely pronounced 
his protest and flight a virtual abdication. Some, slow 
to take a decided part, amongst whom Robespierre was 
prominent, or desirous of putting the Duke of Orleans 
forward, demanded Louis's deposition and a regency; 
others, as Brissot, Desmoulins, and Dan ton, more san- 

1791 The Fall of the Monarchy. 91 

guine and more outspoken, called for the establishment 
of a republic. The Cordeliers, under Danton's guidance, 
covered the walls with placards in favour of a republic. 
The Jacobins, following Robespierre, stopped short of this, 
and asked only for the deposition of Louis. Closing their 
eyes, however, to the undoubted fact of the King's insin- 
cerity, the deputies of the left and centre rallied together 
to support the tottering throne. They were aware that 
the republican party was but a small minority. Lafayette 
and Barnave, as well as other deputies, held themselves 
pledged in honour to Louis to maintain his throne. In 
case of deposition, there was increased danger of involving 
France in foreign war. Neither a change of succession 
nor a regency appeared desirable. The King's brothers 
were emigrants, the Duke of Orleans a tool in the hands 
of Parisian demagogues. Above all, there was fear that 
the deposition of Louis would tend to undermine the 
constitution itself, and give increased influence to the 
advocates of pure democracy. Under the influence cf 
such motives, the Assembly determined to restore the 
executive power to Louis, should he accept the constitu- 
tion when presented to him as a completed whole. The 
republican party attempted a demonstration against this 
decision. On Sunday, July 17, a large gathering of 
persons assembled in the Champ de Mars, where a 
petition was signed asking the Assembly to reconsider 
its decrees. The meeting itself was not illegal, and in 
character perfectly peaceful. It was possible, however, 
that within twenty-four hours the petition would be 
brought before the Assembly supported by an armed and 
threatening mob. Urged on by the monarchists, the 
municipal officers, accompanied by Lafayette and the na- 
tional guard, marched to the place of assemblage. Before 
the Riot Act was read or dispersion possible, some com- 
panies fired, in irritation, into the throng, killing and maim 

92 The Fall of the Monarchy. 1791 

ing several persons, men, women, and children. General 
flight followed, and the petition was no more heard of. 

This event, known in the annals of the revolution as 
the massacre of the Champ de Mars, caused complete 

severance between the men who were bent on 
reriseThe° maintaining the constitution and the ultra- 
Constitu- democratic party. A schism took place in 

the Jacobins. The constitutionalists founded 
a new club, the Feuillants, so called because it met in a 
convent formerly belonging to monks of that name, while 
the ultra-democrats remained in undisputed possession of 
the Jacobins. Amongst the constitutionalists or Feuil- 
lants were Lafayette, Barnave, the Lameths, and all the 
most prominent men of the centre and left Could they 
have done their work over again, they would have intro- 
duced material changes in the constitution, with the 
double object of making it more acceptable to the King, 
and enabling the ministry to exercise control over the 
administrative bodies. Their main fear was that, after 
the dissolution of the existing Assembly, new men would 
come into power who, having had no hand in framing 
the constitution, would not have the same interest as 
themselves in sustaining it. According to a constitutional 
law, those who had*been deputies could neither enter the 
ministry nor hold any government appointment for a 
certain number of years ; while a special law forbade the 
election of men who had been members of the present 
constituent Assembly to the ensuing Legislature. Robes- 
pierre had proposed this latter law in April 1791, and to 
obtain its adoption had appealed to the deputies to give 
proof of disinterestedness. When the constitutional laws 
were adopted in a body, ready for final presentation to 
Louis, some few amendments were made, but the attempt 
of the constitutionalists to obtain the repeal of these im- 
portant disqualifications failed. The right voted with 

1791 The Fall of the Monarchy. 93 

Robespierre and Pe'tion, rejoicing over the falling out of 
their opponents. 

Louis, when the constitution was presented to him, 
undertook to govern in accordance with it, and the 
deputies then dispersed to give place to their suc- 
cessors (September 30). Called upon to effect in the 
course of a few months changes which could only be 
accomplished without convulsions in the course of 
years, whatever their errors, they had rendered France 
many and great services. By their legal re- work of the 
forms alone they did away with an untold Assembly, 
amount of mental and physical suffering. By their eco- 
nomical and financial reforms they paved the way for 
a new era in agriculture and industrialism. If, under 
passion and* prejudice, they had on occasions wantonly 
increased the*" number and fury of opponents, yet much 
that they had been called on to do remained still un- 
done, and when they closed the sittings there was small 
prospect that Jne tide of revolution would stop at the 
limit which they had drawn. They had found neither 
time nor opportunity to establish any general system of 
poor relief or any national system of education. By their 
decrees dealing with proprietary rights they had struck at 
the root of the old law, but the work of promulgating a 
new code they left to those who came after them. With 
the fiefs had fallen the law of primogeniture, but liberty 
of devise had been left in the main unrestricted, though 
in default of a will all relations equal in blood inherited 
equally. This principle of equal division was not a 
speculative invention of the revolution, but as regards 
land held by certain tenures, it had already existed in 
some parts of France. The finances of the state had been 
restored only on paper. All the expenses of government 
were regulated and the civil list fixed. Four main 
branches of the revenue, tobacco and salt monopolies, 

94 The Fall of the Monarchy. 1791 

excise duties, and duties on wine had been abolished. 
The yearly expenditure, including the expenses of the 
Established Church, was estimated at 27,900,000/., of 
which 21,350,000/. had to be raised by taxation. In place 
of the taille a tax of 13,125,000/., rated by local boards, 
was imposed on lands and buildings. Taxes of 2,625,000/. 
were imposed on personal property. The remaining 
6,000,000/. were to be raised by various forms of indirect 
taxation, custom duties, stamp taxes, and trade patents. 
The debt, however, during these two and a half years of 
revolution had been greatly augmented, and the deficit 
increased. The holders of the abolished offices had been 
liberally indemnified, and the reforms effected in all de- 
partments cost the nation no less than 61,200,000/., swell- 
ing the state debt to more than 87,500,000/. Meanwhile 
the people had refused to pay the old taxes long before 
their abolition by the Assembly, and it was now only 
with difficulty that some portion of the new was collected. 
Not only to pay state creditors, but also to cover the 
expenses of government, resort had been had to new 
issues of assignats, and in the spring of 1791 the paper 
money fell in value about ten per cent. Metal money 
became scarce, being sent out of the kingdom or kept in 
reserve. To supply the circulation, assignats of a few 
shillings value had been created, and thus their fall in 
value affected all classes. In September 1791 there were 
m circulation assignats to the value of about 48,125,000/. 
Marie Antoinette and Louis had no other aim in 
accepting the constitution than to deceive the nation 
Plans of the unt ^ foreign powers were ready to act in their 
Queen. behalf. After her return from Varennes the 
Queen repeatedly urged on her brother, the Emperor 
Leopold, to effect the meeting of a European congress 
for the settlement of French affairs. This congress was 
to have at its disposition an army; but the Queen 

i79t The Fall of the Monarchy. 95 

wished that war should be avoided. Her expectation 
was that the country, under terror of invasion, would 
gladly accept the mediation of the King, and consent 
to a remodelling of the constitution according to his 
wishes. She sought to separate the cause of the crown 
alike from the cause of emigrants and of constitutionalists. 
She recalled with bitterness the opposition of the nobles 
to the government before 1789, and deeply resented 
their subsequent flight as a base desertion of the royal 
cause. Their present conduct stood in the way of the 
accomplishment of her own plans and heightened her 
feelings of resentment. They refused to accept as sincere 
the King's acceptance of the constitution ; they excited 
the country by threats of invasion and vengeance ; and, 
by representing themselves as defenders of the monarchy, 
brought on Louis suspicion of being their accomplice. 
1 The cowards,' she indignantly wrote, ' first to abandon 
us, and then to require that we should think only of 
them and their interests ! ' To alliance with the con- 
stitutionalists Marie Antoinette was as averse as to 
alliance with the emigrants. Even were they willing and 
able to make some modifications in the constitution, to 
rule on their terms was to rule under their tutorship. 
Accordingly, while pretending to be acting with them, 
she looked forward with impatience to the day when 
she might with safety show her hand and prove them her 
tools and dupes. 

There was, however, small probability that a Euro- 
pean congress would meet ; still less that the nation 
would, without resistance, submit to foreign interference. 
Europe was in a disturbed condition. The state of 
great powers had no confidence in one E «rop«. 
another, nor were they desirous of acting in union. The 
empire of which the Queen's brother was the head was 
composed of more than 300 states, greatly varying in size. 

90 The Fall of the Monarchy. 1791 

The Peace of Westphalia, concluded at the end of the 
Thirty Years' War (1648), had assured the princes all the 
rights of independent and absolute rulers. Imperial 
institutions were in decay. The military organisation of 
the empire was very defective and inefficient for its 
defence. The Diet consisted merely of a few diplomatists, 
sitting permanently at Ratisbon, who were represen- 
tatives of the larger states, and whom the smaller 
entrusted with their votes. Under Frederick the Great 
( 1 740-1 786) Prussia had developed into a strong power, 
which acted as a rival to Austria within the empire. On 
all important occasions the larger stages followed the 
lead either of the Emperor or of the King of Prussia, 
and between the cabinets of Vienna and Berlin a bitter 
antagonism existed. Russia was another state which, 
during the past hundred years, had risen into prominence. 
The Empress Catherine II. was an able and ambitious 
woman, who had made use of the rivalry existing between 
Prussia and Austria to interfere with effect in the affairs 
Aof Central Europe. Throughout the century, all the 
/ great powers, influenced by ambition and a desire for 
I strengthening their frontiers, had pursued a policy of 
\ territorial aggrandisement. Louis XIV. had taken from 
Ythe empire Alsace and Lorraine; Frederick the Great 
■had torn Silesia from Austria; in 1772, Catherine II., 
Frederick the Great, and Maria Theresa together had 
deprived Poland of some of her provinces ; more re- 
cently the Emperor Joseph II., son of Maria Theresa, 
had sought to incorporate Bavaria with the Austrian 
dominions, and had formed an alliance with Catherine 
for the spoliation of Turkey. In 1783 Catherine obtained 
the Crimea, thus extending her dominions to the Black 
Sea. Under this condition of things, the main security 
of the weaker states was found in the jealousy existing 
between the more powerful. The principle of the balance 

179/ Tfo Pall of the Monarchy. r/j 

of power required that no large alterations should be 
made in the map of Europe, and that no one power 
should make territorial acquisitions unless others ob- 
tained an equivalent Thus the opposition of Frederick 
the Great had foiled Joseph's project of incorporating 
Bavaria. It was the traditional policy of France to 
support Sweden, Poland, and Turkey against aggression, 
and the readiness with which the first partition of Poland 
was carried out in 1772 was wholly owing to the deca- 

' dence into which the French monarchy had fallen under 
Louis XV. 

In 1789, when the States-General met, Joseph ana 
Catherine were engaged in hostilities with Turkey, 
while England, Holland, and Prussia threatened to 
take part in the conflict on behalf of the Porte. This 

\ war in the east, and the possibility of a European con- 
flict diverted attention from affairs in France. 
In February 1790, however, the enterprising therevoS 
and ambitious Joseph II. died ; and his tlOQ ' 
brother and successor, Leopold II., a prince of cool and 
cautious temperament, made it his chief object to restore 
order within his own dominions, more especially in 
Hungary and Belgium, which were still in a disturbed 
state owing to Joseph's reforms. To insure Austria 
against being attacked by Prussia, he made, in July 1790, 
a treaty with Frederick William II., nephew of Frederick 
the Great, at Reichenbach, and, to free his hands more 
completely, entered into negotiations with Turkey. He 
had no disposition to attempt the restoration of abso- 
lute monarchy in France. It was the belief of conti- 
nental statesmen that where, as in Poland or in England, 
a constitutional form of monarchy existed, the executive 
was necessarily weak and precluded from acting with 
vigour or decision in foreign affairs. Hence neither 
Leopold nor his chancellor, Kaunitz, took exception to 

Q& The Fall of the Monarchy. ij$t 

me establishment of constitutional monarchy in France, 
which indeed they regarded as a pure gain to Austria. 
But after the flight of the royal family to Varennes, 
and the manifestation of republican opinions in Paris, 
foreign princes began to look on Louis's cause as the 
cause of kings, and to dread lest revolutionary principles, 
spreading beyond France, should render their own 
thrones insecure. Leopold, desirous to aid his sister, 
sought the alliance of Frederick William, and made peace 
with the Porte at Sistova. A meeting was held between 
the two allied princes at Pilnitz, where they signed a 
declaration expressing their readiness to undertake 
armed intervention in French affairs, if other European 
powers would unite with them (August 27). Practically 
this declaration was no more than a threat. Neither 
Leopold nor Frederick William contemplated immediate 
resource to arms. The English cabinet, directed by Pitt, 
had already refused to take part in common action. The 
alliance between Austria and Prussia was as yet but loosely 
knit and was regarded with distrust by the old school 
of both Austrian and Prussian statesmen. Affairs in the 
east, moreover, called for unremitting attention. Poland, 
situated between three powerful and grasping neigh- 
bours, was a prey to perpetual anarchy. The monarchy 
was elective, and the king was kept in check by the fierce 
and seditious nobility by whose votes he was placed on 
the throne. The peasantry, were downtrodden serfs, 
and the middle class without political rights ; king and 
nobles struggling for power invited foreign interference, 
and Russia and Prussia by turns exercised ascendancy 
at Warsaw. In May 1791, a patriotic party, eager to 
secure national independence by the establishment of a 
strong government, obtained the adoption of a new 
constitution, curtailing the privileges of the nobles and 
making the crown hereditary. This measure at once 

1 79i The Fall of the Monarchy. 99 

excited the hostility of Catherine. She gave support to 
its opponents, and in order that she might carry out her 
designs in Poland undisturbed made peace with Turkey, 
and sought to stir up a European war in the west, 
encouraging the French emigrants, and instigating the 
German powers to interfere in their behalf Catherine's 
zeal, however, rendered Leopold the less willing to 
involve himself in hostilities, since events on the Vistula 
were of much more moment to him than the details of 
the French constitution. When, therefore, in September, 
Louis agreed to rule in accordance with the constitution, 
he affected to regard him as a free agent, and in the 
hope that the constitutional party would maintain the 
upper hand, turned a deaf ear to his sister's entreaties 
that he would obtain the meeting of a European con- 
gress. The King of Prussia entertained a violent hatred 
of the principles of the revolution, but Polish affairs and 
distrust of Austria restrained him from coming forward 
as a champion of Louis's cause. Thus, while continental 
princes agreed that the revolutionary tide must be stayed, 
nothing was settled as to time and means. 

In such a state of foreign affairs the new Legislative 
Assembly met (October 1), the only one which ever came 
together in accordance with that constitution The new 
which had cost so much labour to build up. Legislature. 
It consisted of 740 deputies, who represented exclusively 
revolutionary France. There were in it no partisans of 
the old rule, and no reformers with aristocratic ten- 
dencies. The right side was now composed of consti- 
tutionalists, who held that only by close adherence to the 
constitution could the country be safely guided between 
the double perils of reaction and anarchy. Though with- 
out confidence in the King, they regarded him as much 
less powerful for harm than the leaders of the Parisian 
populace, and sought on all occasions to maintain him 

H 2 

IOO The Fall of the Monarchy. 1791 

in the unrestrained exercise of his constitutional prero- 
gatives. The left of the Assembly, though avowedly 
constitutionalist, at heart cherished a desire for the 
establishment of a more democratic government, and the 
abolition of monarchy. A group of men, remarkable for 
youth, talent, and eloquence, sat on this side of the 
house. They were called Girondists, because theii 
chief orators — Vergniaud, Gensonne*, Guadet, and others 
who formerly belonged to the bar of Bordeaux — had been 
returned by the department of the Gironde. These 
men were fervent democrats and republicans, and at the 
same time defenders of the principle of individual 
liberty. They were also sceptics and theists, inheritors 
of Voltaire's passionate scorn and hatred of Catholicism. 
Brissot, who now had a seat in the house, belonged to 
them, and his journal became the recognised organ of 
their party. Their policy was mainly dictated by a theo- 
retic aversion to monarchical government, and nervous 
apprehension of the consequences of Louis's treachery. 
Alive, however, to the fact that public opinion was in 
favour of the constitution, they formed no definite plans 
for its destruction, but endeavoured to obtain the adoption 
of measures calculated to reveal the King's duplicity, 
and so to weaken the hold that the throne had upon the 
affection of the nation. The body of deputies forming 
the centre of the Assembly sincerely desired the main- 
tenance of the constitution, but had no reliance on the 
good faith of Louis, and hence oscillated between the 
right and the left, being desirous of maintaining the 
throne, and yet being afraid to give to the executive a 
hearty support or to take strong measures for the sup- 
pression of insurrectionary movements. 

Important questions pressed upon the Legislature for 
solution. The ecclesiastical settlement attempted by the 
constituent Assembly was being daily proved impractic- 

1791 The Fall of tJu Monarchy. 101 

able. In many cases the administrative bodies strove v 
hard to preserve the peace and to keep the Churches 
open, both to the nonjurors and their rivals \ Ecclesia*. 
but their efforts were hopeless. Without a tical policy, 
military force always at command it was practically im- 
possible to maintain both parties in their legal rights. 
In some departments the nonjurors set themselves at the 
head of insurgent peasants. In others they were sub- 
jected to insult and outrage. At Paris they could cele- 
brate mass only under the protection of national guards. 
During the summer of 1791 many administrative bodies, 
on the plea that by no other means could order be pre- 
served, prohibited nonjurors from officiating in parish 
churches, and required them to reside in the chief town 
of the department, away from their former parishioners. 
The Legislature had no choice but either to abandon the 
imposition of the oath or to follow it out to its logical con- 
sequences, and to regard those who refused to take it as 
enemies to the existing order. The last course accorded 
best with the prejudices of the majority, who accused 
the nonjurors of being the sole authors of troubles to 
which the situation itself could not fail to &ive rise. 
Some on the left proposed to exile them in a body. The 
Girondists detested them as the most bigoted of Catholics. 
The right weakly sought, on the ground of religious 
liberty, to leave matters as they were; but the centre 
here voted with the left, and a decree was passed depriving 
nonjurors of their pensions, and preventing their officiating 
in public (November 25). Louis, however, refused his 
sanction, and the situation remained unchanged. 

A second and no less important question before the 
Assembly was the policy to be pursued in relation to the 
emigrants and to foreign powers. The Elector Yardgn 
of Treves and other rulers of the small states, policy. 
lay and ecclesiastical, on the Rhine, gave encouragement 

i02 The Fall of the Monarchy. 1791 

and aid to the emigrants in arming against France. These 
princes were eager to involve the larger states of the 
Empire in hostilities. Their territories were amongst 
the worst governed in Germany, and they feared lest 
revolutionary principles should prove contagious, and 
affect their own subjects. Many of them had, besides, 
a special ground of complaint. In Alsace and Lorraine 
they possessed rights as seigneurs, secured to them by 
the Treaty of Westphalia, and of which the decrees of 
August 4 (p. 50) had deprived them. This matter, how- 
ever, might easily have been arranged between France 
and the Empire had there been a disposition on either 
side to maintain peace. 

The principles .of foreign policy pursued by the 
cabinets of Europe, and the theories promulgated by 
the revolutionists, were in direct opposition to one 
another. Statesmen took no account of national forces 
or aspirations, but, intent on territorial acquisitions, were 
ready to distribute populations of the same race and 
tongue among different masters as suited diplomatic 
combinations. On the contrary, the doctrine of the 
sovereignty of the people involved a right to national 
independence. The constituent Assembly had publicly 
declared the aversion of the French nation to offensive 
wars, and had given proof of its pacific tendencies by 
limiting the army to 1 50,000 men. But the flight of the 
King and the drawing together of Austria and Prussia 
gave rise to great uneasiness as to the intentions of 
those powers, while the threat of interference in the 
Declaration of Pilnitz gave deep offence to the national 
pride. Measures were taken for increasing the army by 
an additional force of 97,000 volunteers. The Legis- 
lative, like the constituent Assembly, repudiated ideas 
of aggression and conquest, but became rapidly inflamed 
with warlike zeal. It gave expression to the intense 

1791-92 The Fall of the Monarchy 103 

feelings of hatred existing against the emigrants by a 
decree condemning to death as traitors all Frenchmen 
who, after the end of the year, should still be beyond 
the frontier in arms against their country (November 9). 
Louis refused to sanction the decree, and thus increased 
the suspicion resting on him of being the secret accom- 
plice of those against whom it was aimed. The Girondists 
desired war with Austria. They were aware that there 
was no immediate danger of attack from the great powers, 
and that both the emigrants and the princes who abetted 
them, unless supported by the Emperor, were impotent ; 
but they believed that, during war, the King's duplicity 
would be clearly revealed, and judged it the wiser course, 
in place of waiting for attack, to begin hostilities, while 
Leopold still sought to avoid them. Enthusiastic confi- 
dence in the national spirit to fight to the last extremity 
in defence of its independence, and the expectation that 
the principles of the revolution would spread rapidly 
amongst other nations, and cause them to rise against 
their rulers, led the Girondists to entertain no doubt of the 
success of their arms. ' Let us tell Europe,' exclaimed 
a fiery orator, Isnard, ( that if cabinets engage kings in 
a war against peoples, we will engage peoples in a war 
against kings.' Of the constitutionalists few cared to 
avoid a rupture. The majority looked forward to war as 
a means of insuring the ascendancy of their own party, 
and of bringing into existence a powerful army under 
Lafayette's command. There was no difficulty in finding 
a ground of quarrel with Leopold either as Emperor or 
as King of Hungary and Bohemia. The Assembly 
threatened to attack the empire unless the bands of 
emigrants on the frontier were dispersed. Afterwards, 
shifting its ground, it accused Leopold of having broken 
the treaty of 1756 between France and Austria, and de- 
clared that a refusal to renounce all treaties directed 

104 The Fall of tfie Monarchy. x ^% 

against the independence of the French nation — in other 
words, his understanding with the King of Prussia — would 
be held tantamount to a declaration of war (January 25, 
1792). This hostile attitude of the Assembly hastened 
the conclusion of a defensive alliance between Austria 
and Prussia ; after which Leopold, no longer caring to 
delay hostilities, added fuel to the flame by claiming a 
right of interference in the internal affairs of France, 
and by accusing the Assembly of being under the illegal 
ascendancy of republicans and Jacobins. 

The outbreak of war might probably have been post- 
poned, but it could hardly have been definitely averted. 
The doctrines of social and political equality announced by 
the French revolutionists were not, as were the arguments 
from law and precedent which had in the seventeenth 
century risen to me surface in the English Long Parlia- 
ment, adapted merely to the country in which they arose. 
They were applicable to all the states of Western Europe. 
Hence, they acquired all the force of a religious propa- 
ganda. As in the sixteenth century men were not asked 
whether they were Germans or Frenchmen, but whether 
they were Catholics or Protestants, so now they would 
be first asked whether they were on the side of the revo- 
lutionary opinions or not. Before that great division of 
opinions all national antagonisms sank into comparative 
insignificance. The French revolutionist could not long 
avoid being carried away by a fierce desire to give 
effectual aid to his brother revolutionist abroad, and the 
German or English anti-revolutionist could not long keep 
his hands out of the fray whilst the classes in France 
with whom he warmly sympathised were being borne 
down and oppressed. 

The ministry at this important crisis was disunited 
and without the confidence of the Assembly. While the 
Assembly desired war, Delessart, minister of foreign 

1792 The Fall of the Monarchy. 105 

affairs, sought to maintain peace. The minister of war, 
Narbonne, a friend of Lafayette, flung so much energy 
and enthusiasm into the work of making pre- Declaration 
parations for hostilities that he won support <rf w * r « 
from both sides of the Assembly. Bertrand de Molleville, 
minister of marine, was a reactionary. Louis through 
aversion to Lafayette dismissed Narbonne from office. 
Brissot took advantage of the discontent that this step 
excited amongst constitutionalists to bring a charge of 
high treason against Delessart for betraying the interests 
of France to Austria (March 10). This attack led to a 
break-up of the cabinet, and Louis, whose one object now 
was to tide with safety over the next few months, till the 
arrival of the allies at Paris, put in office men who 
represented the opinions dominant in the Assembly. 
Roland and Claviere, respectively ministers of the interior 
and of finance, belonged to the Girondists. Dumouriez, 
minister of foreign affairs, was an able, self-confident and 
unscrupulous soldier, eager to obtain distinction and a 
career. On March 1, Leopold had died. His son and 
successor, Francis, a young man of four-and-twenty, who 
was some months later elected Emperor, cared less to 
avoid a rupture than his father had done. The new 
French ministry was above all a war ministry, and on the 
official proposition of the-KJng^the Assembly amid loud 
applause, declared war against Francis, as King of Hun- 
gary and Bohemia (April 20). Wars have often been 
entered on with as little ground of offence, but rarely with 
more rashness than when the Assembly thus engaged 
France in hostilities with Austria, which would necessarily 
involve a war also with her ally Prussia. The French 
fortresses were out of repair and the army completely 
disorganised. Since 1789 hundreds of officers had re- 
signed, deserted, or had been driven away by their men. 
According to the laws of the constituent Assembly under 

106 The Fall of the Monarchy. 1792 

officers were elected out of the ranks, and officers generally 
advanced according to length of service. There were, 
however, hundreds of vacancies still unfilled, and deser- 
tions both in army and navy continued. Of the 1 50,000 
troops of the line, 50,000 had yet to be recruited. The 
97,000 volunteers ordered to be raised were for the most 
part unarmed and untrained. 

The peril of the country excited on all sides suspicion 
and distrust, increasing the bitterness of party strife and 
threatening to undermine the standing ground alike of 
constitutionalists and Girondists. Girondists as little as 
constitutionalists had an interest in making further altera- 
tions in the bases of social order. If the Girondists held 
more democratic notions of life and govern- 
and tSe Xerre ment, yet by equality they understood equality 
jacobins. £ righ^ alone, and were to the full as zealous 
defenders of the principles of internal free trade and 
individual liberty. They were also political purists 
and precisians, who, while decrying the aristocracies oi 
birth and wealth, were intent on founding one of talent 
and virtue. Hence no sooner had they obtained posses- 
sion of the ministries than they came into sharp collision 
with whatever members of the ultra-democratic party did 
not share their genuine devotion to impracticable ideals. 
A spirit different from theirs was by this time rising into 
prominence amongst the Jacobins. The saddest result 
of the long exercise of arbitrary authority is that it renders 
mutual confidence impossible. The legacy of the old 
system of government to the new France was distrust- 
Man distrusted man, and class distrusted class. Thou- 
sands of persons who had embarked in the revolution 
full of sentimental hope_and confidence were now rushing 
into the opposite extreme. They had known so little of 
their fellow creatures as to imagine that the new equality 
would be received with enthusiasm, even by those who 


1792 The Fall of the Monarchy. 107 

had profited the most by the old inequality ; and they now 
fancied that under every reluctance to accept the fullest 
results of the revolution was concealed a deep design to 
betray it. A perfect self-confidence easily leads to the 
most deep-rooted suspicion ; and those who, after the long 
seclusion from all participation in practical politics to 
which most Frenchmen had been condemned for cen 
turies, were inevitably ignorant how complicated modern 
society is, readily imagined all who differed from them 
to be traitors to their country. Not only was this sus- 
picion directed against the King and those of the once 
privileged orders who remained in France, but it fastened 
upon all superiority of station or of intellect Many 
who had been educated in the theories of Rousseau to 
believe unreasonably in the purity and intelligence of the 
masses, learned no less unreasonably to distrust every 
man who in any way rose above the common level, and 
offered himself with more or less qualification as a rallying 
point to the disorganised society around him. 

The man who most represented this prevailing distrust 
of all superiority would in the end gain for a time that 
very superiority which he himself denied to be desirable, 
but which was required by the very necessities of human 
nature. Such a man was Maximilien Robespierre. 
A lawyer from Arras, he had been so far influenced by 
the teaching of Rousseau as to throw up a lucrative 
judicial post, lest he should be compelled to condemn a 
fellow-creature to death. From such feelings of pity for 
the human race to cruelty towards individuals there is 
in times of revolution, but a short step. The few who 
stood in the way of the entrance of the people into the pro- 
mised land, where liberty, equality, and fraternity were to 
become the accepted rule of life, soon came to be regarded 
as monsters of wickedness, whom it was the duty of every 
good citizen to sweep away from the earth for very 

1 08 The Fall of the Monarchy. 1 79 * 

kindness' sake. The time for such a proscription had 
not yet come. But Robespierre, though he was now 
excluded from the Legislature, as having been a member 
of the last Assembly, was always on the alert in the 
Jacobins, ready in dry and acrid tones to draw attention 
to every delinquency of those who were struggling to 
build up authority. The social and political formulas of 
Rousseau alone had taken root in his mind. He cared 
for equality, and he cared for democracy. For indivi- 
dual liberty he ceased to care as soon as he found him- 
self in a position to get the better of his adversaries 
by resorting to the arms of absolute and despotic 
governments. He was certain to be a dangerous and 
a cruel opponent His mind was logical and narrow, he 
was ambitious and envious of all above himself, cunning 
and hypocritical, yet earnest in pursuit of his aims, 
incapable of strong affection, of a generous act or a 
magnanimous resolution, and wholly devoid of moral 
sense. Whoever stood in his light he regarded at once 
as a personal enemy and a traitor to the people's cause. 
By temperament he was nervous and cautious . He never 
set himself at the head of popular movements, always 
guarded his statements so as to mean much or little, 
according to circumstances; and in case of danger, 
delayed till the last moment to take a decided part. 
Robespierre opposed the war because he divined that 
both constitutionalists and Girondists entered upon 
it with the aim of obtaining for themselves mastery 
over France. While the Girondists accused him of 
making himself the people's idol, he accused them of 
seeking power for party purposes. In the end he 
entirely destroyed the popularity originally enjoyed by 
Brissot, Guadet, and others in the Jacobins. The so- 
ciety had become even more democratic in character 
since the constitutionalists abandoned it in July 1791. 

1 79a The Fall of the Monarchy, 109 

The galleries were opened to the public, and were ordi- 
narily rilled by the most ardent revolutionists belonging 
to the lower and lower middle classes. Of this audience 
Robespierre won the entire confidence. He put himself 
forward as the special representative of the people, whose 
wisdom and goodness formed his constant theme. He 
personified the distrust felt by the lower classes towards 
the possessors of rank, wealth, and talent. He was 
himself indifferent to the enjoyments that wealth can 
give, absolutely incorruptible, an orator without brilliant 
qualities of any kind, but in appearance and language 
always respectable. Behind Robespierre, frequenters of 
the Jacobins and joining in the attack on the Girondists, 
were Desmoulins and others, to whom the preciseness and 
exclusiveness of Roland and Brissot gave offence, besides 
adventurers and agitators of the lowest type, whose sole 
object was to pave the way for their own advent to power 
and office. Marat, in his journal, openly accused the 
Girondists as well as the constitutionalists of being sold to 
the court, and included both in the general proscription 
which he unceasingly urged on the people of Paris. 

The party conflicts waged in the capital were repeated 
in the departments. The central government was power- 
less to impose uniform action. Roland, the Administra- 
minister of the interior, issued circulars, incul- tive anarchy, 
eating the duty of obedience to the laws, but words were 
powerless to restrain the passions which the revolution 
had let loose. Each administrative body followed its 
own course, according as it was under the dominion of 
constitutionalist or Girondist opinions. In the depart- 
ments round Paris small armies of peasants and brigands, 
often with municipal officers at their head, went about 
fixing a maximum price of corn and other articles of food. 
In Languedoc and Guienne insurgent bands extorted 
money and pillaged country houses. But nowhere was ad ■ 

I !0 The Fall of the Monarchy. 1794 

ministrative anarchy so great and crime so rife as in the 
four departments of Gard, Bouches-du-Rh6ne, Vaucluse, 
and Lozere, where reactionary and revolutionary elements 
came into violent collision. In Lozere attempts were 
being made to excite amongst the peasantry a Catholic 
reaction, and an armed camp, in communication with the 
emigrants^ was formed at Jales. On the other hand, the 
municipality at Marseilles, composed of violent ultra- 
democrats, raised a force of 4,000 men, and disarmed a 
Swiss regiment at Aix, and the national guard of Aries. 
Avignon, under mob rule, witnessed the commission of 
horrible crimes. The Comtat Venaissin had belonged to 
the Pope since 1273, and Avignon, its chief town, since 
1348. After the meeting of the States-General civil war 
broke out within this small territory between the sup- 
porters and opponents of revolutionary principles and 
of union with France. The constituent Assembly sent 
mediators who patched up a peace in January 1791. 
In September 1791 it at last decreed the union of 
Avignon and the Comtat to France. But it had been 
too late to prevent the perpetration of the most atrocious 
deeds. The force raised by the French party, which had 
been recruited from the lowest sources, quarrelled witL 
its employers, the municipality of Avignon. A number 
of persons were imprisoned without regard to age or sex. 
One of the insurgent officers was in revenge brutally 
murdered in the streets. His comrades, led by Jourdan, 
a brigand by profession, retaliated by killing in cold 
blood sixty and more prisoners — men, women, and 
children — whose bodies they flung into a dungeon be- 
neath a tower of the Papal palace (October, 1791). The 
assassins, though they were at first imprisoned, afterwards 
obtained their release in right of an amnesty, which the 
constituent Assembly before its dispersion had passed, 
covering all crimes attaching to the revolution. 

1792 The Fall of the Monarchy 1 1 1 

The undisguised enmity of Robespierre, the cry raised 
for a maximum price of corn, the tragedy of Avignon, 
the illegalities and crimes incessantly committed, alarmea 
the Girondists, and tended to restrain them position of 
from coming to open breach with the consti- Girondists, 
tutionalists ; but they continued to regard domestic 
treason as far more dangerous than mob violence, both 
to themselves and to France, and fearing to give the 
executive the least vantage ground whence to facilitate 
the advance of the Allies, opposed with vehemence the 
employment of coercive measures, either to suppress 
political agitation on the part of the clubs, or to restrain 
administrative bodies from passing beyond their legal 
functions. They still entertained the belief that the 
people would be brought to obey the voice of reason, 
and thought that were Louis's treachery once set in a 
clear light, the storm of revolution would pass over with 
the establishment of a republican government, «uid the jf 
country return without effort to paths of law and amity. 

Sense of danger made the Assembly the more eager to 
resort to repressive measures against the emigrants and 
the nonjurors. The property, real and personal, t^ TOth 
of the emigrants, was put under charge of the l™*- 
administrative bodies, and their revenues confiscated by 
the state. A decree, to which, however, the King refused 
his sanction, authorised the directories of the departments 
to banish nonjurors who refused to take an oath of fidelity 
to the nation, the law, and the King (May 27). Sanguine 
expectations of victory had been rapidly dissipated. In 
April the Belgian frontier was crossed ; but the troops on 
their first meeting with the enemy fled in disorder, dis- 
obeying their officers, whom they accused of treason. 
Servan, the minister of war, proposed the formation of 
an armed camp for the protection of Paris. Much 
ooDOsition was however, raised to the project, and the 

H2 The Fall of the Monarchy. 1792 

Assembly decreed (June 6) that 20,000 volunteers, re- 
cruited in the departments, should meet at Paris to take 
part in the celebration of a federal festival on July 14, 
the third anniversary of the fall of the Bastille. The real 
object of those who supported the decree was to have 
a force at Paris with which to maintain mastery over the 
city should the Allies penetrate into the interior. Louis 
left the decree unsanctioned, as he had the one directed 
against nonjurors. The agitators of the sections sought 
to get up an armed demonstration against this exercise 
of the King's constitutional prerogative. ' Though armed 
demonstrations were illegal, the municipality offered but 
a perfunctory and half-hearted resistance. Bailly had 
resigned office in the autumn of the preceding year 
The new mayor, P&ion, was a Girondist. During the 
winter half of the municipal officers had been re-elected, 
and of the new members many were ultra-democrats. 
Lafayette, no longer at the head of the national guard, 
commanded on the eastern frontier. The officers of the 
guard were mostly constitutionalists, but there was sc 
little confidence in the King that few were prepared 
to act with vigour or could answer for the conduct of 
their men. Louis, irritated at the pressure put on him 
by Roland, Claviere, and Servan to sanction the two 
decrees, dismissed the three ministers from office (June 
13). Dumouriez, who had quarrelled with his colleagues, 
supported the King in taking this step, but in face of the 
hostility of the Assembly himself resigned office (June 
1 5). Three days later a letter from Lafayette was read 
in the Assembly. The general denounced the Jacobins 
as the s*£thors of all disorders, called oh the Assembly to 
maintain the prerogatives of the crown, and intimated 
that his army would not submit to see the constitution 
violated (June 18). Possibly the dismissal of the 
ministers and the writing of this letter were measured 

1 792 The Fall of the Monarchy. \ 1 3 

concerted between the King and Lafayette. In any case 
the King's motive was to excite division between the 
constitutionalists and the Girondists, so as to weaken the 
national defence. The dismissal of the ministers was, 
however, regarded by the Girondists as a proof of the truth 
of their worst suspicions, and no measures were taken to 
prevent an execution of the project of making an armed, 
and therefore illegal demonstration against the royal 
policy. On June 20, thousands of persons, carrying 
pikes or whatever weapon came to hand, and accom- 
panied by several battalions of the national guard, 
marched from St. Antoine to the hall of the Assembly. 
A deputation read an address demanding the recall of 
the ministers. Afterwards the whole of the procession, 
men, women, and children, dancing, singing, and carry- 
ing emblems, defiled through the chamber. Instigated 
by their leaders they broke into the Tuileries. The 
King, who tqok his stand on a window seat, was mobbed 
for four hours. To please his unwelcome visitors, he put 
on his head a red cap, such as was now commonly worn 
at the Jacobins as an emblem of liberty, in imitation of that 
which was once worn by the emancipated Roman slave. 
He declared his intention to observe the constitution, 
but neither insult nor menace could prevail on him to 
promise his sanction to the two decrees. The Queen, 
separated from the King, sat behind a table on which 
she placed the Dauphin, exposed to the gaze and taunts 
of the crowds which slowly traversed the palace apart- 
ments. At last, but not before night, the mob left the 
Tuileries without doing further harm, and order was 
again restored. 

This insurrection and the slackness, if not connivance, 
of the municipal authorities, excited a widespread feeling 
of indignation amongst constitutionalists. Lafayette came 
to Paris, and at the bar of the Assembly demanded in 

M. H. . 1 

! 1 4 The Fall of the Monarchy. i 79a 

person what fie had before demanded by letter (June 28). 
With him, as with other former members of the consti- 
tuent Assembly, it was a point of honour to shield the 
persons of the King and Queen from harm. Various 
projects for their removal from Paris were formed, but 
policy and sentiment alike forbade Marie Antoinette to 
take advantage of them. There was hazard in their 
execution, and the aims of their authors were not hers. 
The one gleam of light on the horizon of this unhappy 
Queen was the advance of the Allies. * Better die,' she 
one day bitterly exclaimed, c than be saved by Lafayette 
and the constitutionalists ! ' 

There was, no doubt, a possibility of the Allies reach- 
ing Paris that summer, but this enormously increased 
the danger of the internal situation. There 
dared m were 8o,ooo Austrians and Prussians collecting 
danger. on t k e ot h er side of the Rhine. To oppose 
their advance there were but 40,000 men stationed at Metz 
and Sedan, half of whom were recruits who had nevei 
seen fire. The new ministers were constitutional mon- 
archists of weak type, who had neither energy nor a 
decided policy. It was known that the army was not 
in a fit state to repel the enemy. The Girondist orators 
unnerved the Assembly by asking whether the King and 
his ministers desired that it should be in such a state ? 
Both in Paris and in the departments thousands of honest 
and patriotic men, disgusted with party violence, and 
not knowing which side to take, withdrew wholly into 
private life, or went to serve on the frontier. To rouse 
the nation to a sense of peril the Assembly caused public 
proclamation to be made in every municipality that the 
country was in danger. The appeal was responded tc 
with enthusiasm, and within six weeks more than 60,000 
volunteers enlisted. The Duke of Brunswick, the com- 
mander-in-chief of the allied forces, published a mani 

1 792 The Fall of the Monarchy. 115 

festo, drawn up by the emigrants. If the authors oi this 
astounding proclamation had deliberately intended to 
serve the purpose of those Frenchmen who were bent 
on kindling zeal for the war, they could not have done 
anything more likely to serve their purpose. The powers 
required the country to submit unconditionally to Louis's 
mercy. All who offered resistance were to be treated as 
rebels to their King, and Paris was to suffer military 
execution it any harm befell the royal family. 

The Jacobins openly proposed to depose the King. 
Those who shared their views in the Assembly, however, 
consisted of but a small body of members, who were 
tailed the Mountain, because they occupied the topmost 
benches on the left. Unhappily the majority refused to 
take into consideration a question the solution of which 
in the sense indicated by the Jacobins would have 
spared much future misery to both King and people. 
In the house of Roland, the dismissed Girondist minister 
of the interior, projects were discussed of defending 
the line of the Loire in case of the Allies reaching 
the capital Madame Roland, a talented, enthusiastic 
woman, who directed the actions of her husband, was 
the centre of a small, and uncompromising 
circle, which was ready to abet the destruction 
of the throne by violence. But the leading Girondists — 
Vergniaud, Brissot, Guadet, and Gensonne* — unwilling 
that the republic should owe its origin to violence, were 
prepared to give support to the throne had Louis 
assented to make the executive dependent on the Legis- 
lature, and to restore the late ministers to office. Their 
overtures to this effect were, however, rejected; and 
meanwhile, a second insurrection, which had for its 
object the King's deposition, was in preparation. The 
Assembly, after declaring the country in danger, had au- 
thorised the sections of Paris, as well as the administrative 

1 3 

1 1 6 The Fall of the Monarchy. 1 792 

authorities throughout France, to meet at any moment. 
The sections had, in consequence, been able to render 
themselves entirely independent of the municipality. In 
each of the sectional or primary assemblies from 700 
to 3,000 active citizens had the right to vote, but few 
cared to attend, and thus it constantly happened that a 
small active minority spoke and acted in the name of an 
apathetic constitutional majority. Thousands of volun- 
teers passed through Paris on their way to the frontier, 
some of whom were purposely retained to take part in 
the insurrection. The municipality of Marseilles, at the 
request of Barbaroux, a young friend of the Rolands, 
sent up a band of 500 men, who first sung in Paris the 
verses celebrated as the ' Marseillaise.' The danger was 
the greater since every section had its own cannon and a 
special body of cannoneers, who nearly to a man were 
on the side of the revolutionists. The terrified and 
oscillating Assembly made no attempt to suppress agita- 
tion, but acquitted (August 8) Lafayette, by 406 against 
280 votes, of a charge of treason made against him by 
the left, on the ground that he had sought to intimidate 
the Legislature. This vote was regarded as tantamount 
to a refusal to pass sentence of deposition on Louis. 
On the following night the insurrection began. Its centre 
was in the Faubourg of St. Antoine, and it was organised 
by but a small number of men. Mandat, the commander- 
in-chief of the national guard, was an energetic consti- 
tutionalist, who had taken well concerted measures for 
the defence of the Tuileries. But the unscrupulousness 
of the conspirators was more than a match for his zeal. 
Soon after midnight commissioners from twenty-eight 
sections met together at the Hotel de Ville, and forced the 
Council-General of the Municipality to summon Mandat 
before it, and to send out orders to the officers of the 
guard in contradiction to those previously given. Mandat, 

1 792 The Fall of the Monarchy, 117 

unaware of what was passing, obeyed the summons, and 
on his arrival was arrested and murdered. After this 
the commissioners dispersed the lawful council and 
usurped its place. At the Tuileries were about 950 
Swiss and more than 4,000 national guards. Early in 
the morning the first bands of insurgents appeared. 
On the fidelity of the national guards it was impossible 
to rely ; and the royal family, attended by a small 
escort, left the palace, and sought refuge with the 
Assembly. Before their departure orders had been given 
to the Swiss to repel force by force, and soon the sound of 
firing spread alarm through Paris. The King sent the 
Swiss instructions to retire, which they punctually obeyed. 
One column, passing through the Tuileries gardens, was 
shot down almost to a man. The rest reached the 
Assembly in safety, but several were afterwards massacred 
on their way to prison. For twenty-four hours the most 
frightful anarchy prevailed. Numerous murders were 
committed in the streets. The assailants, some hundreds 
of whom had perished, sacked the palace, and killed all 
the men whom they found there. Of the 749 deputies 
only 284 ventured to attend the sitting. The Assembly was 
flooded by dense crowds calling for the deposition of the 
King. A decree was passed pronouncing Louis provi- 
sionally suspended, and summoning a National Conven- 
tion to decide on the future form of government. The 
distinction between active and passive citizens was 
abolished, and manhood suffrage ordained. Roland, 
Claviere, and Servan were restored to office, and the 
candidate of the Mountain, Danton, appointed minister 
of justice. 

The throne which had for so many centuries been the 
symbol of law and order for the French nation, had 
fallen in a day before the attack of a disorganised mob. 
Yet the very ease with which the insurgents succeeded in 


Il8 The Fall of the Monarchy, 1792 

their task carries conviction with it that the catastrophe 
was the result of causes which had been long at work, 
in truth, the throne of Louis had, since the meeting of 
•he States-General, ceased to be the symbol of law and 
order. Unable to guide the people whom he had once 
called his subjects, Louis had become an obstacle in their 
path. It was but natural that he should feel dissatisfied 
with the course of events which had reduced him to that 
nullity for which alone his character fitted him. Even in 
time of peace his existence in a place of nominal authority 
would have been irritating alike to himself and to those 
who still called him King. With the outbreak of war his 
position became absolutely untenable. He could not 
but wish well to the invaders, whose advent would free 
him from degradation and personal constraint. The 
mere suspicion that such a wish was entertained by 
him — and such a suspicion would be hard to silence- 
would arm against him all who most prized the inde* 
pendence of their country, or would make them indifferent 
to his fall. Even if he did nothing to assist the invaders 
his continuance on the throne would paralyse the national 
defence. To remove the cause of that paralysis was the 
first step to that reorganisation of anarchical France 
which the invasion had made imperative. Though Louis 
had been struck down by a violent and unruly mob, the 
submission of France to the act done in its name was 
more than the outcome of that helplessness to which 
Frenchmen had been condemned by centuries of despotic 
government. It was the silent acknowledgment that 
Louis was out of place upon the throne. 





The departments accepted passively the results of the 
insurrection of August 10. Men feared lest by offering 
opposition they might render easier the ad- • . . 
vance of the allies. Lafayette, while he pre- of the 
pared to defend the road to Paris, refused to countr y' 
recognise the validity of what had been done. The 
Assembly declared him a traitor, his soldiers abandoned 
him, and, in company with three other members of the late 
constituent Assembly, he fled across the frontier, where 
all four were arrested and imprisoned by the Austrians. 
The Assembly itself had lost all control over the course of 
events. The men who had refused to take the right step 
of deposing Louis had now to pay the penalty. That 
which might have been effected without shock by the 
constituent or legislative Assembly had been done by a 
violent explosion of popular wrath. The Assembly had 
failed to take the lead, and after its flagrant subjection 
to mob dictation, it was without moral energy or force. 
Yet a mob, however powerful to destroy, is powerless to 
reconstruct. The one organised force in Paris which 
could translate the feelings of the populace into action 
was that of the sixty or seventy commissioners who had 
dispersed the legal Municipal Council on the night before 
the insurrection. A few days afterwards they raised their 
number by fresh elections to 288. From henceforth this 
irregularly-elected body is known to history as the Com- 
mune of Paris. With this new Commune supreme power 
for the moment practically resided. It was strong because 
it knew its own mind, and because it fully accepted the work 
of those of its members who had swept away a king sus- 

120 The Fall of the Girondists. 1792 

pected of being in aiance with a foreign enemy. Among 
the newly-chosen members was Robespierre, the only 
one who had hitherto been of note. Other names, such 
as those of Billaud-Varennes, Collot d'Herbois, Hubert 
and Chaumette now rose first into prominence. Of the 
mass many were unprincipled adventurers, others timid 

. "timeservers. To a few the holding of muni- 

rectionary cipal office was merely a step in their career 
Commune. U p war d s< The better men resigned office or 
kept out of sight, the more ruffianly and unscrupulous 
came to the front. The ministers were thwarted and 
disobeyed, the Assembly threatened, public property 
plundered, numbers of arrests made, liberty of speech 
suppressed. Constitutionalists for the most part kept 
away from the Assembly, and laws were passed which 
before the insurrection had been rejected by large ma- 
jorities. Nonjurors were required to leave the country 
within fifteen days on pain of ten years' imprisonment ; 
and unbeneficed ecclesiastics, on whom the oath had 
never been imposed, were subjected to the same fete 
whenever six citizens of their department joined in de- 
manding their exile. Emigrants' property was confiscated 
and offered for sale. Administrative bodies and muni- 
cipalities were authorised to issue warrants of arrest 
against persons suspected of political crime. This law, 
which may be likened to a suspension of the Habeas 
Corpus Act in England, destroyed at a blow the safe- 
guards against arbitrary arrest and- imprisonment which 
the constituent Assembly had toiled to build up. 

Yet, in spite of the terror that reigned, the position of 
the Commune was insecure. In the departments it had 
no supporters. I«*P#ris it could only reckon on some 
hundreds of arms ariH votes. The artisans of St Antoine 
had taken part in the insurrection to destroy the throne, 
not with the intention of placing power in the hands of 

170a The Fall of the Girondists. 121 

the present holders of office, most of whom were men 
entirely unknown to fame. The Assembly resented their 
ascendancy, and there was no doubt that one of the first 
acts of the Convention would be to attempt to establish 
its own authority over the Commune. 

With the object of obtaining political supremacy an 
atrocious scheme was devised, in the execution of which 
the advance of the enemy assisted. The allies, 
marching from Coblentz, arrived before Longwy tember ep " 
on August 20. The place surrendered in four massacres - 
days. Verdun was next besieged. Dumouriez, who com- 
manded in Lafayette's place, was at Sedan with 20,000 
men ; Kellermann with another 20,000 at Metz. Unless 
these forces should unite before Verdun surrendered, the 
way to Paris would be open to the enemy. Strenuous 
exertions were being made by all authorities to send 
men to the frontier, and Danton devoted to the task 
unflagging vigour and energy. He dominated in the 
ministry over his Girondist colleagues, and by his 
stirring appeals excited the passion and enthusiasm of 
whatever audience he addressed. ' The bells that ring,' 
he cried, as recruits hastened to the Champs de Mars, ' are 
no signal of alarm. They sound the charge upon our 
country's enemies. To conquer them we need audacity, 
and again audacity, and ever audacity, and France is 
saved.' On his proposition the Assembly decreed that 
commissioners should go from house to house and make 
an inventory of arms, horses and carts. Of this decree 
the Commune took advantage for its own purposes. For 
two days and nights the barriers were closed, and many 
hundred persons arrested, principally nobles and consti- 
tutionalists. Twenty-four hours later, while the church 
bells were ringing and Danton exciting citizens to enlist, 
bands of assassins, hired by the Commune, visited the 
prisons and masse cted their inmates. The work was 

122 The Fall of tlte Girondists. \^t 

carried out under the special direction of a committee 
composed of the municipal officers at ttk head of the 
police, to whom Marat and a few other persons, who, like 
himself, were not members of the Commune, joined them- 
selves. Besides political prisoners, a number of ordinary 
criminals perished, including women and boys, though in 
most cases the women were spared. At two of the chief 
prisons, the Abbey and La Force, some show of judicial 
forms was observed. At the Abbey a dozen individuals 
appointed themselves judges with a president at their 
head. Each prisoner was called in turn befoidftHem. 
He was asked one 01 two questions, and withou^^Rher 
discussion, either acquitted or ordered to be taken to the 
other prison, La Force, a formula which meant death. 
As the condemned passed through the prison gates, 
executioners stationed without rained blows upon his 
back and head. The street became strewn with corpses 
and ran with blood. 

Similar scenes were enacted at La Force, where 
HeTiert acted as president of the tribunal The mas- 
sacres effected in eight prisons went on continuously for 
five days and nights (September 2-7), during which it is 
calculated that more than a thousand prisoners were 
butchered. No action was taken to interfere with the 
murderers. Ministers and deputies were afraid even to 
denounce the Commune in vigorous language lest the 
weapons of the assassins should be turned against them- 
selves. They had no material force on which to rely. 
Santerre, who commanded the national guard, obeyed 
the Commune. The inhabitants of Paris remained per- 
fectly passive, the violence of party strife having destroyed 
enthusiasm for political ideals, and the sense of common 
duty. In the midst of the butchery the news came that 
Verdun had fallen, and the uncertainty of their own fate 
deadened men's sympathy for the fate of those charged 

1792 The Fall of the Girondists. 123 

justly or unjustly with being in connivance with the 
enemy. So f^p^s Paris was concerned the contrivers of 
the massacres succeeded in their object The elections 
to the Convention were held while terror reigned over 
the city, and twenty-four men, some of whom were part- 
ners in the crime, and none of whom were prepared to 
denounce it, were returned for Paris. An attempt was 
made to influence, by like means, the elections in the 
departments. A circular, signed by Marat and his col- 
leagues, was sent out inviting the country to follow the 
exaJM| of the capital and to murder traitors. This 
mcnHRi to massacre, was, however, attended with small 
success. In a few towns murders were committed at the 
instigation of agents of the Commune ; but generally the 
elections were conducted without disturbance. 

When Verdun surrendered Dumouriez was still at 
Sedan, and Kellermann at Metz. Between the allies 
and the plain of Champagne was only a natu- The Cam- 
ral barrier, the forest of Argonnes, a range of paiff 1 ^ *79*. 
wooded hills. Fortunately for France the allies were 
dilatory in all their movements. The campaign, instead 
of being commenced in the spring, had been delayed till 
autumn, when the season was less favourable and France 
better prepared to resist. The Duke of Brunswick was a 
cautious commander, who had acquired his military repu- 
tation in the Seven Years' War. With 80,000 men he did 
not believe it possible to maintain his communications 
and occupy Paris in safety. His proposal, therefore, had 
been to capture the fortresses on the Meuse, and to re- 
serve operations against the capital for the ensuing spring. 
Out the King of Prussia, who in person took part in the 
war, was eager to push on to Paris and to release the royal 
family. After the fall of Verdun the Duke assented, but 
advanced slowly and reluctantly. Meanwhile Dumouriez 
by rapid marches .^ot before him to the forest, and occu- 

124 ^* Pott °f tfe Girondists. 1792 

pied the passes leading through it. Driven from his 
positions as Brunswick advanced, he rallied his men in 
the plain and made a stand near St. Menehould, where 
he was joined by Kellermann. Recruits were incessantly 
pouring in, so that the united French forces numbered 
60,000 men. The allies on their descent into the plain 
took up a position between the French army and Paris. 
The weather was very wet, the roads nearly impassable, 
and the invading army with difficulty supplied with bread. 
The placing of garrisons in Longwy and Verdun, to- 
gether with sickness, had reduced the effective force 
under Brunswick's command to 40,000 men, and he 
could not push on to Paris leaving Dumouriez , army 
unbeaten behind him. The King was eager to fight, but 
Brunswick persuaded him, in place of attempting to 
storm the French positions, merely to open a cannonade 
on Kellermann's forces, which were stationed in advance 
of Dumouriez' men on some heights near the village of 
Valmy (September 20). This cannonade was the turning 
point of the campaign. The young French recruits stood 
fire so well that the allies determined on retreat. The 
Austrian troops were afterwards called off for the defence 
of Belgium, and thus Brunswick's plan of holding the 
line of the Meuse was rendered impracticable. Verdun 
and Longwy were evacuated, and the Prussians retreated 
to Coblentz (October). 

The Legislative Assembly gave place to the Conven- 
tion on September 21, the day after the cannonade of 
TheConven- Valmy. At once, the abolition of monarchy 
tion. was decreed, and the following day was hence- 

forth accounted as the first of the French Republic. Tbe 
new Assembly consisted of 749 members, of whom 186 
had belonged to the legislative, 77 to the constituent As- 
sembly, and 486 were new men. The constitutionalists, 
through intimidation or want of public spirit, had kept 

1792 The Fall of the Girondists. 125 


away from the poll, and among all the deputies were 
none who did not vote for the abolition of monarchy with 
real or feigned enthusiasm. The Girondists now sat on 
the right, forming the conservative side of the House. 
Vergniaud, Brissot, Gensonne*, and Guadet were all re- 
elected, and around them gathered a knot of new comers, 
amongst whom were Buzot, Pe"tion, Barbaroux, Louvet, 
and others who shared their views. The deputation of 
Paris, together with about thirty deputies from the de- 
partments, now formed the Mountain, sitting as in the 
last Assembly on the topmost benches of the left. Here 
were Marat and other directors of the massacres, several 
municipal officers, including Robespierre, Billaud- 
Varennes, and Collot d'Herbois, the Duke of Orleans, who 
to flatter the mob now called himself Philip Egalite*, Des- 
moulins, and Danton, who resigned the post of minister 
of justice in order to retain his seat in the Assembly. 

From the opening of the Convention irreconcilable 
hostility was declared between the Girondists and the 
Mountain. To secure the independence of _ „. 

, ~ . , r , . The Giron- 

the Convention and supremacy for their own dists and the 
party, the Girondists sought to bring to justice Mountain - 
the contrivers of the massacres, and to destroy the ascend- 
ancy of the Commune. They resented the stain cast on 
the revolution, and were eager to prove to Europe that 
the massacres were the work of a few hired assassins, 
and not, as the deputies of Paris strove to represent, of 
the people of the capital rising spontaneously to take 
vengeance on traitors. In appearance their position 
was strong. Through their supporters, who occupied the 
ministries, they directed the government and foreign re- 
lations. They were enthusiastic, brilliant, eloquent ; they 
bad right on their side, and both the country and the 
Convention shared their abhorrence of the crimes com- 
mitted. Yet the difficulties in their way were not to be 

126 The Fall of the Girondists. 1792 

easily overcome. The Commune ruled the capital and 
had in its pay bands of thieves and assassins, whose 
crimes bound them to its support. The departments 
had taken no part in the insurrection of August 10, yet 
had accepted without question the result, and the pre- 
dominance of Paris over them had thus acquired all the 
strength of uncontested fact. Public spirit, moreover, no 
longer existed amongst large masses of men. Primary 
assemblies were nearly deserted, and few of the many 
thousands whose names were inscribed as national guards 
rendered active service. Under such circumstances the 
task of crushing the criminal band which, through the 
Commune and the sections, ruled the city, was in any 
case difficult, and for the Girondists especially impractic- 
able. They were unversed in the conduct of affairs and 
were strong party men, intensely credulous and suspicious 
in relation to all that was outside their own circle. They 
stood on very narrow ground. Republican fervour and 
hatred of Catholicism rendered them harsh and intolerant 
towards whatever savoured of reaction. Abhorrence of 
crime and pride in their own cause made them averse to 
compromise, and to having dealings with men whose 
hands they believed to be soiled with the blood of the 
September massacres. They had neither the traditions 
of office nor the large capacity which creates a govern- 
ment by its power of taking the lead in a distracted 
nation. Hence they did not attempt *o conciliate consti- 
tutionalists, nor yet to break the power of the Commune 
by dividing its leaders, and bribing its followers with 
money and office. As a party they did not inspire con- 
fidence. They were without organisation or union, and 
being constantly divided in opinion amongst themselves, 
they often voted on contrary sides. Their chief orator, 
Vergniaud, possessed talent of a high order, and qualities 
in which the party, as a body, was notably deficient— 

1792 The Fall of the Girondists, 127 

moderation and foresight ; but he was a man of retired 
habits and unassuming disposition, who had neither taste 
nor inclination for the position of a party leader. Hence 
the Girondists never brought forward any series of well- 
concerted measures for gaining their objects, nor were 
they ever able to obtain a working majority in the Con- 
vention. Impetuous orators vaguely threatened to bring 
the Commune to justice, made vehement attacks on the 
whole Paris deputation, and, singling out the two most 
powerful men belonging to it, Robespierre and Danton, 
accused them of aspiring, in conjunction with Marat, to 
form a triumvirate, and Robespierre especially of aim- 
ing at a dictatorship. General charges of this character 
could not be substantiated and were easily repelled. 
Where, asked Robespierre; were the arms and the men 
by which he could obtain a dictatorship, while he accused 
the Girondists of seeking to sow disunion by calumni- 
ating Paris. It was no easy matter to fix even on him 
the charge of being an author of the massacres. All 
members of the Commune were, without doubt, imme- 
diately responsible for what had taken place, but to allege 
mere inaction as proof of guilt was hardly befitting to 
men who had formed part of the legislature at the time 
Robespierre had been at the H6tel de Ville, and had ex- 
pressed hostility towards the Girondists ; but to this day 
it is a matter of dispute how deeply he was implicated. 
Danton, though not a member of the insurrectionary 
Commune, had been Minister of Justice. He, indeed, had 
made no effort to stay the assassins 9 hands, but there is 
no proof whatever that it was he who gave the signal for 
the shedding of blood, and officially he was no more 
responsible than Roland, who was Minister of the Inte- 
rior. It was, however, Danton whom the Girondists 
regarded with most suspicion and distrust, whom they 
were readiest to ^tftack, and most eager to crush. To 

128 The Fall of the Girondists. 1792 

them he was vice personified. His language was cynical ; 
he affected to despise scruples of conscience in action ; 
crime could not revolt him ; they believed him corrupt 
and blood-stained, while he despised them as squeamish 
politicians, who did not comprehend the conditions under 
which they worked, and who, from being over-scrupulous 
in their choice of tools, let power slip from their grasp. 
Nevertheless, he desired reconciliation with them. He 
recognised the value of their disinterestedness and 
patriotism, and was aware that the more narrow and 
criminal the base on which the republic rested, the less 
would be its power of endurance, and the less room would 
there be for himself to exert influence. Not easily moved 
by petty considerations, and devoid of envy and resent- 
ment, Danton was the one man on the left, as Vergniaud 
on the right, whose speeches bore no trace of personal 

The Centre of the Convention, often styled the Plain, 
consisted mainly of new-comers from the departments, 
Policy of the w ^° abhorred Marat and his doctrines, and 
Centre. resented the tyranny exercised by the Com- 
mune. But in place of giving undisputed victory to 
the right, they followed the safer course of a temporising 
policy between the two parties. They feared to come 
into violent collision with the unscrupulous Commune, 
and regarded the exaggerated charges brought against 
Robespierre and Danton as what in fact they were — the 
fruits of violent party hate. It was, indeed, no wonder 
that men who accepted the results of the last insurrection 
should hesitate to send Danton to the scaffold, or should 
doubt whether the revolution, having gone on thus far, 
could sustain itself without him. The services that he 
had rendered in organising the national defence were un- 
doubted. There was no man so capable, with his sten- 
torian voice, his violent gesticulations, his abrupt vigorous 


1792 The Fall of the Girondists. 129 

language, of rousing popular enthusiasm. The Girondists 
were no mob orators, but Danton was at home alike in 
the Convention and in the streets. 

The contest, incessantly renewed by the Girondists 
but never ending in victory, resulted in strengthening the 
position of the Mountain. The galleries of 
the House were ordinarily occupied by adhe- of the 
rents of the Jacobins, who applauded the Communc - 
deputies on the left and hooted those on the right. Peti- 
tioners, often accompanied by armed mobs, invaded the 
Convention, menacing insurrection unless their demands 
were complied with. A project was brought forward by 
the Girondists for giving the Convention a paid guard 
of 4,000 men, drawn in equal proportions from the de- 
partments. But it never became law ; and in case of a 
breach with the Commune, the Convention had nothing 
to rely on except recruits passing through Paris on their 
way to the frontier. A law was finally carried for the re- 
election of the Commune. As, however, the inhabitants 
of the city, through fear or indifference, did not attend the 
sections, the result of the elections was merely to confirm 
the existing party in power. Although since August 10 man- 
hood suffrage had prevailed, in many sections there were 
no more than 150 or 200 voters present out of the many 
thousands who had the right to take part in the elections. 
Chaumette and Hubert, as well as other members of 
the revolutionary Commune, were re-elected. This new 
Commune was not fully organised until July 1793. In 
the meantime its Council at the Hdtel de Ville, often re- 
duced to twenty members in place of its full complement 
of ninety-six, ruled Paris under the guidance of Chau- 
mette and Hubert. 

The war increased the difficulties of the internal situa- 
tion. Success at first attended the French arms. During 
September French troops occupied Nice and Savoy, part 

M.H. K 

[30 Tlie Fall of tfie Girondists. 1792 

of the dominions of the King of Sardinia, whose uncon- 
cealed hostility had given France a pretext for a declara- 
tion of war. At the time when the Austrians 
Savoy CSt ° f anc * Prussia 113 invaded Lorraine, the French 
Mainz, and General Custine, with 18,000 men, marched 

gmm * from Alsace against the smaller lay and ec- 
clesiastical states on the Rhine. Nowhere was serious 
opposition attempted. The petty rulers proclaimed their 
neutrality, or fled to Coblentz. The important fortress 
of Mainz surrendered. From this point it was open to 
Custine to intercept the retreat of the Prussians from 
Lorraine ; but, eager to push his conquests further, he 
crossed the Rhine and took Frankfort, whence he com- 
manded the surrounding country (November). After the 
retreat of the allied army through the Argonnes, Du- 
mouriez hastened to carry out the project of invading 
Belgium, where the fortresses were out of repair, and 
little preparation for resistance had been made. A battle 
was fought near the village of Jemmapes (November 6), 
in which the Austrians were defeated. They retreated 
behind the Meuse, leaving the French in undisputed 
possession of the country. 

The victory of Jemmapes, the first pitched battle 
fought, was greeted with a burst of applause from one 
end of France to the other. When the Legislative 
Assembly had declared war on Austria, it had repre- 
sented France as acting on a purely defensive 
poiicjfof the policy, and had repudiated wars of conquest 
Convention. as con t r ary to the right of each people to 
shape its own destinies. Now that France was in pos- 
session of conquered territories, the question of the 
manner in which they were to be dealt with necessarily 
arose. The idea of making a merely diplomatic use oi 
them, and of restoring them in case of convenience to 
their former rulers without regard to the wishes of the 

1792 The Fall of the Girondists, f* 

inhabitants, found no supporters. The point at issue was 
whether the inhabitants were to be left reallv free to 
select their own form of government, or whether France 
should influence their decision. 

Since the commencement of the war the Convention 
had become inflamed with the desire of spreading the 
principles of the revolution far beyond the frontiers of 
France. With the advance of French armies it hoped 
that peoples would rise against their rulers, and that not 
only the Continental countries in which the old aristocratic 
institutions were in full play would willingly accept French 
aid for the constitution of society and government upon 
a new basis, but that even in constitutional England the 
people would insist upon the establishment of the French 
system. Exultant in what they had already achieved, 
French enthusiasts underestimated the strength of the 
forces opposed to them, and overlooked the fact that a 
strong sense of nationality was to be found in England ; 
and that, under circumstances favourable to its develop- 
ment, it might spring into activity even in countries 
where it seemed most dead, as in Germany and in Italy. 
Under the influence of such crude impulses the Conven- 
tion gave wanton offence to governments at peace with 
France by the issue of a proclamation, proffering assist- 
ance to all peoples desirous of obtaining their freedom 
(November 19). 

The wish to spread revolutionary principles operated 
strongly upon the policy pursued by the Convention in 
relation to its conquests. The annexation of ^ 

, ^ . . . , , . A . Question ot 

conquered territories involved carrying out in annexation 
them the changes already effected in France. of Bcl « ium - 
For smaller territories the maintenance of political inde- 
pendence was in reality impracticable amidst the clash 
of the great powers. Hence it came to pass that the Con- 
vention rapidly gravitated towards a policy of forced an- 

K 3 


The Fall of the Girondists. 


1792 The Fall of tlie Girondists. 133 

nexation, which they attempted to conceal by accepting 
the vote of their own partisans as the expression of the 
popular will. Other motives also existed. The ambition 
was roused of extending the French frontier to the Alps 
and the Rhine. In case of annexations, the financial diffi- 
culties of the government would be decreased. Church 
property in the newly-acquired territory would become 
national property, and the possession of new securities 
would raise the value of the assignats. In Savoy and in 
Nice, as also in Ltege and the small states near the Rhine, 
much discontent prevailed, and no small part of the popu- 
lation desired union with France. But in the Austrian 
Netherlands the case was different. The clergy and feudal 
aristocracy possessed much influence ; the forms of con- 
stitutional government existed, and there was a powerful 
party which sought to maintain political independence of 
France while discarding connection with Austria. The 
Convention accordingly decreed the union of Nice and 
Savoy with France, but hesitated to annex the Austrian 
Netherlands. Its hesitation was not due merely to the 
fact that only a minority of the population desired union. 
Further consequences had to be taken into consideration. 
The attempt to unite Belgium was certain to involve 
France in hostilities with a fresh and formidable enemy. 
For centuries it had been a cardinal point of English 
foreign policy that Belgium was to be in possession of a 
power capable of resisting French aggression, and the 
extension of the war was deprecated by all deputies who 
cared for the restoration of internal order and settled 
government. A war with England would seriously in- 
crease the expenses of government, which were already 
only met by fresh issues of assignats, whilst the rapid 
rise of prices which had ensued inflicted suffering on the 
working-classes, and placed means at the command of 
»he Commune of exciting discontent against the Conven- 

1 34 The Fall of the Girondists. 1792 

tion. An alternative plan of creating an independent 
Belgian republic was desired by Dumouriez and by some 
members of the Convention. Yet it was unlikely that 
this plan would succeed in averting war with England. 
English statesmen were as averse to the establishment 
of a Belgian republic as to the annexation of the country 
to France. In fact, the Convention could only maintain 
peace by abandoning the principles on which it was 
acting, and by giving a pledge that Belgium should' be 
restored to Austria. There was, moreover, an immediate 
ground of quarrel. After the French armies were in 
occupation of Belgium, the Convention had proclaimed 
the free navigation of the Scheldt, which by an European 
arrangement, agreeable to England and Holland, but 
ruinous to the trade of Antwerp, was closed to commerce. 
This measure gave great offence to England as in 
creasing French influence, and was regarded in itself as 
sufficient ground for a declaration of war. Though in 
accordance with the new principles of the rights of 
nations not recognised by cabinets, but which were no 
more than the principles of justice itself, the liberation 
of the Scheldt was in the teeth of treaties to which both 
England and France had been parties. The decree of 
November 19 (p. 131), which the French government 
refused to withdraw, was regarded as a direct incitation 
to subjects to revolt. The passing of a new decree 
(December 15), ordering French generals to proclaim 
wherever they went the sovereignty of the people, the 
suppression of the existing authorities, and the abolition 
of feudal rights and privileges, was a second clear in 
timation to Europe that France was intent on spreading 
revolutionary principles beyond her own borders. 

A portion of the Convention desired, at whatever 
hazard, to carry out an immediate annexation of Belgium, 
and afterwards to invade Holland, in accordance with a 

1792 The Fall of the Girondists. 135 

plan proposed by Dumouriez. Holland was at peace 
with France, but there was no doubt whatever that in 
case of war between England and France, the stadt- 
holder, who was maintained in his seat by English and 
Prussian influence, would join the coalition. The 
majority, however, led by the Girondists, hesitated to 
adopt this course. Although their minds were inflated with 
the desire of rousing revolutionary movements in other 
countries, including England itself, they sought, from a 
sense of internal peril which every day grew stronger, 
to circumscribe the field of war, and both to maintain 
peace with England and to withdraw Prussia from the 
coalition. To attain their ends the ministers were pre- 
pared to abandon the project of invading Holland, to 
suffer the King and his family to quit France, and to 
defer the final settlement of Belgium till the making of 
peace. But neither the disposition of the King of Prussia 
nor of the English people rendered it possible for any 
understanding to be arrived at on these terms. 

The allied princes had not entered into the war out 
of pure chivalry, and did not intend to withdraw from 
it until they had obtained what in diplomatic language 
they called an indemnity — in other words, territorial 
acquisitions, either at the cost of France or of some neu- 
tral state. Shortly before hostilities broke out Austria and 
Catherine II. proposed to Frederick William a ^[[If* 1 *™" 
second partition of Poland. The King, though make peace, 
bound by two treaties to maintain the integrity of Poland, 
entered into the agreement. It was, therefore, to Poland 
that he looked for his indemnity, and his assistance in 
the war against France was the price he paid for the 
Empeior's consent to his making acquisitions in the 
east. Francis, on his side, looked for conquests in 
France, and also had in his mind the revival of Joseph's 
project of making over Belgium to the Elector of Bavaria 

136 The Fall of the Girondists. 1792 

in exchange for that country. A study of the map of Europe 
shows clearly what would have been the advantage of the 
exchange to Austria in consolidating her dominions and 
giving her increased predominance within the Empire. 

While the personal feeling of Frederick William in- 
volved his subjects in a war for which they had no en- 
thusiasm, public opinion in England compelled 
therevolu- the Government to take a hostile attitude, 
tion. William Pitt, supported by the King, the 

country gentlemen, and the commercial middle classes, 
had fought his way to power in 1783 in a sharp struggle 
in which the Whig aristocracy was overthrown. As the 
head of the Tory party he professed a toryism very dif- 
ferent from the past toryism of Harley and of St. John, 
vhich had battled against dissenters and the mercantile 
class, and from the future toryism of Eldon, which was to 
battle against improvement. In one sense he was the 
Turgot of England. He was pre-eminently a peace 
minister, and he had taken the lead, sometimes far in 
advance of the public opinion of his day, in advocating 
projects of financial and economical reform. Those 
projects he had viewed from the point of view of the 
highest statesmanship. He had sought to bind England 
tod Ireland together by a commercial union, which he 
<vas unable to carry into effect. He Had sought to bind 
England and France together by a commercial treaty 
which had increased the communications between the 
two countries. It was not his fault that even a Parlia- 
ment in which he counted so many supporters had re- 
jected a. scheme of Parliamentary reform, which would 
have gone far to bind class to class in England itself. 
Yet, even in his failures, his efforts after good had made 
his government inapproachably strong. The fallen Whig 
aristocracy, indeed, was very different from the effete 
privileged orders of France. It counted amongst its 

1792 The Fall of tlie Girondists. 137 

members and its followers high-spirited and large-minded 
politicians, such as Fox and Burke. Its traditions were 
those of men brought up to combat for their ideas in the 
open light of publicity, and to support their cause by 
argument before their fellows. Yet there was something 
in it of the faults which had made the continental nobi- 
lities unpopular. It was narrow and exclusive, and was 
apt to regard office and emolument as the special per- 
quisite of its own members. Against such an aristocracy 
Pitt stood as the champion of so much of equality as 
the conditions of English society admitted of. Repre- 
senting, as he did, the King and the middle classes, he 
advocated a rational government, founded on the best 
political science of the day. It was impossible that if 
war broke out with France he should continue his work 
of internal reform. Events happening in France were 
but superficially comprehended in England. At first 
some of the Whigs, following Fox, extended sympathy 
to a revolutionary movement which put forward as its 
object the establishment of constitutional government. 
As soon as disorder and violence showed themselves in 
France a large section of the Whigs, including most 
of the great landowners, joined the Tories in viewing 
the movement with distrust, though the latter had con- 
fidence in Pitt, who sought to maintain friendship be- 
tween the two governments. Neither party had any 
clear perception of the fact that the revolution was pro- 
duced by social as well as political causes, and that its 
real aim was to complete the destruction of the old 
feudal order long since in slow process of decay. The 
special causes of discontent operating in France were 
left unnoted. The comparative excellence of government 
in England made Englishmen callous to the past mis- 
government of France. The fact was patent that the 
revolution declared war on established institutions, and 

138 The Fall of tlie Girondists. 1792 

exhibited propagandist tendencies. Public opinion, there- 
fore, soon set strongly against it. Already, in 1790, Burke, 
breaking loose from Fox, published his * Reflections on 
the French Revolution,' in which his eloquent declama- 
tions against men who were destroying continuity be- 
tween the past and the present, helped to ripen the 
distrust that already existed in the minds of his country 
men into fear and hatred. After the fall of the throne 
and the September massacres, intense alarm prevailed 
lest the spread of democratic principles should produce 
similar convulsions in England. In reality there was no 
danger. The middle classes were not jealous of the 
upper; the people were not starving. Societies esta- 
blished for the promotion of French principles obtained 
but a few hundred supporters, a strong proof of the 
unmoved disposition of the people at large. The 
panic, however, if unfounded, was genuine. To secure 
themselves against danger the governing classes desired 
to suppress the revolution by force of arms, and loudly 
demanded the reclosing of the Scheldt and the evacuation 
of Belgium as the price of peace. 

While his supporters clamoured for war, Pitt still 
strove to avert a breach. In the hope of effecting a 
European peace he made offers of mediation at Berlin 
and Vienna. His offers were, however, but coldly re- 
ceived, since both the Emperor and the King expected 
to gain from the continuance of hostilities; War, there- 
fore, became inevitable. The French ministers went to 
the full length of their tether when, for the sake of the 
neutrality of England, they left Holland untouched, and 
offered to defer the settlement of Belgium till the making 
of peace. To obtain more of the Convention was not in 
their power, nor was it their wish. To satisfy the de- 
mands of England by reclosing the Scheldt and re- 
establishing the old order of things in Belgium, appearea 

1792 The Fall of the Girondists. 139 

to the mass of deputies, irrespective of party, as a base 
and cowardly abandonment of principle. As the hostility 
of England grew more manifest, the party in the Con- 
vention for immediate annexation gained strength ; and 
in the meantime an event happened which caused the 
balance of power hitherto on the side of the Gironde to 
fall on the side of the Mountain. 

Since the fall of the throne the King and his family 
had been kept under harsh durance in the Temple, an 
old keep once belonging to the Knights Templars. The 
Convention, after long and stormy debates, 
decreed that Louis should be brought to trial Death of the 
before itself. The charge that could justly be King * 
made against him was that, having undertaken to govern 
in accordance with the constitution, he had sought foreign 
aid to overthrow it. But for this he had been dethroned, 
and neither the country nor the Convention had ground 
or right to take vengeance on him for seeking to free 
himself from the untenable position which the constituent 
Assembly had required him to accept The deputies, 
however, judged Louis's conduct in the light of their 
own theories. They set the nation in the place of the 
King, and then accused Louis of treason because he had 
conspired against the will of the sovereign people. 
None had any doubt of his guilt ; few that its due penalty 
was death. Many, however, even of those who thought 
his crime merited death, desired not to shed his blood, 
but merely to give satisfaction to their pride as repub- 
licans by passing sentence against him either of banish- 
ment or of captivity till the end of the war. The ministers 
hoped by suspending the sword over his head to put 
pressure on Prussia, and to induce her to abandon her 
alliance with Austria, in return for the liberty of the 
royal family. The Montagnards, or members of the 
Mountain, however, sought Louis's life. They were eager 

140 The Fall of the Girondists. 1793 

to defy the sovereigns of Europe, and to give proof 
of their passion for equality by sending Louis to the 
scaffold. 'Let us/ said Danton, 'cast down before 
Europe, as the gauntlet of battle, the head of a king.* 
The Montagnards were determined, moreover, to involve 
the majority of their fellow deputies in an act that should 
unite them by an indissoluble bond to themselves. The 
trial could be but a form ; Louis's guilt was a foregone 
conclusion. The question what sentence should be 
passed upon him became the object of a fierce party 
conflict. The Mountain set all the machinery at its 
command in motion to intimidate the Convention. In * 
the clubs and in the sections a cry was raised for ' the 
tyrant's blood,' and the ignorant populace was taught to 
believe that the existing high prices were in some occult 
manner connected with Louis's existence as a captive. 
As the trial dragged on, the Girondists became alarmed 
at the danger of their own situation and the possibility of 
defeat ; but not for the sake of France, much less for the 
sake of Louis, were they prepared to belie the past acts 
of their political life by declaring him innocent For, if 
Louis had not been in connivance with the enemy, 
where was the justification for the insurrection of August 
10? They, as well as he, had sworn to maintain the 
constitution. Twice Louis was brought before the 
Convention, once to hear his accusation read, a second 
time when his counsel spoke in his defence. He did not 
dispute the authority of the Convention, but denied the 
truth of the charges brought against him. The Conven- 
tion unanimously pronounced him guilty of treason 
against the nation; 361 deputies voted for the penalty 
of death ; 72 for death, but with a demand for delay of 
execution or for some other restriction ; 288 for imprison- 
ment or banishment, trius leaving only a majority of one 
for immediate death, though when a final vote was taken 

'793 ^^ Fall of the Girondists. 141 

two days later, on a fresh proposal to delay execution, 
the majority for immediate death was swollen to 60 
(January 17). Each deputy voted aloud, and during the 
whole sitting, which lasted many hours, the galleries and 
corridors of the house were occupied by armed adherents 
of the Commune and the Jacobins. 

Since his imprisonment Louis's time had been spent 
in preparation for death. Towards his enemies he 
entertained no feeling of resentment or hatred, and 
received intelligence of the sentence passed against him 
with calmness and resignation. On January 21, while 
the city maintained a mournful silence, the King was 
guillotined on the great square, now known as the Place 
de la Concorde, which since August 10 had borne the 
name of the Place de la Revolution. 

The execution of the King hastened the rupture with 
England. Pitt sent the French agent in London out of 
the country. The Convention adopted a de- warwith 
cree for effecting the union of Belgium with England. 
France, and without a voice being raised in opposition 
declared war on England and Holland (February 1). 
About this time Spain and Portugal, the Empire, and 
most of the Italian states joined the coalition. 

The French generals had owed their brilliant 
successes in part to the speed of their movements, in 
part also to the defenceless state of the countries in- 
vaded. During the winter Frankfort had been 
stormed by the Prussians (December 2, 1792), driven from 
and Custine had been driven back to the Rhine. Bcl s ium - 
For the recovery of Belgium and the territory of the 
Empire on the left bank of the river, Austria and Prussia 
brought together more than 200,000 men, and these 
formed two armies. The northern, commanded by an 
Austrian, Coburg, was to operate against Belgium ; the 
southern, commanded by the Duke of Brunswick, was 

142 TJie Fall of tlie Girondists. 1793 

ta besiege Mainz, and to drive Custine out of the Pala- 

The French government authorised Dumouriez to 
invade Holland, though the probabilities of success were 
now small. Coburg was advancing towards the Meuse, 
and the Dutch were prepared to defend the passage of 
their rivers. Dumouriez had only 100,000 men for pur- 
poses of defence and invasion. He made a rapid march 
through the west of Flanders as far as the arm of the 
sea which forms the mouth of the Meuse, where he was 
checked by want of means of transport. Meanwhile 
one of his officers, Miranda, guarded the line of the 
Meuse and besieged Maestricht Coburg advanced and 
relieved the town. The French troops, three-fourths oi 
whom were untrained volunteers, fled in disorder and 
deserted by thousands. The pursuit, however, was not 
closely pressed, and Miranda, rallying his scattered 
forces, took up a strong position near Louvain. 

These disasters reacted on the situation in the capital. 
The hold that the Girondists possessed on the Conven- 
tion grew feebler every day. They had failed in all they 
had attempted. Their foreign policy had broken down, 

Revolution- an( * ^ e reproach fell heavily on the ministry 
ary Court, of not having suffered Dumouriez to invade 
Holland when the proposition was first made. They had 
failed to save the King's life, so that the whole constitu- 
tional party outside the Assembly was as fully estranged 
from them as from the Mountain. In spite of the fresh 
municipal elections in Paris, which they had decreed in 
hope of changing the character of the Commune (p. 128), 
it was the same criminal band that still exercised authority. 
To provide for the war expenditure resort was had to new 
issues of assignats. Prices incessantly rose, and discontent 
spread rapidly amongst the working population, taught 
by agitators to regard the right side of the Convention 

1793 The Fall of the Girondists, 143 

as the cause alike of the prevailing destitution and of 
military disaster. The deputies of the centre, in alarm for 
their own safety, and without confidence in the Girondists 
as leaders, followed a vacillating course, accordingly as 
they were actuated by their principles, their fears, or 
their regard for the necessities of the situation. When 
Miranda's retreat was known an attempt was made to 
get up an insurrection directed against the Girondists. 
It failed, from want of union and support. But the 
bands at the service of the Jacobins and the Commune 
gathered round the Convention, filling the galleries and 
menacing deputies. The Mountain made use of the 
occasion to obtain the adoption of a law for the creation 
of an extraordinary criminal court, to judge without 
appeal conspirators against the state (March 9). The 
Girondists opposed the measure, but in vain ; and thus 
were Robespierre and Marat provided with a ready 
weapon with which to strike at the heads of those who 
had so long menaced their own. 

Affairs in Belgium assumed a yet more alarming 
aspect. Dumouriez, hastening back from Holland, re- 
joined Miranda near Louvain. He returned resolved 
to break with the Convention. He had no enthusiasm 
for democratic or republican ideals, and was excessively 
irritated because the Convention had not Treason of 
pursued the policy advocated by himself, of Dumouriez. 
creating Belgium into a separate republic. He resolved 
to make a stand and to fight the Austrians, expecting 
after victory to be able to dictate his own terms to the 
Convention and to mediate between France and the allies. 
But a long contested battle, which raged fiercely round 
the village of Neerwinden, ended in the defeat and flight 
of the French (March 18). Dumouriez, with a remnant 
of his army, effected a retreat to the frontier, where he 
sought to make good his position by opening negotiations 

144 The Fall of the Girondists. 1793 

with Coburg. He offered to march to Pans and place 
the Dauphin on the throne if Coburg would undertake 
to give him moral and, in case of need, material support 
As a pledge of good faith he was prepared to admit 
Austrian troops into Lille and Valenciennes, on condi- 
tion that the towns were restored to France on the 
making of peace. It had long been suspected at Paris 
that Dumouriez was not to be trusted ; but neither 
Girondists nor Montagnards had dared to propose his 
dismissal, because they had no general of talent to take After the battle of Neerwinden he made no 
concealment of his hostile intentions ; and on the arrival 
of four deputies sent by the Convention to summon him 
to Paris, gave them up to Coburg as hostages for the 
safety of the royal family. In the meantime every effort 
was made by the agents of the government to secure the 
fidelity of the army, and with success. The soldiers 
refused to betray France to Austria, and Dumouriez, to 
save himself from arrest, took refuge in Coburg's 
quarters (April 3). 

Dumouriez' treachery increased the violence of the 
party struggle at Paris, where Girondists and Montag- 
nards strove to cast on each other the odium of being the 
traitor's accomplices. It was against Danton that the 
Girondists directed their most vehement attacks. They 
Party strife ma de charges in support of which they had no 
at Paris. evidence to bring, and which have never been 
proved. According to them Danton had been bribed by 
Louis ; he had misapplied public money ; in Belgium he 
had plundered state property. They even accused him 
of plotting with Dumouriez the restoration of the throne, 
because he had praised that general's talent in the Con- 
vention. Danton turned fiercely on his assailants, 
threatening irreconcilable war. Counter accusations and 
menaces were hurled from right to left, from left to right. 


1793 The Fall of the Girondists. 145 

Robespierre came forward to represent the entire public 
life of the Girondists as forming a long series of crimes 
directed against liberty and the republic, and concluded 
with a formal proposal to send Brissot, Vergniaud, Gen- 
sonne* and Guadet, along with Marie Antoinette and the 
Duke of Orleans, as Dumouriez' accomplices, before the 
new criminal court (April 9). 

Though the ascendancy which the Girondists once 
held was lost, their eloquence was still a power, and the 
first deputy who was sent before the court was l 

a Montagnard, Marat, on the charge of inciting of Public | * 
the people to insurrection (April 14). But Safet y- 
this isolated party victory served only to irritate with- 
out weakening their adversaries. The court, composed 
of judges and jurymen, both elected in Paris, acquitted 
the accused, and his partisans restored him in triumph 
to his seat. The direction of the government, possessed 
by the Girondists at the opening of the convention, 
passed into other hands. The ministry had been broken 
up. Roland had resigned, complaining that he had not 
the support of the Convention. The Mountain and the 
Gironde struggled to obtain appointments for their own 
candidates, and the ministers, fearful of having their acts 
misinterpreted, refused to take a step on their own 
responsibility. Hence the wheels of government, when 
expedition and secrecy were most requisite, threatened 
to come to a standstill. Under the influence of the 
alarm excited by the treason of Dumouriez, the Conven- 
tion established a Committee of Public Safety, composed 
of nine members, but subsequently enlarged to twelve, 
who were subject to re-election every month, and were 
empowered to deliberate in secret, to superintend the 
action of the ministry, and to-4.ake provisionally whatever 
:neasures were requisite for the national defence (April 6), 
The deputies entrusted with these large powers were 

mm. L 

146 The Fall of the Girondists. 1793 

Damon and eight others belonging to the Mountain and 
the Plain. From this time the ministers sank into the 
position of chief clerks of their respective departments, 
while the Committee of Public Safety stood at the head 
of the executive government. 

A second committee, which had been created earlier, 
acquired special importance about the same time. This 
was a Committee of General Security, which had under 
its superintendence the measures taken for the detection 
of political crime. Originally the Girondists 
of General possessed a majority in it, but shortly after 
Security. t k e K m g> s death it had been reorganised, and 

was now composed of twelve Montagnards. ^ 

The immediate object of the Convention in instituting 
the Committee of Public Safety was* to have an execu- 
Deputiesin ^ ve sufficiently strong to bring large armies 
mission. rapidly into the field. About 200,000 men 
were now under arms. For the ensuing campaign it was 
determined to raise the number to 500,000 ; 300,000 
had, therefore, to be found in the course of a few weeks. 
All national guards between the ages of eighteen and 
forty were put in requisition. Every department had to 
furnish a definite contingent ; if the voluntary system 
failed to make up the required number, conscription was 
resorted to. In most departments the call for soldiers 
was responded to with enthusiasm, but in a few zeal was 
wanting, and there was great difficulty everywhere in ob- 
taining money and arms. In order to bring local au- 
thorities under the immediate control of the Government, 
the Convention took direct part in the administration, 
and sent deputies into every department, authorised to 
take all measures necessary for hastening the levy of 
recruits and for providing supplies for the armies. These 
*men established special committees to act as their agents, 
compelled the sale of corn, horses, and arms, and d\«- 

1793 ^* FgM °f tfe Girondists. 147 

missed administrative officers whose attachment to the 
republic was held in question. When they had com- 
pleted their work they returned to Paris, but the Con- 
vention continued to pursue the system of sending its 
members into the departments, invested with arbitrary 
and absolute power for carrying out the work entrusted 
to them. Deputies were always present with the armies, 
to superintend commissariat arrangements and to keep 
a watchful eye on the conduct of general officers. They 
were responsible only to the Convention and to the Com- 
mittee of Public Safety, under whose immediate direction 
they acted. Agents of the central government were thus 
established by the side of the independent local au- 
thorities, and the way was prepared for the complete sub- 
mission of the country to whichever party triumphed at 
Paris. For K the* first, time since the fall of the old system 
of the monarchy there was a Government in France, y 

As the situation grew more perilous, legislation 
assumed an increasingly harsh and tyrannical character. 
In March, at the very time when the retreat of Dumouriez 
from Belgium offered an opportunity to the allies of 
attempting a march on Paris, a dangerous insurrection, 
excited by the forced recruitment, broke out Laws against 
amongst the peasants of La Vendue. The f!!jji* rants 
Convention, enraged against its adversaries, jurors, 
and frightened at the unexpected danger, struck at 
random, regardless of the fact that it was crushing the 
innocent along with the guilty. Those who instigated 
resistance to the recruitment of the army were punished 
by death. Priests, subject to banishment, who had re- 
mained in the country, were to be transported to French 
Guiana. Banished priests who returned were to be exe- 
cuted within twenty-four hours. The Legislative Assembly 
had made it a crime to quit the country, and had con- 
fiscated the property of the emigrants. The Convention 

I. a 

148 The Fall of the Girondists. 179^ 

laid a firmer grip on their property by banishing them 
for ever from the republic, and by forbidding them to 
return under penalty of death. Although many of the 
exiles had had no intention of fighting against their 
country, but had merely quitted France because their 
lives were in danger, no exceptions were made, and no 
account taken of sex or circumstance. 

In the midst of internal strife and preparation for 
defence the Convention was engaged on the task of 
framing a new constitution. When abstract questions 
were under discussion but little difference of view arose. 
In fact, the contention between the two parties did not 
concern principles, but their immediate appli- 
the jJoun- cation. The Girondists were prepared, with- 
tam ' out heed of circumstances, to carry into action 

principles of decentralisation, popular election, and free 
trade, and contended that the republic must rest upon 
the political virtue and public spirit of the mass of the 
population. The Montagnards regarded facts only. 
They recognised that active support to the republic was 
to be looked for from the mob alone; that attempts 
to enforce principles of free trade against the will of 
their own supporters must lead to the overthrow of 
the Convention ; that under the circumstances popular 
election was a farce, and that amid the strife of parties 
and factions decentralisation meant, as the experience of 
the past two years had shown, that France would be with- 
out an effective Government at a time when a powerful 
coalition was formed against her. A far lower motive 
impelled them in the same direction. The safety of their 
country appeared to them dependent on the triumph of 
their own party, and to secure this they were prepared to 
act in the teeth of their theoretical opinions. They denied 
liberty to the press. They sacrificed freedom of trade to 
the clamours of the populace. They not only maintained 

1793 The Fall of the Girondists. 149 

the right of Paris to act for the whole of France, but, in 
order the more effectually to secure submission, sought 
by the agency of clubs and special committees to stamp 
out all vestiges of public spirit that yet remained in the 
departments, and were indifferent to the character of their 
instruments, or to the commission of acts of injustice and 
cruelty, so long as their own ascendancy was secured. 

The Girondists denounced the policy of their adver- 
saries with eloquence and fervent indignation. But the 
issue of the struggle was dependent, not on their power 
of speech, but on the support which they could Economical 
obtain in Paris. Affection for the Convention Mtuatlon - 
was nowhere to be found. The middle classes were 
alienated by the death of the King, the lower classes by 
the dearness of food, while large numbers were estranged 
by the indifference manifested by the Convention towards 
the Catholic faith. The actual hostility of the working 
classes was excited in consequence of the strenuous 
opposition made by the Girondists to the economic 
theories which found favour in the streets. In July 1792, 
the nominal value of assignats in circulation was about 
87,500,000/. In May 1793, it had risen, owing to the 
war expenditure, to about 131,250,000/. The Church 
lands, the security on which the assignats were first 
issued, were already sold. A new security had been 
found in the property of emigrants, which was now in 
course of sale. This was conveniently estimated to be 
worth the exact amount of the assignats in circulation, 
131,250,000/. The Government, however, remained no 
better off. It had no credit on which to borrow, and taxes 
were only partially paid. All foresaw that, to cover the 
war expenses, it would be necessary to have recourse to 
new issues of assignats, and hence in spite of the large 
security offered the paper money fell rapidly in value. 
In March 1793, assignats could be exchanged for silver 

r50 The Fall of the Girondists, 1793 

at about half their nominal value. To supply the defi- 
ciency of small change the Legislative Assembly had 
created notes for very small sums. Hence the depre- 
ciation of the paper money inflicted great suffering on 
men living on wages, who had nothing but these small 
notes on their hands. Since the autumn of 1791 prices 
had been rising rapidly all over France, while special 
causes contributed to produce dearness and scarcity of 
food in Paris. In proportion as assignats were multiplied 
all persons disliked to hold them. While purchasers were 
eager to pay with them, sellers pressed for coin in ex- 
change for their wares. The consequence was that trade 
deserted Paris, where paper money was most abundant, 
and where it was more difficult to get payment in gold 
and silver than in the country. Corn-growers kept their 
corn in store or sent it elsewhere. Few cattle came to 
market. Bread, meat, fish, wine, wood — in short, all 
articles rose in price, some trebling in cost in the course 
of six months. In the spring of 1793 the drawing off of 
men to the frontier caused a rapid rise in wages, which 
before had not advanced in proportion to prices. Never- 
theless, real want existed amongst the lower classes, and 
a not unfounded fear of want even amongst the upper 
classes. Those who had money laid in stores, thus in- 
creasing the scarcity ; while wholesale dealers held back 
supplies, either because they were unwilling to take paper 
money, or calculated on an increased rise in prices. 

Under this condition of things, while there were 
many sufferers, some made large gains, more especially 
capitalists, speculators, wholesale dealers, and contrac- 
tors engaged in large transactions with the Government 
and foreign countries. The depreciation of the paper 
money benefited also to a certain extent the taxpayer and 
the purchaser of State lands. But in proportion as indi- 
viduals gained the State lost, for while its revenue, was 

* » 

1793 ^* F a M °f tfo Girondists. 15 1 

received in assignats at their nominal value, wnen it 
made purchases it was compelled to find hard cash or 
else to pay in assignats at their depreciated value. 

How to raise the value of the paper money and 
to lower prices was the question that pressed hardest 
on the Convention during the spring of 1793. The 
people, accustomed under the monarchy to arbitrary 
interference with trade, were now raising all through 
France a clamorous cry for compelling farmers to bring 
corn to market, and for fixing the prices of articles of 
ordinary use and consumption. In the capital a draconian 
code was proposed as the best means of keeping assignats 
at par and ensuring plenty. Persons who exchanged as- 
signats for money, who speculated on variations in price, 
who held back goods from sale, were to suffer the penalty 
of death. A special tax was to be imposed for the main- 
tenance of the war, a special rate for supplying Paris 
with cheap bread. Petition followed petition, from the 
sections, the clubs, and the Commune, calling on the 
Convention, under the threat of insurrection, to legislate 
to such effect. 

These demands were in direct contradiction to the 
free trade principles maintained by a large majority of 
deputies. Laws for the suppression of speculation and 
for the regulation of the corn trade were held by the 
Girondists as an unjustifiable interference with popular 
individual liberty, and as calculated to produce re* 11 ** 1 * 8 °p- 

' ' r posed by 

the contrary effect to that which their pro- Girondists. 
posers intended. ' Do you wish/ said Vergniaud, * to 
decree famine ? ' They ascribed the scarcity of corn solely 
to fear of pillage, and had the temerity to denounce the 
system of supplying Paris with cheap bread as demo- 
ralising the inhabitants of the city and as unjust to those 
of the country, who received lower wages but had to pay 
the market price of the commodity. To the demand for 

152 The Fall of the Girondists. 1793 

a maximum price and the punishment of forestallers and 
speculators, there was added soon the demand for sending 
the Girondists before the revolutionary court, as standing 
in the way of the popular remedies becoming law. The 
Montagnards supported a coercive policy. The large 
issue of assignats and the consequent breakdown of ordi- 
nary commercial relations appeared to some to justify 
exceptional legislation. But the preponderating motive, 
leading the Mountain, as a body, to support propositions 
for maximum laws, was the dread of an insurrection 
directed against the entire Convention, and the desire 
of maintaining against the Commune the leadership of 
the populace. Several members of the centre, under 
the influence of fear, and regarding as impracticable 
the policy of the right, seceded to the Mountain. The 
Girondists had eloquence and courage,.but no practical 
programme able to rally supporters round them. They 
had no means of protecting the Convention, yet it was 
impossible to abandon the existing system of supply- 
ing cheap bread to Paris without having to face an 
immediate insurrection. They were unable to set a limit 
to the issue of assignats, yet it was evident that if the 
notes went on falling in value, there must before long be % 
famine prices in Paris. Most deputies of the centre, 
though they still held the same opinions as the Girondists, 
dared not emulate their courage. The exchange of 
assignats for silver at less than their nominal value was 
prohibited, under penalty of six years' imprisonment 
(April 11). Restrictions upon the corn trade, which had 
been in force under the monarchy, were revived, and a 
variable maximum for corn was fixed, to be regulated in 
each department by the local authorities (May 3). To 
provide for the war expenses, a forced loan was to be 
raised of more than forty -three millions (May 20). These 
concessions, however, failed to satisfy the populace, 

'793 Tlie Ftott °f tfe Girondists. 153 

while on the point which the leaders of the agitation 
had most in view, the expulsion of the Girondists, the 
Convention stood firm, and refused to proscribe its 
members. Plotting went on openly. The Convention 
had lately instituted special committees to put in force 
police laws regarding foreigners residing in France 
(March 21). There was one in every section of Paris, and 
ultimately in most municipalities in the country. These 
committees, which usurped the functions of the ordinary 
or civil committees of the sections, became agents for 
the execution of the police laws generally, and soon 
acquired celebrity under the name of revolutionary com- 
mittees. Nobles and ecclesiastics were excluded from 
sitting on them, and they were most often composed of 
ruffianly and dissolute adventurers. One insurrectionary 
committee was now formed at Paris of delegates from 
these revolutionary committees; a second of delegates 
from the sections. The Commune, under the leadership 
of its mayor, Pache, and its two law officers, Hubert and 
Chaumette, set itself at the head of the movement. 
Some Montagnards, including Robespierre, Marat, Collot 
d'Herbois, Chabot, Tallien, and Desmoulins gave it un- 
disguised support. But those whose hostility was less, 
hesitated. For if the Mountain had to call in the aid of 
the Commune in order to obtain victory over the Giron- 
dists, what security was there that after their expulsion 
it would be able to maintain its own independence? 
And what influence could Danton hope to exercise 
over a brow-beaten and intimidated body of men, in 
fear for their lives? Compromise with the Girondists 
was, however, impracticable, and the Committee of 
Public Safety, in place of taking active measures against 
the conspirators, sought merely to moderate their vio- 

While their enemies plotted, the Girondists made no 

154 Tlie Fall of the Girondists. 1793 

efforts to secure the Convention against attack, or to 
form a party in Paris for its defence. They relied on 
their eloquence and the goodness of their cause 

Time 93. 

to keep the centre true to them. They made 
the useless proposition that the primary assemblies should 
meet and decide which deputies should be ejected, and 
which keep their seats. They obtained addresses from 
the departments promising armed intervention in their 
support, and in case of insurrection threatened Paris with 
annihilation. ' If ever,' said the unrestrainable Isnard, 
when President of the Convention, to a deputation from 
the Commune, 'it should happen that violence were 
offered to the national representatives, I declare to you, 
in the name of the whole of France, that Paris would be 
destroyed, and grass would grow on the banks of the 
Seine.' Such words were far more hurtful to the Giron- 
dists themselves than to those whom they threatened. 
They sounded in men's ears like an echo of Brunswick's 
-proclamation, and made the inhabitants of Paris fear 
more the consequences of the success of the Girondists, 
in case of a collision between the two parties, than those 
of submission to the one which posed itself as the de- 
fender of Paris from violence. Meanwhile the enemies 
of the Girondists lost no opportunity of turning opinion 
against them. They accused them, not only of seeking 
to excite civil war, but also of being Federalists, and ot 
plotting to destroy the unity of the republic by making 
the departments independent of the capital. Marat and 
his murderous followers were ready to execute a second 
massacre, whilst amongst the people propositions were 
heard for a redistribution of property. Such ideas were 
not countenanced either by the Jacobins or the Com- 
mune. Bloodshed might lead the departments to rise, 
and it was possible that the middle classes in Paris 
might move for the defence of the Girondists if they 

1793 The Fall of tke Girondists. 155 

thought the city was to be given over to assassins and 
assailants of the rights of property. Meanwhile the Con- 
vention, encouraged by some movements in the sections 
against the tyranny of the Commune, assumed a bolder 
attitude, and appointed a commission of twelve deputies 
to investigate the conspiracies (May 18). Hubert and 
other agitators were arrested. But these acts of vigour 
hastened the crisis. To quiet the apprehensions of the 
middle classes the Commune and the Jacobins made public 
declaration of their respect for property and of their in- 
tention to maintain order. 

The Convention a few days previously had removed 
from the Riding School to a spacious hall in the Palace 
of the Tuileries, capable of holding more than a thousand 
persons. On May 31 armed bands streamed through 
the streets to impose their will on the representatives of 
the nation. The terrorised Convention decreed the sup- 
pression of the Commission of Twelve, but refused to 
proscribe its members. It was not allowed to escape 
without bending its neck yet more beneath the yoke. 
On June 2 many thousand insurgents flooded the 
Chamber, demanding, with threats, the arrest of the 
leaders of the right. The alarmed and indignant de 
puties, with the exception of some thirty on the left, 
rose in a body and left the hall. But all issues out 
of the palace courts and garden were closely guarded, 
and passage refused with insult. They returned, and 
while intruders sat on the benches and voted with them, 
a decree was carried that thirty-one deputies, including 
Vergniaud, Gensonn£, Guadet, Brissot, and other leading 
Girondists, should be kept under arrest at their own 

i 5 6 



The fall of the Girondists was the necessary result of 
their unfitness to govern France in the midst of war and 
revolution. The constitutionalists had been overthrown, 
because they refused to recognise that Louis desired the 
triumph of the invaders. The Girondists were over- 
thrown because they refused to recognise the insurrection 
of August 10 under its real aspect. After that event it was 
inevitable that France should for a time be governed by the 
minority which, aided by the populace, had swept away 
the throne of the weak and incapable King. Not only had 
the people of France no attachment to a republican form 
of government, and therefore no readiness to move for- 
ward actively in support of the Girondists against the 
Mountain ; but also the great majority of the population, 
through dread of reaction in favour of the privileged 
classes, had no will or policy of their own. The Giron- 
dists had been incapable of evolving a policy which could 
rouse enthusiasm in their cause or give confidence in 
their guidance. Their ideal republic was fitted for some 
ideal nation, not for the French people, torn by factions 
and involved in war with half Europe. Yet it was all 
they had to offer to France, and hence it happened that 
when the Commune of Paris rose against them, not an 
arm had been raised in their behalf. 

If, however, the Girondists had failed in solving the 
problem of giving France a government, their ejection 
from the Convention was none the less a catastrophe, 
fraught with most evil consequences. They had put them- 
selves forward as representatives not merely of the de- 
partments against Paris, but also of principles of individual 

i?93 The Commune and the Terror. 157 

liberty, of justice, and of humanity. The Montagnards 
used the same words, but meant by them very different 
things. By the sovereignty of the people they meant the 
domination of their own party ; by justice and humanity 
the sacrifice of the opponents of their own ideas. * Others 
have sought,' Vergniaud had said in one of his finest 
speeches, * to complete the revolution by aid of terror ; I 
would have wished to complete it by aid of love.' 

Though in the departments there was no popular 
movement in favour of the Girondists, yet they had more 
supporters there than in the capital In Paris „ , . . 

„ ... . , , . - , „ Submission 

all authorities, with the exception of the Con- of the in- 
vention, were on the side of the conspirators, p*" 1 " 161 * 8 - 
In the departments the administrative bodies, which had 
all been re-elected since the autumn, resembled closely 
in constitution the Convention itself. As a rule, in these 
bodies supporters of the Girondists were in a majority, 
supporters of the Mountain in a minority. In more than 
sixty departments administrative bodies contested the 
authority of the Convention, and threatened to resort to 
arms in favour of the expelled deputies. The chief cen- 
tres of resistance were, in the north-west, Rennes and 
Caen ; in the south-west, Bordeaux. The danger of a 
general insurrection seemed greater, owing to the fact that 
royalists at the same time were raising the standard of 
revolt. In the important industrial town of Lyons they 
gained the entire direction of affairs. The leaders of the 
Jacobins were put to death, and active preparations were 
taken to resist by force the authority of the Convention. 
At Toulon like dispositions were manifested and the same 
course was pursued. In the departments of Ardeche and 
Lozere royalist conspirators had already been in arms 
before the expulsion of the Girondists ; while in La 
Vendee and Deux Sevres the peasants since March were 
in open rebellion. The task, however, of quelling re- 

i $8 The Commune and the Terror. 1793 

sistance under these circumstances was, in reality, less 
formidable than at first sight appeared. There could be 
no alliance between royalist and Girondist insurgents, 
and the mere fact that royalists were in arms increased 
the reluctance of the population to dispute the authority 
of the mutilated Convention. Hence the opposition 
raised by the supporters of the Girondists was vacil- 
lating and weak. The administrative bodies could not 
rely on any class for hearty support Even amongst 
the proscribed deputies themselves union was wanting. 
While some fled to Normandy, others remained in Paris, 
prepared to suffer whatever fate awaited them rather than 
bring upon themselves the guilt of exciting civil war. On 
the other side, the party victorious in Paris was for the 
time thoroughly united, and acted with caution and de- 
cision. The Committee of Public Safety, under Danton's 
guidance, sought to pursue a policy of conciliation, and 
the supporters of the Commune, aware of the insecurity 
of their position, held themselves under restraint. The 
charge of socialism and tyranny made by the Girondists 
was repudiated by the adoption of a new constitution, 
based upon individual liberty and democratic principles. 
There was indeed not the smallest intention of putting 
this constitution in force, but its promulgation held out 
promise to the country of a speedy return to normal modes 
of government. The phrase ' The Republic, one and 
indivisible,' was adopted by the Montagnards to signify 
the national cause, while they accused the Girondists of 
seeking to destroy the possibility of defence against the 
foreigner by the establishment of a loosely organised 
federal state, and even of being in alliance with the 
enemy, and of seeking to betray France to England. In 
the course of a few weeks the administrative authorities 
abandoned the attitude of even passive resistance against 
the Convention. A few hundred men advancing from 

1793 ^* Commune and the Ten tff.^*vl 59 

Caen to Pans were defeated at Vernon on the Seine. 
Bordeaux, starved out, surrendered at discretion, and 
thus before the end of August there were none but 
royalists who continued to contest the authority of the 

The danger of the situation, nevertheless, remained 
great. The royalists, both in Lyons and Toulon, held 
out, and the rebellion in La Vendue became War - m ^ 
more formidable every day. In this depart- Vendue, 
ment the destructive tendencies dominant in other parts 
of France were tempered by strong conservative instincts. 
No violent feeling of antagonism existed between nobles 
and peasants. The nobles lived at home and came into 
personal contact with the tenant-farmers. The country 
was wholly agricultural ; there were few towns and no 
industries. The peasants, excessively credulous and 
superstitious, were easily led by their priests, and were 
ready to hazard the loss of whatever advantages the revo- 
lution brought them for the sake of keeping their faith 
intact. The attempt to deprive them of the priests to 
whom they were attached first rendered them hostile to 
the revolution. The attempt to carry out the forced levy 
of soldiers decreed in March was the immediate cause of 
insurrection. For the republic they had no sympathy, 
and refused to leave their homes to fight in its defence. 
A general rising took place, extending over the whole of 
La Vendee and part of Deux Sevres. The Government, 
compelled to send every available soldier to the frontier, 
was quite unable to cope with the insurgents. Raw and 
undisciplined levies, hastily brought together in the neigh- 
bouring departments, were no match for them. The 
character of the country was that of an almost impreg- 
nable fortress. The interior, called the Bocage, was 
hilly, thickly wooded, and intersected by small streams 
flowing at the bottom of steep ravines. The villages lay 

i6o The Commune and the Terror. 179-5 

far apart. Roads and lanes, often impassable for wheels, 
ran a tortuous course up and down-hill, between high 
hedges and forests of furze and broom. On the sea-coast 
the country, though flat, was readily defended, being 
marshy and cut up by wide ditches. A large portion of 
the population were poachers and smugglers, who were 
skilled marksmen, and the very men to carry on the 
guerilla warfare which now arose in every part of a country 
so inaccessible to the regular soldier. Defeat told heavily 
on the republicans, who lost stores and ammunition, 
missed their way in flight, and were cut down one by one 
by the peasantry. The Vendeans, on the other hand, if 
the enemy withstood their first onset, disappeared by 
tracks known only to themselves, and returned to their 
farms and ploughs, prepared to resume the contest on a 
more favourable occasion. 

In the conduct of a war of this description there was 
naturally little method. The insurgent bands sought out 
the nobles and put them at their head. The stream of the 
Sevre Nantaise divided the country into two parts, and 
the leaders on the two sides of the river rarely attempted 
concerted action. In the lower district Charette, a noble, 
exercised the chief authority. In the upper, two nobles, 
De Lescure and Bonchamps, and two peasants, Stofflet 
and Cathelineau, commanded. 

Repeated successes were won by the Vendeans, who 
fought with all the ardour inspired by religious enthusi- 
asm, and were ready to follow their leaders to the death. 
Priests, always present with the armies, stimulated their 
courage, promising to those who fell immediate entrance 
into Paradise. One after another the towns lying on 
the edge of the disturbed country fell into the insurgents' 
possession. In June Saumur was captured, giving them 
the passage of a bridge across the Loire. Cathelineau 
crossed to the right bank, entered Angers, and marched 

1793 ^* Commune and the Terror. 161 

against Nantes; while Charette, in Lowex Vendee, 
agreed to open an attack on the same place from the 
south. But the peasants, whose custom it was to dis- 
perse after a few days' service, had neither inclination 
nor heart for an expedition directed against a distant 
town. Many of those who followed Cathelineau deserted 
on the way. Nantes was bravely defended, and the 
assault repelled (June 29). Cathelineau received a mortal 
wound. Charette, south of the Loire, failed to get 
possession of the bridge across the river, and the 
Vendcans on the north bank dispersed, returning by 
boats to their own country. 

While the Vendeans triumphed in the west, in the 
east the allies were victorious. The armies of Coburg 
and Brunswick mustered 250,000 men. After the re- 
conquest of Belgium, Coburg laid siege to the French 
fortresses of Conde* and Valenciennes. These 
surrendered in July. About the same time sued by th"/ 
Mainz was retaken by Brunswick, and had the Alhes * 
two generals advanced, the one from the Scheldt, the other 
from the Rhine, there was every probability of their 
making themselves masters of the capital, and with the 
capital, of France. The opportunity, however, was let 
slip. The powers had their own separate objects in view, 
and cared more for attaining them than for suppressing 
the revolution. 

England designed to extend her maritime dominion 
and her trade by the conquest of French colonies and 
the destruction of the French marine. A body of Eng- 
lish and Hanoverian troops was sent under the Duke 
of York to help the Austrians to capture French border 
fortresses, and especially to gain possession of the port 
of Dunkirk, where the existence of a French naval station 
had always been an object of jealousy to English states- 
men. The alHance between Austria and Prussia was fast 

M.H. M 

162 T/te Commune and the Terror, 1793 

breaking down. Austria had given her consent to the 
acquisition of Polish provinces by Prussia. Prussia, on 
her side, had undertaken to support the Austrian plan of 
exchanging Belgium for Bavaria. Neither power, how- 
ever, acted openly or honourably towards the other. 
Prussia secretly encouraged opposition to the plan of 
exchange. Austria urged Russia to cut Prussia's share 
of Poland down to the smallest possible portion, and to 
delay her entering into possession of it. This state of 
tension was increased when the second partition of Po- 
land was actually carried out in March and April. In 
consequence a change of ministry took place at Vienna. 
The supporters of the Prussian alliance were dismissed 
from office, and Baron Thugut was entrusted by the 
Emperor with the sole direction of foreign affairs. It 
was the aim of Thugut's ambition to give to Austria 
a dominant position on the continent. The Prussian 
alliance he regarded in the light of an impediment to the 
accomplishment of his schemes, since Prussia was Aus- 
tria's rival in Germany and jealous of Austrian aggrand- 
isement. For the time he let drop the idea of exchanging 
Belgium for Bavaria. That plan could not be carried 
out without the co-operation of Prussia, and the chances 
of Prussia's co-operation decreased in proportion as she 
laid firmer hold on her new acquisitions in Poland. 
England, moreover, was unwilling to see Belgium passing 
out of the Emperor's possession, and Thugut was eager 
to secure the friendship of England, in order the more 
effectually to keep Prussia in check. He held it, there- 
fore, the surer policy to leave the plan in abeyance, and 
meanwhile to make conquest of French territory, more 
especially of Alsace and Lorraine, which provinces at the 
making of peace might be disposed of as appeared most 
consonant to Austrian interests. The idea of attempting to 
reach Paris was, accordingly, not entertained with favour 

1793 ^** Commune and the Terror. 163 

by any of the powers. England and Austria both wished 
to operate on the French frontier, while Prussia did not 
care to engage deeply in hostilities in the west while 
affairs in Poland remained unsettled. It was, besides, 
the belief both of generals and diplomatists, that the 
strife of factions within France must result in the collapse 
of all government, and that in the following year a 
march to Paris could be effected without difficulty. 

But while the allies besieged fortresses in Flanders, 
and operations lagged on the Rhine, immense exertions 
were being made within France to increase the Murder of 
size of the armies, and an iron despotism was Marat - 
established which placed all the resources of the country 
at the disposition of the Government. As the depart- 
ments one after another submitted, deputies from the 
Convention were sent into them to bring them the more 
completely under the control of the party which had 
secured ascendancy in Paris by the insurrection of June 2 
(p. 155). Men who had espoused the cause of the pro- 
scribed deputies were excluded from office, and were 
expelled from the clubs, which from this time were only 
frequented by ardent supporters of the Mountain. The 
body of the population watched the establishment of a 
ruthless tyranny in their midst without attempting resist- 
ance. The will and the union requisite for action were 
both lacking, and the few who dared either by act or word 
to venture opposition to the emissaries of the Mountain 
or of the Commune of Paris, paid the penalty by loss of 
liberty if not of life. Amongst those who had placed faith 
in the Girondists and their ideals was a young woman 
of Normandy, Charlotte Corday. Like them, she had 
dreamed of the establishment of a republic founded on 
the political virtue and intelligence of the people ; and 
when the mob of Paris rose and drove with insult from 
the Convention those who in her eyes were the heroic 

m 2 

1 64 The Commune and the Terror. 1793 

defenders of the universal principles of truth and justice, 
she bitterly resented the wrong that had been done not 
only to the men themselves, but to that France of which 
she regarded them as the true representatives. Owing to 
Marat's persistent cry for a dictatorship and for shedding 
of blood, it was he who, in the departments, was accounted 
especially responsible both for the expulsion of the 
Girondists and for the tyranny which now began to weigh 
as heavily upon the whole country as it had long weighed 
upon the capital. Incapable as all then were of compre- 
hending the causes which had brought about the fall of 
the Girondists, Charlotte Corday imagined that by put- 
ting an end to this man's life, she could also put an end 
to the system of government which he advocated. In- 
forming her friends that she wished to visit England, she 
left Caen and travelled in the diligence to Paris. On her 
arrival she purchased a knife, and afterwards obtained 
entrance into Marat's house on the pretext that she 
brought news which she desired to communicate to him. 
She knew that he would be eager to obtain intelligence of 
the movements of the Girondist deputies still in Normandy. 
Marat was ill at the time, and in a bath when Charlotte 
Corday was admitted. She gave him the names of the 
deputies who were at Caen. ' In a few days,' he said, as 
he wrote them hastily down, ' I will have them all guil- 
lotined in Paris.' As she heard these words she plunged 
the knife into his body and killed him on the spot (July 13). 
The cry uttered by the murdered man was heard, and 
Charlotte, who did not attempt to escape, was captured 
and conveyed to prison amid the murmurs of an angry 
crowd. It had been from the first her intention to sacri- 
fice her life for the cause of her country, and glorying 
in her deed, she met death with stoical indifference. * I 
killed one man,' she said, when brought before the revolu- 
tionary court, ' in order to save the lives of 100,000 others.* 

1793 The Commune and the Terror. 165 

Thus perished by the hands of an assassin the man 
who, since the revolution began, had persistently main- 
tained that assassination was a justifiable mode for the 
accomplishment of political ends. His murder brought 
about contrary results to those which the woman who 
ignorantly and rashly had flung away her life, hoped by 
the sacrifice to effect Marat had not been the creator of 
the circumstances which enabled him to exert influence, 
and there was no lack of men equally san- sanguinary 
guinary, and equally fanatic, ready to usurp JfaJ?^ 
the place left vacant by his death. He was vernment. 
regarded as a martyr by no small portion of the 
working population of Paris. The influence which he 
had exerted over them was in reality due, not so much to 
his exhortations to massacre., as to the fact that amongst 
the many writers who had put themselves forward as the 
spokesmen of the lower orders, he alone had truly at 
heart the destruction of tne existing material misery. 
His murder excited indignation beyond the comparatively 
narrow circle of those who took an active part in political 
life, while at the same time it added a new impulse to the 
growing cry for blood. After the expulsion of the Girond- 
ists, power drifted more and more into the hands of those 
who were most violent in language, and who were pre- 
pared to be most violent in act. The more moderate 
section of the Mountain, composed of Dantonists and 
seceders from the Plain, rapidly lost influence. They 
were without means by which to exert control over their 
colleagues, and were driven to use exaggerated and san- 
guinary language in order to escape the charge of being 
themselves bad patriots and secret supporters of royalists 
and federalists. The deputies forming the right and centre 
of the Convention kept silence, or ceased to appear in 
their seats. The nation remained passive, incapable 01 
resistance. Every day the Government displayed a more 


1 66 T/ie Commune and the Terror. 1793 

and more ferocious character. It was cruel, because it was 
weak in the sense that it had little material force on 
which it could rely for support, if its authority were once 
disputed. It was cruel also, because it was resolute and 
fanatic, determined to maintain itself at whatever cost, 
and at the same time under the influence of theories and 
ideas which could not be carried into practice except 
by resort to despotic means and by the destruction of 
individual as well as of political liberty. 

Despotic as it was, the Government was also exceed- 
ingly disorganised, and this cause rendered it the more 
sanguinary and aggressive. It consisted of a number of 
separate and independent authorities, each striving for 
mastery. They were composed in part of the same 
Diso nisa- men, but in part also of men whose characters, 
tionoTGo- ideas, and aims were often at variance with 
each other. The Convention, the Jacobins, 
the Deputies in mission, the Committees of Public Safety 
and General Security, now commonly called the two 
Committees of Government, and finally the Commune of 
Paris, directed between them the affairs of France. Of 
all these authorities the Convention, nominally represen- 
tative of France, was the weakest. It had lost the re- 
spect alike of the country and of the populace of Paris, 
which had so often converted it into its tooL The con- 
tempt in which it was held reacted on the position of the 
Mountain, which after the expulsion of the Girondists was 
powerless to adopt any measures that gave offence either 
to the Commune of Paris or to the Committee of Public 
Safety, and was equally powerless to reject measures 
which either of these bodies desired that it should adopt. 
The authority once possessed by the Convention was now 
transferred to the Committee of Public Safety, which con- 
tinued to gather strength in proportion as the Mountain 
grew weaker. At first composed of Dantonists and 

'793 2^ Commune and the Terror. 167 

seceders from the Plain, it became converted into the 
organ of the extreme faction which had urged on the 
insurrection against the Girondists. In July, Robespierre 
entered it with two adherents — Couthon- and St. Just. 
In September were added Billaud-Varennes and Collot 
d'Herbois, who were allied with the leaders of the Com- 
mune. On special occasions this Committee consulted in 
common with the Committee of General Security, which, 
however, always occupied a position subordinate to it. 
It was now composed of twelve members, but the five 
men just named were those who directed the general action 
of the Government. In the persons of Robespierre and 
his supporters the Committee represented the Jacobins ; 
in the persons of Billaud and Collot it represented the 
Commune ; and so complete did the subserviency of the 
Montagnards become, that although the Committee was 
legally subject to re-election every month, they never 
dared to avail themselves of this opportunity for naming 
fresh members in the place of those who had made them- 
selves their masters. 

By the side of the Committee of Public Safety, the 
Commune of Paris occupied an independent position. 
Although nominally merely the body adminis- The Com . 
tering the affairs of the capital, it in reality muneof 
took the lead in directing the general affairs of 
France. After it had accomplished the insurrection 
against the Girondists, it was the strongest power in 
Paris. It had armed bands of 'ruffians in its pay ; the 
national guard was under its orders; the revolutionary 
and civil committees of the sections were its tools ; and, 
for the time, it had the support of the populace, which 
it supplied with bread. The Committee of Public Safety 
dared as little as the Mountain risk collision with it. 
It forced its supporters into the government offices ; 
sent agents into the departments ; exerted influence over 

1 68 The Commune and the Terror. 1793 

deputies in mission, and compelled the Convention to 
appoint ministers and generals of its selection, and to 
make laws in accordance with its wishes. 

The action of the Commune had for long been mainly 
directed by two men, Chaumette and Hubert. They 
had both been members of the insurrectionary Commune 
which had driven Louis from the Tuileries in 1792, and 
after its re-election had been ordered by the Convention 
in the autumn of the same year, they had reappeared 
at the H6tel de Ville, where they filled the influential 
position of law officers to the new Commune, which was 
made up in part of the same men, and was animated 
by the same spirit as its predecessor. Their ascendancy 
was now signalised by an extraordinary outburst of 
cruelty and fanaticism. Not content with the abo- 
lition of political and civil distinctions between man 
and man, they sought to destroy all superiorities and to 
put men socially and intellectually on the same level. The 
superiority of wealth was a special object of their attack. 
Capitalists, bankers, speculators, large landowners, were 
by them and their followers classed along with federalists, 
Girondists, nobles, priests, and royalists, as enemies to 
the republic. Intellectual superiority and culture became 
a crime in their possessors. Equality, in short, was to be 
produced not by the raising of the lower, but by the 
degradation of the higher. If Hubert demanded the 
establishment of a primary school in every village, he was 
actuated not so much by a regard for the moral and 
intellectual results of education as by the wish to make 
the working classes independent of the upper. Higher 
education, more especially classical education, was de- 
cried. Valuable books, statues, and works of art which 
bore trace of having been produced under the mon- 
archy, were wantonly destroyed. Ignorance and rags 
were put forward as in themselves giving a claim to 

X793 ^** Commune and the Terror. 169 

respect, and the term c sans-culotte/ ' the breechless ' (ap- 
plied to the poor from their wearing trowsers in place 
of knee-breeches), was held synonymous with that of 
* patriot.' The words ' Monsieur ' and * Madame ' were 
replaced by c citoyen' and * citoyenne,' and an untidy dress, 
a rough manner, and rude language were adopted as 
symbols of a patriotic spirit. 

Despite the violence and brutality of which they were 
guilty, neither the leaders of the Commune, nor yet many 
of those who followed in their track or spurred them 
on, were without enlightened ideas. The humane philo- 
sophy of the century had left its impression, though it 
might be but a superficial one, on the hardest and most 
selfish natures. Thus, while they sought by terror to 
destroy the existing bases of society, Chaumette and 
Hubert sought also to figure in the light of philanthropists 
and guardians of public morality. Acting under their 
impulse, the Commune brought forward projects for the 
reform of youthful criminals, and for the alleviation of the 
sufferings of the sick in hospitals, as well as others of like 
character, and incessantly urged on the Convention the 
suppression of state lotteries, by which the poor were led 
to gamble away their sous. Even at their best, however 
the members of the Commune were mainly actuated by 
personal motives. They sought to obtain some moral 
support to their position, without which it would in the 
end be impossible for them to retain power for long. Of 
their philanthropic schemes, moreover, very few were 
carried out in practice. It was the inevitable result of 
the conditions under which the Commune had grasped 
authority, that the better men should be thrust into the 
background by the more selfish and more unscrupulous. 
Thus Chaumette by the side of Hebert soon sank into 
comparative insignificance. For while Chaumette cared 
for the accomplishment of ideal aims, Hubert cared alone 

170 The Commune and the Terror. 179^ 

for the retention of power by himself, and was entirely 
indifferent as to the means by which he secured this 
end. He was a coarse and low-minded adventurer. 
Before the revolution he had been dismissed from an 
inferior office at a theatre for dishonest practices. After 
the revolution began, he had sought notoriety by the 
publication of a paper, Le Plre Duchesne, written 
in language coarse even for that time, and advocating 
atheism. Around him and the Commune now rallied all 
the worst ruffians and scoundrels in Paris. Assassins 
were appointed to the command of armed forces, and 
thieves and rogues were placed on civil and revolutionary 
committees which had at their disposition the property 
and liberty of their fellow-citizens. In short, so far as the 
administration was concerned, the prevailing character- 
istics of the rule of the Commune under HeT)ert , s leader- 
ship were anarchy and licence. 

All authorities were equally interested in preserving 
France from invasion, and all concurred in making 
The Con- exertions to put soldiers in the field, and to 
scnption. provide them with the necessary arms and 
supplies. The Convention had at once to find forces to 
besiege the still revolted towns of Lyons and Toulon, to 
suppress the rebellious Vendeans in the east, to fight the 
Spaniards in the Pyrenees, the Piedmontese in the Alps, 
the English and Austrians in the Netherlands, and the 
Austrians and the Prussians on the Rhine. None of the 
usual motives which cause men to shrink from adopting 
extraordinary measures were felt by the existing rulers 
of France. To recruit the armies, they resorted to 
a conscription. All citizens between the ages of eighteen 
and twenty-five were called on to serve in person. Urged 
on by the Commune, the Convention further decreed a levy 
of the whole male population capable of bearing arms 
(August 23). Such a measure was of course impractic- 

T793 The Commune and the Terror. 171 

able, but it enabled the deputies in mission to bring 
together large bodies of men to act against Lyons and 
Toulon, and to hold in check the insurgent Vendeans. 

Between July and October laws were passed fixing 
prices and carrying out the economical system long since 
demanded in the streets. A small minority, however, 
alone of those who were willing to adopt them, Maximum 
regarded them as economically good. Their laws, 
framers had in reality ulterior objects in view. The 
He'bertists desired to ruin the upper commercial classes. 
The Montagnards, as a body, hoped to avert a State 
bankruptcy by maintaining the value of the assignats in 
spite of new issues, and to provide for the armies by 
putting at the disposition of the Government the entire 
resources of the country — its revenue, its capital, its stock, 
and its labour. In the spring a decree had been passed 
fixing a maximum price for corn, but variable in the 
different departments (p. 1 52). A maximum price for corn 
and meal was now fixed without variation for the whole 
republic. Neither article might be sold except at fairs 
and markets, and the trade in both was put under the 
supervision of the municipal bodies. Nearly all articles 
of consumption, many manufactured articles, and most 
raw materials, were also subjected to a maximum price, 
which was fixed in each department at the price that the 
article sold at in 1790, with the addition of a third as 
much again (September 17). In order to prevent whole- 
sale or retail dealers from keeping back goods from sale, 
they were required to expose over their shop doors a list 
of all articles that they had in stock, and even private 
individuals were prohibited from laying in stores. The 
practice of supplying the army through contractors was 
entirely abandoned. Corn, cloth, butter, flour, meat, 
fodder, cattle, carts, horses, vessels, and, 21 a word, all 
raw materials, manufactured articles, or live stock imme- 

172 The Commune and the Terror. 1793 

diately or remotely connected with the service of the 
armies, were put in requisition, which meant that their 
owners were compelled to sell to the Government at the 
maximum price, and to take in payment assignats at 
their nominal value. Exactly the same course was per- 
sued with regard to labour. A maximum was fixed for 
wages, the most the workman might demand being the 
wage he received in 1790, with the addition of half as 
much again. Workmen, like goods, were then put in 
requisition, and employed by thousands in making of 
arms, building of ships, repairing of roads, and other 
services of the same character. In every transaction the 
State thus gained at the expense of individuals, since the 
assignats, in which all payments were made, were now 
worth only 33 per cent, of their nominal value. 

Together with the requisition and maximum laws 
were passed others, which had for their direct object the 
suppression of speculation on the fluctuation in prices 
and in the value of the paper money. Capitalists, 
bankers, merchants engaged in foreign commerce, and 
speculators of every description, were denounced as 
aristocrats and enemies of their country, and in order the 
more effectually to suppress their transactions, the idea 
was entertained of breaking off commercial and financial 
relations between France and foreign countries. It was 
rendered a capital offence to refuse to accept assignats 
in payment of goods, or to offer or accept a higher price 
in them than in metal money. Financial and commer- 
cial companies were dissolved. The investment of 
capital in foreign countries was prohibited, the Exchange 
closed, the export of nearly all articles of French growth 
and manufacture forbidden, and the mere possession of 
articles grown or manufactured in Great Britain de- 
clared a crime. All the laws here described were 
enforced by fines, confiscations, the prison, and the 

1793 Tfo Commune and the Terror. 173 

guillotine. They succeeded in their immediate end. 
Wherever buying and selling went on in public the paper 
money was taken at par, and the Government was able 
to go on incessantly increasing the number of notes in 
circulation without meeting a corresponding rise in prices. 
But this result was only obtained at the cost of the 
destruction of private enterprise, the ruin of hundreds of 
traders and manufacturers, a lavish waste of the capital of 
the country, and the infliction of an enormous amount of 
suffering. Little foreign trade remained except what the 
Government itself carried on, and the only manufactures 
which flourished were those of arms and war material. 
Trade and agriculture became the most dangerous occu- 
pations in which it was possible to engage. 

From a variety of motives all who could pressed into 
the service of the State. It was the one means of avoid- 
ing the proscription, the surest means of avoiding 
imprisonment, the surest means of acquiring wealth. 
The Government offices were flooded with incapable 
clerks. Municipal officers and administrators, charged 
with the care and sale of national property, had abundant 
opportunities of benefiting themselves and their relatives 
at the expense of the State. The multitude of agents 
who were employed in making requisitions for the 
army could, with small danger of exposure, enrich them- 
selves by extortion and by breach of the maximum 

The maximum laws prevented prices from rising in 
the open market, but they could not assure abundance. 
It was possible to search a tradesman's cellars, Formation 
and to force him to offer his existing stock of £onary V ° lu 
goods for sale at a definite price ; but it was anny. 
impossible to make him continue to carry on his trade 
at a loss to himself. It was easier for the farmer than 
for the tradesman to break the law; but this did not 

174 ?%* Commune and the Terror. 1793 

benefit the inhabitants of towns. The farmer would often 
choose to risk his head by concealing his corn or by 
sending it out of the country, sooner than send it to 
Paris or any other large town, where the maximum law 
was most rigidly enforced, and its breach attended with 
greatest danger to himself. Since the spring the Com- 
mune had been compelled to take upon itself the entire 
task of providing for the city's consumption of bread. 
Its agents went into the surrounding departments and 
purchased all the corn and meal they could obtain, often 
giving a higher price than that prescribed by the law ) 
but it was nevertheless only with extreme difficulty that 
the necessary provision was made. In order to maintain 
popularity with the working classes, the Commune was, 
however, compelled to provide that the daily supply of 
bread did not fail. It was compelled also to give satis- 
faction to that idle and ruffianly portion of the population 
by aid of which it was enabled to impose its will upon the 
Convention and the Committee of Public Safety. At the 
demand of the Commune the Convention passed a law 
declaring that Paris, like the armies, should be supplied 
by requisitions, and ordering the formation of a special 
paid force, or so-called 'revolutionary army/ of 7,000 
men, which was to go into the departments and compel 
farmers to part with their corn at the maximum price. 
By these means the Commune obtained command of a 
new force, and found means of living for the destitute 
thieves and beggars with whom the city swarmed. This 
army was simply a horde of villains, let loose upon the 
neighbouring departments, who went from village to 
village, plundering, imprisoning, and torturing the inhabi- 
tants. Meanwhile, scarcity increased at Paris to such an 
extent that to put an end to the crowding at the bakers' 
doors, the Commune ordered that tickets should be 
issued by the sections, specifying the number of loaves 

1793 ^* Commune and the Terror, 175 

that each family in the city was to be suffered to have 
for its daily consumption. 

The maximum laws increased the already large number 
of those placed by the Mountain, the Jacobins, and the 
Commune outside the pale of citizenship. The _ 

Law of sus- 

farmer, forced to part with his corn at the pectedper- 
maximum price, would henceforth be sus- sons ' 
pected of ill-will towards the republic, as much as the 
speculator, the merchant, and the contractor for the armies, 
who, while freedom of contract had prevailed, had made 
large profits at the cost either of individuals or of the 
State. It was, in fact, impossible that the economical 
system established by the laws described should be ac- 
cepted except through fear alone. The self-interest of 
too many thousands operated in the contrary direction. 
The very artisan, who thought it fair that the farmer 
should be forced to sell his produce at maximum prices, 
strove, whenever opportunity occurred, to obtain higher 
wages than those which the law allotted to him. As the 
number of their enemies increased, the He*bertists, aware 
of increased danger to themselves, grew fiercer and more 
sanguinary in word and act. ' To be safe,' said Hubert. 
' you must kill all.' I f once nobles, royalists, seigneurs, had 
been the enemies of France, now Girondists, federalists, 
speculators, breakers of maximum laws were placed in 
the same class. Urged on by the Commune, the Con- 
vention passed a vaguely-worded law empowering the 
revolutionary committees throughout France to imprison 
all nobles, relations of emigrants, federalists, and other 
persons ' suspected ' of ill-will towards the Republic 
(September 17). To carry out literally He'berr 1 s advice, 
and kill all such, was impracticable. But it was possible 
to diffuse terror on every side, by casting into prison 
every man and woman who, by their conduct or even by 
their looks, expressed disapproval of the existing order, 

170 The Commune and t/ie Terror. 1793 

and by taking the lives of all those who bore names in 
any way representative of the past. At the beginning 
of September the number of prisoners in Paris was 
about 1,500 ; by the end of October it had risen to 3,000. 
Deputies could neither be imprisoned nor be sent before 
the revolutionary court without the authorisation of the 
Convention. Their security was, however, slight. Ever 
since the expulsion of the leading Girondists, the im- 
prisonment, now of one, now of another of their followers 
had been decreed, so that the right side was gradually 
being destroyed. The final blow was given when, on 
the demand of the Committee of General Security, the 
Convention sent before the revolutionary court twenty- 
one deputies of the right, and also the man who had 
once been known as the Duke of Orleans, but who now 
sat in the ranks of the Mountain and styled himself 
Philip Egalite\ At the same time the Convention ordered 
the arrest of more than forty other deputies who had 
signed protests against the proceedings of June 2 (Oc- 
tober 3). The judges and jurymen of the revolutionary 
court, like all authorities elected at Paris, were the tools 
or accomplices of the Commune and of the Committees 
of Government The public prosecutor, Fouquier Tinville, 
acted under the instructions of the Committee of Public 
Safety. Hitherto the Court had observed the forms ot 
its institution. Witnesses were called on both sides, and 
the defence was fully heard. Between March and Oc- 
tober the Court had sentenced to death sixty-nine persons 
and acquitted ninety-two. But from this time forms were 
less and less regarded, while the number of condemnations 
rose to more than sixty a month. The guillotine stood 
permanently on the Place de la Revolution. 

The life of the captive Queen had long been sought 
for by the He*bertists. Since the fall of the throne she 
had been shut off from all communication with the outer 

1793 The Commune and the Terror. 177 

world. She had seen her husband leave her to die on 
the scaffold, and her young son had since been torn from 
her arms, on the pretext that if he were left 
with her she would bring him up to be a of the 
tyrant. Her gaolers, whatever their feelings Q ueen * 
might be, dared not show her the smallest sign of sym- 
pathy. She was informed of the fate that awaited her by 
her removal from the Temple to the Conciergerie, a prison 
situated on the island in the Seine, close to the Palais de 
Justice, where the Revolutionary Court, as well as other 
Courts of Justice, sat. When brought before the Court she 
replied with firmness to the accusations made against her, 
and by her composed and dignified bearing won murmurs 
of applause from the hostile crowd, which had gathered to 
witness how the once haughty Queen would endure degra- 
dation and ignominy. Like other condemned persons, 
Marie Antoinette was taken from the Conciergerie to the 
Place de la Revolution, seated in a common cart with 
her arms tied behind her. History can have little to say 
in praise of a Queen whose conduct, during her years of 
prosperity, had done much to cause that general disorgan- 
isation of society and government, in the midst of which 
she perished amongst so many other victims, of whom 
many had striven for higher objects, and of whom many 
were more innocent than herself. But by her brave 
endurance of adversity, and the noble and resigned 
manner in which she met death, she, like others, atoned 
for past errors, and won for her memory respect and 
sympathy (October 16). 

Twenty-one deputies of the right soon followed the 
Queen to the scaffold. Amongst them were nine of 
those deputies whose arrest had been ordered 
on June 2, including Vergniaud, Brissot, and of the 
Gensonne\ Their trial was cut short through Girondi *»- 
fear lest if they were allowed to plead their cause they 

M.H. N 

178 The Commune and the Terror. 1793 

would gain the sympathy of the eager and excited audi- 
ence with which the Court was thronged. On their way 
from the Conciergerie to the Place de la Revolution they 
sang together the already famous song, the Marseillaise, 

beginning, — 

Allons, enfants de la patrie, 
Le jour de gloire est arrive". 

After their arrival at the scaffold the song was continued, 
while each in turn received the blow of the fatal knife, 
and did not cease until the head of the last had fallen. 

From this time a number of victims, some distin- 
guished, others obscure, belonging to all parties, went 
every week to end their lives at the Place de la Revolu- 
tion. Amongst them were the late King's sister, the 
gentle and pious Madame Elizabeth ; the former Mayor 
of Paris, the grey-haired Bailly ; the youthful Barnave, 
Mirabeau's rival for popularity in the Constituent As- 
sembly; Philip Egalite', who could not atone for the 
crime of his birth, although he had voted for -the death 
of Louis ; and Madame Roland, the friend and inspirer 
of the Girondists, condemned for plotting against the 
unity and indivisibility of the republic. Her husband, 
the former Minister of the Interior, who had been in 
hiding at Rouen, was found lying in a field, stabbed 
to death by his own hand, soon after the news of her 
condemnation reached him. 

Those who were prepared to shed blood like water, 
and had, in their own words, put terror on the order of the 
Worship of ^ay, recognised no limitations to their power. 
Reason. All, however, were not prepared to adopt the 
same course of action. The H^bertists, following the 
atheistic and materialistic doctrines which had been circu- 
lated by Diderot and other philosophers of the same 
school, denied the existence of a personal God and the im- 
mortality of the soul. Theists and sceptics, the followers 

1793 The Commune and the Terror. 179 

of Rousseau and of Voltaire, regarded the Catholic faith as 
pernicious and degrading ; but various reasons restrained 
them from attempting its suppression. They held in theory 
the principles of religious toleration ; they believed that 
the Catholic faith would necessarily lose influence as 
knowledge became more diffused ; they were alive to the 
danger of exciting the peasantry against the revolution 
by depriving them of the rites to which they were accus- 
tomed. Hubert and Chaumette entertained no such 
scruples. They were active propagandists, eager to avail 
themselves of the power of the State in order to impose 
a new form of worship on Catholic France. Unlike 
Marat and Robespierre, Hubert from the beginning of 
the revolution had exhibited equal hostility towards the 
hard-working and poorly-paid cure\ whose parents were 
peasants, as towards the titled and wealthy bishop who 
belonged to the caste of the nobility ; and he now ex- 
hibited equal hostility towards the constitutional priest 
who had accepted the work of the revolution, as towards 
the nonjuror who sought to excite reaction in favour of 
royalty. Morality and reason as displayed by man were 
declared alone fit for veneration, and the worship to take 
the place of the Catholic ritual was to be one which, refusing 
to recognise a spiritual world beyond the sphere of human 
knowledge, glorified human nature and material objects. 
The people, said Chaumette, shall be our God ; we need 
no other. We want, said He*bert, no other religion than 
that of nature ; no other temple than that of reason ; no 
other worship than that of liberty, equality, and fraternity. 
By the orders of the Commune the suppression of the 
Catholic worship was begun. Constitutional priests were 
encouraged to marry and to abdicate their functions, 
and those who refused were imprisoned. The exercise 
of the Catholic worship, either in the streets or in the 
churches, was prohibited. Even burial rites were 

N 2 

180 The Commune and the Terror. 1793 

changed. Every sign of mourning was abolished, and 
the black pall was replaced by a tricolour cloth. 

These things were done by the Commune on its sole 
authority, but the Convention offered no opposition. The 
voices of Cacholics were silent through fear. Forty 
bishops and cur£s had seats in the House. But of these 
the bravest had been proscribed with the Girondists. If 
few deputies professed atheism, those who were theists 
and sceptics saw not without gratification the suppression 
of the Catholic worship by other hands than their own. 
Urged on by the Commune the Assembly adopted a new 
calendar, which was in reality incompatible with the 
maintenance of the Catholic Church as a State institu- 
tion. The year was divided into twelve months of thirty 
days each and five odd days ; each of the months into 
three weeks of ten days each. The months were named 
after the seasons, the Frosty, the Rainy, and the like. 
The year I. began on September 22, 1792, the day of the 
proclamation of the republic. Hostility towards Catho- 
licism was yet more plainly evinced by the adoption of a 
new law, which treated the constitutional clergy as ene- 
mies of the revolution. Not only were nonjurors to be 
immediately transported to the West Coast of Africa, and 
if taken in hiding in France to be put to death, but con- 
stitutional priests were made subject to transportation 
to the same place at the pleasure of the administrative 
authorities. Willingly or unwillingly the Convention was 
dragged in the wake of the Commune, and had to give 
official recognition to the new worship. Gobel, the 
Archbishop of Paris, attended by his chaplains and 
cur£s, was brought before the Assembly to make public 
resignation of his office. Several bishops and cures, who 
were deputies, rose and followed his example. One man 
alone, a Montagnard, Gre'goire, the constitutional Bishop 
of Blois had the courage to protest and to declare his in- 

1793 The Commune and the Terrot, 181 

tention of maintaining his post (November 7). From day 
to day revellers, masquerading in priestly vestments and 
laden with church plate, visited the Convention, there to 
deposit their spoils and to denounce as impostors the 
maintainers of Catholic doctrines. Finally, a festival in 
honour of Reason was celebrated in the Church of Notre 
Dame. A mountain of painted wood was erected in the 
choir, on which was seated a woman representing Rea- 
son, dressed in white, with a pike in her hand and a red 
cap on her head. All the civic authorities attended the 
ceremony. A procession, carrying this representative of 
Reason in its midst, marched to the Convention to the 
sound of music, and upon the demand of the municipal 
officers it was decreed that the Church of Notre Dame 
should thenceforth be converted into the Temple of 
Reason (November 10). From this time the churches 
of Paris were either closed or used as meeting-places, 
where disorderly crowds from time to time assembled to 
hear speeches made and songs sung in honour of Liberty 
and of Reason. 

While these strange scenes were being enacted in 
Paris, war on the frontiers, and war in the interior of 
France continued to be waged as fiercely as before. 
The allies, when they deferred invasion till the next cam- 
paign, had made the error of rendering no assistance 
to the royalist insurgents within France. England sent 
no aid to the Vendeans ; Austria none to 
Lyons. Accordingly, in October, Lyons surren- f the ° °° 
dered. Toulon, by admitting an English and ^ dcan 
Spanish fleet into its harbour, was enabled to 
lengthen out till the end of the year its isolated and 
hopeless resistance. In La Vendue the war on both 
sides was conducted with extreme ferocity. The Con- 
vention adopted a decree, brought in by the Committee 
of Public Safety, which ordered the generals to bum the 

1 82 The Commune and the Terror, 1793 

forests and insurgent villages, to seize the corn and 
cattle, and to make prisoners of the women and children 
(August 1). The intention was to burn and starve the 
country out But the undisciplined republican levies were 
repelled whenever they sought to make their way into the 
interior. The generals were incompetent and authority 
divided. The Commune, the Committee of Public Safety, 
and the Mountain, were severally represented by a number 
of agents and deputies in mission, who contended with one 
another for the direction of the war and gave support to 
different generals. The situation was at last changed by 
the arrival at Nantes of several thousand troops of the 
line who had formed the late garrison of Mainz, and who 
were bound by the terms of their capitulation not to fight 
against the allies for a year, but were not forbidden to 
fight against French insurgents. Led by one of their own 
officers, Kteber, these troops penetrated to the heart of 
Upper Vendue, driving before them the largest army the 
Vendeans ever brought together. At the same time forces 
marched from Saumur and other points to effect a junc- 
tion with them. The retreating Vendeans were accom- 
panied by a host of non-combatants, old men, women, 
and children, burnt out of their homes or flying for their 
lives. Forced back on the Loire, they made a stand at 
Chollet, but only to experience fresh defeat. A general 
flight was effected across the river in boats (October 20). 
By this time most of the chiefs were either dead or dying. 
La Rochejaquelein, a young noble, and Stofflet, a peasant, 
took the command. Compelled always to move onwards 
through scarcity of food, the fugitives made' their way to 
Normandy, in the hope of occupying Granville, a port town, 
and of receiving aid from England. But they had no siege 
pieces, and their repeated attempts to storm the fortifica- 
tions failed. Then despair, long since felt by the chiefs, 
overtook the whole body. The ranks of the fighting men, 

*793 The Commune and the Terror. 183 

incessantly called on to repel the attacks of the pursuing 
enemy, were gradually thinned; there was dearth of 
food, and the sufferings of the wounded were intense. 
The republicans massacred every man, woman, and 
child left behind. The peasants forced their officers to 
lead them back to their own country. Angers was 
reached, where was a bridge over the Loire. But theit 
attempt to force an entrance into the town failed. A 
defeat took place outside Le Mans (December 12) ; the 
retreat became a flight. Thousands were killed and 
made prisoners ; a few escaped in boats ; the rest were 
hunted down and slaughtered on the banks of the Loire. 
While this civil war was continuing in the west, scenes 
similar to those occurring in Paris occurred simulta 
neously throughout the country. The will of the Com- 
mune was law in most of the departments of France. Some 
of the deputies in mission joined the H^bertist 
faction, and their colleagues followed in their in the 
train, not daring to venture collision with them, ^p*"" 1111 * 018 
Men, in fact, adopted the language then in vogue, and 
acted cruelly, instigated by fear lest if they showed cle- 
mency they would offer a handle which their enemies 
would use to compass the ruin of themselves and their 
families. The deputies in mission, so long as they found 
protection in Paris, exercised uncontrolled powers over 
the properties and lives of their fellow-citizens. They 
imposed fines and taxes, set aside laws, created criminal 
offences, and erected criminal courts. Many decrees of 
the Convention merely extended to the whole country 
measures already in force in different departments. As 
instruments the deputies had at their service the munici- 
palities, which were reconstituted over and over again ; 
the clubs, from which they drove all who were not pre- 
pared slavishly to applaud their actions ; and, finally, 
the revolutionary committees, to which they delegated the 

184 The Commune and the Terror. 1793 

same arbitrary powers that they themselves exercised. 
These committees, of which there was one established 
in every district and every populous commune, were, as 
a rule, formed of the most fanatic, the most cowardly, and 
the most worthless men whom the neighbourhood pro- 
duced. Many thousand persons were at their bidding flung 
into prison on the merest pretext or without any motive 
at all being given. One would be imprisoned because 
he was related to an enrgrant, another because he was 
a fanatic, a third because he was an egotist, a fourth be- 
cause he had done nothing for the revolution, a fifth 
because he had 100/. or 50/. a year. Persons of both 
sexes, of every age and rank, were involved in the same 
proscription. Taxes were assessed at random. Those 
who could not or would not pay the sum demanded were 
imprisoned and their revenues confiscated. Persons in 
possession of metal money were made to exchange it 
for assignats. In every third department at least exe- 
cutions continually took place. Theie were no less than 
178 extraordinary or revolutionary courts of one and 
another kind. Many observed no forms whatever, and 
passed several hundred judgments in a single sitting. 
So small was the control exercised by the central Govern- 
ment, that the Committee of Public Safety was in 
ignorance of the existence of some of these courts or of 
the number of persons punished by their decrees. The 
Catholic religion was proscribed. Before the worship of 
Reason was established at Paris, Hel>ertist deputies were 
confiscating the plate of churches, prohibiting the exercise 
of Catholic rites, and making bonfires of religious books 
and relics. Constitutional priests were imprisoned and 
guillotined by the score. Between one and two thousand 
married and abjured their faith. The observance of Sun- 
day was prohibited. On the first days of the new weeks 
of ten days, feasts in honour of Reason, of Equality, 

t793 The Commune and the Terror. 185 

of Liberty, and the like, were held in the churches, from 
which none remained absent without risk of being classed 
in the category of suspected persons. 

In every department property was confiscated, many 
persons imprisoned, and lives taken. But the amount of 
suffering inflicted and blood shed in any one department, 
nevertheless, depended in some degree on the character 
of the deputy in mission, and on the part that had been 
taken by $he department after the expulsion of the 
Girondists. The Government had the support of a small 
number of men who, if fanatics, were nevertheless honest 
in believing that, whatever its excesses, h alone could 
save France from conquest, and who endeavoured to 
make use of their authority, not for personal or selfish 
ends, but for the public good, as they understood the 
term. Such men might be cruel ; but if so, it was with a 
motive, not through cowardice, or the mere pleasure 
taken by the tyrant in making his power felt. St Just, 
in Alsace, took from the citizens of Strasburg their 
coats, their beds, their boots, or whatever else he wanted 
to supply the wants of the soldiers. The municipal 
officers were commanded to provide 10,000 pairs of boots 
in the course of twenty-four hours. ' Take/ the youthful 
dictator wrote to them, * the boots off the feet of the 
aristocrats.' In Auvergne, Couthon, while he exercised a 
grinding tyranny, aspired to win the attachment of the 
population. He obtained State grants for the embellish- 
ment of Clermont, his native town, established a manu- 
factory of arms to give employment to destitute workmen, 
founded a college in the interests of education, and let 
out of prison a number of peasant farmers. But men of 
the description of St. Just and Couthon were rare. Far 
more often deputies in mission sought to enrich them- 
selves, and closed their eyes to the greed and rapacity of 
theii agents. At Bordeaux, under the presidency of the 

1 86 The Commune and the Terror. 1793 

cowardly Tallien, the rich man who could offer a suffi- 
ciently large bribe to his judges escaped with his life : 
the poor man went to the scaffold. In the departments 
where the He*bertists ruled most licence and most shed- 
ding of blood were invariably to be met with. Following 
the example set in Paris, they established revolutionary 
armies, which were charged with collecting taxes and 
bringing in corn, and which made havoc of the country 
through which they passed. Men of weak and violent 
character, suddenly risen to power, developed into tyrants 
capable of the most atrocious crimes, and with hearts 
apparently destitute of all feelings of justice and hu- 
manity: The prisons at Nantes were crowded with 
persons dying from disease and starvation, the wrecks of 
the Vendean army. In place of sending these victims 
of civil war back to their own country, the deputy Carrier 
caused them to be placed on rafts, which were afterwards 
sunk in the Loire, a process of execution twelve times 
adopted. On the great industrial town of Lyons savage 
vengeance was taken. Persons of every condition of 
life — manufacturers, shopkeepers, and artisans — con- 
demned by military commissioners, were shot in batches 
of two or three hundred at a time. Whole streets and 
squares were blown up by gunpowder ; an immense 
amount of property was plundered and destroyed. Ac- 
cording to the reckoning of the two deputies on whom 
the immediate responsibility rested, CoJlot and Fouch£, in 
five months the population was reduced from 130,000 to 
80,000 souls. The punishment inflicted on Toulon, when at 
last it surrendered in December, was hardly less atrocious. 
The men who approved these acts and took part in 
them formed but an exceedingly small minority in the 
departments — in some districts so small that they might 
be counted on the fingers. In parts of Brittany fugitive 
Vendeans, in the neighbourhood of Bordeaux fugitive 
Gh ondists, remained in safe hiding, because there was no 

1793 The Commune and the Terror. 1 8? 

one who cared to betray them. In the Basses Pyrenees, 
up till the autumn of 1793, revolutionary laws had re- 
mained unenforced, and a noble, elected in 
1790, was still mayor of Pau. The judges of the few in 
ordinary courts, though at peril of their lives, numbcr - 
refused to condemn their neighbours to death. The mass 
of municipal and administrative officers only took part in 
revolutionary measures under compulsion. A small knot 
of men, cowards, ruffians, fanatics, and fortune-hunters, 
gathered round the deputy in mission, directed the action 
of the clubs, sat in the revolutionary committees, and were 
judges in the revolutionary courts. Peasants and artisans 
gave as little active support to the Terror as the nobles or 
the bourgeoisie. The peasants, having freed themselves 
from feudal duties, became conservative. The requisitions 
for the armies and the corn maximum were incessant 
causes of irritation to them. The maximum of wages irri- 
tated artisans. Both classes were alienated by the suppres- 
sion of the Catholic worship. The H6bertists vainly strove 
to acquire support by holding up the rich to reprobation, 
and by undertaking to give provision to the poor, and to 
provide labour for them. They succeeded in ruining the 
rich, but failed to benefit the poor. The main object, with 
a view to which their whole conduct was regulated, was 
to lay hands on all the wealth which tyranny and brutality 
could bring within their grasp ; and of the spoils the larger 
part stayed, if not in their own hands, in the hands of 
their agents — the smaller was spent in the public service, 
and a bare pittance was left for providing bread and 
alms for the destitute. Thus, in 133 districts, where 
1,400,000/. were admittedly raised in revolutionary taxes, 
a year afterwards only 430,000/. were accounted for. 
Material want was far greater than in the capital. In 
Lyons, Bordeaux, and many other places the inhabitants 
were put on rations, and a few ounces of bad bread 
were daily doled out per head. 




While the internal condition of France was such as 
has been described, her enemies were being successfully 
held in check on the frontiers. After the great 
y * conscription decreed by the Convention in 
August had been effected, there were in all some million 
of men in arms. The nation might hate and despise its 
fanatic, tyrannical, and cruel Government, but it none the 
less remained proud of the changes which the revolution 
had effected, and was ready to endure the heavy yoke 
laid on it for the sake of defending France against inter- 
ference from abroad. The nation was in reality far more 
truly represented by the army than by the Government. 
The soldiers, like the mass of those who stayed at home, 
were intensely enthusiastic in defence of their country, 
but took no part in the strife of internal factions. The 
Government was fully alive to the fact that it had not, 
except in a passive sense, the support of the large forces 
which necessity had compelled it to bring together, and 
the leaders in Paris lived always with the fear before 
them that some general would follow the example of 
Dumouriez, and turn against his employers. The He'bert- 
ists sought to weed out of the army all officers who by 
birth belonged to the old nobility. Such were cashiered 
by hundreds, and their places given to men from the ranks. 
Even these new officers, however, became objects of sus- 
picion if they displayed military capacity, and won the 
affection of their men ; and the generals were on the 
merest pretext condemned of treachery or treason by 
the revolutionary court, and were sent to the scaffold. 
Deputies in mission acted as spies on the conduct of 
all superior officers, reported their words and actions to 

1793 Fall of the Hibertists and Dantonists. 189 

the Committee of Public Safety, attended at military 
councils, and were held by the soldiers in more awe than 
the commander-in-chief! All the more important move- 
ments of the armies were directed from Paris, where the 
plans of campaigns were laid down by Carnot, one of the 
members of the Committee of Public Safety. Carnot had 
been educated as a military engineer, and his consider- 
able abilities were made available by his indefatigable 
energy and his intense enthusiasm for his work. In the 
face of the many obstacles which the disorganisation of the 
Government presented, he devoted himself entirely to the 
task of organising the armies, and of insuring that the war 
which extended over so wide a field should be conducted 
with intelligence and method. The success which the 
French attained was undoubtedly in great part owing to 
his unremitting exertions. Hitherto the army had been 
divided into two bodies, distinguished from one another 
by pay, uniform, and system of advancement — namely, 
troops of the line which had formed the army ^ Ynnch 
of the monarchy, and new battalions raised Army, 
since the beginning of the war. In February 1793, *h e 
Convention had determined to abolish these distinctions, 
and to fuse in common regiments the troops of the line and 
the new recruits, and the operation was actually carried 
into effect during the following winter. Thus, in place 
of the old royal army there had come into existence a 
wholly new army, the creation of the revolution. The 
troops lacked training and discipline, but were ready to 
fight continually against superior numbers, had con- 
fidence in their officers, and were not easily shaken by 
reverses. Many officers were unable to read and write, 
but against this defect was to be set the advantage that 
military talent rapidly found its way to the front. Two- 
thirds of the regimental officers were elected by those 
whom they were to command, one-third was advanced 

190 Fall of the Hibertists and Dantonists. 1793 


> ri A 

E W«tt«r 

1793 Fall of the Hiberiists and Dantonists. 191 

by time of service. The appointment of the generals 
the Government reserved to itself. 

After the -surrender of Condd and Valenciennes, the 
forces of the allies in Flanders separated. The Duke of 
York, against Coburg's desire, went west to lay campaign 
siege to Dunkirk, while Coburg himself in- in Belgium, 
vested Le Quesnoi. The Duke's forces were in two divi- 
sions. He himself with 20,000 men besieged Dunkirk ; 
1 5,000 Hanoverians under Freitag remained a few miles 
inland to watch the enemy. The commander of the 
garrison opened the dykes and flooded the country, cutting 
off communication between the two divisions, and con- 
fining the Duke's retreat eastwards to Furnes, along the 
sea coast. The French General Houchard, bringing to- 
gether 50,000 men, overpowered Freitag's 15,000 at the 
village of Hondschoote, and drove them back on Furnes 
(September 8). The Duke of York, hastily raising the 
siege, effected by a night march his retreat to Furnes, and 
afterwards rejoined the Austrians. Houchard, accused 
of treason and of neglecting to follow up his victory, was 
guillotined. In his place was appointed General Jourdan, 
who in 1 79 1 had entered the army as a volunteer. Le 
Quesnoi surrendered to Coburg, and the allies next laid 
siege to Maubeuge. Jourdan, bringing together a large 
force, defeated at Wattignies 18,000 Austrians, stationed 
south of the river to guard against his advance (October 
16). Coburg in consequence raised the siege, and the 
armies on both sides retired into winter quarters. The 
allies during the campaign had won three French fort- 
resses — Conde*, Valenciennes, and Le Quesnoi. 

After the fall of Mainz the war on the Rhine had 
flagged. The Austrians proposed to turn 
south and conquer Alsace, the Prussians to lay on the"** 1 
siege to Saarlouis. The Austrian plan was Rhine - 
adopted, but not vigorously pursued. At Berlin the 

192 Fall of the Hibertists and Dantonists. 1793 

final settlement of affairs in Poland was regarded as being 
of more importance to Prussia than anything that might 
happen in France ; and the advisers of Frederick William 
were unwilling that Prussian troops should shed their 
blood in conquering Alsace for the Emperor. The French 
occupied a strong position behind the Lauter, called the 
lines of Weissenburg. After many weeks' delay these 
lines were stormed by a combined attack of the Austrian 
and Prussian forces (October 11- 13). The Austrian 
general Wurmser then pressed on southwards, eager to 
reach Strasburg ; while Brunswick, who knew that he 
would give offence at Berlin if he engaged the Prussian 
troops in a winter campaign in Alsace, blockaded 
Landau, and began to take up winter quarters in the 
Vosges. The allied army in this quarter was conse- 
quently spread out in a long thin line, extending 
from Kaiserslautern to Hagenau and Dussenheirn 
The French forces, divided into two armies, were 
commanded by two young and talented generals — the 
Rhine army by Pichegru, the Moselle army by Hoche 
Hoche at first made ineffectual efforts to storm Bruns- 
wick's positions round Kaiserslautern, while Pichegru 
attacked the Austrians. Directed by Carnot, Hoche 
then placed a portion of his army at Pichegru's disposal, 
after which a fierce and unremitting assault was opened on 
Wurmser's positions. The Austrian line, broken through 
and surrounded, gave way on all sides. Wurmser, casting 
the blame of the disaster on the Prussians, retreated 
across the Rhine, and Brunswick was compelled to follow 
him. The siege of Landau was thus raised, and the 
French reoccupied Spires and Worms (December). 

The victory of Wattignies, and still more the expulsion 
of the allies from Alsace, affected the relations of the 
factions which were struggling for ascendancy in Paris. 
The Montagnards resented the subserviency in which they 

1793 Fall of the Hebertists and Dantonists. 193 

were held by the Commune and by the two Committees ; 
and as the danger cf invasion decreased, the stronger 
grew their desire to shake off the oppressive yoke which 
they had laid upon themselves by the expulsion of the 
Girondists. Only a very few of their number really 
entertained the same ideas as the Hebertists ; whilst 
outside the Committees of Public Safety and General 
Security, there was scarcely a deputy who did not 
resent the tyranny exercised by these Committees. 
Yet the Montagnards could not regain independence. 
They could not appeal to the deputies of the centre, 
who crouched in subservience even greater than their 
own before the Committees and the Commune. They 
were themselves without courage or union. All sense of 
political honour was dead, and in order to avoid giving 
offence, where to do so was dangerous, men were prepared 
to retract their own words, and to sacrifice their fellows 
without compunction. Some Montagnards, instigated 
by fear for their own lives, obtained the adoption of a 
decree to the effect that the Convention would suffer its 
members to speak in self-defence when charges were 
made against them (November 10). A few days after- 
wards, on the demand of the Committee of Public 
Safety, the Convention repealed this decree, and ordered 
the arrest of four deputies, including its proposers, 
against whom a general charge of conspiring against the 
Republic was laid by the Committee. 

Happily, this tale of crouching submission to tyranny 
does not fill the whole of the annals of the Convention. 
Men ordinarily silent in the Convention sought shelter 
in private committees appointed for the preparation of 
special laws. In these, Montagnards and deputies of the 
centre still worked side by side, elaborating legislative 
projects for the advance of education, the reform of the 
civil law, the improvement of agriculture, the draining 

mm. o 

194 Fall °f th& Htbertists and Dantonists* 1793 

of marshes, the suppression of mendicity and the relief 
of the poor, and others of similar character. Although 
much of their labour produced no results, still 
of the Con- a considerable amount of most important le- 
ventvm. gislation was effected, which dated its com- 
mencement from the times when the Girondists had been 
in power, and which was far more truly characteristic of 
the Convention as a body than the bloody laws which it 
passed at the dictation of the Committee of Public 
Safety speaking in the name of the Jacobins and of the 

The Constituent Assembly had retained, until the 
proprietors could be compensated, feudal duties pre- 
sumed to be due for a grant of land. The Legislative 
Assembly, following a theory which had been enter- 
tained by many lawyers — that land was originally free — 
had decreed the abolition of all duties without indem- 
nity, except in cases where the proprietors could prove 
the original title, showing that the duties were really due 
for a grant of land. This as a rule was impossible, the 
duties being due by prescription only. The new law 
gave rise to suits, and the Convention destroyed the last 
vestiges of the feudal system by decreeing the abolition 
without indemnity of all duties which bore a feudal cha- 
racter. Before the ejection of the Girondists entails were 
abolished, and parents were also prohibited from making 
wills favouring one child more than another. Parents 
were now further prohibited from giving more than 
a tenth of their property to strangers, or more than a 
sixth to collateral relations. Illegitimate children were 
put on the same footing as legitimate. The Legislative 
Assembly had instituted civil marriages, and had per- 
mitted divorce, on the mere ground of incompatibility of 
temper, with the consent of both parties. A new civil 
code, clear and simple, and in accordance with the legis- 

.793 F a tt °f ife Hibertists and Dantonists. 195 

Iation of the revolutionary Assemblies, was being pre- 
pared to take the place of the chaos of old laws and 
customs. The work, however, was but in progress, and 
the new code was not promulgated by the Convention. 
Negro slavery was abolished, and men of colour in the 
colonies received the rights of French citizens. A 
decree was passed for the establishment of primary 
schools to be maintained by the State. Instruction was 
to be gratuitous, attendance compulsory, and no religions 
teaching allowed. Laws were also passed for the in- 
stitution of three schools of medicine and a school of 
natural history at Paris. But little was in reality effected 
for the instruction of any class. Money and power were 
both wanting. Instigated by its Committee of Public 
Instruction, the Convention repeatedly ordered the pre- 
servation of the valuable monastic libraries. None the 
less, the books were neglected, plundered, and scattered. 
Primary schools, if opened, were, in the country, unat- 
tended. Of higher education little was to be had. Sus- 
pected of reactionary tendencies, all academies and 
learned societies had been broken up. Most colleges 
had disappeared ; a few dragged on a feeble existence. 

By the side of the two committees of Government, the 
Committee of Finance occupied an important and, tc 
some extent, an independent position. The Committee 
of Public Safety possessed no member prepared tc 
undertake the direction of the finances, and it was there- 
fore obliged to leave the initiative to others. 
The deputy Cambon, who sat on the confines financial 
of the Mountain, practically occupied the posi- inoasuPM » 
tion of Minister of Finance ; and several laws introduced 
by him were adopted, designed to restore equilibrium 
between expenditure and revenue, and to prevent increase 
in the number of assignats in circulation. The State 
possessed a large number of creditors, some lenders 

o 2 

196 Fall of the Htberthts and Dantonists. 1793 

before the revolution, others since ; whilst to others 
compensation was due for abolished offices. All these 
creditors were put on the same footing. Capital, if 
due to them, was made irrecoverable, and in all cases 
five per cent, interest given. The old titles were de- 
stroyed and the new entered in a common book, called 
the Great Book of the Public Debt. The State gained by 
the operation, more especially in the case of loans con- 
tracted before the revolution, often on very onerous 
terms. A new source of revenue was sought in the im- 
position of a forced loan, according to the law passed in 
the spring. The lenders were to be repaid in confiscated 
lands. This loan was expected to bring in the large 
sum of 43,750,000/., and assignats to that amount were 
to be withdrawn from circulation. 

Efforts to restore the finances were, however, as 
fruitless as efforts to advance education. While millions 
were being squandered in the departments, taxes im- 
posed by the Convention remained unpaid. The forced 
loan never brought in more than eight millions. Cambon 
vainly reiterated complaints that but little of the sums 
irregularly raised in the departments ever reached the 
treasury. So long as the Commune exercised power, it 
was impossible for the Convention to take any effectual 
steps for the enforcement of its decrees. 

Thus it came about from a variety of causes that the 
existing Government gave dissatisfaction to many of those 
who took part in it Even the most cruel and unprin- 
cipled of the Montagnards resented their subservient 
position. The institution of the Worship of Reason gave 
offence to many of them. The wanton waste of property 
and destruction of life going on in the chief commercial 
towns of France, in Lyons, Toulon, Bordeaux, and 
Nantes, excited disgust if not pity. Now that the 
country was no longer in any immediate danger of 

1793 Fall of tJie Hibertists and Dantonists. 197 

invasion, men, before indifferent as to what was done so 
long as the enemy was repulsed, awoke to the horror of 
the scenes that were being enacted round them. The 
Dantonists sincerely desired to stay the action of the 
guillotine. Having been pushed aside, since the recon- 
stitution of the Committee of Public Safety in July, by 
men more fanatic and sanguinary than themselves, they 
were visited by remorse as they experienced their power- 
lessness to hold in check passions which they had 
themselves helped to unloose. ' I cannot forget,' wrote 
Desmoulins, warmly attached to his own wife and child, 
'that the men they are killing by thousands have also 
wives and children.' 

Besides creating discontent in the Mountain, the 
ascendancy of the Commune gave dissatisfaction to the 
Committee of Public Safety, and in particular to Robes- 
pierre. Robespierre was opposed to the principles of 
which Hubert had declared himself the special champion. 
He put himself forward, indeed, as beiqg as well as 
Hubert the people's friend, but between neither The HeT^rt- 
the aims nor the characters of the two men j^f k *£ b 
did any real similarity exist. Robespierre had Robespierre, 
no sympathy for a movement which idolised ignorance, 
rags, and vice, and made the Republic the prey of bands 
of rapacious and unscrupulous adventurers. While 
Hubert, by the adoption of rude manners and coarse 
language, sought popularity, Robespierre always main- 
tained propriety both in language and in dress, continuing 
even to wear his hair powdered, as had been the custom 
of educated men under the monarchy. Further, the 
atheistic doctrines which Hubert professed were to 
Robespierre essentially repugnant. Robespierre was 
a theist of the school of Rousseau, and Rousseau had 
said that men could not be good citizens who did not 
believe in a special providence and in a future life, and 

\g$ Fall oftJie Htbertists and Dantonists. 1793 

that atheism was the one doctrine the public profession 
of which no wise legislator would tolerate. 

In the Jacobins Robespierre attacked Hubert and the 
Commune on the ground of their intolerance. Those, 
he said, who persecute priests are more fanatic than the 
priests themselves. Atheism is aristocratic. The idea 
of a Supreme Being who watches over oppressed inno- 
cence and punishes triumphant crime is wholly popular. 
If God did not exist, we should have to invent him. 

Thus, both by principle and ambition, Robespierre 
was urged on to seek the destruction of the He*bertists 
and of the Commune. His colleagues on the two com- 
mittees, though most of them disliked him personally, 
and were afraid of his gaining increased ascendancy for 
himself, shared his desire to break the power of the 
Commune. As they grew more accustomed to the 
exercise of authority, they became impatient at having to 
share it with a body whose will had always to be taken 
into consideration, and by whose action their own was 
often thwarted. The Montagnards hated the tyranny 
of the two committees, but they hated the tyranny of 
the Commune yet more, and were willing to take part 
in overthrowing it, neglectful of the probability that 
by so doing they would yet more securely rivet the 
chains in which the committees held them. In the 
Convention the Hdbertist generals and agents in La 
Vendee were incessantly accused of misconduct and in- 
capacity, and of being responsible for whatever reverses 
had taken place. A law was passed intended to cen- 
tralise power in the hands of the two committees, and to 
deprive the Commune of the instruments by means of 
which it secured ascendancy in the departments. The 
revolutionary committees of Paris were put under the 
supervision of the Committee of General Security. The 
Commune was deprived of the right of sending agents 

1793 F a M oftlie Hibertists and Dantonists. 199 

into the departments. The revolutionary army of Paris 
was for the time left in existence, through fear lest if an 
attempt were made to disband it, it might rise against 
che Convention, but the revolutionary armies in the 
departments were to be suppressed. No taxes were to 
be imposed without the sanction of the Convention. 
The law officers belonging to districts and municipalities, 
hitherto elected, were made dependent on the central 
Government, and received the name of national agents 
(December 4). 

About the same time that this law was adopted. 
Desmoulins, encouraged by Robespierre, began the publi- 
cation of a paper, the Old Cordelier *, in which struggle 
he first confined himself to denouncing the between 
Hibertists, but went on to denounce the Terror andH?!* 
itself as a great deception, and to compare bertist8 - 
the state of things in France to that which prevailed 
under the worst of the Roman emperors. The law of 
treason, he said, was extended to words ; the inhabitants 
of towns were killed in masses. Grief, pity, looks of 
disapprobation, silence itself, constituted State crimes. 
It was a crime to be rich ; a crime to give shelter to a 
friend. Is it possible, he asked, that the state of things 
which constituted despotism and the worst of governments 
when Tacitus wrote, constitutes to-day liberty and the 
be3t of possible worlds ? You wish to exterminate your 
enemies by the guillotine. What folly ! For every man 
you kill you make ten new enemies. If we do not under- 
stand by liberty the carrying out of principles, never 
was there an idolatry so stupid as ours, nor one that 
costs more. Liberty is no operatic singer promenading 
in a red cap. Liberty is happiness, equality, justice, the 
Declaration of Rights itself. If I am to recognise her 
presence, open the prison doors to those 200,000 citizens 
whom you call * suspected.* 

200 Fall of the Hibertists and Dantonists. 1794 

Thus was the Commune attacked on three sides at 
once — by Montagnards, who desired the independence 
of the Convention ; by the Committee of Public Safety, 
which sought the extension of its own authority ; and 
by Dantonists, who sought to hold in check the Terror. 
Hubert was afraid to enter into contention with Robes- 
pierre. By the atheistic movement he had sought and 
attained notoriety, but its active supporters were few, 
and there was no probability that any considerable body 
of men would rally round him in its defence. Chau- 
mette, at the Commune, made a speech on the folly of 
attempting to suppress religious opinions by force. 
Hubert went further, and made a formal denial of atheism 
at the Jacobins. But while seeking to curry favour with 
Robespierre, Hubert and his followers opened the more 
vehement attack on the Dantonists. Here they were 
surer of their ground, for all who had been actively 
engaged in the work of destruction dreaded the first 
step of reaction, lest vengeance should overtake them- 
selves. The Cordeliers erased the names of Dan ton 
and Desmoulins from their list of members. Collot, the 
director of the atrocities committed at Lyons, who had 
returned to Paris in December, expressed amazement 
that the first who spoke of clemency had not been sent 
to the scaffold. Amongst the twelve men who formed 
the Committee of Public Safety no good understanding 
existed. Six concerned themselves with special branches 
of administration, but took no part in directing the 
general action of the Government. The remaining six 
were not all of one mind. Couthon and St Just were 
devoted adherents of Robespierre. Barere, originally a 
deputy of the centre, and a temporiser between the 
-Mountain and the Gironde, was indifferent whether 
Robespierre or Hubert succumbed, so long as he found 
himself on the winning side. Billaud and Collot, who 

1794 Fall of the H^bertists and Dantonists, 201 

acted together, were the two most sanguinary men on 
the committee. They were connected with the Hd- 
bertists. They had no quarrel with the establishment 
of the Worship of Reason, and dreaded, by the de- 
struction of Hubert, to give Robespierre an opportunity 
of domineering over themselves. As members of the 
committee, however, they disliked the rivalry of the 
Commune, and they were besides afraid both of Robes- 
pierre's enmity and of the triumph of the Dantonists. 
Accordingly, they were prepared to sacrifice Hubert, so 
long as they could secure themselves against reaction 
by putting Danton to death as well On his side, 
Robespierre was prepared to sacrifice Danton. He 
could not join the Dantonist reaction against the Terror 
without imperilling his influence at the Jacobins, and 
forcing Collot and Billaud to make common cause with 
HeT>ert. Moreover, were the He'bertists suppressed by 
the triumph of the Dantonists, Robespierre would have 
to face the contingency of the Mountain shaking off the 
control of the two committees. 

The Jacobin club was the field where the battle be- 
tween Robespierre and Hubert was first fought out. In 
this society, which was Robespierre's strong- . 

hold, Hubert was powerless to contend against and the 
him. Many of the frequenters of the club were J* 00 ^ 115 - 
indeed H^bertists, but their influence was small compared 
with that of Robespierre and his supporters. All the 
small tradesmen and artisans who, uninfluenced by 
sordid motives, still took interest in political affairs, 
idolised Robespierre. While Hubert had the adherence 
of the unprincipled and vicious only, who were sure to 
abandon him in time of peril, Robespierre had the 
affection of partisans ready to stand by him, and in case 
of need to die for him. His undoubted integrity, his 
constant talk of virtue and morality, the reserve of his 

202 Fall of the Hibertists and Dantonists. 1794 

manner, the very dryness of his language, made a deep 
impression upon sincere but narrow and fervent minds. 
The rough men and women who frequented the galleries 
of the Jacobins listened to him with rapt attention, and 
applauded his words with such hearty energy that persons 
who ventured amongst them without imitating their 
conduct became objects of remark. The society which 
Robespierre thus dominated was a real political power, 
and had for long been the instrument by aid of which 
he had been able to assume precedence of his colleagues 
in the Committee of Public Safety. Every resolution the 
club adopted the Convention had ultimately to adopt ; 
and every individual whom the club proscribed, were he a 
minister, a general, a deputy, or any other, went in the 
course of a few days to prison and the guillotine. No 
man was regarded as a good patriot who was not a 
Jacobin, and hundreds of persons who never entered the 
place had, for the sake of security, inscribed their names 
as members. 

Robespierre, as his habit was before he was sure of his 
path, adopted an undecided attitude between the He*bert- 
ists and the Dantonists, blaming the extreme, 
bertUts and whether of excess or of moderation. The H£- 
Dantonists. b^sts sought to strengthen their position in 
ihe club by attacking the Dantonists ; and it was only 
owing to Robespierre's protection that Desmoulins and 
others who had demanded the adoption of a more 
clement policy, were able to maintain their footing in the 
society. Finally, Robespierre secured his end by aban- 
doning the Dantonists as victims to the fanaticism and 
cruelty of his followers, whilst he openly sought the pro- 
scription of the Hlbertists. One after another, persons 
who had either professed atheism or had displayed 
feelings of humanity, were deprived of membership. 
The club became the tool of the Committee of Public 

1794 Fall of the Hibertists and Dantonists. 203 

Safety, and none but the satellites of Robespierre and 
Collot breathed freely in it. The Dantonists had no 
support to which to look but the feeble and disunited 
Mountain. No one trusted his neighbour, and each 
dreaded to oppose the will of the two committees, lest 
he should afterwards be abandoned to their vengeance. 
Although the HeT>ertists appeared more formidable, the 
danger of their being able to overpower their adversaries 
was small. They could no longer rely for support on 
the forces which had been at their disposal in July and 
August. After the passing of the maximum laws they 
had played their last card, and had no means left by 
which to move the populace to take their side. On 
the contrary, it had become a constant effort on the part 
of the Commune to prevent the gathering together of 
hungry crowds, in the streets, which might lead to a per- 
fectly genuine explosion of popular fury directed against 
itself. Every vestige of free political life had been stamped 
out. The general assemblies of the sections only met twice 
a week, and those attending them were paid. Clubs to 
which many members belonged were viewed with suspi- 
cion and discountenanced. The great maximum law of 
September, fixing prices at a third above what they were in 
1750, had ruined 50 many persons that it was abandoned 
as untenable. A new law took as a basis the real cost 
of each article in the place of production, allowed a 
certain percentage for carriage, ten per cent, for the 
wholesale, and five per cent, for the retail dealer. The 
tariff for Paris, which was published in March, excited 
great discontent. Of the needier supporters of the Com- 
mune many had now acquired booty or office, and hesi- 
tated to risk their lives by taking up the cause of Hubert 
against Robespierre. The Committee of Public Safety 
bid for the support of the idle and hungry by two laws, 
the one (February 26) ordering the sequestration of 

204 The Fall of Robespierre. 1704 

property belonging to the enemies of the revolution, the 
second (March 3) promising that means should be taken 
to make provision for destitute patriots out of the 
sequestered property. An attempt, headed by the Cor- 
deliers, to get up an insurrection against the Convention 
and the two committees failed. Hebert and eighteen 
others were arrested and condemned to death by the 
revolutionary court on the usual absurd charge of seek- 
ing to destroy the Convention and to restore monarchy 
(March 24). A few days after their execution came the 
turn of the Dantonists. Danton, Desmoulins, and two 
other deputies were arrested in the night The Con- 
vention abandoned them on the demand of St. Just, 
without a voice speaking in their defence (March 31). 
Danton, forewarned, had made no effort to save himself. 
Can a man, he replied when urged to fly, take his country 
with him on the soles of his shoes ? By the court which 
he had himself taken part in instituting, he and his 
friends were condemned as monarchists and traitors to 
the Republic No documents were produced, and the 
accused were not suffered to make their defence. * On 
such a day,' said Danton in prison, * I caused to be erected 
the revolutionary court. I ask pardon of God and man.' 
Shortly afterwards a new batch of victims was brought 
to the scaffold, some Hebertists, others Dantonists. 
Amongst them was the widow of Hubert and the young 
widow of Desmoulins, with whom, as well as with her 
husband, Robespierre had lived on terms of close 
intimacy. y 



The members of the Committee of Public Safety now 
concentrated all the powers of government in their own 

1794 The F^ °f Robespierre. 205 

hands. The Mountain was crushed with Danton, the 
Commune with Hubert. The deputies in mission, who 
before had joined the Hdbertist party, now dictatorship 
sought to guard their heads by pursuing what- of the Com- 
ever line of action was indicated to them by public ° 
the committee. The Commune was recon- Sub- 
stituted and placed under the direction of two men 
devoted to Robespierre — its mayor, Fleuriot-Lescot, and 
its national agent, Payan. The partisans of Hubert on 
civil and revolutionary committees were replaced. The 
system of popular election was abandoned even in form, 
and all reappointments were made either by the com- 
mittee itself, or by the Convention at its dictation. The 
ministries were abolished, and the ministerial depart- 
ments divided between twelve commissions, on which 
new men were placed. 

Reports of the execution of the H^bertists penetrated 
the prison walls, and aroused hope that the Terror itself 
was to come to an end. Such hopes rapidly p^^ ^ 
proved delusive. The dictatorship of the Com- Robespierre, 
mittee of Public Safety, founded by terror, rested on 
terror alone. Collot and Billaud had no other thought 
than to perpetuate their rule by continuing the system 
already in force. Robespierre was equally cruel, not, as 
in their case, from mere disregard of the amount of 
blood shed, but because he aimed at more, and regarded 
the guillotine as the most facile instrument for the attain- 
ment of bis ends. He could not be satisfied with that 
which satisfied Billaud and Collot. Already the most 
prominent man on the committee, he sought the first 
place in the Republic, and to figure before Europe as the 
maintainer of virtue and the regenerator of his country. 
He had learned of Rousseau to regard as utterly hateful 
the state of society in the midst of which he had grown up, 
with its division of classes and glaring contrasts between 

206 The Fall of Robespierre. 1794 

knowledge and ignorance, indolence and toil, luxury and 
squalor. Had the power been his, he would have de- 
stroyed every vestige of it by fusing all classes into one, 
abolishing vice and ignorance, with the extremes of 
wealth and poverty, and giving to all citizens similar 
interests, habits and pleasures. This ideal, which was 
Rousseau's, was always present in Robespierre's mind, 
veiling from him his own ambition ; but it was vague, 
and he had no definite conception of the manner in which 
its realisation should be attempted. He was not a 
thinker nor an organiser. Rousseau had suggested 
education and legislation as possible means of regenera- 
tion. To these Robespierre added nothing but the 
guillotine, the principle of extermination of opponents. 
All who stood in his light he proscribed one after another, 
as they appeared before him — the noble, the capitalist, 
the merchant, the free-trader, the atheist, the fanatic, the 
merciful, the moderate, the corrupt, the extortionate, and 
even the neutral man, until at last the people whose 
praises were constantly on his lips dwindled down in his 
mind to be no more than the Robespierrists, a few hun- 
dred ignorant and credulous but fervent supporters and 

Behind Robespierre was St. Just, a young man a little 
over twenty, fanatic, self-confident and intolerant. 
In thought he was more audacious than Robes- 
pierre, and his conceptions were more definite. He was 
probably the most thorough-going disciple of Rousseau 
in France. Like his master, he based his conceptions 
of what the government of a great state ought to be on 
the institutions of the petty republics of antiquity, and of 
all those republics the one which he selected for imita- 
tion was, strangely enough, that of aristocratic Sparta. 
But it was the despotism of Sparta, not its aristocracy, 
which he admired. By means of Spartan institutions he 

1794 The Fall of Robespierre. 20? 

thought to remould the habits and customs of his country- 
men. All boys were to be brought up together in com- 
mon schools. Every man was to marry, and every man 
to work. Every man was to have friends, and to make 
every year a public declaration of their names in the 
temple of the Supreme Being. If he committed a crime, 
his friends were to be banished from the Republic 
In short, by aid of laws and state institutions of this 
character, St. Just believed it possible to give to the 
French people simple, frugal, and industrious habits. 
Circumstances, he said, were of no importance, except to 
men who fear death. Meanwhile, until the necessary 
institutions should be established and the habits and 
beliefs of his countrymen transformed, St. Just, like 
Robespierre, fell back on the guillotine in order to get 
rid of those who stood in the way of the accomplishment 
of his ideal. Until men were virtuous in his sense of the 
word, the Republic could rest upon terror alone. What, 
asked this young, fanatical, and unscrupulous theorist, 
would those have who reject alike as principles of govern- 
ment virtue and terror? 

Besides fanaticism and love of power, there existed 
a material motive for the continuance of the Terror. Re- 
sources were secured for the service of the State. As soon 
as a person was imprisoned his capital was sequestered 
and his revenue confiscated. When he was condemned 
to die, the capital itself was confiscated. But the promise 
held out before the arrest of the H^bertists, that provision 
should be made for the indigent out of sequestered 
property, was never carried into effect. Further, pur- 
chasers of state lands lost their lives by scores, and 
thus national property came a second time -into the 
market as security for the paper money. Cynical words 
ascribed to Barere exactly expressed the satisfaction 
felt by many at these financial results of the guillotine. 

20S The Fall of Robespierre. 1794 

1 We coin money,' he was reported to have said, * on the 
Place de la Revolution.' 

The result of the dictatorship of the committee and 
of Robespierre's ascendancy was, therefore, that the 
Terror was reduced to a system. Those who hoped 
for a return to a more clement policy were grievously 
disappointed. The revolutionary army of Paris was 
disbanded. Special courts in the departments, with the 
exception of some twenty, were suppressed, and political 
prisoners sent to Paris for trial. Justice, probity, and 
virtue were declared to be the order of the day, and 
the penalties of imprisonment and death were suspended 
over the heads of those who defrauded the Republic. The 
bands of villains, which, under the name of revolutionary 
armies, were still the curse of several departments, were 
broken up and their leaders sent to the scaffold. En- 
couragement was promised to trade and agriculture, and 
the release ordered of artisans and labourers in country 
districts against whom no definite charges had been 
brought. The number of executions at Paris rose in 
proportion as it decreased in the departments, from 60 to 
155, and then to 354 a month. In Bordeaux, Arras, and 
other towns where special courts were retained, executions 
were recommenced. A new court was established by 
the committee at Orange, which in forty-two sittings 
condemned to death 331 persons, imprisoned 98, and 
acquitted 1 59. Five Girondist outlaws still hiding in the 
Gironde were hunted out. Guadet and Barbaroux were 
executed at Bordeaux, the bodies of Potion and Buzot 
were found dead in a field. 

In La Vendue a war of extermination was being car- 
ried on. After the destruction of the great Vendean 
War in La army in December, the country was quiet 
Vendue. through exhaustion, and by the adoption of a 
clement policy the insurrection might have been 

J/94 The Fall of Robespierre. 209 

brought to an end. But at the Commune, where Hubert 
was still in power, the idea had been entertained of 
annihilating the inhabitants and of confiscating their 
land. Under the command -in -chief of Turreau, a man 
as brutal as Collot himself, twelve columns marched 
into the interior from different points, killing all living 
things that came in their way, and destroying villages, 
farms, crops, ovens, and corn-mills. Even towns which 
they did not occupy were pillaged and burnt, and those 
inhabitants who had throughout supported the Republic 
were required to quit the country on pain of being 
themselves treated as brigands. The war flared up 
again on all sides. The population of entire villages, 
taking their goods and stock with them, sought refuge 
in their forests, whence they carried on an incessant 
guerilla warfare against the enemy. The isolated 
republican posts were either stormed or starved out. 
If the soldiers had corn they had no means of grinding 
it, because all the mills had been destroyed. Supplies 
from Saumur and Nantes were cut off on the way. The 
men fell ill by thousands, and the reduction of the 
country appeared less near completion than when 
Turreau's columns first began their work of destruction. 

After the disastrous ending of the Rhine campaign in 
December 1793, the alliance between Austria and Prussia 
practically came to an end. Prussia having The Hague 
acquired her so-called compensation in Treaty. 
Poland, her generals and diplomatists were desirous of 
bringing the war with France to a speedy termination. 
The country was poor, and without interest in its con- 
tinuation. An important consideration, however, re- 
strained the Government from rashly entering on a peace 
policy. Prussia was bound, for the sake of her headship 
in North Germany, to protect the northern States 
against invasion. The King, moreover, had personally 

m.h. p 

210 The Fall of Robespierre. 1794 

a strong disinclination to desert the coalition before the 
existing government in France was overthrown. A 
middle path was found. Prussia declared her readiness 
to leave her army on the Rhine if the allies would bear 
the cost of its maintenance. The lesser States of the 
Empire showed no alacrity in responding to this appeal, 
while Austria refused to be a party to any arrangement 
for the payment of a Prussian army. After the expe- 
rience of the last campaign, Thugut did not credit Prussia 
with the intention of rendering any material assistance, 
and foresaw that if Austria held back, England would 
undertake to bear the burden. The ministers of 
George III. were making strenuous efforts to hold the 
coalition together. They were intent on extending the 
colonial empire of England, and while France was 
engaged in hostilities with half the continent, it was 
impossible for her to defend her colonies. Accordingly, 
a treaty was signed at the Hague between Malmesbury 
on the English side and Haugwitz on the Prussian, by 
which England undertook, together with Holland, to 
supply Prussia with a monthly sum for the maintenance 
of 62,000 men (April 19). 

This treaty was hardly signed when news reached 
Berlin that the Poles were in arms. The Polish Diet 

insurrection had Deen forced, at tn ^ timQ °f the second par- 
in Poland, tition, not merely to relinquish provinces to 
Russia and Prussia, but to sign a treaty which placed in 
subjection to Russia that portion of the country still left 
nominally independent. King Stanislaus was the tool of 
Catherine, and his Government was supported by 40,000 
Russians. Discontent permeated the country. The 
inhabitants of the towns regretted the reformed con- 
stitution of May 1 79 1, overthrown by the influence of 
Catherine (p. 98). The lesser nobility was bitterly hostile 
to Russian domination ; the army, still 30,000 strong 

1794 The Fall of Robespierre. 211 

resented its degradation. The standard of revolt was now 
raised on all sides. At Warsaw the populace, uniting 
with insurgent Polish regiments, drove out the Russian 
garrison with heavy loss of life (April 18). Yet, in spite 
of the enthusiasm with which the insurrection was begun 
and the patriotic spirit animating its leaders, Potocki and 
Kosciusko, there was but little probability of final suc- 
cess. The Poles, torn by internal faction, were unable 
to present a united front against the common foe. Many 
of the upper nobility were in Russian pay. Three powerful 
neighbours — Austria, Prussia, and Russia— did but need 
a pretext for the accomplishment of a final partition and 
the effacement of Poland from the map. Frederick 
William, with 50,000 troops, at once marched into the 
country, and, joining with the Russians, laid siege to 
Warsaw (July 13). 

These events reacted sensibly on military operations in 
the West England and Prussia had had different objects 
in view when they entered into the treaty of the Hague. 
The English Government expected that the Prussian army 
would fight in Belgium ; the King of Prussia intended 
that it should merely secure the Empire against invasion 
by blocking the passage of the Rhine. The Polish 
insurrection had heightened the aversion of Prussian 
generals and ministers to the French war. They re- 
fused to allow their army to leave the Rhine, urging the 
forcible plea that the Empire would be exposed to inva- 
sion. They further made the quarrel with England which 
broke out on this ground an excuse for taking no active 
steps whatever to attack the enemy. In May, indeed, their 
army had advanced in the direction of Alsace, and had 
driven the French from Kaiserslautern and the neigh- 
bouring positions. But from that time it remained 
inactive, and thus the French were able to send large 
additional forces to combit the allies in Belgium. 


212 The Fall of Robespierre, 1794 

The Committee of Public Safety had abetted the 
insurrection of the Poles, and had sought, though with- 
Campaign in out result, to stir up war on the Danube as 
Belgium. we n as on the Vistula, by subsidising the Porte 
to attack Austria. Carnot, aware of the differences exist- 
ing between Austria and Prussia, arranged the campaign 
on the supposition that no vigorous enemy would be 
found on the Rhine. He designed to confine offensive 
operations to Belgium, where he hoped to overpower the 
allies by superiority of numbers, and to threaten Holland 
and England with invasion. The seat of war may be 
roughly divided into three divisions: first, the country 
between the rivers Meuse and Sambre ; secondly, the 
country between the Sambre and the Scheldt ; and 
thirdly, Flanders between the Scheldt and the sea. 
This long line of territory the allies had to defend 
with 160,000 against 300,000 men. Their generals had 
no superior talents enabling them to contend with suc- 
cess against such odds as these. The Duke of York, who 
had again been appointed to command the English 
troops, because he was the son of George III., had 
neither military knowledge nor capacity. Coburg fol- 
lowed without reserve the strategy of the day, which 
was to put an opposing body of men opposite each body 
of the enemy, and to defend every locality which had 
once been occupied. The idea of gaining victory by 
bringing an overpowering force to bear upon a weak 
point of the enemy's line did not suggest itself to him 
or his staff, and his plan of operations was confined 
to maintaining his positions and capturing French for- 

The allies were still in occupation of the three for- 
tresses — Valenciennes, Conde*, and Le Quesnoi— which 
they had taken in the preceding year. Between Valen- 
ciennes and Bavay was the Austrian centre ; their right 

1794 The Pall of Robespierre. 2 1 3 

wing occupied Flanders, their left guarded the line of the 
Sambre. Carnot's plan was to make use of his nume- 
rical superiority, first to shatter the enemy's wings, and 
then, attacking his centre both in front and in flank, to 
drive him out of Belgium. The Austrians began hos- 
tilities by laying siege to Landrecies. Pichegru, with 
100,000 men, advanced into Flanders, and defeated the 
allied right wing at Turcoing (April 18). He next laid 
siege to Ypres, and the allies, after an ineffectual attempt 
to relieve the town, retreated behind the Scheldt. On 
the Sambre the allied forces were equal in number to 
the French, both armies being about 50,000 strong ; and 
here, while Pichegru was conquering Flanders, an effec- 
tual stand was made against the repeated efforts of the 
French generals to get a footing on the north side of the 
river and to invest Charleroi. But the continued in- 
activity of the Prussians enabled Carnot to send 50,000 
men from the Rhine to the Sambre, so as to outnumber 
the allies on this side also. Charleroi was invested, and 
capitulated (June 25). The following day Coburg, who 
had arrived from the centre with reinforcements and was 
unaware of the surrender, attacked the French positions 
at Fleurus and the neighbouring villages (June 26). The 
battle lasted the whole day, without decided result ; and 
Coburg, on hearing that Charleroi had already surren- 
dered, did not renew the struggle. The evacuation of 
Belgium followed these disasters. Coburg withdrew 
behind the Meuse, and the Duke of York, with the 
English and Dutch troops, retreated into Brabant. The 
French laid siege to those fortresses in France and 
Flanders in which the allies had left garrisons. 

After the allies had been thus driven from Belgium, 
all danger of invasion was over, and men would be more 
teady to call in question the authority of a Government 
which it might soon be possible to resist without render- 

214 The Fall of Robespierre. 1794 

ing France weak in the presence of a dangerous enemy. 
Robespierre had ever been keenly alive to the possibility 
of the Government being overthrown by some victorious 
general, and he followed the successes of the armies 
with an excessively jealous eye. At this time, although 
he occupied the first place in the Committee of Public 
The wor- Safety, he was not content with his position, 
S&S.*' but was seeking to draw the reins of govern- 
Being. ment more closely into his own grasp, and 

to make himself independent of his colleagues. They 
had no means of combating him. The Commune and 
the Jacobins, the two main wheels by which the revolu- 
tionary Government was kept in action, were now under 
his control. He established a special police office, which 
encroached on the functions of the Committee of General 
Security. He sent special agents into the departments 
as spies on the conduct of the deputies in mission, who 
were to make private reports to himself. Above all, he 
sought to obtain a basis to his authority wanting to his 
rivals, by asserting the necessity of laying the founda- 
tions of morality and duty in spiritual beliefs. In thus 
acting, if Robespierre was instigated by personal 
ambition, he was instigated also by the desire to put 
into practice, at whatever risk to himself, the principles 
which he had learned of Rousseau. Under his inspiration 
the Convention decreed that the French people recog- 
nised a Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul. 
A new worship was inaugurated by a festival in honour 
of the Supreme Being, held in the Champ de Mars. The 
Convention took part in the ceremonies. Robespierre, 
at the time president, walked first, dressed in a sky- 
blue coat, and holding in his hand a large bunch of 
flowers, fruits, and corn. Arrived at the Champ de 
Mars he set fire to figures representing atheism and 
egoism. As they burnt, the figure of wisdom rose out 


1794 Ttu Fall of Robespierre. 21 5 

of the flames. Hymns were sung, and the ground 
strewn with flowers by children (June 8). 

x-For a moment expectation prevailed that this recog- 
nition of a Supreme Being would be followed by a 
revival of sentiments of humanity. The case r CV o1u. 
proved otherwise. The festival was barely qJJJJJ* 
over when the Convention, in accordance with organised, 
a project drawn up by Robespierre, reorganised the revo- 
lutionary court (June 10). The calling of witnesses, 
hearing of counsel, and other forms long since only par- 
tially observed, were formally abolished. The prisoners 
were brought before the court in batches of twenty, 
thirty, or fifty at a time. A short vaguely-worded 
charge was read. The president asked each person his 
or her name and one or two questions. No evidence on 
either side was heard. The jury condemned the accused 
in a body. To make as quick as possible the work 
of judicial massacre, Robespierre's agents invented a 
story that the prisoners were conspiring to save them- 
selves by assassinating the members of the Convention, 
and on this charge persons belonging to every condition 
of life, brought together from all quarters of France, were 
sent pell mell to the scaffold. From the time of its institu- 
tion in March 1793 to the passing of this law on June 10, 
1794, the court had condemned to death 1,259 persons ; 
after June 18, in less than seven weeks, it caused the 
execution of 1,368 persons. 

The reorganisation of this court, which Robespierre, 
by the reappointment of judges and jurymen, endeavoured 
to convert into his special instrument, spread alarm on 
every side. At this time, indeed, terror prevailed in 
official circles to an extent that it would be difficult to 
exaggerate. There was no opposition to the Government 
In the Jacobins, the Commune, the Convention, the Sec- 
tions, no propositions were made that did not accord 

2i6 The Fall of Robespierre. 1794 

with the views of the two committees. In the Commune, 
the National agent Payan travestied the language of 
Robespierre, as Robespierre in the Convention the 
language of Rousseau. In the departments party strife 
was suppressed as it was in Paris. The clubs, few of 
which now numbered more than forty or fifty members, 
followed without a will of their own the cue given them 
from Paris. All over the country festivals in honour of 
the Supreme Being took the place of festivals in honour 
of Reason. Although Robespierre proclaimed principles 
of religious toleration, he neither desired nor suffered 
their observance. It is possible that he would never 
have ventured, as Hubert had done, to proscribe the 
Catholic worship, but the work having been done for 
him, circumstances would not permit him to seek sup- 
porters by again allowing the celebration of those rites 
which still had the affection of the nation. He was 
at the head of a Government which could not retrace a 
step without extreme danger of weakening its own 
authority, and it was only by continuing the system 
already in force that it was possible for him, as he 
could not fail to be aware, to carry his social ideas 
into practice. Hence the feast of the Supreme Being, 
in place of leading to a revival of principles of 
humanity, had been followed by a sharpening of the 
Terror. On the pretext of maintaining public order, the 
Catholic worship remained prohibited. The tyranny 
weighed down the oppressors along with the oppressed. 
Men were imprisoned and sent to the scaffold indif- 
ferently for acts of mercy, knavery, or extravagance. 
The denouncer of to-day was the denounced of to- 
morrow. Municipalities and administrative bodies 
trembled before clubs and revolutionary committees ; 
these, in turn, before deputies in mission ; deputies in 
mission before the two committees ; and the members 

1754 T/te Fall of Robespierre, 21 J 

of the committees before one another. However high a 
man's place in the revolutionary hierarchy, he could not 
shelter his best friends or nearest relatives without risking 
his own head. 

Violent discords broke out within the Committee of 
Public Safety. Robespierre's efforts to raise himself 
excited the indignation of his colleagues; for the more 
powerful he became, the more insecure was the tenure 
on which their own lives rested. On the other hand, 
Robespierre was nervous, envious, and suspicious, and 
the higher he rose the more eager he became to shed the 
blood of his enemies, and of those who stood in the way 
of his rising higher still. The Montagnards hated him. 
Those who had walked behind him at the feast of the 
Supreme Being had not been able to restrain themselves 
from uttering insulting words. ' Formerly he was master/ 
one was heard to say, ' and now he must be God as well.' 
Some, aware that they were objects of his , 

. - .^ i A ^« t. i • Insurrection 

special enmity, were plotting obscurely against of Ther- 
him. Of the twelve members of the Committee midor XOb 
of General Security all but two were his enemies. Sup- 
ported by Couthon and St Just, Robespierre proposed in 
the Committee of Public Safety a proscription of several 
members of the Mountain and of the Committee of 
General Security. Billaud and Collot opposed. Con- 
sent would have been suicidal, since they were called on 
to sacrifice their own supporters. The cowardly Barere 
hesitated which side to join. One member of the Com- 
mittee of Public Safety had been guillotined with the 
Dantonists. The remaining five, though it was not their 
desire to shed blood, were accustomed to give their 
signatures without questioning on the demand of the 
governing members, and thus incurred responsibility for 
all that took place. They had more in common with 
Robespierre than with Collot, since they too cared for 

2i8 The Fall of Robespierre. 1794 

order as well as power; but, while submitting to his 

ascendancy, they loathed and despised him. Carnot, 

who was one of these, and whose success at the head of 

the war administration made Robespierre envious, and 

who could not conceal his antipathy for Robespierre and 

St Just, was marked out for destruction. The threatened 

members of the Committee of General Security, afraid 

that Billaud and Collot would sacrifice them sooner than 

come to an open breach with Robespierre, sought to 

defend themselves by combining with the threatened 

Montagnards. Within the Committee of Public Safety 

efforts were made to come to an understanding, but 

without success. Robespierre, aware that his enemies 

were conspiring against him, determined to strike first, 

and to secure dictatorship for himself by replacing 

his opponents on the two committees by partisans of his 

own. There appeared to be little doubt of the result. 

The Convention had less reason to support Billaud and 

Collot than himself. They had been fully as sanguinary 

as he; and when Collot in the Convention had once 

proposed to send to the scaffold seventy-three deputies 

of the right who had been imprisoned for signing 

protests against the ejection of the Girondists, he had 

opposed and saved their lives. In case of a struggle he 

had material force at his command, his opponents none. 

The Jacobins and the Commune were both his ; the 

national guard, now called the armed force, was under 

the command of Henriot, a partisan of his own. The 

cannoniers of each section formed a paid force, of 

which every man had been selected by the Commune. 

Robespierre opened the attack by a long speech in the 

Convention, in which he complained of the traitors 

who spread calumnies against himself (July 26). He 

threatened many, but named none. It was a fatal 

mistake, for each man in the Convention fancied it 

1794 The Fall of Robespierre. 219 

possible that his name might be on the list of proscrip- 
tion. Despair gave courage to the plotters to struggle 
for their lives. They belonged to all parties. Some 
were He*bertists, others Dantonists, others independent 
Montagnards. Most were inferior in character to the 
man who attacked them. Amongst them were members 
of the Committee of General Security, such as the 
cowardly and ferocious Vadier and Amar, and the most 
brutal members of the Convention — Fouche\ who had 
slaughtered at Lyons, Tallien at Bordeaux, Fre*ron at 
Marseilles, Carrier at Nantes. 

When, on the following day, Thermidor 10 (July 27), 
St. Just ascended the tribune, he was interrupted almost 
before he opened his lips. Shouts were raised of ' Down, 
down with the tyrant!' as Robespierre, gesticulating and 
menacing, strove to make himself heard above the din. The 
President, a Dantonist, Thuriot, incessantly rang his bell. 
The struggle went on for hours. * President of assassins, 
cried Robespierre, sinking under exhaustion, 'for the 
last time I demand the right of speech. 7 He appealed 
to the Plain, the members who had been mere tools in 
the hands of the strongest party, and who had been mute 
against the Mountain since the ejection of the Girondists. 
But the Plain, seeing that he was no longer powerful, 
joined his enemies ; and when it was proposed to arrest 
himself, his brother, Couthon, and St. Just, its members 
rose in a body to confirm the condemnation of the man 
before whom they had so long trembled. 

All four were conducted to prison. Yet victory 
so far was merely a parliamentary one. An attempt to 
arrest Henriot gave warning of danger to Robespierre's 
partisans outside the Convention. The Municipality 
summoned the armed force to the H6tel de Ville, 
and sent agents into the sections to stir up an insur- 
rection. The two Robespierres, St. Just, and Couthon 

220 The Fall of Robespierre. 1794 

were released from prison and taken to the Hotel de 
Ville. But excess of tyranny had left isolated those by 
whom it had been exercised. The Robespierrists were 
ardent in the defence of their leader ; but they were 
but a mere handful, even amidst the Terrorists. The 
members of the civil and revolutionary committees, 
wishing to secure their heads, waited to declare for 
the Commune until they had assurance that the Com- 
mune would win. The Convention outlawed Henriot, 
Robespierre, and his companions, and sent deputies 
into the sections to gain their support The few who 
still attended the assemblies of the sections were 
eager to fling off the yoke with which they were op- 
pressed. When they understood that the quarrel was 
between Robespierre and the Convention, they sent 
messengers to recall the battalions of national guards 
already at the Hdtel de Ville. The deputy Barras, ap- 
pointed by the Convention to command in Henriot's 
place, invested, about two at night, the nearly-deserted 
building without encountering opposition. Those within 
were surprised where they sat. Robespierre, with his 
jaw painfully fractured by a pistol shot — it is uncertain 
whether the wound was inflicted by his own or by the 
hand of another — was taken to the Committee of Public 
Safety, and left lying upon a table, exposed to the taunts 
of every gazer. Being already outlawed, Robespierre, 
his brother, Couthon, and St. Just, with eighteen other 
persons, were executed as soon as day arrived, without 
form of trial. During the two following days more than 
eighty of Robespierre's followers, including a large 
number of the members of the Commune, were sent to 
the scaffold. 



It i& calculated that during the fourteen months which 
had elapsed since the ejection of the Girondists, about 
i6,coo persons had perished throughout France by the 
sentence of revolutionary courts. With the proscription 
of the Robespierrists the Terror as a system of govern- 
ment came to an end. Collot and Billaud, in over- 
throwing Robespierre, had -deprived them- 
selves of the two main engines by which the 
machinery of the Terror had been kept in motion. After 
the execution of its members the Commune had been 
broken up, and the Jacobins were enfeebled. The 
Mountain at once asserted its independence. of the two 
committees ; the Plain, in turn, asserted its independence 
of the Mountain. From this time the committers, were 
renewed by a fourth every month, and the outgoing 
members rendered incapable of immediate re-election. 
Within a few weeks all the men who conducted the 
Government during the Terror had resigned or had been 
deprived of office. 

The fall of Robespierre and of the committees was 
felt as much in Paris as it was in the Convention. No 
sooner did the incessant action of the guillotine cease than 
the revolutionary authorities fell into contempt, and the 
revolutionary laws, which the Terror alone had sustained, 
ceased to be observed. There was again freedom of action, 
of speech, and of the press. Hundreds and thousands of 
young men collected in the sections and public places, de- 
claring war on the Jacobins, and demanding the release of 
friends and relations, the abolition of revolutionary com- 
mittees, the imprisonment and trial of their late oppressors. 
They belonged to all ranks of life, but were mostly skilled 

2Z2 Fall of the Montagnards. 1794 

artisans, clerks in offices, shopmen, tradesmen, and sons 
of nobles and capitalists. As in 1789, the agitation had 
its centre in the Palais Royal, and, as then, found its 
leaders in young authors and journalists. In the depart- 
ments the reaction proceeded with equal rapidity. No- 
where was any attempt made to resist the new revolution. 
The names of Robespierre and Couthon were given over 
to execration by the same men who a week before had 
made a show of delight in honouring them. The petty 
tyrant of yesterday, ejected from office, went to join his 
victims in prison ; and, as in Paris, all classes of the 
population speedily took advantage of the relaxation of 
the Terror to slip their necks free of the yoke of the 
revolutionary laws. 

Upon the destruction of the dictatorship of the com- 
mittees, supreme power reverted to the Convention. 
That body, however, had as little coherence now as it 
had had in the first months of its existence. The resti- 
tution of its liberty split it into numerous sections. It 
was torn by violent party spirit, and had no determinate 
policy or aim, but drifted onwards, following not direct- 
ing the course of events. All agreed in condemnation 
of Robespierre, but in that alone. The Montagnards were 
divided amongst themselves. Only a small minority was 
prepared to maintain in its entirety the Terror as a system 
of government — Billaud and Collot and their companions 
in office, who feared for their own lives. A few, such as 
Romme and Soubrany, resolutely opposed social and 
economical changes which would, in the end, lead to the 
return of the middle-class to power. Others again, as the 
financier Cambon and the Dantonist Thuriot, struggled 
to maintain the ascendancy of the Mountain over the 
Plain, but declared war on Billaud and Collot, who, 
following in the course of Herbert and Robespierre, 
sought, by aid of clubs and revolutionary committees, 

1794 Fall of the Montagnards. 223 

to tyrannise over the Mountain. The Thermidorians, 
so-called from the name of the revolutionary month 
in which the new revolution had been effected, Tallien, 
Freron, and others of the men who had conspired to 
destroy Robespierre, took up a position between the 
Mountain and the Plain, and for the time possessed the 
leadership of the Convention ; but they had no policy 
except that of yielding sufficiently to public opinion to 
maintain ascendancy, and at the same time of holding in 
check the reaction so as to prevent its reaching them- 
selves. One after another demands made by the anti- 
Terrorist press and by gatherings in the Palais Royal 
were complied with. The Jacobin Club, the resort of 
Collot, Billaud, and their partisans, was closed (No- 
vember 12). The Revolutionary Committees were reduced 
in number and shorn of their powers. Thousands of 
prisoners were released and their property restored to 
them. Throughout the country new men were placed in 
office, while members of revolutionary committees and 
other inferior tools of the Terror were imprisoned by 
hundreds. A trial going on beiore the Revolutionary 
Court at Paris revealed in all their horrible details the 
massacres committed at Nantes, and raised a cry for 
vengeance against Carrier. Abandoned by the Thermi- 
dorians and almost the entire Mountain, Carrier was sent 
before the court for trial, and thence in his turn to the 
scaffold (December). Billaud, Collot, and other marked 
Terrorists, already denounced in the Convention by 
Danton's friends, felt that danger was every day drawing 
nearer to themselves. Their fate was to all appearance 
sealed by the readmission to the Convention (December 8) 
of the seventy-three deputies of the right, imprisoned in 
1793 for signing protests against the expulsion of the 

By the return of these deputies the complexion of the 

224 Fall of the Montagnards. i7*H 5 

Assembly was entirely altered. It was they who had 
formed the phalanx which had supported the Gironde, 
and they now sought to undo the work of the Convention 
since the insurrection by which their party had been 
overwhelmed. They demanded that confiscated property 
should be restored to the relatives of persons condemned 
Dy the revolutionary courts ; that emigrants who had fled 
in consequence of Terrorist persecutions should be 
allowed to return ; that those deputies proscribed on 
June 2, 1793, who yet survived, should be recalled to 
their seats. The Mountain, as a body, violently opposed 
even the discussion of such questions. The Thermi- 
dorians split into two divisions. Some in alarm rejoined 
the Mountain; while others, headed by Tallien and 
Freron, sought their safety by coalescing with the 
returned members of the right A committee was 
appointed to report on accusations brought against 
Collot, Billaud, Barere, and Vadier (December 27, 1794). 
In a few weeks the survivors of the proscribed depu- 
ties entered the Convention amidst applause (March 8, 
1795), and it was clear that, in spite of every effort 
made by the left to delay a decision, the four accused 
men would be called upon to account for the tyranny 
that had been exercised by the two committees unless 
the Convention were overpowered by force. 

There was at this time great misery prevalent in 
Paris, and imminent peril of insurrection. After Robes- 
pierre's fall, maximum prices were no longer 

The revolt r , j j • * i «. j i • 

ofGer- observed, and assignats were only accepted in 
minal ,a# payment of goods at their real value compared 
with coin. The result was a rapid rise in prices, so that 
in December prices were double what they had been in 
July, and were continuing to rise in proportion as assig- 
nats decreased in value. The policy pursued by the 
Convention tended of necessity to hasten the depreciation 

1795 F°tt °f ^ Montagnards. 225 

of the paper money. Girondists, Thermidorians, and a 
portion of the Mountain concurred in denouncing the 
economic system imposed on the Convention by Hubert 
and Robespierre. The system of requisitions was gra- 
dually abandoned, the armies were again supplied by 
contract, and the maximum laws, already a dead letter, 
were repealed (December 24). The abolition of maxi- 
mum prices and requisitions increased the already lavish 
expenditure of the Government, which, to meet the deficit 
in its revenues, had no resource but to create more 
assignats, and the faster these were issued the faster they 
fell in value and the higher prices rose. In July 1794, 
they had been worth 34 per cent of their nominal 
value. In December they were worth 22 per cent., and 
in May 1795, they were worth only 7 per cent. Want of 
food was the more acutely felt owing to the winter having 
been one of great severity. The Seine was covered for 
weeks with ice, and wood and coal were, like other articles, 
dear and scarce. All persons living on fixed incomes 
suffered intensely. Even those who lived on wages were 
seriously affected. Wages had indeed risen, but not in 
proportion to prices. Starvation prices prevailed. Work- 
men earned from five to eleven shillings a day in paper 
money, while a multitude of State officials, pensioners and 
creditors, received no more than from three to six shillings 
a day. Yet at this time a pound of bread cost eight 
shillings, of rice thirteen, of sugar seventeen, and other 
articles were all proportionately dear. It is literally true 
that more than half the population of Paris was only 
kept alive by occasional distributions of meat and other 
articles at low pi ices, and the daily distribution of bread 
at three-halfpence a pound. In February, however, this 
source of relief threatened to fail Farmers preferred 
to send their corn anywhere else than to Paris, 
where only paper money was to be had. It was only 

M.H. Q 

226 Fall of the Montagnards. 179$ 

with extreme difficulty that the Government, which since 
the annihilation of the Commune had supplied Paris 
with bread, performed its task. The rations fell from 
one pound to half a pound, and soon to a few ounces 
per head. Numerous deaths took place, the result of 
destitution or actual starvation. An insurrection, how- 
ever, though constantly threatened, for weeks failed to 
break out One cause was that the people had grown 
hopeless of improving their condition by insurrection ; 
another, that those journalists, clerks, and others, who at 
the opening of the revolution had incited popular move- 
ments, were now, although suffering themselves, found on 
the other side, and were prepared to fight in defence of 
the Convention, which they none the less detested, 
sooner than endure a revival of the Terror. Material 
suffering offered, however, a ready handle for Terrorist 
agitators ; and as the peril of insurrection increased, so 
too, within the Convention, did the violence of party strife. 
The Mountain, threatened with proscription, sought to 
turn the position of the right and to obtain credit outside, 
by demanding the immediate end of provisional govern- 
ment and the putting in force of the democratic consti- 
tution promulgated by the Convention in 1793, after the 
ejection of the Girondists. On April 1, or Germinal 12, 
bread riots, begun by women, broke out in every section. 
Bands collected and forced their way into the Con- 
vention, shouting for bread, but offering no violence to 
the deputies. Occasionally the demand was made for 
the release of imprisoned patriots and for the Consti- 
tution of 1793. The crowd was already dispersing when 
forces arrived from the sections and cleared the House. 
The insurrection was a spontaneous rising for bread, 
without method or combination. The Terrorists had 
sought, but vainly, to obtain direction of it. Had they 
succeeded, the Mountain would have had an opportunity 

1795 F a M °f th* Montagnards. 227 

of proscribing the right. Their failure gave the right 
the opportunity of proscribing the left. The transpor- 
tation to Cayenne of Billaud, Collot, Barere, and Vadier 
was decreed, and the arrest of fifteen other Montagnards, 
accused without proof, in several cases without proba- 
bility, of having been accomplices of the insurgents. 
The Thermidorians showed themselves more vindictive 
than the Girondists, and it was on the proposition of 
Tallien that amongst those proscribed were included 
Thuriot and Cambon, men whose hands, compared with 
his own, were clear of blood. 

The insurrection of Germinal 12 gave increased 
strength to the party of reaction. The Convention, in 
dread of the Terrorists, was compelled to look to it for 
support. The bands of young men who assembled in 
the Palais Royal, called ' Fr£ron's army/ often rendered 
useful service by clearing the Tuileries Gardens of dis- 
contented and threatening groups. Already the dress, 
language, and manners in vogue during the Terror were 
laid aside. Red caps gave place to hats. The habit of 
addressing strangers by the familiar ( thou,' and the use 
of the word ' citizen,' were dropped in drawing-rooms. 
No Jacobin could set foot in the Palais Royal without 
experiencing insults and blows. Busts of Marat, which 
had been set up in every public building, were pulled 
down and broken, and both theatres and streets became 
the scene of incessant riots. 

In the departments famine, disorder, and crime pre- 
vailed, as well as in Paris. In all towns a large portion 
of the population was kept alive by daily distributions of 
bread. The country was exhausted by the war burdens 
laid on it. Requisitions for the armies had . . 

drained one department after another of horses, the Depart- 
carts, corn, and men. Nevertheless, destitu- ments - 
tion was not so great in rural districts as in towns. Corn 


228 Fall of the Montagnards. 1795 

growers, since the fall of Robespierre, had made large 
profits, while every peasant sold his wine or other pro- 
duce at prices as high in proportion as the price of bread. 
From the first the reaction proceeded in the departments 
with a more rapid step and in bolder form than in Paris 
which was subjected to the restraining influences exer- 
cised by the presence of the Convention. Everywhere, 
except in Paris, municipal bodies had, as early as in 
January, suffered churches to be reopened and Mass 
again to be celebrated. Without the Terror it was as 
impossible to maintain the proscription of the Catholic 
worship as it was to enforce the observance of maximum 
laws. A minority in the Convention, composed of 
Catholics and Liberals, desired to carry into practice 
those principles of religious toleration which the Con- 
vention in theory had always maintained and had pub- 
licly announced in opposition to Hubert, but which for so 
many months it had neglected to put in practice. The 
majority, whatever their repugnance to a revival of sacer- 
Jotal influence, recognised the hopelessness of resisting 
the popular movement Since the beginning of the Revo- 
lution the idea of the separation of Church and State had 
gained ground. The constitutional clergy desired to be 
allowed to reorganise the Church without any interference 
by the State. The mass of deputies were unwilling tc 
recognise the Catholic as the national religion, lest by so 
doing they should enable the Church the more readily 
to regain ascendency. A compromise was arrived at 
The Convention declared that the public exercise of all 
forms of worship was permissible, but that henceforth the 
State would provide neither buildings nor funds for any 
religious body. Small pensions, however, varying from 
35/. to 52/., which under the Terror had been accorded 
to bishops and priests who had resigned their offices 
were granted to the whole body of the Constitutional 

1795 " Fall of the Montagnards. 229 

clergy. Further, various restrictions were laid on the 
public exercise of religion. No ceremonies might be 
performed outside the building set apart for worship, 
whether in streets, burial grounds, hospitals, or prisons. 
Ecclesiastics might not wear a special dress out of doors, 
and even the ringing of bells was prohibited (Feb- 
ruary 22). 

Though their position was far more precarious — for 
none of the laws against them had been repealed — non- 
jurors, as well as the Constitutional clergy, re- TheWtote 
sumed their functions. With the connivance of Terror, 
municipal bodies they had come in numbers out of their 
hiding-places, or had returned to France from abroad. 
In the departments of the south-east, where the Royalists 
had always possessed a strong following, emigrants of all 
descriptions readily made their way back ; and here the 
opponents of the Republic, instigated by a desire for 
vengeance or merely by party spirit, commenced a reac- 
tion stained by crimes as atrocious as any committed 
during the course of the revolution. Young men be- 
longing to the upper and middle classes were organised in 
bands bearing the name of companies of Jesus and com- 
panies of the Sun, and first at Lyons, then at Aix, Toulon, 
Marseilles, and other towns, they broke into the prisons 
and murdered their inmates without distinction of age or 
sex. Besides the Terrorist and the Jacobin, neither the 
Republican nor the purchaser of State lands was safe 
from their knives ; and in the country numerous isolated 
murders were committed. This lawless and brutal move- 
ment, called the White Terror in distinction to the Red 
Terror preceding Thermidor 9, was suffered for weeks to 
run its course unchecked, and counted its victims by 
many hundreds, spreading over the whole of Provence, 
besides the departments of Rhdne, Card, Loire, Ain, 
and Jura. 

230 Fall of the Montagnards. 1795 

Neither deputies in mission nor administrative officers 
attempted to arrest the assassins or to bring them to 
insurrection justice. The Convention expressed indigna- 
ofPrairiai. tion, but took no active measures for the 
maintenance of law and order. In fact, men still lived 
in incessant fear of a revival of the Terror, and hence 
for the time they regarded with indifference the reaction 
in the south, in spite of its Royalist tendencies. After 
the insurrection of Germinal, the condition of the people 
at Paris remained unchanged. The rations of bread on 
occasions fell as low as a couple of ounces. Jacobins 
and other agents of the Terror did their utmost to direct 
the ever-swelling flood of discontent against the Con- 
vention. On May 20, or Prairial i,a second insurrection 
broke out, fiercer, more extended, and more persistent 
than the preceding one. The insurgents, men and 
women, broke into the Convention clamouring for bread, 
and insulting and reproaching the deputies without dis- 
tinction of party. With cries for bread were joined cries 
for the Constitution of 1793, but the crowd was without 
leaders, and barely knew its own ends, still less by what 
means to seek their realisation. On the arrival of 
battalions of the national guard in support of the Con- 
vention, a general combat took place within the Chamber, 
in which the defenders of the Convention were at first 
worsted. A deputy, Feraud, who sought to protect the 
President, Boissy d'Anglas, from insult, was wounded by 
the populace and dragged outside, his head cut off and 
paraded on a pike through the streets. Many deputies 
fled. A few Montagnards, threatened by the mob and 
urged by the frightened deputies on the right, put to the 
vote the demands raised by voices in the crowd, such as 
the release of imprisoned patriots and the reconstitution 
of the Committees of Government The insurgents, 
who were now appeased, began to disperse, when more 

1795 Fall of the Montagnards. 23 1 

national guards arrived and drove away those who still 
remained. Victory, however, was not secured. The 
Faubourg St Antoine remained in insurrection, and the 
next day directed the mouths of its cannon upon the 
Tuileries. The Convention only secured its safety by 
promising to provide bread, and to put in force the Con- 
stitution of 1793. In the meantime, however, 4,000 troops 
of the line were being brought to Paris. These, with a 
selected force of national guards, surrounded the insur- 
gent faubourg. To a population supported upon rations, 
there was no choice between yielding or starving. They 
yielded, giving up arms and cannon (May 23). The 
Convention made use of its triumph to destroy the 
Mountain and to secure itself against a repetition of the 
late scenes. A decree for the disarmament of agents ot 
the Terror furnished a pretext for taking pikes and guns 
from the hands of the people, and the national guard 
was reorganised so as to exclude from active service the 
poorer sections of the population. Many hundred persons 
were imprisoned. The revolutionary court had already 
been dissolved. For the sake of summary procedure a 
military commission was instituted, which sat for more 
than two months, and condemned to death between 
thirty and forty persons, and as many more to imprison- 
ment or transportation. The proscription of the Moun- 
tain comprised in all more than sixty deputies. Of those 
who formed the Committees of Government during the 
Terror, Carnot and one other alone were spared. ' Car- 
not,' said a voice, when his arrest was proposed, ( has 
organised victory.' Many of the proscribed effected their 
escape. A few committed suicide. The remainder suf- 
fered transportation or death. 

232 The Treaty of Basel 1794-5 



OF 1795. 

While internally France was a prey to bankruptcy, 
hunger, crime, and civil strife, the triumph of her armies 
Conquest of continued uninterruptedly. After the evacua- 
Hoiiand. t j on f Belgium by the English and Austrians, 
in June 1794, the Prussians, in danger of being out- 
numbered and isolated, abandoned their positions round 
Kaiserslautern and fell back on the Rhine. The Austrians 
retreated to the same river, while the English and Hano- 
verians, under the Duke of York's command, withdrew 
behind the Lower Meuse. One French army invested the 
great fortress of Mainz, while Pichegru pressed on into 
North Brabant. Little defence was made. The Dutch 
army was small, and there was no probability that the 
country would rise. Not only had the French numerous 
and influential partisans amongst the political opponents 
of the House of Orange, but the peasantry, alienated by 
the brutal and plundering habits of the allied troops, were 
eager to be relieved of their presence. The invaders 
were, however, not above 46,000 strong, and short oi 
clothes, arms, and munition for besieging purposes; sc 
that the English army of 30,000 men, competently led. 
would have been sufficiently strong to hold them in check. 
But the Duke was a bad general, and his men were de- 
moralised by their retreat. He remained helplessly on 
the north side of the Meuse, while the fortresses in North 
Brabant fell one after another. The French, after effect- 
ing the passage of the Meuse by a bridge of boats 
(October 19), found their further advance barred by the 
mouths of the Rhine, the broad and rapid rivers Waal 

1795 an, d ^ le Constitution of 1 795. 233 

and Leek. Here, however, the inclement winter came to 
their aid. By the middle of January 1795, tne rivers 
were covered with ice which bore the passage of men, 
horses, and cannon. The English forces retreated east- 
wards, leaving the French masters of the country. The 
Stadtholder fled to England. A revolutionary movement 
broke out in the principal towns, and the French were 
everywhere accepted as friends. The fleet, which was 
frozen up in the harbours of the Texel, was prevailed on 
to capitulate by an attack of a body of French cavalry 
advancing on the ice. The English and Hanoverians 
finally abandoned the country, and the conquerors left 
the seven united provinces in possession of nominal inde- 
pendence and their federal form of, government ; but 
forced them to conclude a treaty of alliance which re- 
duced the country to the position of a satellite of France, 
and put its resources at her disposition (May 12). 

The brilliant achievements of her armies had revived 
in France the old passion for military glory and conquest 
which had been distinctive of the reign of 
Louis XIV. The war, begun with the object of policy of the 
securing France against invasion, was being Convention, 
pursued with the object of extending the frontiers of the 
Republic. The national triumph over foreign foes became 
the one point in respect to which there existed a strong 
bond of sympathy between France and the Convention. 
Girondists, Thermidorians, and Montagnards, if only for 
the sake of winning popularity, vied with each other in 
seeking to gratify the national pride and ambition ; and 
the point of view of the Republican Government was 
practically identical with that of the Emperor, or of the 
King of Prussia, namely, that there must be no laying 
down of arms without acquisition of territory. A small 
minority of deputies would have restored the conquered 
Rhine lands to the Empire and constituted Belgium into 

234 The Treaty of Basel 1795 

an independent republic, if they could on such terms 
have obtained a European peace. But the majority, in- 
cluding all the more prominent men who by turns sat on 
the Committee of Public Safety and directed foreign 
affairs, to whatever party they belonged — Boissy d'An- 
glas, Thibaudeau, Merlin of Thionville, Merlin of Douai, 
Carnot, Sie*yes, CambaceYes, Rewbel, Larevelliere-Le- 
peaux — aspired to incorporate Belgium with France, and 
on the side of the Empire to extend the frontier, it not 
to the Rhine, at least to the Meuse. 

If, however, the country, proud of its conquests, 
desired to retain them, its exhaustion made it eager for 
the conclusion of hostilities, and the necessity of at least 
confining the field of war to narrower limits was recog- 
nised even by those deputies whose policy was most 
aggressive and ambitious. As in France, so also in Spain, 
in Prussia, throughout Italy, the Austrian dominions, and 
the Empire, a general desire for peace existed. In none 
of these countries had there been from the first any 
national enthusiasm for the war, while the large expecta 
tions with which governments began hostilities had been 
blown to the winds. There was no longer any thought 
of restoring the Bourbon monarchy in France, nor proba- 
bility of making conquests at her expense ; and, in fact, 
those continental Princes alone cared to continue the 
struggle who looked forward to effecting, at the cost of 
third and weaker States, the enlargement of their own 

As yet Austria had, during the course of the war, 
made no territorial acquisition. In the second division 
of Poland, Russia and Prussia alone shared. The chan- 
cellor, Thugut, the director of Austrian foreign policy, 
and the one statesman of mark whom Austria possessed, 
was a continuator of the schemes formerly entertained 
by Joseph II. for the extension and consolidation of the 

1795 an ^ ^ Constitution of 1795. 235 

Austrian dominions. He possessed the entire confidence 
of his master, Francis II., but the position which he held 
was isolated, and his authority limited. Had policy of 
he attempted to draw upon the resources of t 1 " 1 * 111 - 
the various kingdoms and duchies subject to the Em- 
peror, as the Convention had drawn upon the resources 
of France, he would have incited disturbance and revolt 
on every side. The administration, more especially oi 
the war department, was inefficient and lax, and the 
public service suffered in consequence of the negligence 
or wilfulness of officials high in place. Thugut was the 
son of a poor boatbuilder, and the court nobility never 
forgot his origin, and thwarted him on every opportunity. 
Thugut, however, proud, despotic, and ambitious, would 
not be diverted from his course by misfortune in war, by 
the factious opposition of a court nobility, or by the ill- 
will and discontent of subject populations. On the reten- 
tion of Belgium he laid no great stress. Belgium lay far 
from the seat of government, and though wealthy, its 
wealth was not at the arbitrary disposition of the Em- 
peror. If, however, he were to resign Belgium, Thugut 
required an ample equivalent for the loss elsewhere, and 
before bringing to a close the French war, designed fur- 
ther to acquire an indemnity equal to that which Prussia 
had obtained by the second partition of Poland. There 
were three courses by which Thugut saw possible oppor- 
tunities of making acquisitions. He might make Austrian 
influence supreme in Germany by the annexation of Ba- 
varia, or he might extend the Austrian dominions in 
Italy, or, again, he might acquire new possessions in the 
East, at the expense of Poland and of the Porte. For 
the time he had no thought of entering into negotiation 
with the Republic, because he expected best to gain his 
ends by making common cause with England and Russia, 
which two Powers were both urgent for the continuation 
of the war. 

236 The Treaty of Basel 1795 

The third partition of Poland was at this time at the 

point of accomplishment. The insurrection which broke 

out in the Spring of 1794 had been suppressed 

\SSEZ b V Russian to 100 ? 5 ' «**» the command of 
Austria and Suwaroff, the famous conqueror of the Crimea, 
ussia. ,pk e p i es had received two crushing defeats. 
The national hero, Kosciusko, had been wounded and 
made prisoner. Warsaw, the capital, had surrendered 
(November 8) after the storm of its suburb Praga, when, 
for a long time, no quarter was given, and, as it was 
said, 10,000 persons, including many non-combatants, 
were either drowned in the Vistula or perished by the 
sword Poland, having thus been obliterated from the 
list of independent kingdoms, Catherine II. again turned 
her attention to the destruction of the empire of the 
Porte. She sought to secure the good-will of Austria, 
and by insuring the continuance of war in the West, to 
avert the possibility of interference on the part either 
of England or of France. The evident reluctance with 
which the Prussian Government continued to take part 
in the French war was sufficient cause for Catherine to 
favour Austria in dividing the remains of Poland. But, 
on the other hand, she could not exclude Frederick Wil- 
liam II. from all share in the partition without incurring 
risk of driving him to take up arms against herself. A 
treaty was concluded between Russia and Austria, deter- 
mining the partition that was to be made between the 
three Powers, which the Emperor and the Czarina under- 
took to carry into effect, whether the King of Prussia 
were content or not with the share allotted to him 
(January 3, 1795). At the same time they entered into 
an alliance directed against Turkey, and agreed that in 
case of war Moldavia, Wallachia, and Bessarabia should 
be converted into a Russian dependency, and that 
Servia and Bosnia should pass to Austria. The plan of 

1794-5 afi d the Constitution of 1795. 237 

exchanging Belgium for Bavaria was revived, and Cathe- 
rine further engaged to support the Emperor in making 
acquisition of Venetian or other territory. 

Between France and England the strong sense of 
national hostility which existed when the war first broke 
out had increased in intensity. There was no 
name so hated in France as the name of Pitt, foreign 
The English statesman, who by his gold sus- P° llc y 
tained the arms of the Coalition, had also, according to 
popular report, by his bribes and emissaries been the 
author of the Terror, and was held responsible for all the 
internal ills under which France suffered. In England, 
the feeling of hatred was fully reciprocated. The ideas 
of the Revolution were regarded with abhorrence, the 
Convention with loathing, and the triumph of the French 
armies did but excite the stronger determination to go on 
fighting until both Holland and Belgium were wrested 
from the grasp of the atheistic and regicide Republic. 
If England had ignominiously been beaten on the Conti- 
nent, she had been victorious at sea. Corsica had been 
occupied, and George III. proclaimed (February, 1794). 
A naval battle had been fought, commonly called the battle 
of June 1, when the French fleet, sailing out of Brest, had 
been defeated by Lord Howe, and driven back shattered 
to the coast (1794). Tobago, St. Martinique, Guadaloupe, 
and other French West Indian islands were already in 
English possession, and St Domingo, the most important 
of French colonies, threatened with conquest. If now 
the Dutch fleet was pressed into the service of France, 
on the other hand the rich Dutch colonies, possessions 
coveted by England, such as Ceylon and the Cape, were 
open to seizure. The Cabinet was indeed intensely 
eager that the Continental war should continue, and was 
making every exertion to fan the zeal of Austria, and to 
draw Russia on to render active assistance. Instead of 

238 The Treaty of Basel 1795 

subsidising Prussia, England now subsidised Austria. In 
return for a loan of 4,600,000/. the Emperor undertook to 
put 200,000 men in the field (May 4, 1795). A treaty was, at 
the same time, entered into between England and Russia, 
in which Catherine agreed to send 12,000 men to fight 
against France. Subsequently, in the autumn, a Triple 
Alliance was concluded between the three Powers, and 
separate negotiations renounced (September 28). 

While thus Austria, Russia, and England were draw- 
ing closer together, Prussia was fast backing out of the 
Treaty of war. Both military and official circles were 
Basel. thoroughly weary of it. The country had no 

interests peculiar to itself to defend, and the Govern- 
ment no acquisitions in view, beyond what had already 
been obtained in Poland. It was, however, but with 
reluctance that the King, who had lost none of his 
repugnance to the Revolution, consented to the opening 
of the negotiations held with Barthe'lemy, the French 
Ambassador at Basel. The main difficulty in coming 
to terms was the disposition of Prussian possessions 
on the left bank of the Rhine, of which the cession 
would imply readiness on the King's part to resign to 
France all the territory of the Empire on that side. The 
Committee of Public Safety demanded absolutely what- 
ever belonged to Prussia on the left bank. But Frederick 
William was unwilling formally to abandon the cause of 
the Empire, and the Committee was too desirous of con- 
cluding peace to refuse a compromise which, in reality, 
yielded to France the point required. In the public 
articles of the treaty it was merely stated that French 
troops should remain in occupation of Prussian territory 
on the left bank until the making of peace between 
France and the Empire ; but in a secret article the King 
declared his readiness to abandon his territory on the 
left bank in return for an equivalent on the right, if 

1 795 and the Constitution of 1795. 239 

France kept the Rhine as her boundary when she made 
peace with the Empire. A second matter of difficulty 
was the question whether the Empire was to obtain the 
benefits of peace. The King could not leave the 
Northern States to be overrun by French armies with- 
out lowering the position of Prussia within the Empire, 
He accordingly proposed that France should agree to 
a truce with the Empire, and afterwards accept Prussian 
mediation. The Committee refused these demands, 
but consented to a line of demarcation being drawn 
across Germany, and to regard as neutrals the States 
lying to the north of it. It was also agreed that the 
Committee should accept the services of the King in 
treating with the separate States of the Empire. On 
these terms peace was concluded at Basel (April 5), and 
ratified with applause by the Convention. The Empire 
was henceforth torn in half. The Northern States under 
the wing of Prussia enjoyed neutrality, while the Southern 
remained subjected to the miseries of war. 

Spain, shortly after Prussia, made her peace with 
France. Before the revolution the two countries had 
been united by a treaty, entitled the Family Treaty with 
Compact (1761), which placed Spain, ruled by Sp*" 1 * 
a younger branch of the House of Bourbon, in political 
dependence on France. Dynastic reasons had therefore 
had a large share in causing Spain to join the coalition. 
No desire existed in the country for the triumph of the 
allies. In possession of a large colonial empire, at the 
expense of which she lived, Spain was intensely jealous 
of England's superiority at sea, and feared, in case of the 
ruin of the French navy, only to retain her colonies at 
the good-will of her too powerful ally, and to be forced 
to throw open their trade to English vessels. The war 
was conducted without vigour. Nearly the whole of the 
revenue was absorbed in the maintenance of the fleet. 

240 The Treaty of Basal 


and the army did not consist of 35,000 men. During 
1793 the French, however, had not been able to muster 
at the Pyrenees an equally strong force. The Spaniards 
had crossed the mountains and had occupied French ter- 
ritory. But in 1794 the tide of success had turned. The 
French armies were reinforced, and drove the Spaniards 
back over the frontier (October-November). At Madrid 
reigned confusion, alarm, and incapacity. The country 
was taxed to the utmost extent it could bear. The 
Government had not credit to borrow. Insurrectionary 
movements were feared in the towns. The peasants of 
Catalonia, Navarre, and Biscay were warlike, and ready 
to rise against the invaders ; but the Government dared 
not give them encouragement, through fear lest they 
should seize the occasion to demand the re-establish- 
ment of provincial rights. 

The weak and incapable king, Charles IV., was led 
by his wife, Marie Louise of Parma, whose favourite, 
Godoy, was the real ruler of Spain. This man, whose 
object was whether by war or peace to maintain himself 
in power, after much vacillation opened negotiations 
with the French Government. The Committee of Public 
Safety was eager to bring the war to a close, but still 
persisted in demanding in return for the evacuation of 
Spanish territory, the cession of the Spanish part of the 
island of St. Domingo. The advance of the army of the 
Western Pyrenees to the Ebro created a panic, which 
induced Godoy to yield the point, and in July peace 
between France and Spain was on such terms made at 

Sieyes, Rewbel, and the other members of the Com- 
mittee of Public Safety, regarded these treaties with 
Prussia and Spain merely as steps towards the final 
goal they had in view, namely, the conclusion of a 
European peace ceding to France the Alps and the 

1795 anc ^ ti& Constitution of 1795. 2 4* 

Rhine as her boundaries. After making peace with 
Prussia and Spain, tbey hoped to obtain the alliance of 
Prussia to aid them in crushing Austria in Expedition 
Germany, and the alliance of Spain to aid to 0u»Wron. 
them in crushing England at sea. For the time, want of 
resources caused a practical cessation of hostilities on the 
Upper Rhine. The Austrian armies on the right bank 
short of money and food, remained on the defensive. 
The French armies on the left bank lived with difficulty 
at the cost of the conquered territories, which, having 


-* *" 


long been the seat of war, were suffering extreme misery. 
Meanwhile, the attention of the Government was drawn 
towards the west, where war still smouldered in La 
Vendue, and where a new war had broken out north of 
the Loire. In the large forests and uncultivated tracts 
in which the provinces of Brittany, Maine, and Anjou 
abounded, many bands of insurgents appeared, composed 
of brigands, deserters from the armies, fugitive Vendeans, 
and returned emigrants. They were called c Chouans,' 
after one of their leaders, a smuggler, who had himself 
mm. R 

24^ The Treaty of Basel 1795 

received the nickname — derived from ' chouette,' a small 
owl — either from his surly, morose habits, or from his 
using the owl's cry as a signal. Though without organi- 
sation, and under the conduct of a number of inde- 
pendent chiefs, the war proved as difficult to suppress 
as the war in La Vendee. In the autumn of 1794 it 
spread into Normandy, and threatened to assume the 
form of a general insurrection. The peasants, who 
resented the suppression of their religion and the per- 
secution of their priests, when they did not join the 
marauders were in connivance with thexa. Raids were 
made on republican posts, supplies cut off from towns, 
and many isolated murders committed. In support of 
the movement, emigrants and priests came from Eng- 
land, bringing with them munitions of war, and money 
both in coin and forged assignats. So serious did the 
danger become, that the Committee appointed Hoche, 
at this time the most distinguished general whom the Re- 
public possessed, to the command-in-chief of the forces 
north of the Loire. During the Terror, his services to his 
country had been requited by imprisonment, and but fo* 
Robespierre's sudden destruction, he would have fallen a 
victim to the guillotine. Besides being an able soldier. 
Hoche was a sincere and patriotic man in both public 
and private life, single-minded, straightforward, and pure. 
The irksome and inglorious task now entrusted to him he 
carried out with characteristic firmness and moderation, 
and while taking severe measures for the repression of 
rebellion, he did all in his power to win the good-will of 
the inhabitants, by treating them justly and restoring 
discipline amongst his troops. He allowed the churches 
to be reopened, and by leaving the clergy unharassed, 
sought to destroy their enmity towards the Republic 
Both the Convention and the insurgents desired a 
breathing time in which to recruit their forces. Charette 

1795 an( l the Constitution of 1795. 2 43 

and other Venderin leaders, made an engagement to lay 
down arms and recognise the authority of the Republic, 
on condition that indemnity should be granted to them- 
selves, that liberty of worship should be allowed, and 
that the national guard should be under their command 
(February 17). Many Chouan chiefs recognised the 
Republic on the same terms (April 20). These agree- 
ments were merely armed truces. The insurgent leaders 
retained their authority, and were but waiting the arrival 
of means from England to resume their arms. 

Fortunately for the Republic, its enemies were unready 
and disunited. The concurrence of a general conflagration 
in the West, and of the advance of 200,000 men across 
the Rhine, would have called to mind the hazards run in 
1 793. Hostilities,however, still flagged on the Rhine, while 
in the West jealousy and discord destroyed the chances oi 
successful resistance to the Republican armies. Amongst 
the emigrants no uiyon existed. Those who had fled 
in 1790 regarded with contempt and aversion those who 
fled at a later date, and confounded Constitutionalists 
with Robespierrists and Terrorists under the common 
name of Jacobins. The leader of the expedition from 
England, Count Joseph of Puisaye, was in ill-favour with 
the supporters of the Count of Provence, because in 1789 
he had been on the popular side. Hoche, aware of their 
designs, arrested the Baron of Cormaton, the most able 
of the Chouan chiefs, and seven other leading conspira- 
tors (May 15)- The war in consequence was renewed in 
Brittany, but Charette, who did not care to act as second 
to Puisaye, remained quiet in La Vendue. The expe- 
dition from England disembarked at Carnac, the little 
town at the head of the peninsula which encloses on one 
side the Bay of Quibe*ron. Pitt had forborne to risk the 
lives of English troops until assured that the emigrants 

n 2 

<*44 2"** Treaty of Basel 1795 

were able, in accordance with their representations, to 
acquire a firm footing in the country. The force con- 
sisted of about 5,000 emigrants and between 1,000 and 
2,000 French prisoners of war. Large bodies of Chouans 
came to the commander and joined the invaders, and 
Fort Penthievre, guarding the connection between the 
peninsula and the mainland, was besieged and taken. 
Meanwhile, however, quarrels broke out between the 
leaders of the expedition and between the emigrants and 
the Chouans. Hoche, having brought together 12,000 
men at Auray, defeated the rebels, and forced them back 
from their position at Carnac on to the peninsula of 
Quibe'ron, where, with women and children, 20,000 persons 
were collected. By aid of French prisoners of wai who 
deserted, Fort Penthievre was, at the dead of night, sur- 
prised and captured (July 20). The crowded peninsula 
lay open to the Republican army. Amid scenes of utter 
confusion and distress an effort to reach the English 
ships was made. Some succeeded in escaping, but 
several thousands were left behind and made prisoners. 
The lives of the Chouans were spared, but there remained 
more than a thousand emigrants. The Convention 
refused mercy to emigrants, and all of them were shot in 
accordance with the law. 

In dealing thus harshly with the captured emigrants, 
the Convention was actuated by fear of danger to itself 
Death of from the classes by which it had recently been 
the Dauphin. SU pp 0r ted. After the insurrection of Prairial, 
the working classes of Paris, defeated and leaderless, 
disappeared for the time from the scene of political 
action. The Convention found itself left face to face 
with its late ally, the middle classes, which had taken 
part against the insurgents through dread of a Terrorist 
reaction, but which now sought to turn the victory to their 
own account. To the rule of the Convention intense 
aversion was felt and freely expressed. There were in 

1795 an d tkc Constitution of 1795. 245 

Paris concealed Royalists, most of them persons belonging 
to the old privileged orders, who sought by intrigue and 
conspiracy to effect a reaction in favour of the emigrant 
Bourbon Princes. But such were comparatively few in 
number. The middle classes desired merely complete 
liberty of worship and return to constitutional forms of 
government. Though the Republic did not possess their 
confidence or affection, they did not avow themselves 
Monarchists nor aim definitely at the re-establishment 
of monarchy. The formation of a strong united mon- 
archical party was prevented both by the conduct of the 
emigrants and by the want of a name to which con- 
stitutional monarchists could rally. The late King's 
brothers, the Counts of Provence and Artois, as well as 
his more distant relations, were emigrants. The young 
Dauphin, his only son, died at this time in the Temple 
(June 8). In the summer of 1793 the child had been 
parted from his mother, and placed under the charge of 
a shoemaker, Simon, who treated him with roughness, if 
not brutality. In January 1794 he was confined in a 
small dark room, of which the door was barred up, and 
communication between him and his keepers maintained 
by means of a grating, through which was passed daily a 
little bread, meat, and water. Here he remained till 
after the fall of the Robespierrists in July. When again 
brought into the light he was found covered with dirt, 
apathetic, and diseased. His material condition was from 
this time improved, but none of the care necessary to 
revive his spirits and to save his life was given. The 
companionship of his sister, imprisoned in the same 
building, was refused, and it was not until he was visibly 
dying that resort was had to medical advice. Of the 
thousands who perished in the course of the revolution 
none suffered so cruel or so unmerited a fate as this 
innocent child, separated from every friend, and slowly 
killed by misusage and neglect 

246 The Treaty of Basel 


The death of the young Prince was a subject oi 
rejoicing to Republicans, but served as an additional 
cause of indignation against the Convention. The pro- 
bability of a Royalist insurrection in Paris was increased 
by the landing of the emigrants at Quiberon. The 
Thermidorians became alarmed for their own safety, and 
denounced as Royalists the same journalists and national 
guards, whose action they had before the insurrection oi 
Prairial abetted and applauded. But, since the pro- 
scription of the Mountain, they had lost the power of 
controlling the Assembly, and the reaction, though im- 
peded by their resistance, still continued its course. 

Accepting what had already been done in many parts 
of the country, the Convention passed a law sanctioning 
the provisionary use of churches for the exercise of 
State of the worship, but prohibiting any persons from 
Church. officiating in them before making a promise 
of submission to the laws of the Republic (May 30). 
At Paris twelve, and subsequently fifteen, churches were 
reopened. The oath imposed by the civil constitution 
of the clergy was thus abandoned, and, in fact, the civil 
constitution itself. Within the limits assigned by this 
law and the law which had been passed in February 
(p. 227), the Church was left at liberty to effect its own 
reorganisation. The constitutional Bishops, of whom the 
majority had not abdicated, headed by Gregoire, Bishop 
of Blois, made every endeavour to recover for the 
Church its former influence. The work was accom- 
plished with rapidity. The religious persecution in itself 
had tended to destroy the sceptical spirit which had 
prevailed amongst the middle classes in 1789, while the 
mass of the constitutional clergy were men who had 
proved themselves worthy of respect by remaining 
throughout the Terror faithful to their convictions. 
Within a few months the clergy were again exercising 

1795 an d ^ u Constitution of 1795. 247 

their former functions without obstruction. Internal divi- 
sions, however, remained unhealed. Some of the non- 
jurors, who had never taken the oath imposed by the 
civil constitution, made the promise of submission to the 
laws of the Republic, and officiated in public buildings, 
but refused to recognise the authority of the former con- 
stitutional Bishops. Others of the nonjurors refused 
even to promise submission to the laws, and officiated in 
secret in barns and private houses, under constant fear of 
proscription and death. There were thus three classes 
of priests, all at enmity with each other : (1) those who 
bad taken the oath required in 1790 ; (2) those who had 
refused this oath, but had since promised submission to 
the laws ; (3) the so-called refractory priests, who had 
not taken the oath required in 1790, and now refused 
submission to the laws. As a rule the lower and middle 
classes were attached to the constitutional clergy, while 
nobles and Royalists followed the nonjurors. It was in 
the East, the South, and the West that the refractory 
priests had most influence. 

The re-establishment of constitutional government, 
loudly demanded by public opinion, was held by the 
majority in the Convention itself necessary for the secu- 
rity of the Republic. On one side the Constitution of 179 1 
was lauded by the Monarchists ; on the other side the 
Constitution of 1793, framed by the Mountain after the 
ejection of the Girondists, but never put into force, was 
demanded by the Jacobins. To the Convention both were 
unacceptable ; the first because it admitted a constitution 
king, the second because it appeared impracti- of us- 
eable. The Terror had dissipated faith in the political 
virtue and intelligence of the people, and the same men 
who in 1 791 had been the warmest advocates of de- 
centralization and extreme forms of democratic govern- 
ment, were now opposed to manhood suffrage, or to 

248 The Treaty of Basel 1795 

giving to local authorities the opportunity of usurping 
sovereign powers. The appointment of a committee to 
revise the Constitution of 1793 led to the adoption of 
what was in reality a new form of government. The 
Constitution of the year III., or 1795, was based on the 
liberal principles of 1789. It guaranteed individual 
liberty, liberty of worship, liberty of the press, and secu- 
rity of property and of person. As in the Constitution 
of 1 79 1, a low property qualification was required for 
voting in primary assemblies, a higher one for voting 
in secondary assemblies. Primary assemblies elected, 
as hitherto, justices of the peace for the canton and 
municipal officers; secondary assemblies elected the 
judges of the higher courts, the upper administrative 
bodies, and the deputies to the Legislature. The 
number of administrative and municipal bodies was 
greatly reduced. The administration of districts was 
entirely abolished. Only communes with a population of 
over 5,000 retained separate municipalities. Communes 
of which the population was below this number, included 
m any one canton, had a municipality common to all. 
To every administrative and municipal body was added 
a commissioner, nominated by the Government, whose 
duty was to see that the laws were executed. Pre- 
caution was taken against the revival of an authority 
at Paris rival to the Legislature. Communes of over 
100,000 inhabitants were divided into districts, each with 
a municipality of its own. Paris had thus twelve muni- 
cipalities. The Legislative body was formed of two 
Houses, a council of five hundred, and a council of 250 
Ancients. Both Houses were elected on the same 
principle, but the Ancients had to be forty years of age. 
Both were renewed by a third of their number yearly. 
To the five hundred belonged the introduction of laws ; 
the Ancients had the right of rejecting them. At the 

1795 an d ^ te Constitution of 1795. 249 

head of the executive was a Directory of five members, 
selected by the Ancients out of a list drawn up by the 
five hundred. These Directors appointed the ministers, 
in number six, and ordered the disposition of the armed 
forces. They had no veto on legislation, and neither 
they nor the ministers might sit in either council One 
Director had to retire yearly, so that the whole body 
would be renewed in the course of five years. 

This Constitution, put in force as it stood, would have 
given France a government formed of new men. But 
the members of the Convention, long ac- vend*, 
customed to the exercise of power, were un- miaire x 3- 
willing to resign it, or to hazard the maintenance of the 
Republic by allowing Royalists and Monarchists an oppor- 
tunity of obtaining a majority in the new Legislature. 
It was determined to apply at once the principle of 
renewing the Legislature by a third of its number every 
year. A special law bound the secondary assemblies to 
elect two-thirds of their deputies out of the Convention, 
so that only a single third in either council would be 
formed of new men (August 22, Fructidor 5). There 
were further to be no new elections till the spring of 
1797, so that for a year and a half the domination of 
the republican party was secured. A second law required 
that if, in consequence of double elections, all the seats 
reserved for members of its own body were not filled, the 
Convention should elect the deputies required to make 
up the number wanting (August 31, Fructidor 13). The 
new constitution was submitted to the primary assemblies, 
and accepted by large majorities, but with it were coupled 
these two accessory laws. At Paris popular indignation 
was fanned into revolt by the emigrants and royalists. 
The Convention depended for its safety on 4,000 troops 
of the line, and a few hundred Jacobins and workmen 
hastily armed for its defence. On the other side were 

250 The Treaty of Basel 1795 

20,000 national guards. These, however, were under 
two great disadvantages. They had no competent 
general, and they had no artillery, all the sections having 
been deprived of their cannon after the insurrection of 
Prairial. The forces of the Convention were commanded 
by the deputy Barras, who entrusted the organisation of 
resistance to Napoleon Bonaparte, a young general, who 
was the ablest man in the service of the Republic, btn 
whose name as yet was hardly known beyond military 
circles, where his reputation stood high as the officer 
to whose genius was owing the capture of Toulon in 
1793. In all haste a strong force of artillery was brought 
from a camp at Grenelle, a few miles from Paris, and 
stationed round the Tuileries, so as to command the 
approaches from the Rue St Honors and the Church of 
St Roch, which the insurrectionists occupied. The 
combat was sharp, but soon decided. Before nightfall 
the insurgents were on all sides in flight and dispersed 
(October 5, Vendemiaire 13). 

The insurrection, thus quelled, strengthened the 
Thermidorians and more violent party in the Conven- 
tion. New laws were passed, designed to keep the 
defeated party down and to insure that power should 
remain in the hands of its actual possessors. Deported 
priests, returned to France, were ordered to quit the 
country on pain of suffering, in accordance with the laws, 
death as emigrants. Relations of emigrants, in the first 
or second degree, such as fathers, brothers, sons, uncles 
and nephews, were prohibited from holding any office, 
judicial, legislative, or administrative (October 25). This 
measure, known as the law of Brumaire 3, was of great 
political importance. It deprived a very large number 
of persons of rights, guaranteed by the Constitution, and 
was calculated to prevent the new Government rising 
above the character of a purely party Government Before 

1795 an & ^ Constitution 0/179$. 2 5* 

the arrival of the new deputies, those of the old members 
who retained their seats elected to be Directors five men, 
all bound by interest to support the Republic, since all 
had voted for the death of Louis XVI. 

The new Government was therefore formed only in 
an insensible degree of new men. The five Directors — 
Larevelliere-L^peaux, Rewbel, Carnot, Letourneur, and 
Barras — the six ministers, and the two councils, stood 
in the place of the Committee of Public Safety and the 
Convention ; but the change was one of name and form, 
not of system. There was no change, either in the in- 
ternal or in the foreign policy of the Government. 

As the Government remained practically unchanged, 
it could not, by any possibility, be strong. It had none 
of that authority which comes from representing the 
national will What that will might be, it wa* at the 
time hard to say. The nation itself had given ip the 
task of impressing its mind upon its rulers, and contented 
itself with private disapprobation of their conduct. In 
Paris, where that disapprobation had been expressed 
in action, it had been promptly silenced by military 
intervention, and it was by no means unlikely that the 
army, which was now the only strong organisation re- 
maining in the country, might hereafter intervene against 
the Directory as it had lately intervened in its favour. 

It was the more likely that this would happen 
because the army did not owe its strength to its organi- 
sation alone. As far as it is possible to judge, it fairly 
represented, for the time, the popular sentiment of the 
nation. At the outset of the revolution, zeal for im- 
provement and change had seized upon every variety of 
mind and upon every class of the community. The 
higher minds looked forward to liberty of speech and 
thought, and through them to the raising of mankind in the 
qcale of human progress. The masses looked forward tc 

252 The Treaty of Basel 1795 

material equality, to the removal of the load of outrage 
and oppression under which they groaned. For some 
time it seemed as if these objects could be achieved 
together. It was not long before the attempt to grasp 
too much at a time brought failure with it Liberty was 
trodden down in practice, whilst it was adored in word. 
Fraternity became but an excuse for fratricide. Equality 
remained as the one aim to be pursued at all hazards, 
and the equality which was most in favour was the lower 
and more material equality which appealed to the masses 
of unlettered peasants. For one man who cared about 
moral and spiritual advancement there were at least a 
hundred who cared only to have a guarantee for their 
purchases of confiscated property, and an assurance that 
they should be under no disadvantages because they 
were not of noble birth. Such feelings, strong in the 
nation, were strong in the army. The soldier has never 
much sympathy for the machinery of a free government 
It is his duty in life to obey orders, not to impose them 
on his superiors. But the soldier of revolutionary 
France was the champion of material equality. He had 
offered it to the peoples which he had invaded. It had 
given to him that which he prized most, the right of pro- 
motion to the superior ranks of the service, irrespective 
of birth. 

A body which is thoroughly organised, and which 
represents the dominant ideas of a people, is, in reality, 
irresistible. For the perfect organisation of the army 
one thing was wanting — a general who could inspire it 
with confidence. That general would be found in the 
young chief who had fought the battle of the Con- 
vention against the insurgents of Vend&niaire. Because 
the nation itself was as yet unprepareu to appear upon 
the scene, the revolutionary epoch was followed not by 
the Constitutional but by the Napoleonic age. 

1795 an d tfe Constitution of 1795. 253 

Yet the striving of the political revolutionists had 
not been in vain. The time would come when the 
pursuit of merely material gains would bring ruin and 
desolation with it, and the old ideals of the thinkers 
of the eighteenth century would again be welcomed 
by a generation wearied by military despotism, and which 
would therefore seek to establish social and political 
institutions on a safer basis than Mirabeau or Vergniaud 
had been able to do. Nor do even the wild schemes of 
Chaumette and St Just form a mere episode in French 
history, though wisely to lighten the load which inevitably 
falls on the shoulders of the poor and unfortunate, and 
thus to diminish the amount of human suffering, is a 
work which opens up problems which these men at- 
tempted rashly to cut with the axe of the executioner, 
but which are now understood to be amongst the most 
complicated subjects of political thought. To trace the 
fate of the ideas which were thrown up in the course of 
the French Revolution would require many volumes. 
It is because these ideas were so many sided and so 
powerful that the French nation accepts the Revolution, 
in spite of the errors and crimes of the revolutionists, as 
the source of its mental as well as of its political life. 




3 5 








AMERICA, assisted by France, 
95 ; declaration of Indepen- 
dence by, 26 

Army, the French, mutinies in, 73 ; 
disorderly condition of, 105; ex- 
traordinary measures for the en- 
listment of, 146 ; conscription in- 
troduced for, 170 ; treatment of, 
by the Hlbertists, 188 ; reorgani- 
sation of, 189 

Artois, the Count of, emigrates, 63 ; 
appeals to foreign Powers, 86 

Assignats, first issue of, 68 ; fresh 
issues of, 94 ; continued issue and 
depreciation of, 140, 172, 224, 225 

Austria, relations of, with Prussia 
and Turkey, 97, 08 ; forms a de- 
fensive alliance with Prussia, 104 ; 
war declared by France against, 
T05 ; ill-feeling towards Prussia of, 
161 ; Thugut, minister of, 162 

Avignon, massacre at, xxo 

BAILLY, is chosen mayor of 
Paris, 47 ; addresses the King 
on his visit to Para, 48 ; execution 
of, 178 

Barbaroux, asks Marseilles to send 
men to Paris, 116 ; execution of, 

Barere, selfish indifference of, 200 ; 
applauds the financial results of 
the Terror, 207 

Barnave, is a leader of the Centre 
and Left, 53 ; is a rival of Mira- 
b*au, 57 ; is popular in the Jaco- 
bin Club, 65 ; supports the King 
«fter the flight to Varennes, 90; 


joins the Feuillants, 92 ; execu 
tion of, 178 

Basel, peace of, 238 

Bastille, the attack upon, 45 ; cap- 
ture of, 46 

Belgium, invaded by the French 
xxz ; invaded by IJumouriez, 130 
question of the annexation of 
131 ; its annexation decreed, 141 ; 
is reconquered by the allies, 161 ; 
is again conquered by the French, 

Berthier, murder of, 48 

Billaud-Varennes, elected to the 
oommune of Paris, 120 ; is placed 
on the Committee of Public Safety, 
167 ; sanguinary^ character of, 200; 
opposes Robespierre, 2x7 

Bonaparte, Napoleon, suppresses 
the insurrection of Vendemiaire, 

Bordeaux, Girondist sentiments of, 

x 57 
Bouille, suppresses a mutiny at 

Nancy, 73 ; supports the flight to 

Varennes, 89 

Brieoao, ministry of, 27 

Brissot, political opinions of, 76 ; 
calls for a republic, 90 ; trial and 
execution of, 177 

Brunswick, the Duke of, publishes 
a manifesto, 1x4 ; conducts the 
invasion, 123 ; retreats from Val- 
my, a 124 ; commands one of the 
armies of the coalition, 141 ; takes 
Mainz, 161 ;' is obliged to retreat, 

Burke, his Reflections on the French 
Revolution, 138 





CAEN, Girondist sentiments pre- 
vail at, 157 

Cahiers, the, 29 

Calendar, the republican, x8o 

Calonne, ministry of, 37 

Cambon, financial measures of, 195 

Carnot, directs the movements of 
the armies, 189 ; arranges the 
campaign of 1794, 212 ; escapes 
from prosecution after the insur- 
rection of Prairial, 231 

Carrier, conduct of, at Mantes, 186 ; 
execution of, 923 

Cathelineau, crosses the Loire, 160 ; 
is killed, 161 

Catherine II., patronises French 
philosophers, 22 ; extends her do- 
minions in Poland and the Crimea, 
96 ; proposes a second partition 
of Poland, 135 

Cazales, defends the monarchy, 51 

Champ de Mars, the, massacre of, ox 

Charette, commands part of the 
Vendean army, 160 ; fails to cross 
the Loire, 161 

Chaumette, elected to the commune 
of Paris, 120 ; his position in the 
commune, 169 ; attacks religion, 

Cbollet, defeat of the Vendeans at, 

Chouans, the, insurrection of, 241 

Church, the French, position of, be- 
fore the revolution, 6, 15 ; de- 
mands of the Cahiers respecting, 
31 ; its property appropriated by 
the Constituent Assembly, 67 ; the 
civil constitution provokes a 
schism in, 74 ; schism continued 
in, xox ; treatment of, by the He"- 
bertists, 179; Robespierre's be- 
haviour towards, 2x6; improve- 
ment in the condition of, 928 ; 
condition of, after the Terror, 246 

Civil constitution of the clergy, the, 
enacted, 69 ; position of the Le- 
gislative Assembly towards, xoi 

Claviere, minister of Finance, 105 ; 
is dismissed, 112 ; is rest o red to 
office, 1x7 

Clermont-Tonnerre, 52 

Coburg, commands one of the armies 
of the coalition, X4x ; relieves 
M aestricht, 142 ; takes Condi and 
Valenciennes, x6x ; evacuates Bel- 

gium, 2x3 
Collot d'Herbois, elected 

to the 

commune of Paris, 120 ; becomes 
a member of the Committee of 
Public Safety, 167; sanguinary 
character of, 200 ; opposes Robes- 
pierre, 2x7 

Committee of General Security in- 
stituted, 146 

Committee of Public Safety, insti- 
tuted, 145 ; a acquires power over 
the Convention, 166 : does not dare 
to risk a collision with the Com- 
mune, 167 ; composition of, 200 ; 
gains over the mob, 203 ; dictator- 
shin of t 204 ; ( dissatisfaction m of 
Robespierre with, 205 ; extension 
of the Terror by, 208; Robes- 
pierre's management of, 2x4 ; dis- 
cord in, 2x7 ; reorganisation of, 
after the Terror, 221 

Commune of Paris, the, first organi- 
sation of. 8x ; dispersion of the 
municipal council of, xx6 ; recon- 
struction of, 1x9 ; organises the 
September massacres, 121; re- 
election of, 129 ; heads the move- 
ment for the proscription of the 
Girondists, 153 ; its power inde- 
pendent of the Convention, 167 : 
controls the revolutionary army, 
174 ; is attacked by Robespierre, 
198 ; is reconstituted by Robes- 
pierre, 205 ; is broken up, 221 

Condi surrenders, 161 

Conscription, the, restorted to, a 170 

Constituent Assembly, the, fusion of 
the orders in, 38 ; its dissolu- 
tion a desired by the ^ Queen, 43 ; 
abolishes feudal services, 49 ; for- 
mation of parties in { 51 ; wishes 
to establish constitutional govern- 
ment, S5 ; constitutional provi- 
sions oC 58 ; annuls regulations 
impeding the circulation of corn, 
59 ; removes to Paris, 62 ; com- 
pletes the constitution, 65 ; appro- 
priates Church property, 67 ; 
enacts the civil constitution of 
the clergy, 69 ; increase of party 
spirit in, 70 ; abolishes titles of 
nobility, 71 : leaves the King with- 
out authority, 72 ; presents the 
constitution to the King, and 
dissolves itself 93 

Constitution, of 1791, 65, 9^; of 
*793i *S8; ofx79£,247 

Convention, the National, sum 
moned, 117; elected, 123; parties 





in, isf ; its galleries occupied by* 
Jacobins, 109 ; offers to help all 
peoples desirous of freedom, 131 ; 
decrees the union of Nice and 
Savoy, 133 ; decrees the opening 
of the Scheldt, and orders the 
generals to proclaim the sove- 
reignty of the people, 134 ; con- 
demns the King, 140; decrees 
the annexation of .Belgium, and 
declares war against England, 
141 ; institutes the Committee of 
Public Safety, 145 ; orders the 
transportation of priests, 147 ; 
forbids the emigrants to return on 
pain of death, 148 ; refuses to pro* 
scribe the Girondists, 153 ; is com* 

Sslled to order the arrest of the 
irondists, 155 ; resistance in the 
departments to, 157 ; falls into 
the hands of the extreme party In 
the Mountain, 165 ; its compara- 
tive weakness, 166 ; orders a levy 
en masse, 170 ; orders requisitions 
to supply Paris, and institutes a 
revolutionary army, 174; passes 
the law of suspected persons, 175 ; 
sends twenty-one deputies betoie 
the Revolutionary Court, 176 ; 
submits to the Commune, 180; 
accepts the Worship of Reason, 
181 ; Reorganises the army, 189 ; 
its legislative work, 193 ; reorga- 
nises the Revolutionary Court, 
3x5 ; overthrows Robespierre, 3x9 ; 
parties in, after the fall of Robes- 
pierre, 339 ; restoration of 
Girondist deputies to, 333; re- 
action in, 334 ; looks for the sap- 
port to the party of reaction, 337 ; 
foreign policy of, 333; becomes 
unpopular with the middle classes, 

Cordeliers, the Club of the, presided 
over by Danton, 83 : demands, a 
republic, 91 

Corday, # Charlotte, admires the 
Girondists, 163 ; assassinates Ma- 
rat. 164 

Couthon, is placed on the Commit- 
tee of Public Safety, 167 ; his 
conduct in Auvergne, 185 ; sup- 
ports Robespierre, 300 ; arrest of, 
axo ; execution of. 330 

Custine, takes Frankfort, 130 ; is 
driven out of Frankfort, 141 

D 'ALE M BERT, writings of, 14; 
Danton, presides over the 
Cordeliers, 8a ; calls for a re- 

Jublic, 90 ; becomes Minister of 
ustice, X17; stirs up resistance 
against invasion, xsx ; resigns bis 
ministry, 135 ; is attacked by the 
Girondists^ 137; advocates the 
condemnation of the King, 140; 
breaks with the Girondists, 144 < 
loses authority in the Convention. 
165 ; wishes to stop the Reign of 
Terror, 197 ; is executed, 304 

Dauphin, the, death of, 345 

De Launay, murder of, 46 

Delessart, advocates peace, 104 ; x s 
charged with treason, 105 

Departments, France divided into, 

Desmoulins, Camille, urges the 
Parisians to take arms, 44 ; poli- 
tical opinions of, 77 ; advocates a 
republic, 90 ; supports Robespierre, 
X09 ; wishes to stop the Reign of 
Terror, 197 ; publishes The Old 
Cordelier^ 199 ; execution of, 304 
D'Espremenil, defends the old sys- 
tem, sx 
Diderot, writings of, 14 
Directors, appointment of, 351 
Dumouriez, minister of foreign 
affairs, 105; resigns, xxs ; com 
mands the army, 121 ; # occupied 
the Argonnes, 133 ; gains a vic- 
tory at Jemmapes, 130 ; proposes 
the invasion of Holland, 135 ; fails 
in an invasion of Holland, 143; 
is defeated at Neerwinden, 143 . 
takes refuge with the Austrian*, 


ECONOMISTS, the, 16 
Egalite*, Philip. See Orleans, 
Duke of 

Elizabeth, Madame, execution of, 

Emigrants, the, begin to leave 
France, 63; increasing numbers of, 
71 ; are encouraged by the princes 
on the Rhine, xoz ; confiscation 
of the revenues of, in ; are for- 
bidden to return on pain of death, 

Empire, the defective organisation 
of, 96 ; ( anti-French feeling in 
los ; joins the coalition against 
France, X41 






EncvdocMMlia, the, 14 

England, political condition of, 93 ; 
dislikes the annexation of Bel- 
gium by Fiance, 131 ; oppose* the 
opening of the Scheldt, 134 ; state 
of political opinion in, 136 ; war 
declared by France against. 141 

Europe^ prevalence of Voltairian 
ideas in, ai 

"PEDERATION, Feasts of the. 

Feraud, murder of, 330 
Feudal nobility, privileges of, under 
the monarchy, 1-5 ; abolition of, 


Feuillants, the club of the, founda- 
tion of, 92 

Fleurus, battle of, 2x3 

Foulon, murder of, 48 

Fouquier Tinville, public prose- 
cutor, 176 

France before the revolution, poli- 
tical condition of, x ; economical 
condition of, 8; progress of re- 
forming ideas in, as 

Francis II., the Emperor, war 
declared by France against, 105 ; 
hopes to make conquests in France, 

Frankfort, occupied by Custine, 

130 ; stormed by the Prussians, 141 
Frederick II., patronises French 

philosophers, aa ; extends his 

territories, 07 
Frederick William II., concludes 

the treaty of Reichenbach, 07 ; is 

prevented from helping > Louis, 

09 ; urges a march to Paris^ 133 ; 

agrees to the second partition of 

Poland, 135 

GJfiNSONNE, sits in the Legis- 
lative m Assembly, too ; trial 
and execution of, 177 
Germany. See Empire, the 
Germinal, insurrection of, aa6 
Girondists, the principles of, 100; 
ecclesiastical policy of, zox ; war- 
like tendencies of, xoa ; enter the 
ministry, 105 ; opposition aroused 
against, 106, hope for the esta- 
blishment of a republic, xxx ; dis- 
missal of their ministers, zxa ; 
make overtures to the King, 1x5 ; 

* form the light of the Convention, 
135 ; weakness of, 126 ; attack 
Robespierre and Dantoo, 107; 
increasing weakness of, 14a ; break 
with Danton, 144; attacked by 
Robespierre, 145 ; economical 
doctrines of t 149 ; movement for 
the proscription of, 153 ; arrest of 
the leaders of, 155 ; causesof the 
failure of, 156; feeling in the 
departments in favour of, x$i ; 
suppression of tha movement m 
favour of, 158; trial and execu- 
tion of the leaders of, 177 ; restora- 
tion of the survivors of, 224 

Gobel, Archbishop, resigns office z8o 

Gregoire, Bishop, refuses to resign 
office, 180 

Guadet, sits in the Legislative As- 
sembly, xoo 

HAGUE, the. the treaty of, axo 
He*bert, elected to the Com- 
mune of Paris, xao; his position 
in the Commune, 169 ; his cha- 
racter and aims, 170 ; calls for a 
reign of terror, 175 ; attacks Chris- 
tianity, 179 ; supports the system 
of terror, 183; is opposed by 
Robespierre, 197; execution of, 

Hoche, commands the army on the 
Moselle, 19a ; is sent to command 
in the west, 242; defeats the 
Chouans at Quiberon, 344 

Holland, proposed invasion of, 135 ; 
failure of Dumouriei in an attack 
upon, X43 ; is conquered by Piche- 
gru, 333 

Hondschoote, battle of, 191 

Houchard, defeats the enemy and 
is guillotined, 191 

TSNARD, desires war with 
1 Austria. 103 ; threatens that 
Paris shall be destroyed, 154 

JACOBINS, the club of, formation 
of, 64 ; affiliation of provincial 
clubs to, 80 ; asks for the King's 
deposition after the flight to 
Varennes pi ; op p os iti on to the 
Girondists in, xoo; gives its con- 
fidence to Robespierre, 109 ; pro- 




poses to dethrone the King, 115 ; 
takes part against the Girondists, 
139; Robespierre's influence at, 
aoz ; closure ofi 333 

fales, camp of, zio 
enunapes, battle of, 130 
oseph II., the Emperor, reforms 
attempted by, 23; wishes to in- 
corporate Bavaria, 07 
Jourdan, gains the victory of Wat- 

tignies, 191 
June, battle of the first of, 237 

KAUNITZ, is indifferent to the 
progress of the revolution, 08 
Kellermann, commands at Mete, 121 
KJ£ber, commands against the Yen- 
deans, z8a 



L Atr AY tL l LtL, proposes the 
adoption of the tricolour, 47 ; 
is a leader of the Centre and Left, 
53 ; supports the system of two 
chambers, 54 ; refuses to support 
Mirabeau, 57 ; extent of the in- 
fluence of, 60; arrives at Ver- 
sailles, 61 ; guards the King, 63 ; 
supports the King after the flight 
to varennes, 91 ; joins the Feuil- 
lants, 92 ; commands on the East- 
ern frontier, and denounces the 
Jacobins, 1x2 ; appears at the bar 
of the Assembly, 113 ; support of, 
rejected, by the Queen, 1x4 ; 
is acquitted by the Assembly, 
x 16 ; flies from the country and is 
imprisoned by the Austrians, 1x9 

LaUy-Tollendal, 52, 63 

7«aineth, the brothers, are amongst 
the leaders of the Centre and Left, 
53; distrust Mirabeau, 57; join 
the Feuillants, 93 

La Vendee. Set Vendeans, the 

Legislative Assembly,, the, composi- 
tion of, 99; ecclesiastical policy 
of, 101 ; growth of warlike ten- 
dencies in, 102; declares war 
against the King of Hungary, 
105 ; decrees that volunteers shall 
come to Paris, 112 ; proclaims the 
country to be in danger, 1x4 ; sus- 
pends the King, and summons a 
National Convention, 1x7; last 
sitting of, 124 

Le Mans, defeat of the Vendeans at, 


Leopold II. the Emperor, is urged 
by the Queen to intervene in 
France, 94 ; concludes the treaty 
of Reicnenbach, 97 ; concludes 
the treaty of Sistova, 08 ; refuses 
to help Louis, 99 ; seeks to avoid 
war, X03 ; claims a right of inter- 
ference in France, 104 ; death of, 
Levy en mass*, 170 
Longwy, siege of, 121 
Louis XTV., monarchy of, 2 
Louis XV., misgovenxment of, 3 
Louis XVI., accession of, 18 ; cha- 
racter of, 19; takes part in the 
American war, 25 ; design of, in 
summoning the States General, 
32 ; opens the States General, 33 ; 
weakness of bis position, 34 ; at- 
tempts to hinder the fusion of the 
orders, 39 ; dismisses Necker, 44 ; 
visits Paris after the capture of 
the Bastille, 47 ; idea of retreat- 
ing to Metz, considered by, 60; 
is brought to Paris, 62 ; swears to 
maintain the Constitution, 70, 
appoints reactionary ministers, 
81 ; refuses to be guided by Mira- 
beau, 83; dislikes the civil con- 
stitution of the clergy, 86 ; desires 
that the constitution may fail, 87 , 
attempts flight, 88 ; is stopped at 
Varennes, 89 ; his deposition pro- 
posed and rejected, 90; accepts 
the constitution, 93 ; deception 
practised by him, 93 ; refuses to 
sanction a decree against the non- 
jurors, xxx ; hopes that the allies 
will reach Paris, 105 ; refuses, to 
sanction a decree for the meeting 
of Volunteers at Paris, and dis- 
misses the Girondist ministers, 
xia ; is visited by the mob, 1x3 ; 
is driven from the Tuileries ana 
suspended, 1x7 ; causes of the fall 
of, 118 ; trial of, 139 
Lyons, royalist insurrection at, 157, 
surrender of. t8x . vengeance 
taken on, 186 


' AINZ, surrender to the French, 
130; is retaken by Bruns- 
wick, x6i 
Malouet, 52 

Marat, political opinions of, 78, 
attacks the Girondists, 109 ; takes 




part in the September massacres, 
193 ; acquittal of, 145 ; assassina- 
lion of, 163 

Marie Antoinette, character of, ao ; 
urges the King to hinder the fusion 
of the orders, 39 ; distrusts Mira- 
heau, 57 ; appears at a military 
banquet at Versailles, 61 ; is 
brought to Paris, 62 ; becomes 
unpopular, 86 ; effect of her coun- 
sels on her husband, 87 ; urges 
the King to fly, 88 ; is arrested at 
Varennes, 89 ; urges the Emperor 
to intervene, 94 ; refuses the help 
of the constitutionalists and the 
emigrants, 95 ; is threatened by 
the mob, 113 ; refuses to be saved 
by Lafayette. 1x4 ; execution of, 

Marseillaise, the, 1x6 

Maury, the AbW, defends the 
clergy, 51 

Maximum laws, the, enacted, 171 ; 
difficulty of enforcing, 175; re- 
enacted in a new form, 303 ; cease 
to be observed, 334 ; are repealed, 

Merlin of Douai, 53 

Mirabeau, character and policy of, 


35 ; is chosen as a representative 

•f the Third Estate, 37 ; is a 

leader of the Centre and Left, 53 ; 

opposes Necker, « ; statesmanlike 
policy of, 56 ; difficulties in the 
way of, 57 ; attacks Necker, 58 ; 
close of the career of, 83 ; death 
of, 84 
Miranda, fails to take Maestncht, 

Moueville, reactionary opinions ofi 

Monarchy, die French, rise of, z ; 
centralisation of the government 
of, 7 

Mounier, 53. 63 

Mountain, the, propo s e! the deposi- 
tion of the King, 1x5 ; struggles 
with the Girondists, 135 ; urges 
the condemnation of the King, 
140 ; obtains the creation of the 
Revolutionary Court, 143 ; obtains 
the command of the Committee of 
Public Safety, 146 ; principles of, 
148 ; supports a coercive econo- 
mical policy, 15a; fills the clubs 
with its supporters, 16a ; is held 
in subserviency by the committees 

and the commune, 19s ; is divided 
in opinion after Robespierre's fall, 
333 ; asks for the constitution of 
1793, 336 ; transportation of the 
'eaders of, 337 

1 . 
Municipality of Paris. 

mune of Paris 

See Com' 

NANCY, mutiny at, 73 
Narbonne, conduct of, as 
minister of war, 105 

National Assembly, the title of, 
adopted by the Third Estate, 38. 
See Constituent Assembly 

Necker, first ministry of, 35 ; second 
ministry of 39 ; gives advice to 
the States General, 33 ; weakness 
of his policy, 34 ; is opposed to 
the dissolution of the Assembly, 
43; dismissal of, 44; recalled to 
office, 47 ; fails to guide the 
Assembly, 55 ; finally resigns 
office, 81 

Neerwinden. battle of, 143 

Nice, occupied by the French, 139 ; 
annexed, 133 

Nonjurors, the, refuse to swear to 
the civil constitution of the clergy, 
75 ; are deprived of their pensions, 
xox : are threatened with banish* 
ment, 1x1 ; transportation of, x8o 

Notables, the, meeting of, 37 

ORDERS, the privileged, ex* 
emoted from taxation, 8 
Orleans, Duke of, takes the popular 
side, 43 ; is said to have aimed 
at the throne, 63 ; sits with the 
Montagnards, 135 ; trial of, 176 ; 
is executed, 178 

PARIS, anarchy in, 4a; assault 
upon the Bastille in, 45 ; es- 
tablishment of a municipality and 
a national guard in, 47 ; difficulty 
of provisioning, 59 ; the^ King 
brought to, 6s ; organisation of, 
81 ; proposed formation of an 
armed camp for the defence of, 
xxx ; preparations for insurrection 
in, zx6 ; election of a new com- 
mune of, 119 ; massacres in, xaz ; 
predominates over the depart- 
ments, 136 : is ruled by the new 
commune, 139 




Parliaments, the, oppose the King, 
a§, 28 

Pltion, sits on the extreme left in 
the Constituent Assembly, 53 ; 
becomes Mayor of Paris, 112 ; 
death of, 208 

Pichegru, defeats the allies on the 
Rhine, 192; conquers Flanders, 
2x3 ; conquers Holland, 232 

Pilnitz, conference at, 08 

Pitt, internal policy of, 24 ; refuses 
to join foreign powers against 
France, 98 ; character of the 
statesmanship of, 136 ; strives to 
maintain peace, 138 

Plain, the, position of, in the con- 
vention, 128 

Poland, first partition of, 96 ; estab- 
lishment of a new constitution in, 

98 ; hostility of Catherine II. to, 

99 ; proposed second partition of, 
135 ; insurrection of. 210 ; second 
partition of, 21 x ; third partition, 
of, 236 

Portugal, joins the coalition against 
France, 141 

Prairial, insurrection of, 231 

Privileged orders, the, position of, 
8 ; aim*. «4 29 

Provinces, the, insurrections in, 48 ; 
anarchy in, 109 

Prussia, its relations with Austria, 
97 ; forms a defensive alliance 
with Austria, 104; is drawn into 
a war with France, 105 ; its 
jealousy of Austria, x6i ; con- 
cludes peace with France, 238 

QUIBERON t peninsular of 
Hoche's victory at, 244 

REASON, the worship of, 181 
Reichenbach, treaty of, 97 
Rennes, Girondist sentiments of, 157 
Revolutionary army, the formation 

of, X73 
Revolutionary Court, the, esta- 
blishment of, 143 ; deputies first 
sent before, 176 
Rights of Man, declaration of the, 58 
Robespierre, sits on the extreme 
Left in the Constituent Assembly, 
53 ; is applauded by the Jacobins, 
65; hesitates to decide for the 
King's deposition, 90; proposes 

a law forbidding re-election, 92 ; 
leads the opposition against the 
Girondists, 107 ; opposes the war 
108 ; is elected to the Commune, 
120 ; is attacked by the Giron- 
dists, X27 ; proposes the imprison- 
ment of the leading Girondists, 
145; supports the insurrection 
against the Girondists, 153; be- 
comes a leading member of the 
Committee of Public Safety, 167 ; 
attacks the He*bertists, 197 ; causes 
of the influence of, 201 ; procures 
the destruction of the Helwrtists 
by abandoning Danton, 202 ps 
dissatisfied with the Committee of 
Public Safety, 205 ; reduces the 
Terror to a system, 208; inaugu- 
rates the worship of the Supreme 
Being, 2x4 ; reorganises the Revo- 
lutionary Court, 2x5 ; comes into 
collision with the Committee of 
Public Safety, 2x7 his imprison- 
ment, 2x9 ; execution of, 220 

Roland, is minister of the interior, 
X05 ; attempts in vain to restore 
order, 109 ; is dismissed, 112 ; pro- 
jects of a retreat to the Loire dis- 
cussed in the house of, 1x5 ; is 
restored to office, 1x7 ; resignation 
of, 145 ; death of, 178 

Roland, Madame, directs the actions 
of her husband, 1x5; execution of, 

Rousseau, doctrines of, 16 

ST. JUST, is placed on the Com- 
mittee of Public Safety, 167 ; 

makes requisitions at Strasburg, 

185 ; character and aims of, 200 ; 

arrest of, 2x9 ; execution of, 220 
Santerre, commands the national 

guard, X22 
Sardinia, the King of, war declared 

against} 130 
Saumur, is taken by the Vendeans, 

Savoy, occupied by the French, 

129 ; annexed, 133 
Scheldt, the opening of, 134 
September massacres, the, xax 
Servan { is minister of war, xxx ; is 

dismissed, 1x2 ; is restored to 

office, 1x7 
Sieyes, writes a pamphlet, 30 ; is a 

leader of the Centre and Left, S3 




Sistova, the treaty o£ 98 

Smith, Adam, publishes the ' Wealth 

of Nations,* 24 
Spain, joins the coalition against 

France, 141; concludes peace 

with France, 339 
States-General, the, summoned, 28 ; 

^ tf/tt««onf on the constitution o£ 

31 ; meeting ot, 33 ; fusion of the 

orders in, 38. See Constituent 

Supreme Being, the, worship of, 3x4 

T ALLIEN, conduct of, at Bor- 
deaux, 185 ; his position after 
the revolution of Thernudor, 223^ 

Taxation, exemption of the privi- 
leged orders from, 8 ; character o£ 
under the monarchy, o ; system 
of, established by the Constituent 
Assembly, 94 

Tennis Court Oath, the, 40 

.Terror, the Reign o£ commence- 
ment of, 165 

Thermidor^ revolution of, 2x0 

Thennidorians, the. party of; 222 

Third Estate, double representation 
of, 31 ; adopts the title of the 
National Assembly, 38 

Thouret, 53 

Thugut, becomes foreign minister of 
Austria, 162 ; foreign policy ofj 234 

Tories, the English, 130 

Toulon, resists the Convention, 157 ; 
capture of, 181 ; vengeance taken 
on, 186 

Tvooing, Pichegru's victory at, 213 

Turgot, ministry o£ x8 

Turreau, devastates La Vendee, sen 



VALENCIENNES, surrenders, 

Valmy, cannonade of, 124 
Varennes, the flight to, 88 
Vendeans, the, rise in insurrection, 

147; mode of fighting of, X59; 

first successes of, xc© ; are driven 

back into their own country, 161 ; 

destruction of the army of, x8a ; 

continuance of the war against, 

Vendemiaire, insurrection of, 249 
Verdun, siege of, xax 
Vergnaud, sits in the Legislative 

A&je mbiy, xoo ; qualities ofaiafi ; 

trial iand execution of, 177 
Versailles, arrival of the mob at, 6x ; 

the King removed from, 62 
Veto, given tothe King, 58 
Voltaire, opinions and influence of, 

X4, 21 

WATTIGNIES, Battle of; X9X 
Wetasenbuxg, the lines of, xos 
Whigs, the English, 136 
White Terror, the, 299 
Wurmser, commands the Austrian* 
on the Rhine, 192 

YORK, the Duke of, commands 
the English Army in the 
Netherlands, x6x ; is driven from 
Dunkirk, 191 ; commands the 
English forces in the campaign of 
X794, 2xa ; tails to defend Holland, 
Young, Arthur, describes the 
nomical condition of France, xx 


Pp. 448, with 96 Woodcuts and Maps. Fcp. 8vo. 2s. 6d. 


B.C. 55— A.D. 1886. 

Fellow of All Souk College, Oxford. 

' No manual of English History 
for children lately published can 
compare with this little book, which 
will be heartily welcomed by all 
interested in education. Instead of 
being a collection of detached scraps 
of information of very unequal im- 
portance, interspersed with needless 
dates and names, it is really the story 
of our country's history. Children 
will not learn from it that Henry I. 
died from eating lampreys, nor that 
his son was drowned in the White 
Ship, nor will they be wearied with 
the names and dates of all the battles 
of the Wars of the Roses ; but they 
will learn— what no history written 
for them has yet taught— that every 
nation, like every individual, has a 
continuous life and growth. No 
event affecting the. development of 
the English nation is passed over, 
while such as have left no lasting 
results are either omitted, or only 
lightly touched on. More than this, 
the thoughts and feelings, the needs 

and sufferings, which formed the 
roots of the nation's growth, are not 
left untold; and not only will the 
reasoning powers of children be 
stimulated by the tracing of cause 
and effect, but their best sympathies 
will be awakened by all that is 
noblest in their country's history. 
But that which above all distin- 
guishes this little book is the re. 
markable fairness with which Prof. 
Gardiner deals with those subjects 
which are too often misrepresented 
from political or religious bias. The 
rare sense of justice is apparent 
throughout, but strikingly so in those 
chapters which deal with monasteries 
and with the Reformation. The 
simple language, the clear explana- 
tions of difficulties, and the excellent 
maps, add to the value of the book, 
which is not only the work of a 
scholar, but of one who evidently 
sympathises with the children for 
whom he writes.' 



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MENT, 13x5-1485. By Jambs Rowley, M.A. gd. 

TUDORS AND THE REFORMATION, 1485-1603. By Mandell 
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By Mrs. S. R. Gardiner, gd. 

Jambs Rowley, M.A. gd. 


WARS from 1765 to 1890. By the Rev. O. W. Tancock, M.A. gd. 

MODERN ENGLAND, from 1820 to 1885. By Oscar Browning, 
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Complete in One Volume ; with aj Tables and Pedigrees, and 93 Maps. 

Fcp. 8vo. 51. 


An Introductory Volume to 'Epochs of English History.* 


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MODERN FRANCE, from 18x4 to 1879. By Oscar Browning, i&A. 
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